This book, by a well-established author previously writing in a quite different genre, that of psychoanalysis, psychotherapy and counselling, is written for an entirely different readership. Patrick Casement has put together a fascinating account of his strange journey from a privileged background, through schools and national service, and then through university, avoiding throughout the wishes of his family for him to join the Royal Navy. Instead, he leaves university with a degree but heads straight into becoming a bricklayer's mate. From there, eventually, he gets through the vicissitudes of probation and social work, and the hilarious experiences of trying to furnish his first flat. He thus moves into what he describes as the "real" world - getting what his family would regard as a "real job" (or two). But despite that, he continues on his unpredictable journey - into becoming a psychotherapist and then a psychoanalyst: what his mother thought was "training to become a psychotic." This book is filled with laughter - that of the author laughing at himself as he invites the reader to laugh along with him in his journey through the vicissitudes of life.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
I am born into a passing age
Prince Otto von Bismark has to be rescued (by the butler) from a rusty shower
I was brought up being told that I had always been very strong willed; also that I had been "so difficult" as a child I had apparently "driven away" all the nannies who had been employed to deal with me. There was only one who stayed, from when I was four. She came to be called "Tucky" (her full name being Miss Powell-Tuck).
Tucky stayed until I was ten. Years after she had left, when I met her again, she told me that she too had left because she had found me "impossible". But I don't think that was the only reason she left as I had been at boarding school from the age of eight, and mother told me that Tucky didn't really want to be looking after my two sisters, born when I was seven and when I was nine. So, Tucky might have been teasing me, even though there is often a grain of truth in jest.
An aunt has memories that might help to explain Tucky's problem with me. One was when Tucky had been getting impatient with me, as I (aged seven) wasn't concentrating on what she wanted me to do. "Put your mind behind it," she demanded. I had apparently replied: "Put my mind behind it? Where do I put it? Do I put it here? Do I put it there? Where do I put it?" My mother's family, until the war, lived in an amazing house called "Marden" where I was born. I have no early memories of that house, though I visited it years later when it had become the "Convent School of the Sacred Heart".
My mother was one of six children, she having four sisters and a brother. She used to recall that her parents, before the war, had fifteen "indoor staff".
My father's family was entirely dedicated to the Royal Navy. My grandfather was an admiral, my father and one of his brothers both became captains, and their younger brother became a lieutenant-commander. My own brother (Michael) eventually became a commander, RN.
I was expected to follow suit. But I was made of different stuff. For many years, my own life followed a zigzag course with no obvious sense of direction except for my enduring avoidance of being sucked into the family "business": the Royal Navy.
When I was in my thirties, someone asked my mother: "What is Patrick doing now?" I was told that she didn't have a clue. Her reply, as reported to me, had been: "Well, I know that Patrick was a social worker. He is now working as a physio therapist" (she could not get her head around my then being a psycho therapist). She had, apparently, continued: "I now understand that he is training all over again: I don't know why, but I gather that he is training to be a psychotic." Such was my mother's flimsy acquaintance with those "psycho" words! I was actually beginning my further training to become a psychoanalyst, which then continued to be my full-time profession. I subsequently wrote four books on the clinical work of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, challenging a lot of what I had been taught during my various trainings. The first book was published in twenty languages, so it seems to have found a ready readership. My journey, by that time, seemed to have been fulfilled.
"Where was I born?"
When I was seventeen (it was early summer 1953) I went to Salzburg for the Music Festival. On the way we had to go through the frontier between Germany and Austria. Being not so many years since the war, the train had to stop at the border while the conductor got us to fill in entry forms before we could be allowed to cross the frontier.
This required us to enter "place of birth". But I could not remember where this was, and I didn't know then that I could have found this information in my passport; nor did the conductor suggest I looked there.
The conductor left me trying to remember while he did the rest of the train. Sometime later he returned and it was fortunate he could speak English. "Well, have you remembered?" he asked. I replied: "I'm very sorry, I really can't remember. You see, I was really very little at the time, but I know it ended with 'ham'." The conductor could now see a way through the impasse. "Could it have been Birmingham?" he asked. Not wanting to lose this way around the problem I replied that maybe it could have been. "Well, that will do," he said, and he filled in the form stating that I was (allegedly) born in Birmingham. I later learned that it was Woldingham.
Marden Park (near Woldingham)
My mother's family had lived in a huge house, known in the family as "Marden". I have no significant memories of this, even though I was born there, as my parents kept moving and by the time I was only a bit over two we moved to Malta where my father was serving in the navy.
A sense of my mother's home
An older cousin (Christopher), who had been visiting Marden while it was still the main family home, told me of a time when Prince Otto von Bismark had been staying as a house guest there. According to Christopher, the butler had been summoned to von Bismark's room as the shower, which had not been used for ages, was coming through with water that was red with rust. The butler had to flush this out before running down to the drawing room to announce to the family gathered there that their guest would be a little late. The butler had then gone into the details of washing the rust off the naked von Bismark, to the amusement of all the assembled family.
Other tales of Marden remembered
In about 1960 I met someone who had known my family at Marden before the war. He told me two of his memories from that time. The first was after there had been a ball there, and he explained the custom in those days. One had to visit the house after a party, during the following morning, to present one's visiting card. This was officially just a matter of courtesy, but he thought it might also have been a test to see if you were sober enough to turn up for that ritual the next morning.
This man then told me that, when he went with his visiting card, the front door was opened by two footmen. Then, striding between them, the butler came forward with a silver salver upon which he had to place his visiting card. He found this very daunting.
This man's other memory of Marden was that he had later been promoted to being a member of a house party held there. This meant he was allowed to stay over the weekend. On the Monday morning he had turned up for breakfast at eight o'clock. This was the time he'd been told breakfast started, but there was no one there except for my grandfather (to him, Sir Bernard Greenwell) who was sitting silently at the head of the large table. On the sideboard were various hot dishes, all under large silver covers, from which you were expected to help yourself. Having eaten his choice of cooked food, this man had started on the toast, which was in a rack behind the spread copy of The Times which my grandfather was reading.
As my grandfather had not been speaking a single word beyond saying "Good morning", this man had nervously eaten through the entire rack of toast. Sir Bernard had then reached around his paper, feeling along the rack for toast, but there was not a single piece left! The butler had to be summoned for more to be made. Then the chauffeur was called to drive my grandfather to the station, by which time he'd missed the train — all because this man had finished the toast. The chauffeur had to drive him the entire way to London so that he would not miss a meeting he was due to attend. This man said he had never been able to forget his embarrassment on that morning.
My earliest memories
The one memory I do have of being in Marden (aged two) is of running down a long carpeted passage, not seeing that there was a step somewhere along it and falling head over heels down the step. I can remember crying until someone came to pick me up.
My next and most vivid early memory is that of arriving in Valletta harbour (Malta, Grand Harbour) some time while I was about two and a half. What I can still see, in my mind's eye, is what I saw from the deck of the ship in which we had travelled out to Malta. It was night-time and I had become entranced by the dancing lights on the water, reflecting the white, red, and green lights of the "dhaisas" (the Maltese gondola-type boats) that were there to take people ashore. What I do not remember is what had been happening just before that. I am told that I'd been woken up, as the ship had berthed and we were soon to disembark, and I had been screaming my head off in protest. Apparently nothing would calm me, so our mother had suggested to whoever was helping her (with us children) that she take me up on deck. I was then awed into silence.
When I went back to Malta during my National Service, I was able to place that memory with the silhouette of Bighi Hospital in the background, across the water of Grand Harbour.
Where we lived
As our father was in the Royal Navy, being stationed here and there, we had many changes of home. Our mother used to tell us she had lived in seventeen different houses in the first seventeen years she'd been married. I have only vague memories of the early places we lived at. But what I do remember is that I would frequently wake up wondering where I would be when I opened my eyes, and would I know where I was? I am sure this contributed to the subsequent importance of the continuing sameness of my two boarding schools: the only places that didn't keep changing during my childhood.
"Orchards" at Pulborough (East Sussex)
I have only a few memories of my paternal grandparents' home, "Orchards". One memory, from the early days of the war, was being in a cot that was set up on the ground floor, apparently so that it would be safer than upstairs if we were bombed. I can remember having a kind of dartboard at the end of the cot, which had hooks with numbers, and I had flat rubber rings I would throw onto these hooks.
I think it must have been at some later time we went to visit these grandparents at Pulborough when some German planes flew over. I believe I was with my brother Michael at the time, in the garden, and we had been taught to lie face down if planes came over. I did that, but Michael had lain on his back and he told me he could actually see the German pilot in his cockpit. Shortly afterwards we heard the explosion of bombs dropped a little further on.
Michael also remembers that this was at the height of the Battle of Britain, and he told me that we regularly used to watch the twirling contrails of aircraft high in the sky. He also remembers a Spitfire crashing and landing upside down in the field near the house. The pilot had successfully bailed out, and he remembers being with a crowd of others looking at the wreckage. He says he can still visualise the instrument panel in the cockpit, looking at this until someone came to shoo onlookers away.
"North Park" near Godstone
We quite often went to stay at "North Park" with our mother's eldest sister (our aunt Joyce) and my uncle, with their children: Christopher, Philip, and Rosemary. While there I came to think of Rosemary (we were of similar ages) as absolutely wonderful. She was the first girl I can remember knowing. In fact (aged four) I asked her to marry me.
However, I soon turned out to be fickle as I later asked Tucky (called my new "governess") if she would marry me. I think I was wanting to make sure she stayed for ever, all other nannies having left rather quickly.
The times tables
I don't know how old I was at the time, but one afternoon I can remember playing with numbers on a big sheet of paper. I discovered that if you add 2 and 2, and then go on adding 2's, you end up with a 2 and 0, making it twenty. I thought this was perhaps a fluke, so I tried it with 3's and then 4's, and all the way to 9's. Every time, the number after the last adding came to the original number with a 0 on it.
I thought I'd discovered something amazing so I took this to Tucky to show her. I don't know if she was impressed or not. The only response I remember (from her) was that she told me this was called times tables and she suggested I went off to learn them all by heart.
Going out to tea
My brother Michael has reminded me that we used to be made to eat "doorsteps" of bread before going out to tea. Mother's assumption had been that we'd bring shame on the family by eating too much of the delicate offerings, and biscuits, during the rationing at that time. So, filling us up with bread beforehand was to dampen our appetites before we set off for tea.
"Stokehill Wood" (Yelverton, Devonshire)
I can remember (aged five) being driven in a car to another of the houses where we lived, known as "Stokehill Wood". I can remember the car being so filled up with things we were taking with us that I had to squeeze in on top of the stuff on the back seat, with my head virtually touching the roof.
What I don't fully remember is a story that has often been told since. We'd just arrived at Stokehill Wood and were being taken for a walk with Tucky. Typically, I was being bolshie and was not keeping up, which is what I was being told to do. Instead, and I do remember this bit, I was kicking leaves along with my boots, stumping along and taking no notice of anything else except for the rustling noise I could make with my feet.
In the meantime, Michael and Tucky had arrived back at the house; but I was nowhere to be seen. I had apparently gone on past the gate to the house, not yet knowing it was to be our home, and I'd disappeared. Somehow I was found and brought back, but it must have been an alarming time for Tucky who would have felt very responsible for not having kept me in sight.
Making it snow
While we were at Stokehill, I can vividly remember a time when we'd been just too much for mother and she had, in desperation, suggested we go into the garden to see if we could make it snow. "Why don't you go and sing Pooh's song for snowy weather, and then maybe it will snow?" So Michael and I had gone round the garden chanting in loud voices Pooh's snowing song, which (from memory) goes like this:
Nobody knows, tiddly-pom, how cold my toes, tiddly-pom, how cold my toes, tiddly-pom, are growing.
The more it snows, tiddly-pom, the more it goes, tiddly-pom, the more it goes, tiddly-pom, on snowing. (A. A. Milne)
We sang this over and over and then a miracle happened. It really did begin to snow, and it snowed and snowed and kept on snowing.
"Chargot Cottage" near Luxborough
Our next home was to be in this little cottage which was magical. It was actually just half of a cottage, the other half being lived in by a local man called Tarr and his sister. Outside there was a tiny garden, and across the road was the last of a series of (I believe) seven small lakes, all interconnected, ending with a stream flowing down the side of the road. All around were flowers and birds, and there was the possibility of fishing in a lake near the cottage. Sometimes we would see a blue flash of colour as a kingfisher flew by.
I am told that, about the first day we'd been at "Chargot", I'd spent all day at the gate telling everyone who went by: "Tomorrow is my birthday." That was my sixth birthday.
At the birthday tea party, I can remember being made to stand on my chair to make a speech, but I don't personally remember what I'd said. However, I've been told my speech went like this:
"Thank you for coming to my party, and thank you for my presents. I hope you will all be able to come to my next birthday party, when the war might be over and you can all give me bigger and better presents."
One day, when Tucky was teaching us arithmetic, Michael was having some difficulty with his sums. Tucky tried showing Michael up, saying: "Patrick has done his sums so why can't you do yours?" She eventually lost her temper and made Michael get out of his chair, so that she could sit down to show him how to do it. This was a folding chair with rather thin metal legs. I can remember the chair subsiding under her weight (and she was quite heavy) squashing right down to the ground. Tucky's face was a treat, particularly as she would go bright red on occasions like that. So, instead of doing more sums, we went down to the village blacksmith with Michael and me both triumphant at this fresh turn of events.
Michael and I each took our turn in cutting logs at a sawhorse, and we proudly built up piles of logs. One day, I was told off for not stacking my logs as neatly as Michael did. He, of course, had a beautiful pile and my logs were all in a heap. I was told to make my logs neat and tidy like Michael's.
Instead of making my logs into a tidy heap like Michael's, I thought it would be much easier to make his pile like mine. All I had to do was to knock his pile over so that it became a messy heap just like mine! He, of course, was furious and took to immediate retaliation, and I don't blame him. He pushed me violently into a huge bed of nettles near to the logpiles. There I lay screaming, unable to get out and unable to move without getting stung in lots of fresh places. Eventually my mother, or Tucky, came and rescued me.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Growing Up?"
Copyright © 2015 Patrick Casement.
Excerpted by permission of Karnac Books Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
I am born into a passing age,
Prince Otto von Bismark has to be rescued (by the butler) from a rusty shower,
Prep school years,
"All the teachers have given up on you",
Life at our first settled home,
Dreaded parties and seeing double at a Hunt Ball (aged 14),
Having fun and I turn exams into a game,
My parents in Germany,
The Duke of Edinburgh slept in my bed,
Into uniform — National Service,
Several times I am due for a reprimand,
Teaching at a prep school,
I am dismissed: all the staff then resign and I am reinstated,
What to read? Cambridge,
Anthropology is "the study of man embracing women": that sounds promising,
What to do with a degree?,
Into the City? Or bricklaying?,
Back to college — Oxford,
Several brushes with the police,
Back to engaging with the real world — probation training,
I follow Sir Roger Casement into Pentonville prison,
My first real job: probation officer,
"Never, ever do that again": Sir Ewan Montagu, QC,
Catching up on life back at Rogate,
Carrying a child in a carrycot who turns out to be Hugh Grant,
Meanwhile becoming a family,
Don't judge a book by its cover,
My next (and last) real job: Family Welfare Association,
Meeting the queen: "I suppose it is always useful to have a man in the house, to mend the fuses and things",
We finally settle,
"Where is that rope going?" I meet up with someone who owes me a lot of money,
The passing of an era,
Four funerals (for two parents) and a birthday party,