Before the Dawn
born in Shoreham, Sussex, England in 1950. At the age of eight, I
went to the British Seamens' Boys' Home at Brixham, in South Devon,
where I remained until I left school in 1966. The home, famous
throughout Devon, was originally founded as a haven for orphaned
sons of British sailors. In the early fifties, a decision was taken
to accept boys from single parent circumstances, as there were fewer
orphans needing care. Life at the home was conducted under British
Royal Navy protocol, and boys were groomed for future service at
sea. However, a career in the Royal Navy was by no means compulsory,
and there was total freedom to follow a career of choice.
Discipline was strictly enforced, and participation in Home's drum
and bugle band was mandatory. I learned to play the bugle soon after
joining, and by the time I had reached the age of fifteen, I had
attained the position of lead bugler. This carried the prestige of a
silver bugle and shoulder sash. Some of my most abiding memories
stem from visiting various Churches on Remembrance Day to play the
"Last Post" and "Reveille." The band would also perform at a variety
of soccer matches, fetes, carnivals and garden parties, in addition
to our regular Sunday morning church parade.
At the age of eleven, I was fortunate enough to gain admission to
Homelands Technical High School in nearby Torquay. English was the
subject that I enjoyed the most, and I will always be grateful to
have been tutored by some very dedicated teachers during my five
years at Homelands.
During my years at the Home, I developed a passion for engines. The
Home had two motor-boats and a diesel engine used to pump seawater
to fill the swimming pool. I was involved in helping to maintain all
of these. I was averse to the coarse blue serge material of the
Royal Navy uniform and found it very uncomfortable to wear,
particularly when wet. Thus I resolved to follow a civilian career
and when I left Brixham at the age of sixteen, I trained to become a
diesel engine fuel injection specialist.
I had a spell in the British Army, followed by complete break from
my trade when, in 1978, I spent thirteen years in the field of water
supply and treatment. I emigrated to New Zealand in 1991, once again
returning to the fuel injection trade.
I have an intense dislike of all cruelty, especially to children and
animals, and become dismayed by man's ever increasing inhumanity to
his fellow man, as depicted daily on television news. I enjoy most
sports, motorsport in particular, and my other hobbies include
playing chess, listening to music and writing poetry.
I feel that poetry is a unique way of communicating with people of
like-minded spirit. It is an opportunity for expression of thought
and feeling within the framework of the writer's own choosing. It
allows the reader freedom to empathize or criticize, in much the
same way as an art lover would study an artist's canvas. In many
ways, I think a poem is similar to a painting. Unlike a novel, it
usually takes only minutes to read, yet the impressions conveyed can
linger in the memory like a vision.
Over the years, I have learned many lessons the hard way. Through
this has come a greater understanding of what are commonly referred
to as old-fashioned moral values; the values of trust, loyalty, true
friendship and, above all, love. I believe this to be the greatest
of all emotions, and I have tried to reflect its power in much of my
Through the medium of poetry, I have made many loyal friends.
Nowhere more so than in my own local writers' group. To have shared
in their fellowship has been a blessing of inestimable worth. Here,
I have seen a true reflection of all these values.
My favourite classic poets are Lord Byron and Rudyard Kipling.
Kipling's poem "If" says it all for me. I constantly refer to it,
either for inspiration or in times of hardship. Byron's mastery of
language also inspires me when I am searching for a semantic
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