Is a child, raised in a home from a few days after birth for six months before being reunited with his mother, thereby influenced for the rest of his life? Is his psyche dented forever? And, what effect, the blood transfusion at three days old which made the cuts in tiny arms that are two-inch scars today? Supposedly, Peter was the fifth Rhesus baby in England (or the world?) to be saved by the new procedure, developed at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford.
Who knows? I think too much emphasis is put on these things. But certainly, I think he was an odd child. Mostly a loner, living in a fantasy world. Some probably think he became an equally odd man.
So maybe it was genetic. His father came from a recordable five hundred years of Hampshire Yeoman stock. That sounds solid enough, but the family got quite wealthy toward the latter part of the nineteenth century, what with various rich uncles croaking, without issue, and the well-off, in Victorian times, at least, had a tendency to be quite cold fish.
Stiff upper lips. The kids, seen and not heard.
Certainly, being brought up by a series of Victorian/Edwardian aunts and uncles after his own dad died of mustard gas pneumonia when he was two, and his mum doing a bunk to get away from the cold family when he was not much older, dented his psyche a bit, I believe. Young Peter was afraid of him until he was about fifteen and suddenly became aware that his father had always treated him like an adult, and now that he was, and could understand his dry sense of humour, they became good friends. But, no, I don’t believe he can be blamed.
So, who else is there to pick on?
His mother, also from a long line of yeomen and a brewing family from Swindon, and the Cotswolds, was a kind and innocent woman, but, sadly, never a friend, and he could never understood why. She was strong of body, but fragile of mind, and bipolar in her forties. He became a difficult teenager, with which she could not deal. When she once called him a sod, she thought it was a bunch of tangled roots…
“You used to be such a happy child!” she once lamented. And she was as mystified as he, for surely she, the gentle creature that she was, was not to blame.
And so he had been a happy child, but the cruelty of boarding-schools impacting on a sensitive and equally innocent child made him realise, eventually, that humanity could not be trusted to match him, smile for smile. That happened to you? Then you know what I mean.
He escaped into fantasy, as a lot of children do. Certainly, Mr and Mrs Bear and Rupert were always there, no matter what. Always understanding, listening and providing ethereal cups of tea. Did you have such stalwart friends?
With ease, Peter could escape into stories that he weaved in words to himself or to the few mutually fragile boys that gathered around. They flew with Biggles and adventured with the Famous Five and met entirely new heroes.
“Tell us a story, Pete…” But, more of that later.
Certainly, we must be tainted by tints of parental paint, but becoming aware of the hues and their influence on the whole picture, we can brighten those with which we are comfortable and daub over those that jar. So, it is a judgemental awareness that needs developing which must be as honest as we can make it. I think he tries.
Or are we ever able to be entirely objective? I try to be so, telling of myself as if I am not he.
Tell me what you think.