WHO I AM
A life-long love of dogs, bikes and planes and photography. A newly-evolving digital artist. An academic who loves teaching but resists the neoliberal university and will soon retire, to ride across the US on a motorcycle for three months and fly vintage jet fighters
I will soon retire, I hope. We may as a profession even get back some of the pension fund that was stolen from us by greedy corporate managers. I have a best friend who I know I can rely on, when I have to, absolutely and unconditionally, and that's a rare feeling in a febrile, wobbling world. I have a warm house, a big old dog, a big old motorbike and, for now, enough good health. I prefer winter to summer, cold to hot, remote to urban and Indonesian to Indian curries. I've lived and worked in places at war and places at peace and miss places that are radically different from modernity. I think the world has come undone because powerful, callous, emotionally-emaciated men dominate resource distribution at will, and the rest of us no longer have access, which is why I believe that change can only come through many, probably violent, revolutions. I think this because I believe Freire and Fanon and Malcolm X when they declared that only the oppressed understand oppression, and only they can free themselves from it.
Squadron Leader Norman Rose was the Boss of my local Air Experience Flight at RAF Woodvale in the mid-to-late 1970's. He led a a crew of World War Two RAF pilots, some of whom had flown Spitfires, Hurricanes and Typhoons, others Mosquitos, Lancasters and Stirlings, all of whom we revered as living Gods.
In my world of domestic child violence, there was no place safer than a vintage airplane over a freezing sea with a geriatric RAF pilot. Those pilots volunteered their time to fly air cadets in Chipmunks at weekends, and this needed Staff Cadets (me and a dozen or so others trained to rotate kids through aircraft flights at lovely RAF Woodvale). It was the only place my stepfather couldn't reach me and I revelled in every second of it. I still have my logbook, almost half a century on.
Norman took me under his wing, knew about my criminal record, got me on special flights, paid me to take care of his garden when I was unemployed and did pretty much everything a real father would do. He also gave me the reference that got me into University and which changed my life after years of stagnation and drinking. I rewarded his faith in me by getting a PhD 8 years later
Norman got me to Stephen, as if they'd somehow known how I could best be helped and developed. Stephen became my tutor of choice as an undergraduate. He was much loved by all of us, with wonderful idiosyncrasies I treasure today. He fueled my focus on structural injustice -injustice caused by rules we unthinkingly follow - and then agreed to supervise a PhD. I was his greatest challenge - still a late blossomer.
Had he not died in 1998, I think he would have been rightly pleased with what I have become intellectually. He laid all the groundwork by asking all the right questions and being such a well-travelled scholar. I am forever indebted to his wisdom and patience. His legacy echoes loudly in my teaching and research.