Here’s an eye-opener for you. According to Lib Dem Councillor Jo Hayes, a likely reason that I voted down her town-centre throttling motion on traffic emissions may well have been my ‘upbringing’.
— Jo Hayes (@JoHayesLibDem) January 5, 2016
She may be surprised to learn that I read her motion in detail and decided it would contribute to the decay of our town centre if brought into force. A number of her colleagues agreed, which is why the motion fell.
But I am mystified why she thinks my ‘upbringing’ has anything to do with it. I know nothing of her own upbringing, and nor would I assume it was the driving force behind her terrible motion. As she is so fond of saying on Twitter ‘you are entitled to you own opinion, not your own facts.’
Cllr Hayes seems reluctant to explain what she meant. So I thought I’d provide her with a few facts about my upbringing. Then perhaps she’ll be able to tell me why they make me arrogant.
- I was born on the outskirts of Leicester. At the time, my father was a police constable and my mother had been training to be a nurse.
- My father’s father was a forester on the Burghley Estate in Stamford. My mother’s father was a schoolmaster and a distant cousin of the Marquess of Queensberry (whom he never met). I know Cllr Hayes knows this snippet of information, so I add it here in the spirit of openness.
- When I was two years old, we moved back to Stamford. My father became an engineer, working principally on marine engines.
- Throughout this time we lived in private rented properties. I recall one of them, in Adelaide Street, being very damp.
- My younger brother was born when I was just 5 years old. Another brother died at birth when I was 7 years old.
- When I was nearly 8 years old, my parents divorced. At the time I attended a state, Catholic primary school. The headmaster kindly arranged for me, my mother and my brother to stay with the nuns at Little Massingham after the divorce.
- Between the ages of 8 and 10 I lived in three council houses – on Kesteven Road, Elizabeth Road and Essex Road in Stamford. We lived off about £40 per week (if I remember rightly) in maintenance payments from my father. My mother seemed to survive only on toast.
- During this time, my mother had relationships with various partners, one of whom was a Corporal in the RAF and based at Wittering. He used to beat her up. I remember one night he smashed in the back door as my mother screamed for help and threw things through the glass of the front door to attract help.
- When I was 9, my mother married a man whose own wife had died. He worked for the DHSS and had, at the time, a major alcohol problem. We moved briefly to Lincoln where I attended a state C of E Middle School for a few months.
- When I was 10 years old we moved back to Stamford. I returned to my state Catholic primary school and won a county scholarship to Stamford School, a private school for boys at which my grandfather had taught.
- Between the ages of 12 and 19, we lived in two further council houses – in Windsor Close and Masterton Road.
- During most of this time, my stepfather refused to acknowledge me if I walked into the same room. When my brother reached a similar age, the same thing happened to him. We didn’t feel welcome in our own home unless our mother was there. I daresay it would be called emotional abuse these days.
- At 15 I left Stamford School after my final GCSE, glad to have left a school that I felt was stuck in the 1950s. For a month I got a job in a factory that sorted and baled raw sheep’s fleeces. It was filthy work.
- I then went to Stamford College for Further Education and studied for three A-Levels. I dropped one after a year and then added another, which I studied over a single year at an evening class. During this time, about three nights per week, I used to cycle out to a village five miles away and work at a petrol station to earn extra money.
- Also during this time, my mother went to Nottingham to study a Social Work diploma. My stepfather started drinking again and had a heart attack after running up debts. It wasn’t fun being at home when my mother was away during the week.
- I left Stamford College with the A-Level Arts Prize and won a place at St Andrews University. It was one of the best things that happened to me.
- At university I worked every summer holiday to support myself (I was on the remnants of the full student grant and took out full student loans). I had jobs as a forester, a road sweeper and a care assistant in two residential / nursing homes for the elderly.
Perhaps a messy upbringing, but it’s the hand I was dealt and I don’t regret it.
What I do regret is Cllr Hayes suggesting that this upbringing gave me the ‘arrogance’ to vote down one of her pet schemes. By doing so, she not only insults me but insults my mother and all those – like my grandparents – who were a positive and stable influence during my early and teenage years.
She should apologise. She can keep her opinions, but she now has the facts.