'So why is this book dedicated to Peter and to J M Barrie ?
What is childhood ? 
The introduction reviews childhood and children's literature, and considers the significance of the family, parents, time and death.
And eventually we meet the subject of our story - Pete.'

'Tell me the stories of long, long ago...' - 'so long ago, so clear' 
"I always want to be a boy - and to have fun." 

with a link to 'Peter Pan - Children's Literature and Childhood'

The bright summers were warmer, the grass was softer, and the drowsy summer days stretched almost into infinity. 
There was always soft, powdery snow at Christmas, and the fire was always warm and inviting on those cosy, quiet evenings. 
People were more friendly, and life was gentle and easy. 
Was it really like that ? Well, we shall see - perhaps - as we look back on a childhood that now seems to have been 'so long ago, and yet so clear'. 
But to begin at the beginning - and possibly answer two questions ? 
Why is this work dedicated to J M Barrie, and who is Peter ? 
Well, to really find out about Barrie and Peter you need to read the whole book, - but here's a little attempt to give some sort of explanation.

Take a gentle stroll through Kensington Gardens on a soft, sunny summer afternoon. 
As you walk away from the glittering gold of the neo-gothic spires of the Albert Memorial (see left), down the avenue of tall trees to the Watts statue of 'Physical Energy', you can make a little detour towards the cool limpid waters of the Serpentine. 
There, by the lake, you will find the statue of a pretty young boy who is playing on some pipes. 
This statue is unique in London in that it portrays not an idealised personification of some 'virtue', or a famous historical figure, but rather a fictional character from a 'supposedly childrens' storybook. 

The statue is by the eminent Victorian sculptor Sir George James Frampton, (see left).

Sir George James Frampton, RA (18 June 1860 – 21 May 1928) was a notable British sculptor and leading member of the New Sculpture movement.
Frampton, the London-born son of a stonemason, began his working life in an architect's office before studying under William Silver Frith at the City and Guilds of London Art School (formerly Lambeth School of Art).
He went on to the Royal Academy Schools where he won the Gold Medal and Travelling Scholarship.
From 1887 to 1890 Frampton undertook further study and work at the studio of Antonin Mercie in Paris.
Frampton returned to England and took up a teaching position at the Slade School of Art in 1893.
He was married to the artist Christabel Cockerell and had one son, the painter and etcher Meredith Frampton.

Peter Pan with Zac Sawyer
November 2014
Among Frampton's notable public sculptures are the figures of Peter Pan playing a set of pipes, the lions at the British Museum and the Edith Cavell monument that stands outside the National Portrait Gallery, London.
There are seven casts of the Peter Pan statue, following an original commission by J. M. Barrie.
The statues are situated in Kensington Gardens, London, England, Sefton Park, Liverpool, England, Brussels, Belgium, Camden, New Jersey, United States, Perth, Western Australia, Australia, Toronto, Canada, and Bowring Park in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.

The lifesize bronze statue is of Peter Pan, the eponymous hero of J M Barrie's play, (because the model for the statue was a boy called James Shaw, and not Michael Llewellyn-Davies, - of who more later- Barrie was very disappointed with the result, and commented, "It doesn't show the devil in Peter,").

'Our Peter' - 'Little Pete', (as we shall call the subject of this study), first saw the statue when he was about five or six years old, with Jane Crawford, his adoptive mother, and 'Auntie' Joe, - and you will hear a lot more about Jane and 'auntie' Joe later.
They were on their way to Selfridges (see right) the famous department store in Oxford Street, one crisp, sunny December afternoon, to do some Christmas shopping.

Strangely, on that day, Pete was bought two presents in the toy department at Selfridges, - a plastic pirate's cutlass and a toy telescope - which, of course, should make us think of Captain Jas. Hook, and if you don't know who Jas. Hook is, then you have had a misspent childhood.

At that time, of course, Pete had no idea who Peter Pan was, or Jas. Hook for that matter, as no one had read him the book, and he had not seen Barrie's play, or the Disney cartoon.
Now if Pete (that is our Pete) met J M Barrie (see right), who created Peter Pan, today, I don't think he'd like him very much, despite the fact that Barrie was very much like Pete's 'Uncle' Jack.
'Uncle' Jack was Pete's adoptive father's brother-in law; - Scottish, (as Barrie was), very short, dark and swarthy, - he was always smoking a pipe, played the violin, and loved Verdi, the Italian operatic composer.
As a boy Pete adored 'Uncle' Jack, (almost as much as Uncle Richard - ['Uncle Dick'], although the two men were very different), and was apparently inconsolable when Jack died when Pete was about eighteen.
Now, many years later, however, Pete doesn't like short people, and particularly short people who smoke pipes.

It was thanks to another 'uncle', however, - 'Uncle Walt' (see right), that Pete was introduced to J M Barrie and Peter Pan in 1954, at the local Odeon cinema, at Hounslow West, through that infamous and desperately kitsch cartoon 'Peter Pan'.
The only three things that really attracted Pete to his namesake then were the sentimental song, 'The Second Star To The Right', the flying, (had our Pete ever flown before ? odd question....), and the idea of never growing up.
But Pete apparently did grow up, and seemed to forget about the other Peter, and his creator - no, not 'Uncle Walt', but J M Barrie, the little Scottish man with the awful cough, and a wonderful way with words.

Then came a flurry of films about 'Pan', including one film, called 'Hook' (1992), directed by Steven Spielberg, in which a grown up Peter, (and how could Peter ever grow up ?), played rather bizarrely by Robin Williams, returns to Never Land to rescue his children, who have been captured by captain Hook, equally bizarrely played by Dustin Hoffman (see left).

Another film dealing with Peter Pan, 'Finding Neverland', featured a ridiculously handsome and tall J M Barrie, played by Johnny Depp, minus the moustache, who doesn't seem to have any of the paedophilic tendencies of the real Barrie.
The film mainly dealt with the relationship between Barrie and the Llewelyn-Davies family, although the chronology was so distorted that the story made very little sense.

To make matters even worse, a very strange pop star named his home 'Never Land', and made some serious problems for himself by 'entertaining' children there, - unlike Barrie, who never seemed to arouse anyone's concern by spending suspiciously inordinate periods of time playing with little boys.
But the magic was still there.
Then, a film, simply called 'Peter Pan', with the Duchess of York providing a commentary, was released in 2003, financed by Mohammed Fyad (see right), and dedicated to the memory of Dodi ? - Fayed's wastrel son, who died in Paris in mysterious circumstances.

The film had a real, and stunningly handsome boy, Jeremy Sumpter (see left), looking considerably younger than his fourteen years.
Wendy was the deliciously sweet Rachel Hurd-Wood (see right), and Hook and Mr Darling were played the same individual, as required by Barrie, the actor in question being Jason Isaacs.
The story was almost completely true to Barrie's original, but much revised play, and the absence of American accents in the cast was particularly pleasing - giving the production of this quintessentially English fantasy a truly English flavour.
Just prior to this release, our Pete had also, just out of sheer curiosity, read a couple of biographies of Barrie.
Much to Pete's surprise he had discovered from reading these biographies that there was a strong connection between Peter Pan and Kensington Gardens -
This was the same Kensington Gardens where Frampton's statue of Peter Pan, which little Pete had starred at somewhat uncomprehendingly all those years ago, still stands gazing out across the Serpentine (see left) - and the same Kensington Gardens where Pete had spent some wonderful times with his own 'marvellous boy'. 


So that is why this little book is dedicated to J M Barry and Peter - but what kind of book is it ?
Well I suppose it could be described as an 'biography', but really it is closer, in a way, to Barrie's 'Peter & Wendy', being a meditation or perhaps an étude, - although maybe not so profound - on a particular childhood -
But it tries also to be an extrapolation to childhood in general, as we now understand it, and also on the beginning of things, and their seemingly inevitable loss.
It may be argued that most biographies, and autobiographies, are somewhat strange for a number of reasons.
The first is that the chapters about the subject's childhood and adolescence are almost always remarkably short.
Now of course if you live to seventy-five or eighty, then your childhood and adolescence only amounts to twenty-five percent of your life in terms of years.
Even taking this into account, however, most biographies and autobiographies only allow a maximum of ten percent, if you are lucky, of the narrative to cover this part of an individual's life.
If, however, we ignore the purely temporal significance of the first twenty years, and instead consider the emotional and psychological importance and significance of this period of a person's life, we can see that most biographies, and autobiographies, leave many areas of their subject's character and personality completely unexplained, and unexplored.
Of course many biographer's do not have access to information regarding an individual's early life, as this is usually far less well documented that the subject's later life - especially if they are dealing with an 'important person'.
With regard to autobiographies, however, this is not an acceptable excuse - we all know what happened to us when we were young, unless we have suffered brain damage or some other event
that has caused amnesia.
Most of us, however, if we ever come to recount our life history, prefer to dwell on our triumphs, or even our disasters, if they make us appear heroic or interesting, rather than the seemingly strange and possibly embarrassing events of our childhood and youth, and it is probably for these reasons that childhoods are so thin on the ground, at least in literary form.
The significance of childhood, of course, brings up another consideration.

There is a fascinating theory, forming the centrepiece a book entitled 'The Eternal Child' by Clive Bromhall (see left), that suggests that human beings are 'neotenous apes'.
The theory basically derives from the remarkable similarity between a pre-natal chimpanzee and an adult human, which implies that humans are basically immature apes, not only in terms of biology, but also in terms of behaviour and psychology.
So, to a certain extent, we are all 'Peter Pans' - all children masquerading as adults.
But more of that theory later.

Another area of life that is so often neglected or ignored in biographies and autobiographies is sex.
Now this may be understandable in biographies originating in the nineteenth, and early twentieth century, but since the advent of Sigmund Freud's theories of human sexuality it seems strange that contemporary biographies, and autobiographies, should give those matters such little attention.

 click below for more information about the theories of Sigmund Freud

Oedipus Complex
While Freud's (see left) convoluted ideas regarding the 'Oedipus' and 'Electra' complexes may be far from proven, and subject to much revision, and even rejection in some quarters, there is general agreement about the importance of infant and childhood sexuality, simply because there is so much evidence to confirm much of what he suggested.

Oedipus and the Sphinx
Equally Kinsey's (see right) researches into childhood and adult sexuality showed, much to the consternation of American society at the time, that sexuality was an important part of most individual's lives, and the great variety of sexual activity that Kinsey recorded shows that there is not a standard or normative set of sexual responses to which the majority of individuals adhere.
With adolescent males thinking about sex every ten minutes or less, it does seem strange that such an important aspect of individual's lives is often almost completely absent from the majority of biographies and autobiographies.
Such an absence, of course, removes the motivations and emotional and physical 'well-springs' that are responsible for so much of what makes us the persons that we have been, are, and will become.
Something else that is often left out of biographies and autobiographies is the matter of 'things'.
Our lives are made up of all sorts of 'things', some of them important and significant, and others that are peripheral.
Some would say that we put too much store by material possessions, but that is to misunderstand the situation.
It must be remembered also that this is the story of Pete's childhood, and for Pete 'things' have a significance that they may not have for other people.

Take for example that white rocking horse, where ever it was.
Now it may not have even been real, but it was a very significant 'thing' when Peter was very young.
There are no memories of people, - adults or other children, - just the wooden, white painted horse, and it was this 'thing' to which Pete related - and maybe even gave his love - if he was ever capable of giving love.
As we will see later, Peter was unable, for very profound reasons, (this is related to the fact that Pete suffered from birth from the genetic problems associated with Asperger's Syndrome), to relate to other people, and so it was his relationships with 'things' that were particularly significant for him.
Take, as a number of examples, such 'things' as a 'wireless', some Bakelite egg cups, a 'Dansette' record player.
Each of these items needs to be seen, or at least described, and such items can have a poignant significance for the lives of those that used them.

The radio, for example, a Murphy SAD94L (see left) is powered by valves, which means no computers, no Internet and no mobile phones.
The luminous, glowing dial on the front, with its pointer for tuning, is inscribed with the names of such places as Paris, Cairo, Amman, Moscow and Leningrad, to name just a few.
Such a radio is like a magic carpet, taking one to all those exotic and far-away destinations  - and the warm glow of the dial can fill dark, lonely evenings.. 

The egg-cups (see right) are Bakelite, and Bakelite, invented not surprisingly by a Mr Baekerland, a Belgian, in 1922 was the world's first synthetic substance.

Bakelite, of course, means a world without modern plastics.
A world where things are heavy, and have substance - have gravity, and the colors are limited.

And Bakelite has a distinctive aroma - the aroma of the past.

The Dansette record player  (see left) is a gateway to a teenager's private world of music, and a private and new culture - the culture of youth.
It means that there are no cassettes, no CDs and no MP3s.

It can play 78 rpm records (see right), as well as 45 rpm and 33 & 1/3 Vinyl records.

78 rpm records are 12 inches in diameter and, unlike other records, are made of shellac, and if you don't like them you can smash them - which is far more satisfying than deleting an MP3 from your I-Pod.

'Things' tell us about the world that we inhabit.
'Things' are important. 
Now before we settle down to look at our Peter's 'early days', it may be useful to consider what the world was like in nineteen fifty, when Peter came to Hounslow.
The fifties and sixties were a period of very rapid technological change, but for the purposes of this study it is not the science that we are interested in, but rather the effects that the science and the technology had on ordinary people's lives.
There are a number of important inventions that are very significant and influential in the twenty-first century that had little or no effect on the middle years of the twentieth century.

For example, the electronic computer, (and here we must ignore Babidge's invention, which was a purely mechanical machine), was invented during the Second World War, by Alan Turing (see right|), with the purpose of breaking the German 'Enigma' codes, yet 'computing for all' only really became a significant force in society in the last decade of the twentieth century and the first decade of the new century.
Equally, color photography was invented in the middle of the nineteenth century, but only became available to the great mass of people in the nineteen-sixties.
Another example would be recorded music, which was an invention of the American inventor Edison in the nineteenth century, but then underwent a number of modifications and transformations in the intervening decades, and eventually emerged in the twenty-first century as the incredibly portable MP3.
So, in nineteen-fifty we should realize that the technology of the time limited people's ability to see, record, enjoy and interpret their world.
In Peter's biography there are a considerable number of photographs, but this is in some ways surprising.
In nineteen-fifty, to take photographs one needed to buy relatively expensive 'roll-film' (see right).
On most cameras this meant that one was limited to eight or twelve pictures per roll, unlike the almost infinite number of photos that can be taken by the digital camera.

More significant was the fact that photos could not be 'previewed', and then either deleted or retained. The only way to see one's photos was to take them to a photographic shop, or a chemists, and then have the film developed and printed - a process that usually took about a week.

In addition, until the nineteen-sixties, most people were restricted, on purely financial grounds, to taking 'black and white' photos, as colour was prohibitively expensive, and difficult to use.

Also, photographs could only be stored physically, either by being kept in envelopes, in drawers or cupboards, or mounted in expensive albums.
And if one wanted to share photos with other people, one had to have additional, and expensive 'prints' made, which had to be physically given, or sent to the other person in question.
Finally, one had to be careful with regard to the content of photographs.
Nudity or any image that could be interpreted in a sexual or explicit manner would either not be printed or, in extreme cases, would be reported to the local constabulary.
The only way round this problem was to develop and print one's own photos, or find, usually at some considerable extra expense, an individual who would develop and print the photographs with 'no questions asked'.
The result, of course, was a distinct lack of amateur pornographers.
Moving pictures, of course, were only for the seriously wealthy, or the odd enthusiast.

And what about music.

Well in the early fifties, amazing though it may seem, many people still owned clockwork powered 'gramophones' (see right), usually dating from the 1930s, which had to be wound up with a handle, and would only play a four minute, 78 rpm, 10 inch shellac record.

Peters neighbour's, the Downings, who you shall meet later, had an electric 'radio gram' (see left), but this still only played what were known as 'seventy-eights'.
It was only in the sixties that electric 'record players', that were capable of playing the new thirty-three and a third rpm vinyl 'microgroove' records became common,and then later still before people started buying stereo 'sound-systems'.
So, we went from the gramophone to the record player to the 'sound-system'.

Then came the cassette, which sought to supersede the vinyl disk, but could never cope with the problem of tape-hiss, despite the best efforts of the Dolby Corporation.

The cassette, however, brought recorded music to the car, and, of course, made music mobile through the Walk-man (see left) - as long as you didn't jog the player too hard..

Closely following on from Phillips' development of the cassette was the great miracle of the CD (see right), which supposedly banished hum and hiss.
These, however, were all variations on a theme, being mechanical systems, with all the imperfections that such systems entail. 

Finally, however, there was the MP3 player (see right) - apparently perfection in sound.
Sound that could be edited, and sound that was so ethereal that thousands of pieces of music could be stored in a device no larger than a packet of cigarettes - not that carrying a packet of cigarettes was approved of in the health conscious twenty-first century. 

And this, of course, brings us to the computer (see left).
Not that many people use the computer to calculate, as the naively 'gay' mathematician, Alan Turing, munching on his lethal but financially lucrative Apple, foolishly imagined they would.
Instead, computers are used to watch films and videos, look at photos, communicate by email, make purchases at un-godly hours, and peruse pornography. 
In fact, your are probably reading this now on a computer ! 

Equally cars, which were an invention of the nineteenth-century and made popular by the ultimate industrialist, Henry Ford, were still the preserve of the affluent in the nineteen-fifties. 

Also, all sorts of consumer good, from telephones, to washing machines, to fridges, to vacuum cleaners, to televisions were still rarely possessed by the average person immediately after the war. 
And the result of all of this apparent 'austerity' ? - well, people's lives were a lot simpler; their expectations were a lot lower, and their horizons were decidedly limited.
But they did actually talk to one another (face to face, and not on a mobile), eat together, and judging by all the most recent an reliable research - they were happier
But what about 'our Pete' - who grew up in the nineteen-fifties ? 
Well - Pete has the same name as Peter Pan, and you may say, 'So what !'
But how many Peters do you know ?
Not such a popular name now - but very popular in the fifties.
But Peter Pan, and our Pete share many other traits. 
Both, to many, seem to be amoral, lacking in empathy.
Both seem to be egotistical, and both Peters seem, essentially, to want to 'always be a boy and to have fun.
So this is why, this little story is dedicated to Peter Pan, and his creator.

'So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned.'

For 'our Peter' it now seems that Peter Pan had been flying around in his mind since he was nearly eight, and first saw the Walt Disney cartoon with Jane and John Crawford (his adoptive parents) at the local cinema. 
Like Peter Pan, 'our Peter' did not know the identity of his parents. Peter Pan forgot, and 'our Peter' was never told, and like Peter Pan, Peter had always thought of mothers as 'very over-rated persons'. 
On occasions, when things have looked very hopeless, Peter had the sneaking thought, like Peter Pan, that 'death might be a great adventure', although as time passed, Peter was not so sure. 
Like most young people, Peter was very keen on growing up when he was a child, but when he got older he began to have doubts, and sometimes thought that maybe the best part of life had already been lived.

Barrie, after all said that 'nothing much of any importance happens to you after you are twelve', and Salvador Dali (see right) made the same comment, but upped the age to sixteen. 
As the years passed, the conviction that the best part of his life had already been lived became stronger and stronger, and eventually Peter gave up on the aspirations that mature adults are supposed to have, and started to try and fulfil his childhood desires - and childhood desires, especially for boys, means 'play'.

'Our Peter' cannot be like Barrie's Peter Pan, and stay young physically, but mentally it is possible to retain the optimism and sense of wonder that is the hallmark of a boy - a boy like Peter Pan, who could cry triumphantly, 
'I am youth ! I am joy !'.
In some ways, however, Peter - that is Peter Pan, was not just an immature boy.

Peter, as Barrie described him, did have feelings, and these could be as intense and profound as any adult's, although he always tried to vehemently deny it. 
These feelings, denied but real and intense, were yet another part of Pan's paradoxical being, which remained a mystery to both Wendy, and Hook (see right). 
Wendy said perceptively, 'You say so, but I think it is your biggest pretend.', when Peter denied his feelings. 
Undoubtedly Peter felt strongly about Wendy, and was heart-broken when 'Tink' was dying. 
He thought that death might be 'a great adventure', and was 'sad' when he watched through the Darling's nursery window, and saw the family life of which he could never become a part.

Peter, however, remained childish, although not typically childish, in one very significant way, - and in this he shared something with both 'our Peter', (the subject of this book), and Pan's great nemesis, Captain J Hook (see left) – Peter could not love
And why ? 
Well perhaps it was because he had never known a mother, and a mother's love. 
Having escaped from his nursery, Peter Pan lost this mother's love. 
Hook, equally lost his mother's love when he was bundled off to preparatory school, and then to Eaton.
'Our Peter', of course, had no memory of his real mother, and probably no mother at all for his first four years. 
Maybe this was the reason for Peter Pan's, Hook's and 'our Peter's' inability to love, - and maybe not - but sufficient to say that all three characters are essentially tragic characters because of this lack of love.

Peter, in 'Peter & Wendy' (see right), says to Wendy, "Don't have a mother", and Barrie carefully adds,

'Not only had he no mother, but he had not the slightest desire to have one. He thought them very over rated persons. Wendy, however, felt at once that she was in the presence of a tragedy.'

And that is probably what many people instinctively feel when they are in the presence of 'our Peter'.

Richard Wagner, (who will appear later in our story), that great explorer of the some of the most profound human emotions and motivations, tells us that – 'fear of our end is the source of all lack of love'.
Here, for once, he may be wrong. 
Lack of love is not a problem of our end, but of our beginnings, and while we can probably alter the path to our end, about our beginnings we can do nothing, and that is why an inability to love is so very truly tragic.
And what is the essence of a lack of love ?
Well it's a lack of empathy; a lack of sympathy and essentially an inability to accept the reality of others.
It is a monstrous form of egotism, which may fill the soul with a triumphant sense of delight, echoing Peter's cry, 'I am youth ! - I am joy !'.

And so the individual in question exalts himself above all other things as being the only true reality, yet it locks that individual in a tragic torment of loneliness.
As Barrie wrote in 'Peter & Wendy',

'Peter had ecstasies innumerable, that other children can never know, but he was looking at the one joy from which he must be forever barred' – the companionship and love of a family (see right).

Peter could neither belong to a family, nor would he create a family of his own, so Peter was condemned to be fundamentally alone
When 'our Peter', little Peter, was nearly eight years old, some months after seeing the Disney cartoon version of Peter Pan, he was lying in his little bedroom singing himself to sleep, as was his custom at that age.
There was a song from the film 'Peter Pan' called 'The Second Star to the Right'.
The song was very popular, and was played regularly on the radio.
Peter had learned all the words, and was singing it quietly to himself in bed.
As Peter sang the song to himself tears came to his eyes, and he involuntarily choked on some of the words. Jane Crawford, lying in bed in the other bedroom, must have heard, and came to the boy's door.
'Are you all right ?', she asked, which was just the sort of inane question that mothers are so good at asking.
Peter said yes, and stopped singing, unwilling to bring any more attention to himself. 
But what was going on in that little mind, to make a choking sadness in the empty darkness of the night out of a children's cartoon ? 

A longing for Neverland ?
A longing to fly - once again ?
A vaguely remembered place of true happiness, - briefly known and now lost forever ?

And how do you find Neverland ?

'Easy !'

As Peter said, 'Take the second star to the right, and fly straight on 'till morning ! '


'The second star to the right, 
Shines in the night for you. 
To tell you that the dreams you planned, 
Really can come true. 

The second star to the right, 
Shines with a light so rare, 
And if it's Neverland you need, 
Its light will lead you there. 

And when our journey is through, 
Each time we say 'goodnight', 
We'll thank the little star that shines, 
The second from the right.

click below for the next chapter

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