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October 6, 2012

Some babies see birth as a relief, an escape into the world. Others like me are bewildered upon casting glazed eyes upon this life.  Why?  What had I done wrong?  That feeling has influenced my entire life — what have I done wrong?….Mumbling,  “A good deed never goes unpunished.”

My parents loved me but did not spare much time for the things that interested me.  Instead, they dressed me up for my Catholic communion party, and every year they went on holidays, together, without me.

During my parents’ holidays I was generally parked for two weeks with one of my mother’s six sisters.  I recall only one holiday with my parents alone. I still believe that I have been sort of a loner ever since

My parents sent me to boarding school when I was 11.  That was an important mistake of my own doing. It so happened that my only brother was at boarding school and he hated it.  As a “room” single boys had a chambrette, which is a small wooden open-air box with a bed and a curtain.  But if brothers were enlisted they got a small room, a real room. Of course my brother knew this and persuaded me to keep begging my parents — and in fact forcing their decision by behaving miserably — to send me to this expensive boarding school.  When I had finally made my presence intolerable enough, I was kicked out and admitted to the boarding-school where my brother lived.  Three months later my brother was kicked out and I was kicked out of OUR room, and for the next three years I stayed in a chambrette until they also “dismissed” me. From there I went from school to school and from boarding house to boarding house.

By graduation time I had amassed a tally of 4 schools and 6 guest homes. The last family I stayed with was certainly the best — for a change they did not do it for the money.  When my “stepmother” had her birthday I showed my appreciation by painting all the bulbs of the street-lanterns red. This became my first encounter with the police.

When I was 17 my real mother died of cancer, just a few months before I, at last, passed my final school exams.  Ready to leave home? Sort of. I was drafted into the Royal Dutch Marines. Nothing to lose but your life — the final departure.

I must admit that the Marines did me a lot of good. The film they kept showing about the 1944 Normandy invasion I found less entertaining.  Not coming home started entering my mind. After two years in the Marines, I embarked upon a book publishing career invited thereto by a publisher of religious and philosophical books.

To further my education I studied these subjects for 2 years in Freiburg, Germany. Back in Holland and even more confused I worked for a year in publishing in Holland. I then moved to a similar publishing house in New York, where 4 years later I started my own business as a publishing consultant. I moved that enterprise to Holland a year later. Two years after that I started my own publishing house, creating and handling international co-productions of children’s books, which developed into a company producing children’s animated films. These activities allowed and forced me to travel the world for 25 years. I retired to Southern Spain when I was 55.

These stories contain some of the adventures I encountered during those fulfilling albeit turbulent years.

I hope you enjoy.

From → Introduction

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