My father’s work included a lot of travel and I had the bracing experience of going to 11 different schools. But, on the whole, education reinforced my parent’s position. Inside myself I felt that God existed, but I didn’t have arguments with which to confront my father – and I suppose I would have needed miracles to convince my mother.
This is an uncompromisingly grim way to bring up a child and, purely as an aside, my parents were not a very happy pair. By the time I was nine, in a godless and quarrelling universe, I had had enough; there really was so little to live for. So I wrote a kindly suicide note explaining to my parents (wrongly, as it happened) that it could not be their fault that there was no God and, leaving a lock of my hair, I headed for the 70ft drop at the top of the local clay pit and stood there crumbling the edge with my toes. From, as it seemed, nowhere, a completely new idea came into my mind: if I went on trying to be alive perhaps Somebody would love me. I had no idea who Somebody might be. I went home, quietly disposed of my suicide note and went on living – partially.