Maurice Legg

Chapter 1   Preamble                       


I looked at a blank paper for a while wondering how one starts an autobiography. In search of inspiration, I read Proust’s first sentence of A la Recherché  “For a long time I used to go to bed early”  Reading that didn’t take a second (nor did it help) so I tried a second autobiography Camus’s L’Etranger “Mother died today. Or was it yesterday; I can’t be sure”. That didn’t help either so, in desperation, I tried my other book.  “I was sitting at my desk fondling my .38 and wondering about my next case when in walked the broad from next door” Not much to inspire me there so I decided to concentrate on my own experiences rather than on cribbing from the great writers.


 Writing an autobiography is not a choice. There are easier ways of passing the time: what develops is a compulsion to analyse and to look inside oneself and I find that once started you can’t stop. Inevitably this account will be biased in my favour. Whose wouldn’t be? All the editorial decisions were new to me: what to include, what to keep mum about; what is OK, what is de trop. It is what it is - a rummage through my life. Had I given critical consideration to everything I wrote, I’d never have made any progress. But a blurred photograph, as Wittgenstein reminds us, is still a photograph.


Janet knew nothing of my life before I was 70 years old and proposed that I should write about it. That was the initial impetus. My second thought was that my grandchildren may be interested to learn that life in my youth 1926 –1946 was far, far different from theirs in post 1960. The social changes brought about by the Second World War and the election of a Labour government in 1945 radically changed the world of the poorer people in Britain You’ll see that my own childhood took place in an earlier and a different world to yours!


After describing my childhood, later pages deal with our many travels and the reasons behind them. Why for example didn’t we go to Boston and stay there? Was it all worthwhile?  Isn’t it a bit late to explain it all to my children? Isn’t it vanity or self indulgent; far better to forget the past and “move on”  but is this really sensible or wise? They say that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” and “The past is prologue“.


I am not sure where this rummage will end.  Maybe it will finish in 1986, when I retired, or 1996 my 70th birthday when Margaret died, or today giving me the opportunity of describing my later years. All are all possibilities. The later I leave it, the more irrelevant it becomes since my target readership know as much as I do about current life. I’ll decide later!
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