Sometimes, when I think back, I cannot understand how unbelievably stupid I used to be. Take the time when I was fourteen and ran away from home in Cornwall. The object of this particular exercise was to make my way to the docks at Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Once there, I was to dodge Customs and Passport Control by shimmying up one of the ropes to the norwegian liner which was berthed there and stow away inside one of the lifeboats. My norwegian friends had arranged for me to hide in their summer-house and look after me as soon as I had landed in Norway. At that tender age, the naivety of youth was apt to take prime position in the overall scheme of things and I remember thinking that this adventure would be a purely perfunctory one at best. The word 'danger' never crossed my mind, although I do confess to having had the butterflies, especially when nightfall came.
My mother must have been out of her mind with worry. I went missing for three days, surviving on two cornish pasties and the odd cup of coffee, only to be subsequently gripped at Collumpton in Devon by one of Her Majesty's dutiful policemen. (Collumpton was to play another major part in my life two years later - almost to the exact date)
I absconded from home another three times after that before I resigned myself to the inevitable. The wake-up call came abruptly during a Juvenile Court Hearing in October 1973, where my verbal dexterity just managed to save me from a long period in a care-home. It was a lesson I never forgot.