Above: Behind the fence at ICI, Ardeer, with its testing bunkers where my Dad did research on nitroglycerine, and Arran's mountains behind.
Right: My post-war world was one of adventure and making stuff.
Below: A coal fire, quite like the one I sat beside with my Dad, He explained why some flames were blue, others yellow, and let me light the vertical streams of coal gas that emerged from cracks in the burning rock.
I was born in West Kilbride in Ayrshire on the Firth of Clyde in 1940. The mountains of the Isle of Arran were across the water, the landscape so different to Norfolk’s. They still call me.
I spent most of my childhood in the west coast of Scotland in Ardeer. I was allowed to run wild around its dunes, heather and ponds. I was not allowed to explore the bings, railway lines and ICI Explosives Factory next to us but did so all the same. My Dad worked there, as a research chemist and expert on making and testing explosives. My fascination in science came from him and is still as absorbing for me now as it was then.
My Mum allowed me to do things which many boys were denied, such as using sharp tools and getting dirty. I found clay, made a hollow log for flowers and fired it in her oven. I made Stone Age axes, cast a lead spear-head in sand, abraded lumps of sandstone into designs I liked and once even tried to carve a human head in a great lump of coal. It shattered – but not so my love of making things.
I did draw and paint: Dick Campbell the Speedway Rider, Mighty Mouse and the shields I would carry into battle, as well as landscapes real and imagined. All the landscapes had mountains.