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  • iaindryden1

a birthday

One hundred years ago Suffragettes fought for women's votes and seventy years ago my body emerged to face my mother's private battle. Although he lived with us, I hardly saw the disinterested aristocrat who sired me, but for four years I heard my mother's sobs until she fled his violence and did the unheard of - divorce him. Unfortunately for her, but wonderful for her children, this meant being ostracised and thus living in deepest rural Kenyan, for she did not wish to return to her handsome family home in Scotland where she had been educated by her own governess and would have been cared for in comfort.

Though once President of the Union at Glasgow University, and although on D-Day she controlled the radar station which enabled ships and planes to cross the English Chanel with safety. Using her English degree, she became a teacher, which entitled us to free education, but in 1950s Kenya women were badly paid and so until I was fifteen years we lived in utter poverty. Although our father's family were billionaires with a roaring international business, we wore tightly fitting hand-me-down shoes and clothes.

However, my younger brother and I were rich for, only affording the cheapest housing, we lived amongst a noble tribe whose influence on my psyche was great. It astounds me that today I have got this far, so many dangers and near death experiences have I had. And today, although my ideas have frequently been stolen to make others rich, looking from a small house and garden across the misty hills of Somerset, I feel wealthy, for it is what is inside which counts, not the fragile socio-economic castles we build.

And today I've had an excellent birthday - all day villagers have greeted me, telling me how much they gained from the controversial meeting I arranged to contest the Parish Council's intention to stop us parking where residents have parked for decades - alongside the village's lovely Common. They tell me last night's meeting has bonded them. People say they returned home bursting with positivity which infected their families. What a great birthday present this has been, and specifically because we are new to this place.

Happy Birthday to anyone who might be celebrating today!

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