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Three Royal Terrace
July 25, 2019
A severely autistic child, possessing no language of his own, learns his and his family's history from his father and repeats it to the reader.
'My name is Roddy. I am severely autistic or more technically, "low-functioning". I have no spontaneous language. My dad saw the film The Accountant and was inspired to write this book through my eyes. That film's central character, as a young boy, displayed all the uncontrollable characteristics I did. The difference is that he went on to a "high-functioning" state. I remained otherwise. I wanted to learn more about my dad. I wanted to understand about myself. I wanted to feel the struggles of the family as I moved from childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. I wanted to convey my own sorrow at the anguish I often inflicted upon my siblings and especially Mum.' "Thank you Dad for giving me a voice!"
A Bit About Dad
He was born in Berlin, British Army of the Rhine (BAOR), just after World War II, of Scottish and German parents. He moved to Edinburgh when he was six, when his parents divorced, being brought up by his father. He ran away when he was 17, joining the British Army. After Aden, he left “to get an education”. He worked in town planning in UK before breaking into international development, mainly in Africa but also Asia and the Middle East, with the UN in New York City. He has published two technical books and 22 related journal papers. He is working in Uganda and visits Edinburgh and New York as often as he can, for the family. I miss him!
Robert Burns recognised: in the original Scottish, “O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!" Or, in modern English, “Oh would some Power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us.”
Dad in Edinburgh,1975, just after becoming a chartered town planner.
‘...for there is nothing so good and lovely as when man and wife in their home dwell together in unity of mind and disposition.’
The Odyssey of Homer
Oxford University Press, 1991, p.89.
In The Churchill Factor by Boris Johnson, there was a picture of British political and imperial leaders on camels in front of Egyptian pyramids, including Lawrence. Churchill inserted a caption about Lawrence: ‘who is not in complete harmony with the normal’. In my view, such people often have the greatest insights into the human condition!
Meanwhile, this is Dad's second and last book.
The Expatriate Town Clerk
On the strength of Dad's MBA, because it included ‘accounting and finance’ and being a town planner, he was offered the job of town clerk of Lilongwe city council; the city being the rapidly growing, aspiring Garden City capital of Malawi. He had never been to Africa. The result was a series of revelations. First, concerned the behavior and attitude of expatriates; the British in particular. Secondly, was how Malawians responded to an expatriate chief executive. Thirdly, was how donors behaved towards their consultants and advisers. Finally, was the impact of Africa generally on the social and psychological being of Mum and Dad.
As to Malawi: it was often described by expatriates as “Africa for beginners” because at least then, things normally worked. The fact that international phone calls were strictly monitored (something discovered later – with a certain result), added to the experience. The Malawians described their country as the “warm heart of Africa”. It was!