Who would have thought it?!
by Susan Shingleton
My parents, especially my mother, were keen for their only child to have a good education. I studied hard and got into Oxford university. The sixties were an exciting time and I acted in a lot of plays, went to parties and continued writing poetry.
I suffered from panic attacks,as I still do at the age of 72, thinking myself somehow not good enough: my mother was a deputy head teacher but my dad was an electrician, and most students seemed to come from posher backgrounds: I think now that I should be proud of my efforts as my parents were of me.
My first marriage to a Canadian historian I met at Oxford was full of travel and interest but not sexually fulfilling.But we enjoyed ourselves when I lectured at a Canadian university. Our divorce was amicable but shocked my traditionalist mother, who had been born in 1900. I began to feel like a victim, which I wasn't.
I had returned from Canada to England on a fellowship to study for a Ph. D.
It was then that I met my second husband through poetry. We had three lovely children, still the lights of my life.
But he was a serial adulterer and bad with money. Because of my scoliosis, a severe and fatiguing double curvature of the spine I found that looking after a big house and the family was as much as I could manage and we were always hard up.
When I was finally able to divorce him after twenty years and my children were grown up I started a new life as a lecturer in TEFL and traveled for fifteen years working in Japan, S. Korea,Oman and Saudi Arabia, holidaying in the vacations in Thailand, Malaysia, China, the Philippines, Kong Kong and Cambodia. My children all visited me abroad and I holidayed in the UK so we never lost touch.
At 65 I retired home in England and live in a very pleasant community in Greenwich near my second son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. I am lucky to have my other son and daughter also living in London!
I enjoy pottery, swimming and cinema-going. Sometimes I feel guilty I am not doing more charity work, though I have done some. I have had three operations on my spine, a hip replacement and am just about to have a knee replacement, so I get about on a mobility scooter currently and even took it recently on a holiday touring the temples and tombs in Egypt.
I still have a lot of anxiety and tension. (My mother was carrying me during the Blitz and had a lot of family problems.)
But I meditate and soothe myself looking back at a fulfilling life.
I know that I always did my best with what life threw at me and my children all love and take care of me, so I know I succeeded in bringing up nice people.