MY CHILDHOOD Part 2

It was a warm, sunny day in June, 1982. I was eight years old and my life was in a mess. My imaginary girlfriend, Beverly D’Angelo had left me for another man, apparently I wasn’t ‘fun anymore’. I was devastated and the trauma of that period has left a scar in me that is still sore to this day, in fact  I can pinpoint the break-up from Bev as the point in which I lost all trust in relationships, real and imaginary ones. Looking back, I don’t really blame her, the imaginary video rental store that we were managing together was running up debts and I was under a lot of stress due to many things, one of which was my fathers increasingly erratic behaviour. Since accidentally murdering my mother he had changed a lot. His drinking was out of control and as for his work, his inventions were becoming more and more deranged. In the six months of 1982 he had invented, among other things, the TieStraw which was an ordinary suit tie but with a rigid plastic lining which could be put into a glass and used for drinking, the paper sleeping bag, a coal powered bicycle, LSD Slippers (slippers made out of the hallucinogenic and designed to enter your blood stream via the pores in your feet), and the Solar Powered Cigarette Lighter.

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We would occasionally set some time aside to have frank discussions about my interest in world history and in his interest of wanting to transform into a salmon and swim the great rivers of the world. His determination to mutate into a salmon was to ultimately prove to be his downfall. In his efforts to speed along the transformation he took to lying under water in the bath which tragically led to him drowning himself.

So there I was, an eight year old whose father had accidentally drowned himself, a mother who had been accidentally murdered and an imaginary girlfriend who had left due to my inability to run a small imaginary video rental shop. I was alone in the world…or so I thought. Unbeknownst to me, I had an uncle on my father’s side and due to me having no other legal guardian he agreed to look after me for a small fee.

Three days later I had moved in with my uncle at his home in Oxford the centre of learning, the perfect place for a young genius such as myself to broaden his knowledge. My uncle was a cold and distant man (I don’t mean his body temperature or that he was always far away, I’m talking about his personality) and the reason I just keep calling him ‘Uncle’ was and still is because he never told me his name. He thought it would be a sign of weakness for us to know each others names so ‘uncle’ it was. But I instantly fell in love with Oxford and I spent all of my time roaming its ancient streets and libraries. It was during this period that I really became interested in world history and found myself devouring history books on a daily basis. The two books that had the biggest impact on me in 1982 were Jane Fonda’s ‘Workout Book’ and a book about the Romans which were a sort of large, perverted group of Italians.

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The Jane Fonda book really helped me to learn a lot more about myself and the book about the Romans cemented my determination to become a historian. I should say at this point that a lot of you will be thinking ‘but Henry, you are a world-class entertainer with a series of hit shows, the most recent of which was a musical version of ‘Enter The Dragon’; with you in the role of Bruce Lee, (see picture below) what’s all this history stuff and wanting to be a historian?’ Well, even though I am a genius on the stage, I have only been performing for five years. Before which I was a highly acclaimed history author with (self-published) books such as ‘The History of Walls’ (which I also adapted into a musical but more of that later), ‘The History of Huey Lewis and the News’ and ‘The History of The Dramatic Pause’. But again I jump ahead in this, my life story. Despite my huge intellect I had never stepped foot inside a school and so on the 6th September 1982 I attended my first day in school and I think it’s safe to say without sounding arrogant that the English school system had never seen the likes of me before and the whole English schooling system would never be the same again…

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Promotional poster for my musical version of Enter The Dragon.
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MY CHILDHOOD

The rain trickled down the window, due to the fact that it was raining outside. The temperature outside was cold due to the fact that it wasn’t warm. The day was the 3rd of January, eight days after my sixth birthday on which I’d received the gift of a can opener off my father and my mother had sung me the song ‘I’m In The Mood For Dancing’ by The Nolan Sisters from start to finish whilst crying. Despite both of these considerate gifts my mood was darker than a  panther in a bin bag, due to the fact that Canterbury had refused my plans for the redesigning of the Whitefriars Shopping Centre and also because my father had accidentally shot my mother the previous day. A double whammy of pain that still makes me shudder to this day. Below is a picture of Homer Simpson shuddering to give you a visual aide as to what I am doing now as I write this.

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Obviously the rejection from Canterbury council was a body blow but I was more upset about my mother’s death. I’d noticed that things between my mother and father were becoming strained due to the fact that I was perceptive and a genius, added to the fact that they had argued every night for three months. Different people react differently to grief, I had retreated into my make-believe world where I worked in a video rental shop with Beverly D’Angelo who played Ellen Griswold along side Chevy Chase in the National Lampoons Holiday films. Those imaginary days were some of the happiest of my young life and Beverly would always calm me down whenever imaginary people were late returning their imaginary videos back to the store – what a woman.

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My father, predictably, reacted very badly to the accidental shooting. In fact, looking back, I think that was maybe the period he went mad as all he did was laugh for days on end. I’d never actually seen him happier, it was very sad to see. Him and I had never been close but the accidental murder of my mother drove an even bigger wedge between us and we spent less and less time together. He began drinking heavily and staying out until the early hours with his friends whereas I took solace in my books during the hours that my imaginary video shop was closed.

It was during this period that my genius really began to take off. I would devour books like a tortoise devours cake, reading everything from Nietzsche to Nabokov. My intelligence grew tenfold which culminated later that year when I invented the disposable toaster. My father was never around to make me go to school so I schooled myself in mathematics, science, English, German and business studies (the imaginary video rental business is ruthless). I also took a keen interest in wildlife and spent hours at the local zoo. I felt a bond growing between myself and the animals in the zoo and I would often talk to them about the troubles I was encountering in my life. My favourite beast of the animal kingdom is the dolphin

A Dolphin.

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The following three years pretty much followed the same pattern of schooling myself, talking to animals and running the imaginary video store with Beverly but I was beginning to outgrow my surroundings and my feet were becoming itchy which is a metaphor for wanting to see the world. But what would happen with my father? That question was about to be answered…

 

MY BIRTH

It is always hard to know where to start when writing about one’s life but after much deliberation I have decided it best to start with my birth. I was born on the 25th of December (the same day as Christmas) 1974, almost two thousand years after the birth of Jesus Chris, the son of God. But I wasn’t the son of God, I was the son of Geoffrey and Maude von Stifle. They didn’t know it at the time but they had just given birth to a genius, me. My mother and father were hoping for a baby girl and so they were initially disappointed when their baby girl came out with a penis attached to its groin. I obviously didn’t know about the disappointment that they felt but it soon became clear over the course of the next 16 years, but I jump too far ahead…more of that to come.

My father was an inventor and enjoyed success with his invention of the tin opener with bottle opener attachment but also suffered some major disappointments with inventions such as  top hats designed specifically for horses, the 7-wheeled push bike, the electric comb, apple and coal toothpaste, the air-conditioned shoe, bacon soap and the shoe umbrella (see below).

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My mother was the real bread-winner working as a professional singer in pubs and clubs in and around Canterbury. My mother had a truly unique voice, a sort of mix between Simon le Bon and Johnny Cash. With Mother bringing in somewhere between £40-£50 a week and the royalties from my fathers tin opener we had a pretty good standard of life in Canterbury and I never went without anything during my early years apart from regular meals and warm clothing.

My routine as a baby was pretty much like any other baby’s, up early everyday, lots of crying and regular shitting but even though I didn’t know it then, something was different about me. My parents were staggered at how quickly I was learning new things, by the age of 14 months I could say the name of 8 different shapes (rectangle etc.) , 17 colours (green etc.) and by the age of 4 I was almost walking unaided. I just seemed to pick things up in an instant, my brain working like a sponge, soaking up information like a sponge soaks up water and by the age of 3 I had designed a new patio for the family home. I quickly moved on from patio’s and by the age of 6 I was making plans to redesign the Whitefriars Shopping Centre in Canterbury.

But being a child prodigy brought with it draw backs of which I will tell you next time…