Early Days

First of all, let me introduce myself and give you a hint of my background.

I am Michael Anthony. When I was two years old my mother fled with me to Africa, to escape my father. We left England on the Bloemfontein Castle and settled with my grandparents in the small seaside town of Port Alfred, South Africa.

During my formative years children were to be seen and not heard, and I was beaten dreadfully if I stepped out of line. This appeared to be a way of life for me, not only at home but also at school, and I spent many an unhappy hour waiting outside schoolroom doors for the cane to be administered to my backside. The alternative punishment was writing lines, which again I participated in more than most other children. This, however, was a blessing in disguise as it taught me to speed-write, which is how I now construct my stories longhand. The aforementioned punishments would lead you to believe I was a difficult child. You would be perfectly right in your assumption.

I was what one teacher called ‘a bloody nightmare’.

When I was eight, we moved to the poor white district of Port Elizabeth and, two years later, to Rhodesia. But no matter where we went the old steam train brought me back to Grahamstown, in the Eastern Cape, to my abomination of a boarding school. Walking beneath the jacaranda trees, hauling my heavy suitcase behind me, I wondered why the other students travelled to school in taxis. Somehow I seemed different, a second-hand kid in second-hand clothes, out of kilter with my peers.

Surviving school was my first adversity in life, my first mountain to climb, and I learned from an early age to rebel against authority and anything to do with the establishment. Then, just before my sixteenth birthday my mother finally relinquished her responsibility and allowed me to leave school. I was about to emerge into the world without a qualification to my name.

Michael and his brothers

A young Michael (rear)

 

Army Days >