10 things you didn’t know about the author
Brian Bloom grew up in a loving environment and with a fiercely independent streak that enabled him to straddle both sides of the financial divide (1% & 99%) with equal comfort. This gave him a balanced view of life and the courage as an author to say what needs to be said in his writing without his worrying unduly about “peer pressure” and/or “political correctness”. The following 10 things are illustrative of his upbringing:
- When Brian was born his parents were dirt poor and when he was 1 the family moved into a tiny cottage at the bottom of his mother’s aunt’s garden. On good weather days his mother would put the +- 15 month old Brian on a blanket out in the fresh air, where he would play for hours. His only toy was a makeshift rattle made out of an old glass Vaseline jar that had an empty wooden cotton reel inside. He would make music, chanting “digga, digga , digga” in time to the rattle and, having not yet learned to walk, he would sway his little body rhythmically as if in mesmerised prayer. He was comfortable in his own company and in natural surroundings.
- At age 2, his mother taught him to say “many happy returns” in anticipation the arrival of his 8 year-old girl cousin who was to visit with a friend on her birthday. Brian flubbed the words, saying “many happily turns” and was mortified with shame when the two girls guffawed in merriment. The positive side was it taught him empathy, and he has looked at the world from the other guy’s perspective ever since.
- At around 4, the family moved to their own home in a much poorer suburb than his great aunt’s. With curiosity and no sense of intimidation, he experimented with fire. The Fire Brigade had to be called out twice to douse the voracious blazes. He learned to fear consequences.
- When Brian was 5, his great aunt’s son – about 9 months older – came to play but went home much earlier than was expected. Angry and frustrated, Brian decided to walk to their home 20 kilometers away. He walked down the main thoroughfare in peak hour traffic, got lost towards the end, but was offered help by a kindly gentleman who gave him a lift. Brian arrived well after dark at his destination; tearless, unrepentant but anxious. He was severely punished by his relieved, but even more anxious, parents. He learned to look ahead and differentiate between “smart” and “stupid” behaviour.
- At 8 he was effectively a latch-key kid. Both parents worked and the maid was preoccupied with daily chores. He roamed the immediate vicinity, largely unsupervised, and made friends with a couple of kid neighbours. One of these kids lived in a violent home where the mother was routinely beaten by her husband. Brian learned that observation and inoffensive participation were more important than ego and a competitive spirit in a no-win situation.
- Also to keep himself occupied, he would travel by tram to a local pool hall, paying the fare with school-bus coupons. He had been attracted by the raucous antics of a group of leather jacketed bikies who adopted him as a mascot because they took a shine to him. It transpired that Brian had a good eye for angles and distances and was able to pot the snooker balls even though he could barely reach over the table top.
- At around 10 or 11, he discovered that he also had great ball sense. He was chosen to represent his junior school at both soccer and cricket, and he played first team cricket and hockey at high school. This boosted his inner sense of self confidence and enabled him to socialise unselfconsciously with both peers and those in higher stations of life. But he was always a quiet child, partly because his parents had drummed good manners into him and partly because he had learned not to draw attention to himself when in any situation that might become unmanageably combative.
- Another reason he was quiet child was that he was a year younger than the average of his classmates. His parents wanted him to start school at the same time as his three boy cousins, all of whom were around 9 months older. When kids are 20% older than you they are typically much bigger than you. Brian learned that brains trumps muscles under those circumstances.
- He finished high school at 16 and had a B.Com Degree when he was 19, at which age he spent 3 months in the South African Air Force under conscription. The barracks had about 40 beds in it, with most occupied by the 99%. Brian blended in just fine and no one resented the fact that he was allowed/encouraged to play golf on week-ends by the CO.
- When he was still at school, the family moved to a small holding and was supplied fresh, unpasteurised milk from the cow next door. Brian was shocked when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. By a stroke of good fortune, his uncle (a doctor) had detected it in its very early stages. TB is usually a disease of the working classes or the unemployed, and there was no “private” treatment available. At 21, Brian was admitted to a public ward in a public TB hospital where the patients were at various terminal stages of wheezing, coughing blood and/or drowning in their own mucus. Even though the other patients regarded the middle class young man as “Richie Rich”, they spoke to him with quiet dignity. Brian expected no preferential treatment from the nurses and the dying men with calloused hands respected him for that.
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Genre – Thriller
Rating – MA (15+)
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