Jung said the greatest thing that affects children and their ambitions is ‘the unlived life of the parent’. Perhaps then it was Dad’s thwarted writing ambitions that led me to be a writer. Apart from Lord of The Rings, and the astounding excitement of that book and its narrative force as a boy, there was one writer in particular who rather obsessed my father, and whose stories of course thrilled me too. Robert Louis Stevenson. Tusitala, they called him, on the island of Samoa where he’s buried, cutting a swathe through the rainforests, to lead his body by torch light up the mountainside. It was the kind of honouring my father needed and longed for, and perhaps I did as a writer too. But then Stevenson, apart from his classics like Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde and Catriona, filled with the subtle loss of idealisms, as we came out of a more heroic or even ‘childishly’ idealistic age, in its best sense, also fought for the rights of the indigineous Samoans, in a battle conducted in The Times. He hated the pettiness of power, and supposed priopriety too. It is indeed harder to fight for yourself than others, sometimes, but it’s a very important thing too, or how can you help anyone else at all? DCD

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