My youngest child is fast approaching the age at which I left home and joined the Verona Fathers. His beauty and innocence, his willingness to learn and hang on to almost every word of knowledgeable adults drags my memory back with painful speed to my own hopeful childhood.
In the late 1960’s the drive from Liverpool was across the picturesque A62, the lights of which could be clearly seen from the end window of our top corridor at Mirfield. I would often stand there on a winter evening, my eyes following the meandering orange glow over the moors leading home, praying that my parents would feel the sickness I had in my stomach and, by some God-delivered message, they would make their way back to Mirfield and bring me home.
Only the comradeship and energetic playfulness of other Junior Seminarians prevented my depression from turning to despair. For many years I have believed that the support, love and sheer rollicking enthusiasm for life that Mirfield boys had was the foundation of my lifelong belief in the need for a Socialist society. In truth, the friendships I have sustained and the happy memories of the unity of the boys is more to do with a shared sense of loss than any higher noble spiritual or social meaning. That was something I was to come across again much later in life.