I played rugby at Ampleforth, and I was regimental low hurdles champion in the Scots Guards just after the war. Low hurdles are the ones where you take five steps between each hurdle and then jump over. High hurdles are much more difficult. I started jumping low hurdles out of sheer boredom, but it was all very amateur. You see, there was nothing to do in Trieste in 1947.
We were guarding the Yugoslav border, so the regiment took over Trieste athletic stadium, which was pretty cool of them. The last Archbishop of Canterbury was there - Robert Runcie. He was a captain and I was a lieutenant. He didn't try hurdling, mind you. I suppose he didn't have the right-shaped legs.
I had one brother and one sister, but I didn't play with either of them very much as a child. I wasn't lonely in the least, because I had a lot of lovely things to do. I played with bricks for one thing. Nobody now remembers clay bricks. Being strictly modular, they built really good, solid buildings and were made by a firm called Lotts. They only made two things: building bricks and chemistry sets, with which you could make marvellous nasty smells. But in the end, Lotts went out of business.
Arthur Mee was the first really subversive character I met in print. He edited a thing called The Children's Newspaper which I was given every fortnight by my nanny. It was slightly progressive, and went bust in about 1942, but it was really not bad. It gave you lectures on evolution and things like that.
The funny thing was that Arthur Mee himself looked like a monkey, and he was an enormous egotist, possibly as a result of his name. I liked Mee.
Patrick Reyntiens wrote 'The Beauty of Stained Glass' (ISBN 0-295-97559- 8). He is co-designer of the windows in Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral, through which, on a clear day, you cannot see his work in the Great Hall at Christ Church, Oxford, the Episcopalian Cathedral in Washington, and 50 other churches in Britain.Reuse content