lesson25 Forty Years On
1.John Bullyer and I met for the first time in 1956 when we were both in our earrly sixties,but it is true to say that he did more to shape my life than any other person.
2.John Bullyer came into my life though my Aunt Carrie.She was also aunt to John Bullyer,whom she referred to as “Little-John-my-other-nephew”all in one word,and she referred to him too often.
3.From Aunt Carrie's point of view it was fortunate,from mine,disastrous,that John Bullyer and I were the same age. Probably Hundreds of comparisons were made before I became aware of them.The first that I remember was made soon after I began school where I had lain on the floor and wailed that I wanted to go home.Shortly after that my mother reeported that Little-John-Aunt-Carrie's-other-nephew had started school on the same day and taken to it like a duck to water.
4.And so it went on.Incredible boy,he knew his nine-times table,while I was still hopelessly bogged in the fours；I began to dread Aunt Carrie's formerly most welcome visits.She was certain to produce chocolate or sixpence from her purse；but as soon as she had gone,Mother was sure to say the dread words：
5.“Aunt Carrie was telling me that John Bullyer……”
6.The comparisons were,without exception,to my disadvantage.The wretched boy never set foot upon a football field without scoring a goal； I became conscious of my inferiority,for I was hopeless at games.
7.To me it seemed sinister that Mother always passed on any small achievement.Once,at my prep.school,I had a story in the magazine and Mother was beside herself.
8.“I must have another copy of that，”she said,“so that Aunt Carrie can send it to John Bullyer's mother.”What a boomerang that proved！ By return of post came the news that John had won a scholarship.
9.It will seem strange that we boys never met,but in those days Gloucestershire was as far removed,in travelling time, from Suffolk,as New York is today.Aunt Carrie kept saying,“Really,you boys should know one another,I'm sure you'd be such friends，”and once or twice she tried to arrange that John should stay with her in the holidays.Mercifully for me something always prevented him from doing so.