A story about avoiding horror films for 10 years to teens, Special Needs and Parents


Voices On Her Shoulders

Voices on her shoulders 2

“The stars are dark on this moonless night. Although plenty of glass litters the room, no moonlight exists to glint off it. This place is as lifeless as my soul.”

Mary read the quote for the third time, or perhaps the fourth.

She had never experienced depression and this quote seemed to be a taste of what it might be like. Her homework, to develop the idea in the quote, created a streak of rebellion. She looked back at her childhood. Her father would always march out of the room and do something else if a play or drama was about to be broadcast.

‘I don’t want to hear about other people’s terrible lives,’ he said. ‘I want to be entertained. I would watch Tommy Cooper doing his magic tricks, but not this rubbish!’

In disgust he would depart. Mary tended to agree with her dad. What was the point of watching or reading about something that might give her nightmares? She preferred a light touch too. Certainly she wanted to be aware of the dark side of life, but not to be entertained by it. There are shades of black that she had no intention of ever exploring. Depravity and depression, disgust and decay, disillusionment and darkness, they all seemed to begin with a D and she wanted none of them.

As she sat wondering what could be done with the quote, she became aware of two voices, one coming from each shoulder. There was a mean, harsh, nasty voice coming from the left side, and a soothing, serene voice on her right.

‘Call me Jock,’ said the mean one.

‘I suggest you don’t listen to him and you can call me Serena,’ said the other.

‘Is that what you want? A really boring life? No thrills or spills or ills?’ Jock interrupted, ‘I could show you a few things. How about what a corpse looks like after a month underground? I got great pictures. They are all in your mind already, see? You just have to flick through the catalogue.’

Mary shuddered. Why would she want to see such things? At that moment the picture of the cool clear mountain cascade flashed through her inner screen.

‘Thanks, Serena,’ she said out loud.

‘Och away wi ye Miss Perfect Paws !’ growled Jock.

Mary glanced to her right and saw to her surprise a contented looking feline washing her feet with great delicacy.

Horror stories colour

‘Serena?’ she queried. The cat merely turned her attention to cleaning her ears.

‘How about a nice bit of blood and gore?’ asked Jock, ‘ A real life RTA?’ *

‘Go away!’ said Mary, ‘I don’t like your hideous pictures. How could they possibly improve my life? I like to sleep peacefully at night.’

The glimmerings of a blue flashing light, a body on the road and the sound of sirens started to impinge on Mary’s inner screen.

‘Get lost!’ she shouted out loud.

Stern faces looked at Mary over their copies of ‘The Times’.

She felt herself blush, ‘Oops, sorry. I got carried away with my book,’ she lied. She had completely lost track of her sense of place. She was in the public library reference section, where so many folk go to get a bit of peace or to do some writing or their homework.

She stood up and placed herself between two long rows of bookshelves. If the dialogue between the entities on her left and her right shoulders was to continue she had to give them some privacy. A sense of peace settled over her as she thumbed through a copy of ‘Gardeners World’. A snowfall of white plumb blossom seemed to engulf her.

‘Thanks, Serena!’ she whispered, giggling at her success. She had no desire to view a road traffic accident just for fun. What kind of fun would that be anyway?

She thought she heard the sound of splashing water. Puzzled, she looked about. It wasn’t raining outside and anyway there was a floor above her; she couldn’t be hearing rain. It became louder and the sensation of something like a shower curtain touched her face, she suddenly felt claustrophobic, then she saw the glint of metal, a blade piercing the curtain, a knife slicing downwards towards her.

‘Serena!’ she shouted out loud. Sounds of streaming shower water turned into a heavy, contented purr. The wet curtain morphed into the feel of warm fur, and the blade became a cats claw, gently withdrawing itself.

‘I’ve got to get out of here!’ she said to no one in particular. The librarian asked her if she was all right as she rushed past the desk.

‘Yes thanks, fine, just late for a lecture, sorry!’

Outside Mary recalled a scene from the one and only horror film she had ever watched; it had preyed on her mind for years.

‘Now I know who Alfred Hitchcock * was listening to,’ she said.

The cat purred. ‘You all have a choice, you know. You can choose beauty and truth or you can go for delusion, destruction and death.’

‘Those Ds again,’ thought Mary. ‘I agree Serena, I’m with you all the way, I’m not going to look at those D words, ever.’

As she walked along she pondered, ‘Hmm, delicious, delightful, delectable, desire, ‘oh well, some of the D s might be okay, but I will need to police them carefully or Jock will be back with his nasty pictures.’

‘You called?’ said a coarse Glaswegian voice.

‘No! Bu*ger off !’ shouted Mary.

She saw the very slightest twitch of a cat’s tail on her right shoulder and then there was peace.

* An RTA is a Road Traffic Accident

* Alfred Hitchcock made horror films, in one of which, ‘Psycho’, the shower scene was shown.

Questions to be added


My grandfather used to tell us stories about all sorts of things. Sometimes the stories were funny, sometimes a bit scary, but they never gave us bad dreams. They never made us afraid nor gave us fears. Grandad’s stories came from words from his mouth, but the pictures were the ones we found for ourselves. They formed from our imaginations and were as colourful and bright or as dim and hazy as our minds wanted them to be.

When it came to watching the television our parents were very careful about what we saw. They did not allow us to see scary, nasty or shocking programmes and I’m sure they were right.

When the mind sees pictures on the screen, it can be badly affected by those pictures. Unnecessary fears and worries can be created in children’s minds, and even in the minds of many adults.

I have listened to many conversations between young people and even adults, when people are discussing their fears. People can develop fears of all sorts of things such as spiders, snakes, birds, heights, open spaces, enclosed spaces and so on. The strange thing is that they seem to love to discuss their fears almost as if they are proud of them, or even attached to them. They do not want to let go of them it seems. Irrational fears can control the lives of some people, preventing them from doing things or going to certain places. They hand over their power to someone else who is then expected to take control of the situation – to move the spider, climb the ladder, or get rid of the bird.

When we watch frightening things on television we can begin to think that certain things are dangerous and will harm us. We may have nightmares about them. They start to control our lives. The pictures and situations seem so convincing that they create real fear in us and affect our everyday lives.

People can also pick up fear from their parents for no good reason. A mother who is afraid of mice may pass this fear onto her children.

My advice would be do not watch horror films, don’t deliberately make yourself scared or uncomfortable. Be at peace, be rational, be calm and realistic. Certainly things can harm us, but the kinds of things that people fear will not normally be harmful at all. To be in control of your emotions is far better than being attached to your fears. That buzz of ‘dread energy’ that you get from fears could be achieved in different ways which are much more useful and constructive. When we challenge ourselves to achieve something and set about achieving it, the buzz that we get from our success will be far more satisfying and long-lasting than any fear induced adrenaline rush.

The Fight Within- a woman discovers she has cancer. Therapeutic short story.

The Fight Within.

A requested story for a friend of HT


Mary couldn’t sleep. It was still dark outside, no sounds came through her closed curtains ; the world had not yet stirred. Mary’s mind was in turmoil. Now she knew for sure what she had suspected for some weeks. It was cancer. The wait after the test over a weekend had felt like forever. She had thought over her entire life remembering all the good bits and the bad, wondering if something she had done could have created this lump in her body.

Mary’s family were not yet fully grown, they still needed their mother. They were learning to become independent, but she felt they still needed a lot of support. Her husband Robert would be all right. Always independent, doing his own thing, he wouldn’t suffer if she went , she thought. Her life had not been quite what she had hoped for so far. She was more of a reactor then an instigator. Life had happened to her rather than she had made it happen. She had not been ambitious and had not made demands on her family. Rather the opposite was true, they had made demands on her and she had complied. What should a mother do other than look after her kids? She fetched and carried them , she gathered up their dirty washing strewn on the floor and dealt with it. She cooked their favourite meals and often felt they might show more consideration and gratitude. She was tired of nagging them; it seemed easier just to do everything herself. She had not insisted that they thanked her for the meals she carefully prepared for them or for keeping the home nice. They were oblivious to her need for recognition and she wasn’t about to tell them how she felt.

Mary thought about how she would do things differently if she survived this. She told herself that the statistics were good these days. Doctors were much more on top of cancer. Most people survived it. Strangely, the idea of telling her family that she wanted more help and appreciation was more daunting to her than telling them that she had cancer. It almost felt like a weakness in her, yet she knew it was not. Her weakness had been in letting them all do exactly what they wanted, without insisting on some return, which would make her life easier and more pleasant. They were not bad kids, they were just selfish and oblivious to a different and better way to behave. It had been her duty and her husband’s to guide the children and they had not. Her husband had grown used to her saying ‘Oh, I don’t mind’, and it had suited him to believe her. He did not take his fair share of parental duties, but as she did not complain, he continued to ignore the situation.

The small knot of resentment had grown and now she had cancer. She had heard that stress can cause all sorts of ills, including cancer, and suddenly she wondered if her bitterness was showing up in her body. It was time to shake up her life. She needed new goals and she needed help to achieve them. The only person who could change things for her was herself. She saw it now. Taking the line of least resistance was not an option now. She made a list of things that would have to change, it was not a long list, but it was a very important one.

Mary stuck the list on the fridge door with a magnet and went back to bed and slept. The following day was a Sunday. Normally she would be the one to get up and make the breakfast. On this day she slept on. At 10 o’clock her husband appeared with tray, on it was a pot of tea and some toast with butter and marmalade. He looked sheepish and embarrassed.

‘Oh, thank you Robert. I thought you were off to golf this morning.’ she said.

Mary’s son and daughter appeared at the door. They looked upset and worried . ‘Hello Mum,’ was all they could say.

Robert reached into into his back pocket and took out Mary’s fridge list. He put it on the tray, Mary noticed ticks on all the items, they looked like marks of agreement. The family had at last come together and had seen what needed to be done for their mum.

‘I’m going to fight it,’ said Mary, ‘but I don’t want to have to fight you too. Thanks for the ticks. Promise me that you’ll remember to go along with it? It is fair enough, isn’t it? All I want to do is to be able to train as…. an astronaut. …That’s not too much to ask, is it? ‘

Her smile told them they were forgiven and she hoped that all their tears were a promise of the help and support she needed.



Gaining Strength from Inner Peace – story about doing the right thing (therapeutic story for adults)


Francoise uses her imagination


Francoise gazed across the street.  She could see trams trundling along, filled with the workers on their way to offices in the city.  A feeling of discontentment came over her.  There she was, compelled to stay at home and care for her aged mother.


“Francoise!” A tremulous voice interrupted her train of thought.  “Francoise, my bottle, it’s cold.  Will you fill it up for me, dear?”


I’m coming, Mother, just a moment.”


She continued to stare out of the window at the world outside.  Not for her the world of work; not anymore.  She had been a teacher until last year when her mother had fallen ill had come to live with her and Jan, her husband,.  She had always agreed with her mother that should the need arise her home would be open to ‘Grandmere’.  When her children had been young Francoise’ mother looked after them while Francoise was teaching in the local school.  It had been a great help to her.  She had been able to earn enough money so that she and Jan could buy their own house and take the family on holidays. 


The family had all left home, the youngest only last year, and Francoise had been looking forward to some time for herself; for her and Jan.


“What bliss,” she had thought, “I shall be able to work part time and perhaps paint my landscapes, and maybe even sell some.”


But it was not to be, not yet at least.  Francoise sighed and made a mental note that she must purchase some more coffee, and the detergent for the weekly wash was nearly finished.  That too must be added to her list. 


Drawing her hand across her brow to smooth the tense lines from her forehead, she walked over to the half-open door that led to her mother’s room.  It had been their dining room, but now her mother lived permanently in it.  Francoise sighed again as she pushed open the door to her mother’s room.  There lay the old lady.  She smiled as her daughter appeared in the doorway. 


“Ah, Francoise, there you are.  I was just thinking, it would be nice to have a lobster today would it not?  Take money from my purse and go to the market and buy one, there’s a dear.


Francoise looked at her mother.  She was very frail for her seventy -six years.  She almost looked transparent.  She still loved to think about food and to plan delicious meals, but when it came to eating them, she could only manage a little thin soup. 


Very well, mother, I’ll make lobster bisque for lunch.  Give me your bottle and I’ll heat it up for you…”


Francoise knew that neither could they afford to buy a lobster nor could her mother eat it.  But the old lady must be humoured.  Why argue?  She picked up the purse lying on the bedside table. In it were a few coppers.  Unnoticed by her mother Francoise put a ten-franc note into the purse.  She always topped up her mother’s money when she could.  It enabled the old woman to feel that she could treat the family to special things every so often.  Sometimes Francoise would buy the much desired treat, and at other times she would pretend she had, and would show her mother the empty packet or bottle, or in this case, lobster shell, and say how much they had all enjoyed her present.  This pleased Grandmere, being unable to participate in these delicacies, she was none the wiser.


Francoise tiptoed away from the room where her mother now lay asleep.  There was time to go to the market and buy some vegetables for the main meal.  No meat today as they could not afford it.  She would shake some fish sauce from a bottle into the soup, and ‘lobster bisque’ it would become.


When Jan returned that evening, Francoise was looking rather low in spirit. 

“Try not to let it get you down,” he said, giving her a squeeze.  “Is there not something you could do here at home, while she sleeps.  She seems to be sleeping more and more these days.”

“ I’ll try to think of something, Jan,” replied his wife, “I certainly can’t keep cleaning the house all day every day, it’s beginning to wear me down.  I must do something else.  I miss my colleagues at school so much and the children of course.  I’ll have a long think about it.  I do need something else in my life apart from Mother.  She sleeps so much and when she’s awake she’s only half-aware of what she’s saying.  She remembers so little these days.  I need other company sometimes.  I do wonder occasionally whether she’d be better of in a home for the elderly, but she’d probably hate it.  I don’t think I would feel happy if I sent her away.


“You must do what you think is right,” replied her husband, but try to feel good about it and don’t resent her presence.  I’m sure you’ll think of something else to do in between looking after mother.


Francoise smiled, “I should be able to.  After all it’s an ideal opportunity to work by myself, undisturbed for most of the time.”


That night as Francoise lay drifting towards sleep, a picture came into her mind.  She would set up her paints in a corner of the living room.  She would paint peoples’ portraits.  It was a dream she had had as a young woman, but because she needed to earn a good living she had chosen teaching instead.  Now, she realised, she could choose again.


She would not charge much to begin with.  She knew her colleagues from school would love to have portraits of themselves or their children.  Yes! That is what she would do.  She became quite excited.  She had to wake Jan to tell him about her plans.

He knew they could live on his earnings, if somewhat frugally. 


Jan greeted her idea with enthusiasm. 


The next day Francoise went up into the loft and brought down some old canvasses.  They just needed to be re-primed with paint, and she would be ready to go.  She thought the first picture she would paint would be of her mother, asleep.  She made a very still sitter.


Francoise was thrilled with the result.  She had embued her mother’s face with a sense of great peacefulness.  She felt a strong sense of compassion and fellow feeling for her mother.  She was glad she would not be sending her away.

For herself she had found peace of mind by doing what she felt was right and not resenting it.  She had found a way of using her time in an enjoyable and creative way, a way that could eventually bring some extra income to the family.


The picture of her mother won an award at the town’s annual exhibition of portrait paintings;  it was so unusual and so full of sensitive appreciation of the subject.


Francoise never regretted the time when she cared for her mother.  Her children now with offspring of their own said that it had changed her life for the better in so many ways.  Instead of being the anxious teacher, always busy, she now painted most days, and attended lectures and exhibitions and her work was much appreciated by the many folk whose portraits she painted.




Law Number 12: Love your Life…Story from North American Indian Lore, for age 10 to adult

This story was given to me in meditation by an ancient Indian Chief, ‘Calling Horse’.

Love your Life, Perfect Your Life, Beautify all Things in Your Life, Glory in Your Strength and Beauty

This Law was unspoken ‘common sense’ in most tribes, but some would quote it often.


Everyone knew the uplifting benefits of making an effort to produce beautiful artifacts, be they clothing, tents, tools or pots.All were appreciated both by the maker and the user, if true skills and craftsmanship were used in their making.


Likewise when people made an effort with their appearance, they could hold their heads up high.They were clean and handsome and admirable.A child would adore its parents and would wish to copy their sheen and style.Parents would train their offspring in the traditions of producing the clothing of their tribe.


I can tell you a story about a couple in my tribe, her name was Blue Bird and his, Red Fox.Their families used to joke about their possible betrothal.‘Will Red Fox catch the Blue Bird?’ they would ask.

Blue Bird’s family said she would not willingly be plucked of her feathers, as she was a strong and willful girl.However Red Fox was determined to catch her and for her to be pursuing him in the chase.He thought if she chased him, he would be able to agree, but if he chased her, being stubborn, maybe she never would give in.


It was a time of feasting, spring was in the air and several young braves had love and pursuit on their minds.So indeed did the young unmarried girls in the tribe.There were four braves and five girls all hoping for a match.This meant that one of the girls was going to be disappointed.Blue Bird was determined that it would not be her.


Over the winter when there was less to do by way of gathering plants, she made a special effort with her clothing.She carefully dyed the skins and cut and shaped them so perfectly that the other girls came to ask her to show them how to produce the same effects.She helped them, but she did not give away all of her secrets.Her grandmother had told her: ‘Some things must be kept in the family and handed down, mother to daughter, father to son. Not everyone needs know about your skills and techniques.It is not a matter of life or death whether you can look more handsome than the others in the tribe, but it will help you to secure the husband you desire.’


Blue Bird knew her grandmother was right.She showed the other girls how to dye their clothing, but she did not tell them quite all of the herbs that she used.She showed them how to create patterns on their tents, but she did not share her very finest needles and yarn with them.


When the feasting began the young men held competitions to show who was the strongest.She noticed that Yellow Cloud had the most stunning headdress and clothing, and that he seemed to be performing for her.She watched Red Fox out of the corner of her eye.She had always admired him but did not want to let him know, until the moment she saw him dancing towards another young girl known as Prairie Flower. A feeling arose in her which she hardly recognised.It was a feeling of panic and fear of the loss of him. She walked quickly to her tent, her eyes brimming.Her grandmother had been watching the proceedings. She knew exactly what was in the girl’s heart.


‘Be proud but be clever,’ said her grandmother.‘Stand behind Prairie Flower, not too close, and hold this token in your hand, almost as if you were offering it to him.Look at him; do not take your eyes off him.He will come to you.When he does, give it to him, touch his hand and look into his face.Then he will know that you have chosen him, and indeed that he has chosen you.’


Blue Bird took the token and walked proudly into a space behind Prairie Flower. Her black hair glinted in the sunlight, her garments draped over her shapely figure in the most flattering way. She looked at Red Fox, how strong and graceful he was! He might not be the most handsome young man, nor the best dressed, but she knew he was kind and amusing, strong and brave. She would be happy with him. She caught his eye. Not looking away she lifted the love token almost imperceptibly towards him. He did not need a second invitation.With a huge leap of joy and triumph he left the dancing braves and swept Blue Bird off her feet. They both shrieked with laughter as he carried her around the dancing circle. Soon all the young men were carrying a maiden. Only Prairie Flower sat alone, a single tear coursing down her cheek. One of the boys too young to take a wife respectfully approached her.

‘Prairie Flower, next year I will be choosing a wife, and if you would like to wait for me I would like to choose you.’


The girl’s father came over and said, ‘There is plenty of time for you to find a husband, Prairie Flower, and plenty of time for you to learn how to beautify yourself and your home. Go and talk to Blue Bird, she obviously knows a thing or two.’


‘Yes, Father,’ replied the young girl. ‘I shall continue to enjoy my life in your tent. I am not unhappy that I was not chosen. Next year my hair and my dress will be as beautiful as Blue Bird’s, and I will decorate your tent so that it rival’s the Chief’s tepee.’


‘You are a wise girl,’ said her father.‘Others may have entertained jealousy and anger in their hearts, but you know how to perfect your life with love and acceptance. Your mother has taught you well.’

‘Love your Life, Perfect Your Life, Beautify all Things in Your Life, Glory in Your Strength and Beauty



A story about life in Siberia and lack of freedom.

Siberia, an open prison

Northern Russia is known as Siberia. You wouldn’t think many people would choose to live there. I did not choose; I was born in Siberia. I grew up there. I learnt to appreciate the ice and snow, the long dark winters and the warm wet summers when the day stretched into night, so that people did not know when to go to bed or when to rise.

I lived with my parents in a concrete block building we called our home. My father used to track and record the movement of animals up in the Arctic Circle for the government. He loved to see the reindeer herds moving across the plains with the seasons. Mother looked after us three children and worked in the library in our town. It was not much of a place really. There was a central meeting hall, several general stores and a few specialist shops. Many of the people had been sent as a punishment for their free thinking to live and work in our town. They were carefully watched by the police who would imprison them if they transgressed the rules. There were not many rules, only two in fact. No anti- communist talk and no leaving the town. It would have been difficult to leave other than on the train as our town was completely isolated. We were surrounded on all sides by hundreds of miles of freezing wastes or the sea. The train arrived once or twice a week bringing supplies and a small number of visitors. The departing trains were always very carefully searched for stowaways before they were allowed to leave.

So our town was like an open prison for many of the population. Amongst the so called criminals who had been banished were many intellectuals. The communist party could not tolerate their questioning presence in Moscow or Leningrad so they were arrested on fake charges and transported up north.

My mother as a librarian got to know many of the prisoners, for such they were. Many of them had wives and families at home. Some had to leave nice houses and good jobs in colleges and universities; in fact many of those who visited the library were professors, doctors and lawyers.

Of course the library books were carefully scrutinised for anti communist ideology before they were accepted for general use. Any suspect material was either used to fuel the central boiler or placed under lock and key, and lent only to a select few who were considered to be incorruptible.

When I was about fourteen years of age my parents decided they would like to take a journey to the south to visit some of my mother’s relatives. Mother said she needed a change from the dampness and the midges which plagued us in the summer months. My parents had to plan this holiday a long time in advance. They had to save as much money as possible, and my brother and I took jobs after school to help to raise the money. I had spoken about different parts of the USSR with some of the prisoners. I was very excited. I loved the sound of the mountains and the lakes. I wanted to taste the fresh fruit and vegetables which they told me were incomparable to the salted pickled, bottled and jammed products that we ate every day. My brother was fascinated by television – We had never seen one, only films in the meeting hall about once a month. Usually they were very boring political films about how well things were going in our ‘wonderful country’, but occasionally we would be shown adventure stories, cowboy films, or even romance. These films had subtitles as they were inevitably foreign. My brother adored them. He loved to act and he saw himself on a stage, his name in lights, or better still on the television, a great Russian actor of the new generation.

My job after school involved sweeping the meeting hall and putting all the chairs back in position for the next day’s events. It took me one and a half hours to do or two if I did not concentrate on my work. Sometimes I would stand on the dais, a good meter above the level of the floor, and I would make political speeches, waving my arms around. I would talk at length about what I thought Russia could be like if everyone was free to say and think what they pleased. I would make sure everyone had left before I started on these little personal expressions of my ideological views. The old janitor didn’t care what I said; in fact I think he was a sympathiser. He used to sit at the back waiting to lock up, as it was warmer in the hall than in either of our houses, neither of us would be in a hurry to get home and my oratory would amuse him. He told me one day that I had great potential as a political leader, but that I must be extremely careful to whom I expressed my views. He was convinced that communism such as it was in the USSR could not last and that young people with new ideas had to supersede the old guard. He warned me that if I was not careful I could become a prisoner in my own town too, but since I was only fourteen I had several years of comparative freedom before my opinions mattered to any one.

My brother would earn his money by cleaning the bar at the other end of the same street as the meeting hall. There would be chairs to move and cigarette ends to sweep, spilled vodka and usually a broken glass or two to clear. He said that his clientele were more artistic than mine and his conversations with the barmen were never about politics, but about the latest film or magazine he had seen. So both my brother and I had great ambitions to succeed in our different fields of interest, and this trip was going to give us a taste of the world that we wished to enter, many miles away from the cold dark influence of Siberia.

Neither of our parents had any useful connections or power. I did wonder how I was going to make my breakthrough into the world of politics. My brother and I spent many a long hour discussing how we thought we could meet the right people who would help us achieve our goals. One day my mother invited one of the dissident professors home to share a meal with us. This was an infrequent occurrence in our house, but when it did happen my brother and I made sure we did not miss a moment of it. Some of these people were well worth listening to.

When he arrived the professor looked around at us and said,

“Ah, I have two sons just about your age, how I miss them. I keep thinking of things they need to know to succeed in life, and I can only write to them. I can’t be sure that my letters are not censored.

May I give you the benefit of my experiences? You may think that since I am here I have not succeeded very well in my life, but I can tell you that in my heart I am at peace. I have chosen to be honest and open about my views. I have taught many of the younger generation who will shortly change Russia forever.’

Looking back, I see that what the old man told us turned out to be prophetic; much has changed in the intervening years, much for the better, but some for the worse. I can only hope that my grand children have a more comfortable and secure life than my family had in the ‘50s.