Epilogue

Now at the age of sixty-six, very happily married and having a regular income in the form of a pension plus what acting in some films and dubbing others bring me, spending my summers in a beautiful, country place about twenty-two miles from Moscow, I still believe that my life of extraordinary incidents has yet time and room for others unforeseen.

When I reflect that the first noteworthy incident was a school strike organised at the age of twelve, followed very shortly afterwards by an attempt to become a circus star, I have to admit that I had full and early warning that my life would be incident-prone. And so it has been. But I do not agree with those people who attribute their experiences, good or bad, to the fact that they are victims of circumstances. I tend to share Napoleon’s view, whose famous question on being asked to promote an officer was: `is he lucky?` For I too believe that luck plays a great part in the lives of those who experience more than the average person. A gentleman once said to me about his wife: `She is so lucky that if she fell under a tramcar there would be a power failure throughout the town that very moment`. With me, I am afraid, it is the other way about. If I went down a street where no tramcar had ever run, one would decide to take that route just when I am crossing the road.
Now, no one must think I am bemoaning my fate. Nothing of the sort. On the contrary I have long discovered that luck can be disciplined and although one may win little profit (except experience, of course) one can, by the proper control of luck, squeeze out of any tight corner or difficult situation. Controlling one’s luck means never shrinking in the face of adversity. One must watch adversity as a good boxer watches his opponent, not only his fists but his eyes also. There is always that split-second warning that, if immediately accepted, gives a way out of trouble.

Neither do I have any regrets, anyway, regretting is the most futile occupation one can engage in. I joined the Communist Party and parted with it by force of circumstances. Now I belong to no party, but I regret neither joining nor leaving. Each occasion increased my understanding of people and left me with another gain as far as experience was concerned.

My break with the Navy was against my will, but I have never once regretted my role at Invergordon, for again and again I have received confirmation that the step I took was right. Most of all I value that small but significant event in the aftermath of Invergordon, the grant the Canteen Committee wanted to send me, a rare vote of confidence from men who were to prove their worth a hundredfold at Dunkirk, and as such more dear to me than any sum of money.

And I still look back with admiration and gratitude to the Royal Naval Training Establishment at Shotley. As was to be expected, it strengthened me physically, but above all it provided a firm moral basis and wide mental vistas which no other school for a boy of my class could have given. If, after almost forty years’ absence, I visit or return to Britain, I shall go to Shotley to pay homage to the school I believe to be -in fact am absolutely convinced is – the best in the world.