I’d like to share a wonderful personal experience with you, my dear friends:
In December (2019) I was invited back to my old house at Rugby School, where I was the top scholar of my year in 1962, for a Christmas dinner. Rugby is a very international, cosmopolitan place these days: I talked with a Hong Kong banker, an aerospace engineer, a Yoga teacher and a Vietnamese diplomat. At lunch, I was seated on a table with five sixth-formers: a black kid, an Irish boy, an Indian, a Russian and a charming Korean, whose family are now based in Uzbekistan.
I think initially the boys were a bit disappointed and bored to have this old buffer sitting with them! But, when I dropped into the conversation that my claim to fame is that I spent three years in prison in the 1990s for growing the best and most potent Cannabis ever recorded in this country, the atmosphere changed radically to extreme interest and enthusiasm! They were electrified, and immediately said “Respect!” out loud to my face; I spent the rest of the meal answering a barrage of lively questions on the subject, and they all expressed interest in my book and my website.
When you have spent the last fifty years fighting criticism and disapproval from family and friends and the wider society – not to mention prison time and bankruptcy – in defence of what you sincerely believe to be the truth, I cannot express to you adequately how great it feels to be treated with honour and respect by the next generation. It makes it feel like all the hassle and grief was worth it. Sometimes you need to be vindicated and justified. It was a good day.