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Memoirs and Biography

None the Wiser:

A Mid-century passage, 1932-52


About this book:

  • ISBN: 190 452 4257 (paperback)

  • Published 2005

  • Price £14.00 + postage

  • 252 pages

  • Illustrated with 49 photographs and line drawings

About the Author:
The author was born in Cheshire in 1932, leading a sheltered and (probably) privileged life until the outbreak of war in 1939, when as for so many others, children and adults alike, everything fell apart. Evacuation from London, family separated, boarding schools, the American occupation, rationing, air raids, D-Day and final victory are recalled through the memories of a young boy growing up in wartime. Public School, farmer's boy, and then National Service in post-war Malaya bring the first part of this memoir to a close in 1952.
The second instalment to be published later (Still None The Wiser) covers 1952-1967 during which period the author spent some thirteen years in West Africa during the dying days of the colonial era and the dawning of African independence culminating in the outbreak of the Biafran War in 1966.
Since returning to England in 1968 after emigrating to Canada, the author has lived quite happily in the Lake District working for the Outward Bound Trust for more than twenty years until retiring in 1990. He is married and has two grown-up children.


Paul Adamson is a self confessed hoarder and in 'None the Wiser' his magpie tendencies have served us well. His rummage through the dusty attics of family history set against an historical background of Britain at war and mislaying an Empire gives us a fascinating glimpse of a lost world. He had a comfortable start but it didn't last. From beatings by a sadistic schoolmaster whose grip on booze was rather firmer than his grip on the finer points of education, to cockroaches up the trousers, and bloodsucking leeches in the ears. From a pig roast in the Andaman Islands to an uncanny ability to end up in aeroplanes with a death wish. But, then he had been called up into the RAF to see the world and you know what they used to say - don't tell my mother I've joined the RAF, she still thinks I'm a piano player in a brothel. Eric Robson, broadcaster.

Paul Adamson's personal and historical account of life as a conscript in the post-war years captures the essence of what was a 'rite of passage' for most young men in those years. Perhaps the discipline and training given were character-forming for many young lads who had led very sheltered lives; but as Paul tells us - 'Communal living without any comforts of home and family, strict discipline, the stress of being shouted at without warning, detachment from the so-called 'real life' in Civvy Street was of no moment or consequence to the few of us who had already endured the same sort of upbringing. For those of us weaned on boarding school regimes... it was perhaps too easy.'
For those who were privileged to serve His/Her Majesty during those years this book will evoke both painful and hilarious memories. The line-drawings by Caroline, his god-daughter, successfully complement the spirit of the text.
Although born in Cheshire Paul Adamson ahs lived in Cumbria for over twenty years. His second instalment 'Still None the Wiser' which covers the years 1952-1967 of his autobiography is to be published soon.
Keswick Reminder, April 2005

Take a wander down memory lane with ideal dinner guest Paul

None the Wiser is the first volume of Paul Adamson's biography covering his life up to the age of 20. A second volume covering life until 1966 is promised in the near future and presumably the third volume won't be far behind.

Paul, who has lived in Eskdale for the past 36 years and was bursar at the Outward Bound Mountain School for 22 years, has plenty of tales to tell. He writes in a chatty and relaxed style and his work is illustrated by photographs and the quite delightful illustrations by his god-daughter, Caroline Elkington.

Paul's first 20 years (1932-1952) detail his schooldays - which include the war years - and National Service in postwar Malaya... His stated aim is 'to describe what it was like to be a child from a particular background in the 1930s and during the Second World War subsequently growing up and participating in the final years of the British Empire at first hand.' Whitehaven News, 30 June 2005.

None the Wiser

The section dealing with the author's service in the Far East - a majority of the book - is really first class, stirring the memories once more. Paul appears to have shown as much contempt to the old-timer's advice that one should 'never volunteer for anything' as did I, both us us seemingly being advantaged by doing just that. OK, to many of us, train guard might seem an odd thing for which to keep volunteering oneself, but compared to sitting behind a desk shuffling papers, it did offer the chance of a little excitement and exploration. KL, Frazer's Hill, Georgetown and Tanjong Bungar, all are revisited; and his version of Seletar is exactly as most will recall from later years. Very enjoyable and a worthwhile read. I can't wait for part two (Still None the Wiser), dealing with his time in West Africa.... Searchlight journal of the RAF Seletar Association, July 2005

For more information about life at RAF Seletar click here www.seletar.net





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