One Hell of a Life by Stan Blackford


I was born in Calcutta in 1920. My father was a covenanted engineer in the Bengal Civil Service and my mother was an Anglo-Indian from Asansol, a railway colony. To their shame and despair, I, their first-born, was a backward child and could not talk by the age of four.
I was dragged through 10 schools in 7 years and was branded a moron. To exacerbate the difficulties under which I laboured, we were a dysfunctional family and my parents eventually divorced. Both my parents were eccentrics and, in their misguided attempts to care for me as best they could, they subjected me to the most unusual indignities imaginable.

A change of schools at age eleven, however, changed the course of my life and I became dux of St Joseph's College, North Point, Darjeeling at age seventeen. From then on I seemed to live a charmed existence, achieving many above-average successes in my subsequent journey through life.

During World War II, I served as a Captain in the Indian Army in various postings in India and in Iraq, returning to India just as she was going through the throes of partition. During my 28 years in India, I was caught up in many quirky situations - not of my own making, I must add - and this has added considerable humour and many unusual twists to the story of my life. As a result, I have become a popular after-dinner speaker in the Adelaide lecture circuit.

Qualifications and Interests.

I have no formal qualifications other than having passed the Senior Cambridge Examination in 1937. I have been studying practically all my adult life doing mainly short courses connected first with the life assurance industry, and later with training supervisors and middle-level managers in commerce and industry, and with stress management and motivation. I spent eight years with the Commonwealth Department of Employment and Industrial Relations doing mainly 'Trainer Training'. This involved going into offices and factories and conducting courses to teach supervisors and junior managers how to train their employees.

My personal interests lies in the field of interpersonal communication, mainly public speaking. I have been a member of Rostrum (an association of public speaking clubs) for 50 years, and it conferred on me the honour of 'Freeman' in recognition of my services to Rostrum and to the promotion of public speaking skills in the community. I taught public speaking for the Workers' Educational Association, and then recruited and trained a 'Rostrum Tutors Panel' to conduct public speaking courses in the community. I formed 'Radio Rostrum', designed courses in the techniques of radio interviewing, and initiated two successful programmes on community radio.
My other area of interest lies in the social outreach of my local Church and now, at the age of 82, I am still active in visiting people in their homes on behalf of the Church.

I have not engaged in writing as a pastime other than having written my memoir One Hell of a Life, and about a dozen episodes from my book have appeared as short stories in various anthologies.