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Web of Stories offers you the chance to listen to some of the greatest people of our time telling their life stories.

The Gaia Theory

James Lovelock

Scientist

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Why I'm grateful to Adolf Hitler

Brian Aldiss - Writer

So, that was more or less... well, it wasn't the end of childhood, but I was then sent to a public school in Suffolk. It was called Framlingham College, and I hate to talk about it.

I was in Junior School and Junior School was largely protected from the larger school which was a hive of homosexuality, and I was terrified by it. And I think that many of my companions in the Junior School were also terrified, because it was their fate to be shovelled up there.

But something came along to rescue me, and this is why I am forever grateful to Adolf Hitler. Good old Adolf – he declared war. And the result was my father, quite sensibly, thought that if Hitler's armies invaded England, they would naturally land in Gorleston-on-Sea, where he had quarrelled. His father had died in the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, and what was that grandfather's last words? Summoning up the whole beastliness of the Aldiss family, he said to my father, 'You'll have to fight your own battles now, Stanley'. You don't forget a telling phrase like that. I was there when he said it.

So, my father did fight his own battles, but he lost out to his much more sinister brother, okay. Now this brother... I won't mention his name... he was married to a lady called Dorothy, and my mother hated Dorothy and feared her. But I liked Dorothy, and I think she possibly liked me, so that I would often go round to their house – utterly forbidden, of course. And there, Aunt Dorothy had a large table in their elegant drawing room, with huge jigsaw puzzles, which she and I would do together.

And so, yes, it was crossing frontiers, actually. But, we had left. My father had lost his battles and we lived in Gorleston-on-Sea... the happiest year of my life! My sister and I would go barefoot down the road, across the road, over the promenade down to the beach and the promenade down there. And that was just… just gorgeous, and I suppose we had about a year there.

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