Impact on Adult Life

Ronald Leedham: I Knew Nothing About Life

Ronald Leedham was born in 1929 in India. His family moved back to England in 1931after Ronald contracted Polio. Ronald spent some years in Hospital as a young child after contracting Diptheria. When he was six he returned home to Catford for a short while to live with his father, eventually ending up living in ‘homes for crippled children’ run by the Shaftesbury Society, until he was sixteen.

Here Ronald describes the lasting impact of school on life afterwards.

  • Ronald Leedham
  • Ronald Leedham


I knew nothing about life. At sixteen I was like a very backward twelve year old when I left school, and within ten years I completely transformed myself. I was self confident, I could look after myself … I was self sufficient, I didn’t need anybody else. I didn’t need anybody to cook for me, my dad taught me how to darn and cook and everything else, ‘cause he was going to work nights and so he had to teach me quickly how to look after myself, and in the end of course I ended up looking after him for some of the time. I point out in there that I’d never in my life, when I left school, ever asked anybody for advice. I’d never spoken to anybody about my troubles. I never turned to anybody for succour, as they called it. I always had to sort my own problems out. Now, in some ways that can be a bad thing, in some ways it’s a good thing. The bad thing is that you don’t need anybody, you don’t need anybody to help you. The worst thing I ever did in my life was to get married, I got married in 1960, because I didn’t need anybody. I didn’t need anybody to turn to. I knew more about household work than my missus did. Okay she became a very good cook but I cooked our first dinner. I didn’t need anybody, why did I get married, for God’s sake? No wonder it – it failed in the end, I’m not surprised. I didn’t like being married, it was against my natural instinct to be married. It’s very difficult to put in adequate words, quite honestly.

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