Mr Redgrave was the headmaster of my first school. His face was crumpled, he smoked cigars, and his office had a scratchy carpet the colour of a kingfisher.
A visit to this room and its fuggy air usually meant only one thing: you were in trouble.
That was not a place I wanted to be. Indeed, I think I lived in a low-grade fear for seven years, in case I did something wrong and I was sent down that smokey corridor. So I coloured between the lines, wrote neatly in my books, and was a diligent volunteer in the library.
I guess I thought that if I behaved well, then people would be happy with me. I wouldn’t get sent to Mr Redgrave – and I would be loved.
Deep down, perhaps for many of us, is that fear of losing love.
Indeed, I think this profound fear – that we would lose love – is the reason why we stay inside the box. Don’t disappoint and all will be OK.
For me, much of this was an illusion. Mr Redgrave, it turned out when he taught me how to swim, was a kind man. That crumpled face was from years of smiles.
And years later, when I dared to step outside that box, I found the love was still there.
Sometimes I saw only the fears inside my head.
But when I really look, love is.