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  • When I was eleven my family moved to a small but beautiful town in Surrey, southern England; therefore uprooting me from a school in London that I had only attended for ten months.

    I soon discovered I was the only Jewish student in the school and experienced for the first time how different my background was to the local, mainly farming, families.

    The headmaster did his best to support me because, I think, I was an interesting project for him.

    When the time came for my English Literature teacher to choose essays for the school magazine instead of asking for the story I had achieved top marks for, she chose an analytical piece I had written about ‘Ann Frank’s Diary’.

    I knew the teacher was trying to honour me by entering my description of Ann Frank’s anxieties and her suffering family, hidden in an attic during the Second World War; but I knew it was not my best piece of writing. I had, basically, just re written the summary of the book on its back cover.

    I did love Ann Frank. I especially liked her belief that “despite everything I believe that people are really good at heart’ because I agreed with her; but I felt that the school had been clumsy in their wish to honour my cultural heritage.

    I did, however, start my own journal, writing ‘Dear diary’ on the first page.

    I carried on keeping a daily diary throughout my teen years using it as a way of expressing my frustrations, loves and fears.

    Just before I left my parents’ home to volunteer as a farm labourer at a kibbutz in Israel; I had written I HATE MUMMY on many pages. I was also guilty of fabricating some of my romantic experiences.

    When I returned a year later I found that my mother had thrown out all of my diaries that recorded five years of my life.

    It had not occurred to me that anyone would be interested in my scribbles. I felt exposed and humiliated. I did not write my true feelings on paper until I started the exercises in Julia Cameron’s ‘The Artist’s Way’.
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