The crowd cheered as I was born, the hospital being within range of Tottenham Hotspur football ground. Spurs won 5-1 against Millwall so my mother had plenty of encouragement. Shortly afterwards, I was registered as Carol Ann, but subsequently baptised Caroline. Choosing Carolyn as a pen name has completed the transformation.
With a moderately church-going Irish mother and an Anglo-Irish father who’d been beaten black and blue by the Christian Brothers, my older brother and I were educated in Catholic schools, but with mercifully little fundamentalism on the home front. Having managed to survive a convent grammar school until the age of sixteen, I bolted early to avoid the cries of ‘Jungle Jim!’ which my straw hat tended to attract from the boys on the bus. (We took off our hats under pain of mortal sin – there were spies everywhere.)
I eventually became a management trainee with a Greater London Borough but a holiday in Spain was enough to tempt me to hand in my notice and bolt again, this time to the Costa Brava, to work in a club called The Custard Beast. It was a wonderful time spent dancing, sunbathing and making merry. I was sacked a couple of times for being too ‘merry’ but always reprieved at the last minute, when down to my last few pesetas.
But the lotus-eating, Technicolor, flower-power ambience of those times had to end, and back home I knuckled down to black and white Britain, this time in the drab offices of the Civil Service.
Marriage, motherhood and mature studentship followed, in parallel with a growing interest in the spiritual, embracing alternative healing and a flirtation with Buddhism. I was a sorceror’s apprentice – striving to find out how the physical and non-physical worlds interrelated, at the same time struggling to separate the truly metaphysical from the spiritual ‘quackery’ which abounded at the time.
In 1990, coming down squarely on the side of logic, I found myself in a Hertfordshire College of Further Education, teaching English as a Foreign Language.
This unexpectedly unlocked my writing ‘box’ and I soon started writing plays and short books for language learners.
Today, I’m no longer teaching. I spend my days writing and, occasionally, reviewing. This is interspersed with yoga classes, dog-walking, and time spent with our small grandson. And, with luck, a dash of travelling when I get the chance.
I’ve come to realise that the awareness I spent much of my life pursuing lies within, to be accessed in a simple way, through meditation. The corollary of this is not to waste time searching for someone or something outside ourselves to ‘fix’ us so we become enlightened. We already are.