Sections from my world-wide publication: “Living in History”.
This time the intro – it’s a lovely story about me as a child.
‘…and out of the strong came forth sweetness…’
(The Bible, Judges, Chapter 14/14)
Once upon a time there was a 14 year old boy who couldn’t sit still for a minute.
All day long he was playing ball in the school yard, dancing to rock ’n roll music,
strumming his guitar, running, climbing and swimming in the sea.
He couldn’t concentrate on anything that wasn’t tangible or physically in front of him.
This, of course, included his school work. There was no common ground between his
visual and emotional worlds and school books, exams and timetables.
There was one thing though that connected the boy’s heart to the outside world,
something magical. He loved to draw. He’d never really learned how to draw, but
ever since he could remember he’d drawn imaginary figures and scenes from distant
lands and fantasy worlds, such as kings, castles, princesses, dragons, warriors and
Unfortunately, drawing kings and castles was not part of his school’s curriculum. This
made it difficult for the boy to express himself except through drawing on tables and
chairs during lessons. These were his canvases. Unsurprisingly he frequently ended
up in the headmaster’s office, waiting his weekly punishment…or just a telling off if
he was lucky.
One Spring morning, in yet another boring literature lesson, the boy was scribbling
away on the table in front of him, concentrating on the mysterious figure taking
shape under his pen. It was a man crawling on all fours, bleeding, with torn clothes,
with his hand stretched out in front of him as if he was trying to reach out for help.
The boy was so focused on the figure he didn’t notice a shadow looming above him.
“What are you doing young man?” yelled a familiar voice.
The shocked boy tried to hide his drawing with his hands, but with no great success
as it covered more than half the table.
“Let me see what masterpiece you’ve created here today…” continued the voice
The boy didn’t even look up. He was already planning the excuse he’d be telling the
headmaster in a few minutes time…and planning what he would be doing for the
rest of his day after he was thrown out of school. He slowly moved his hands away
from the drawing.
There was silence. The air in the classroom was still. Nobody moved and nothing was
heard from his teacher, not even the slightest groan or angry grunt. The boy lifted
his eyes slowly upwards. His teacher was staring at his drawing as if there was no one
else around, let alone 43 pupils waiting for her to continue with her lesson. She was
totally engaged with the bleeding figure on all fours, crawling its way to the edge of
The boy noticed that his teacher was holding a book of poems by Yehuda Amichai.
Her finger was on the page she’d just been reading out to the class before she’d been
interrupted by the budding artist.
“What have you drawn here?” she asked after what felt like an eternity.
“Nothing…just a man…I don’t know…I’m sorry…’ replied the boy nervously.
“Don’t be sorry,” said the teacher. “Just tell me what you were thinking when you
drew this figure.”
The boy noticed that the teacher’s voice had changed. To his amazement it was now
soft and tender. “..The man is injured and…he’s trying to reach a place where he can
get help,” he replied.
“What’s he feeling?”
“He’s angry,” answered the boy quietly.
The teacher looked at him with a compassionate, motherly gaze. The boy was alarmed
– she must have gone completely crazy! The teacher, however, opened her book very
slowly and, looking straight into his eyes, began reading out the poem she’d been
reading to the class a few moments before.
“…and on grownups he has no pity at all,
He leaves them alone,
And sometimes they must crawl on all fours
In the burning sand
To reach the first-aid station
Covered with blood…”
The boy was in shock, realising he’d unconsciously drawn a scene from the poem.
‘OK, nice one,’ he thought. ‘…so maybe it won’t be the headmaster today…I wonder
what kind of punishment the teacher will give me instead.’
“Young man,” said the teacher. “From this moment onwards…’
‘Here it comes’, laughed the boy in his mind.
“…you will not participate in writing in any of my classes and exams…”
‘Wow! That’s a new one’, thought the boy.
“…instead you will only…draw!”
The boy’s jaw dropped. ‘What?! I must of missed something here…’ he thought in
The teacher continued, her voice warm and soft: “From now on in all my literature
lessons you can draw whatever you feel like drawing,” she said. “Just please bring a
sketch book and some pens and pencils with you next time – I don’t want to fund
these tables from my own money!”
The boy couldn’t grasp the magnitude of what had just happened. For the first time
in his life someone had seen his potential and the inner beauty and creativity that was
his natural gift. He didn’t realise it yet, but this teacher had poured the first drop of
water onto the seed of talent God had planted in him, the seed that was to blossom
into the realisation of his true potential.
Mrs Dvora Silverstone
The teacher’s name is Mrs Dvora Silverstone. This wonderful woman was brave
enough to act outside the strict guidelines of the school and so she succeeded where
others had failed. She recognised the thin line connecting my inner world and the
world outside. She discovered the language I needed to express myself and grow to
fulfil my destiny.
Mrs Silverstone, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You were the first person
to acknowledge my strength and open my heart to see my talent. The story I have
just told changed my life. I will never forget your belief in me and the sensitivity and
patience you had with me.
During my subsequent 20 year career as a hi-tech entrepreneur, my creativity and
artistic skills were always at the core of my work. I was involved with companies that
developed multimedia systems combining graphics, animation and visual interfaces.
I was able to harness my artistic gift into practical business…just as Mrs Silverstone
had helped me to do back at school.
One day I invited Mrs Silverstone to visit me at one of my companies, so she could
see for herself what had grown from the seed she’d nurtured. It was a very emotional
and loving visit.
At one point she took a piece of paper out of her purse. It was one of the original
drawings of the bleeding man I had drawn 20 years before. She told me she’d met
the poet Yehuda Amichai and showed him the drawing and told him the whole story.
She said he’d been overwhelmed.
I will never forget my wonderful literature teacher sitting on my manager’s office sofa
that day. It was a complete closure for me.
Over the years I have drawn hundreds of beautiful houses for many different clients.
I’m so grateful for this privilege.
When I looked through my portfolio recently I had the idea of illustrating the
historical evolution of English architecture through my drawings. I made contact
with Ros and Jane, both very experienced house historians, and together we came up
with the fascinating journey you see in this book. I hope we have done justice to the
truly magical beauty of English homes.
I feel humble and grateful that I am blessed with this talent for drawing and that I
am able to pass on this heavenly gift and touch the hearts of others. I can say with
pride that I have finally returned to my roots, when I was a little boy drawing on a
classroom table so long ago…
…once again I am drawing castles in the land of kings and princesses.