Rupert Taylor: An Unauthorized Autobiography

by RupertTaylor

Just in case you are remotely interested in who I am; after seven decades I'm still not sure.

Who am I? Such a difficult question, and is the answer of the slightest interest to anyone? I can’t even supply a good response; I’m too close to the scene of the crime. I suppose I need a professional spin doctor (loathsome occupation) to conjure up an appealing and fictional persona for me.

Well, here goes for a totally objective view of an ink-stained wretch.

A Life of Confusion

I was born in the market town of Stamford, Lincolnshire; the year was 1943 and the war was looking pretty bleak when I was conceived in the fall of 1942. My parents must have had an unusual confidence in an Allied victory, especially as my father was a destroyer captain escorting convoys in the North Atlantic. Although, perhaps it was a contraceptive malfunction that caused me to be born – a bazilion to the power of ten bazilion long shot.

Seventy years later (left), I’m as confused as when I was born, and I’m sure I was very puzzled about what happened that day. The more I learn, the less I understand. I have questions.

Question: Why, after more than 50 years of typing (hunt and peck not touch), do I still hit the “J” and “K” keys at the same time?

Given the astronomically high odds against me existing rather than someone else I simply can’t believe I was created by some higher authority for some special purpose. I am and then I am not; the bit in between is up to me.

The character Pozzo sums it up for me in Samuel Becket’s play Waiting for Godot: “They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.” I’ll acknowledge some people might see that as negative, but I think of it as realistic. Our time is brief, it’s up to us to make the best of what we have without doing harm to others.

My Hometown

Beautiful to look at not so great to live in


Of course I'm not going to reveal any negative ones here

I treasure compassion, forgiveness, honesty, kindness, cooperation, equality, and wisdom and am aware that I all-too-often fall short of achieving these.

I abhor greed, selfishness, aggression, arrogance, entitlement, and most of what, dare I say it?, are seen as positive values for a successful career in business. This accounts for why I never had a successful career in business.

End of philosophizing.

If someone can patch together the answer to the “Who Am I?” riddle I’d be most interested in hearing it. On to more prosaic matters.

Question: Why do stores, businesses, etc. go to the extra expense of installing double doors but only unlock one of them? And, why do I always choose the locked one first?


If you’ve watched Middlemarch, many of the external shots were done in Stamford, including the house in which I entered the world (no, not any of the mansions).

Stamford (left) was recently declared by The Times to be the best place in England in which to live, but I, like many of my contemporaries, couldn’t get away from it fast enough. Life for a young man in a small provincial market town was deadly dull.

My first attempted escape was to South Africa in 1963, where I almost set fire to a dynamite factory. But, the highlight was three days travelling through the Kruger National Park in north eastern Transvaal. Seeing wild animals in their natural habitat was a wonderful experience and turned me off zoos for the rest of my life. After 18 months in South Africa I found I could no longer stomach apartheid and returned to England.

Question: Why do people check the contents of a tissue after blowing their nose? What are they hoping to find? Gold? Diamonds?



It's simply rearranging 26 letters

My work stationA second more successful emigration attempt took me to Toronto, Canada in 1969. Thanks to a highly creative resume I got a job with a Toronto radio station rewriting stories from a newspaper newsroom and teletyping them back to the announcers. I thought I had died and gone to Heaven. I finally knew what I wanted to do – write - and set up my work station (right).

I moved into print and, in 1974, was appointed editor of a current events magazine that was designed for use by high school students. In 1987, my wife (also a journalist) and I bought the magazine and we still publish it, although now only in digital form.

Question: "Shots rang out followed by a blood-curdling scream." Do shots ring and can blood curdle?

I’ve usually been in the happy position of being able to write about pretty much anything that interests me, but, just about everything interests me, so the field is wide open.

I have a specific interest in politics (I’m fascinated by the mendacity), history in general and the Great War in particular, crime (as an observer not practitioner), the law and justice (often mutually exclusive), the unexplained (there’s often an explanation that’s far less sensational than the speculation), scams and swindles (exposing them not pulling them), hoaxes and conspiracy theories (love exploding those), inequality (income, race, gender, etc.), the environment. I have little interest in science, because science involves mathematics and the place where numeracy is located in normal brains is occupied in mine by a small piece of three-quarter inch plywood.

Question: Why do paint companies continue to boast that “One coat covers?” When it never has and probably never will.

Linda, my wife of almost 40 years, and I now live in the city of Waterloo, Ontario – home to two universities and the BlackBerry Company. Waterloo was recently designated the world’s smartest community by some organization that pretended to have a way of measuring mass municipal intelligence.


By great good fortune we live 30 minutes away from North America’s largest classical repertory theatre company. Linda and I can indulge our love of theatre at The Stratford Festival (see below), which mounts a dozen plays and musicals a year ranging from Shakespeare to Noel Coward, with Arthur Miller and original productions staged for good measure.

A two-hour drive away is Niagara-on-the-Lake, home of the Shaw Festival that puts on top quality plays by George Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries as well as venturing into Tennessee Williams (our favourite playwright) and original productions.

And, we’re only an hour west of Toronto, where there is a vibrant theatre scene. We usually steer well clear of the big, commercial theatres with their mega-musicals and mega-priced seats. The fare we like is staged by small theatre companies that produce plays that give the mind something to chew on.

I once dabbled in theatre as a performer and won a best actor award in a festival. I gave it up when I realised the poverty associated with being an actor was even worse than the poverty of a writer.

Question: When will politicians (“I will keep all my election promises”), CEOs (“the company is in a sound financial position”), professional sports people (“I have never taken drugs”), actors (“I was born to play this role”), and others, stop lying.

Stratford Festival 2014 Season


I didn’t take up reading seriously until after I left school and got out of the clutches of English teachers. I read most of the classics but nowadays I prefer to get my fix of Dickens, Austen, Trollope, Hardy, and the like through those wonderful British TV adaptations. Others of an older vintage that I have greatly enjoyed are Graham Greene, John Steinbeck, George Orwell, Evelyn Waugh, John Wyndham, A.J. Cronin, W. Somerset Maugham, Neville Shute, etc.

Recent favourite books:

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Anything (that’s not a title, just an indication that I love all his witty writing) by Carl Hiaasen

Question: Why do people watch hillbilly porn (Here Comes Honey Bo Bo, Jerry Springer)? Is it to give themselves comfort that their own lives are not as bad a train wreck as they suspect?

Music Soothes the Savage Breast

As a teen I went through the rock and roll phase. Such decadent music was not allowed on British radio at the time so we all listened to Radio Luxembourg, which had a show at 9 p.m. every night called “Rocking to Dreamland.” With my transistor radio plugged in I listened to Little Richard (I had all of his oeuvre on 78 rpm discs), Frankie Lyman, the Coasters, Fats Domino, and others. I had no idea these artists were black.

I moved on to skiffle and then jazz. I’ve pretty much stayed with the latter ever since with a hefty side order of folk.


Modern Jazz Quartet

The Swingle Singers

The Dave Brubeck Quartet

Jacques Loussier Trio

Charlie Byrd

Stan Getz

Of course, none of those listed above are still recording (with the exception of a reconstituted Swingle group); the grim reaper having inconveniently wielded his scythe.

Today, many jazz fans wax lyrical and almost go into an ecstatic trance at mention of John Coltrane or Charlie Parker, but I have never enjoyed them; just sounded like noise to me.

Who today?

I would go anywhere (if I had the money, which I don’t) to hear the Rosenberg Trio play the manouche guitar style created by Django Reinhardt. Melody Gardot is an outstanding vocalist, as are Madeleine Peyroux and Stacey Kent.

Question: Why, if you get shorter as you get older, is the ground farther away when you bend to pick up something you’ve dropped?

My music

Last questions

Question: Why does my downstairs toilet, which is prone to running on, only do so when I leave the bathroom? If I stay in the room, it doesn’t run on; if I leave, it does. How does that lump of porcelain detect my presence or absence?

Question: Why do sports commentators so frequently use the word "unbelievable" to describe something that is so patently believable because we've all just seen it happen?

Question: Why do we even have sports commentators when they deliver such penetrating analysis as "unbelievable?"

Updated: 12/29/2013, RupertTaylor
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


RupertTaylor on 12/13/2013

Your dad and I are sympatico.

WordChazer on 12/13/2013

Dad likes that style. Too much Astrud Gilberto at a tender age, I say. I'm not into jazz vocals in any great depth. I do hear a LOT of Stan Getz, Paul Desmond, Dave Brubeck and MJQ when I'm visiting my parents' as those are dad's other favorites. He is very much NOT a fan of Gene Krupa or the synth jazz styles of Dave Grusin and Chick Corea. There is only one Pat Metheny track he likes, whereas my taste is wider than just that one. I also enjoy a smidge of Mel Torme on the side (mum likes the Frank Sinatra school of singing), as well as the deepest deep south blues you could wish, but again, that's cause for disinheritance from dad!

RupertTaylor on 12/13/2013

Not quite the same tastes Paula. I've never developed a taste for Stan Kenton. Lately, I've stumbled across a wonderful singer Called Stacey Kent whose music is heavily influenced by Brazilian samba - Mmmmmmm

WordChazer on 12/13/2013

You and I share a taste in jazz! I must recommend your favored female vocalists to my dad, who is responsible entirely for my jazz head. He runs a jazz club in his retirement and loves it. I just prefer to listen, and preferably to instrumentalists rather than vocalists. Stan Kenton is my favorite, followed by Gene Krupa and Michel Petrucciani, also Barbara Thompson, Jimmy Smith, Barbara Dennerlein, Pat Metheny, Dave Grusin and Chick Corea. Christmas is not Christmas without repeated airings of Stan Kenton's Christmas, which dad acquired on CD some years ago thanks to his network of fellow jazz fans.

sheilamarie on 08/17/2013

Love this self disclosure! I'm happy to meet you, Rupert.

teddletonmr on 08/14/2013

Rupert Taylor happy to make your acquaintance; please tell me this isn’t your swan song of sorts. Your humor captivating, insights thought provoking which is no small task for a yank like me with limited intellect. Your genius inspires me to work hard at not hitting both the J & K keys simultaneously. Be well teddletonmr

chefkeem on 08/13/2013

If not with outrageous deeds, I'm sure you could fill a book with "outrageous" thoughts. I'm sure as hell.

RupertTaylor on 08/13/2013

Thanks Jo.
But, as I haven't assassinated anybody, or dated any pneumatic starlets (although I did once escort, though not in the Biblical sense, a Miss New Zealand to a dance), or peddled or used drugs (does beer count?), or started any wars to enrich my manufacturing friends, or, or, there's nobody left on the planet except you who would buy my autobiography.

RupertTaylor on 08/13/2013

It's laughter that keeps me going Chef

JoHarrington on 08/13/2013

That was fabulous! You had me rapt from start to finish. Now write an autobiography, filled with random life questions too. I'd read it!

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