Born illegitimate in north east England in 1944, I was sent to my father’s parents in western Ireland where I had an idyllic childhood. My parents later married and when I was brought back to England at the age of nine, I was continually beaten and battered by my father, who called me a bastard, throughout my teenage years. Surviving on my memories of Ireland, my trust in my Catholic faith, the help of kind people and relatives, and my love of chemistry, I went through major crises, feeling lost and alone in 1960s England and Scotland, I took on challenges, fought back against despair, and struggled with my sexual identity under legal intolerance. But determined to find a better life I went to university and finally to America. This is a story of surviving against the odds.