I have not led a blameless life.
I want to make that clear.
But I have been privileged to have spent most of it surrounded by some very forgiving people. And through them
I have learned to forgive myself -
for favouring observation over participation, not just in the theatre
but in the drama that is my life.
So, now we've got that out of the way, let's begin.
I was born on 19 August 1943 in a town called Bournemouth, the second son of James Loftus and Winifred Rideout.
Jim was a Geordie from Gateshead in County Durham. Win was a local girl, slim and pretty, sharp and bright.
They had married on Christmas Day 1932 after Winnie had given birth to my older brother Bob. The real father having disowned Winnie and Bob, my dad stepped in and sealed our fate.
I heard all this from Dad on the eve of my departure for London in 1961.
By then, I had another brother, Geoff, who was 11 years younger than me.
So I was the middle child in a span of 22 years, and Bob was old enough to have been Geoff's father.
The war ended just before my second birthday. So I grew up in post-war austerity. Most foods and all sweets were rationed. And rationing
remained a fact of life till I was ten.
Dad worked on the railway, Mum in
a laundry. I started primary school
in 1946 aged three. My brother Bob went off to naval school in Gosport
in 1948, so I was an only child from
then until Geoff arrived in 1954.
That same year, my only surviving grandparent Alice Rideout died. She lived two blocks away from us, just
100 yards from my junior school,
St Andrew's Primary. Till age 11 I spent many hours at her house, waiting for Mum to pick me up. We listened to the radio together, played cards, and chatted endlessly, sitting either side of the large black-leaded range that bathed the little kitchen living room in constant warmth. There was always a black kettle simmering away, and we drank gallons of tea, give or take the odd cup of bitter-sweet Camp coffee.
Mick Loftus reflects on 40 years of theatrical production inWest London
and his own lifelong starring role