I often wonder if my life will be defined, in the end, by my mistakes.
I have made so many in my life, inspite of rising from humble beginnings to a university professor at a top UK institution, with an international reputation for my research and published works and a strong teaching reputation too.
In 2002 all my chickens came home to roost when I accepted a major, albeit short term of nine months, administrative role as the joint head, with a junior woman colleague, of the Teaching Quality Audit (TQA) of my department by an external panel (a official teaching inspection as in schools).
My younger colleague Philippa was supposed to be the administrative powerhouse with my assistance, but she had a severe chronic life-threatening illness which kept her at home for long periods and the burden of preparing for a department wide TQA inspection, with a maximum mark out of 24 which the university insisted all departments should achieve, and most had, fell largely on me.
Under huge stress, and spending more time than ever away from home, including weekends, I turned once again to my comfort zone and started another torrid relationship with a submissive married, but separated, woman professor from another faculty, who I met on a faculty committee and lied to telling her I was married, but was getting a divorce.
What I didn’t realise at the time was that I had done absolutely nothing to resolve my inner anger and sadness at the death of Sarah back in 1996, and that the stress of heading the TQA preparations was going to intersect with my unresolved inner demons to create the perfect mental storm.
I am normally a slim guy, but I lost three stone in weight in six months (later my students told me that they were all convinced that I was dying of cancer). In fact, I was eating very little, drinking a bottle of wine each evening and engaging in BDSM based sex acts, sometimes twice or three times a night as a Dom with my submissive colleague.
One week before the Inspection, when I had even resorted to sleeping in my office to get my tasks done, I suddenly announced to the woman who was the Joint head of the TQA team, and was now back at work, that I had fallen in love with her, to her utter astonishment! I was convinced that I had although we had hardly seen each other in the office for months, let alone the bedroom!
She told the head of department the following morning, saying I was acting irrationally, which I was, and I was sent home with orders to see my GP, who immediately confirmed I had had a nurvous breakdown and signed me off for six months on full pay.
I have never met the woman professor again. Although we did speak briefly on the phone a few days later, agreeing that the relationship had to end. I also told her the truth about my marriage.
So, suddenly, I was at home for six months, and under orders orders not to engage in any academic writing or research during my recovery. I was also cut off completely from any extramarital sex. Needless to say my masturbation count per day was at least three.
After a couple of weeks, thoroughly bored by watching TV and listening to music on the radio, I was looking through some old watercolour sketches of mine and decided to put one of them on my A3 scanner and see what it looked like on the screen.
I had been drawn and painted since I left school. It was the one talent I had that didn’t require much effort on my part, since I have a photographic mind for visual objects, and for colours and forms. I had also spent decades attending the great galleries of the world on my days off from international and national conferences, and I possessed a large collection of art books, many of whoch I had looked at and read through many times.
In short i was a self-taught autodidact in fine art, able to recognise, understand and discuss in depth the works and techniques of most great artists and art photographers. Most people who had gone to, or taught at art colleges thought I must have at least a first degree in fine art.
As the watercolour came upon my large computer screen, something wonderful happened as I reached for the mouse and using a contrast control tightened the colours in front of me. I was instantly entranced and was soon scanning in and working on nude studies, landscapes and portraits of minr, changing and enhancing them in the computer and printing off the results on my A3 printer.
My life as an erotic artist had begun, albeit without the eroticism as yet! A miracle was occurring in my sexualised life, that would eventually transform it, although I was totally unaware of it at the time. It just seemed at the time to be a fascinating and delightful fill-in occupation, until I returned to my teaching, research and writing in the social sciences.
But the full miracle could only happen if I retired and I was only 52 in 2002. I actually retired in 2006! How that came about is to be explained in my next blog post.