1 The Early Years

Jim's father, Tom Penman, was a product of his British upbringing. Tom's father had been a senior manager for an electricity company and his great-grandfather David Penman, Jim's great-great-grandfather, was a sea captain who went down in a storm in the Bay of Biscay. He had become a family legend and Jim's personal hero, as someone who had risen from poverty to success. Jim's mother, Margaret Moxham, was one of six children growing up in Scone, a small country town roughly 250 kilometres north of Sydney. Margaret's father was a shire clerk. Both of Jim's parents came from upper-middle-class, educated families.

Jim's mother was a maverick for her time. She was denied enlistment for World War II since primary teaching was a reserved occupation. But as soon as the war ended she used her savings to buy a ticket on the first civilian ship allowed into the UK after the war. Once on English soil she hitchhiked from place to place, having the time of her life. This was in the late 1940s, when women just didn't do that kind of thing.

At a youth hostel in Wales Margaret met an Englishman, Tom Penman. They courted in Wales before deciding to holiday on the continent together, where they argued the whole time. ‘And then they just thought, “We might as well get married”. It wasn't romantic in any normal sense,' Jim said. ‘Mum chose Dad because he didn't bore her, and she thought she wouldn't find anyone better.'

They settled in Halesowen, Worcestershire, and soon had their ...

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