I quickly realised that there was something fundamentally wrong with the New Left position and with socialism in general. Soon I started to go into the West End every Saturday and would always have a look round Foyles bookshop. I discovered the Institute of Economic Affairs and read many of their publications. It all made sense. I even joined the Young Conservatives. In 1970 Edward Heath won the General Election on - believe it or not - a sort of free market platform. Needless to say he betrayed his followers, not least by taking us into the so-called Common Market. One day I discovered The New Left: the Anti Industrial Revolution by Ayn Rand. I'd never heard of her before. What was really interesting was that it told me that she'd also written another book called Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal. "Ideal". No-one talked like that!
So the next weekend I found a copy. This was in January 1972. I can still remember the weather that day - a nice crisp, frosty Saturday with no wind or cloud. I started reading in my little Earls Court bedsit, went to a non-regular pub in the evening to avoid talkative company, and finished the book that very night. I was knocked out. This was the IEA stuff on steroids. I heard about some chap called Mises, learned that government shouldn't operate the monetary system, and that the only arguable reason for the state at all was to protect our rights - namely not to be aggressed against. A while later I met other people who already knew all of this stuff and they described themselves as libertarians. Suddenly I was reading the aforementioned Mises and the really hard core characters like Murray Rothbard. Through the Libertarian Alliance I went on to meet folk like Friedman, Hayek, Rothbard and Hoppe.
Into my thirties I started working in the accounts department of an advertising agency. The boss there pushed me into studying. Four years later I qualified as a Chartered Secretary and joined another agency where I quickly became Company Secretary and then Finance Director. My wife persuaded me to get the degree that I'd always wanted so as I could be a proper libertarian! After another four years I got a First through the Open University studying history and economics.
... to be continued