Remembering Childhood

Remembering childhood

Last night I went with friends to the National Trust site of Box Hill, in Surrey, to see an open air showing of “Finding Neverland”. Its a story of how “Peter Pan” came to be written by JM Barrie. The accuracy of the story is subject to the usual artistic licenses and too much attention to detail may rather miss the point of the story.

In essence, this is a tale of recapturing childhood. Barrie, (played by Johnny Depp) was struggling to write a commercially successful play and happens upon the Llewelyn-Davies family, who become the inspiration for the story. The story itself (in the film rather than reality) is born out of struggle – Barrie’s own marriage is far from happy, the Llewelyn-Davies family have suffered the loss of a father and Barrie himself needed a successful play for his theatrical producer Charles Frohman.

Barrie is inspired by the imagination of the Llewelyn-Davies boys and becomes a significant figure in their lives. In meeting with them, he is both a willing participant and ring-leader in their play, recalling something of his own childhood and confronting the reality of what has been lost in the transition to adulthood, in so doing, his behaviour is frowned upon by the socialites of the day, including his wife who eventually divorces him for a man more present.

Childhood is precious and brief, but so too is life – coming to terms with loss and grief is experienced differently by all, yet all undergo this very adult experience. This is poignantly reflected in the movie with the mother, Sylvia, played by Kate Winslet, who also dies fairly suddenly from cancer and whose friendship with Barrie has been something of a talking point much to the chagrin of Mary Barrie and Emma du Maurier.

Worse than fiction?

Despite being a moving tale of loss, where the only relief seems to be found in friendship and escape into imagination, the real story is even more painful. It transpires that lives of the four brothers all met with significant sadness.

In reality the boys’ father barrister Arthur Llewelyn-Davies died in 1907, age 44, some three years after the play was first performed. JM Barrie divorced his wife in 1909. Sylvia died in 1910 aged 43. Barrie didn’t publish Peter Pan as a book until 1911 having made numerous revisions of the play.

The second eldest Jack, actually left home shortly before his mother died in 1910 to join the Navy. George, the eldest, was killed in Flanders in 1915 at the age of 21, the second youngest Michael aged 20 drowned in suspicious circumstances (thought to be suicide) in 1921.

Peter grew up apparently very unhappy about the constant references of him with Peter Pan, eventually falling out with Barrie over a relationship that Peter had with illustrator Vera Willoughby whilst Peter was 20 and still serving in the military, the argument is presumed to have been that  Vera was 20 years older and married.  Peter went on to form his own publishing company, which the film suggests as a nod to the influence of Barrie and his late mother, his company published work by his cousin Daphne du Maurier. When Barrie died age 77 in 1937, his estate passed largely to his secretary, the royalties of Peter Pan were gifted to Great Ormond Street.

Jack died when he was 65 in 1959, Peter committed suicide just 7 months later, age 63. It was discovered that he had been working on a piece about his family entitled “Morgue” and had reached the point where he was confronted by the prospect that his youngest brother may have committed suicide. Peter was married with three children. The youngest brother, Nicholas died in 1980 and doesn’t feature in the film as this would have revealed the problematic chronology within the movie, havng been born in 1903.

And the financial planning lesson?

For some of us childhood was an experience lacking responsibility. At times, when life can feel overwhelming it is tempting to recall such childhood freedoms. The path to adulthood is rarely an instant marvel, and in reality childhood contains all sorts of trauma and experience. Growing up can be hard, taking responsibility can be difficult.

Enjoy life whilst you have it, treasure your friendships and loved ones, don’t count on inheritances and ensure that your family (and/or friends) are adequately financially protected…. and remember that stories aren’t always factually accurate….even our own. Finally, your financial planning really shouldn’t be based on fiction, but it should contain a considerable amount of imagination.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email

Remembering Childhood2017-01-06T14:39:23+00:00

The Red Carpet Effect


Red Carpet Experience

The demands of a voracious media upon celebrities are significant. Attending the BFI London Film Festival is one of my now annual indulgences – being able to see some great new movies and enjoy the experience of the razzmatazz. It is interesting to observe the stars, the media and the public who all play their parts in the red carpet experience. The moment is fleeting and slightly surreal. I wonder how celebrities put up with the constant attention and deal with the inevitable experience at some point of not being the centre of attention. I have to say that all those that I bumped into (some literally) along the red carpet appeared to be comfortable with the attention and I was struck by how calm their demeanour – no small feat when hundreds of people are shouting and demanding your gaze.

"Labor Day" - Mayfair Gala European Premiere - Red Carpet Arrivals: 57th BFI London Film FestivalLabor Day

Last night I saw yet another good Kate Winslet film. This time “Labor Day” (yes American). It is a moving story about a escaped convict that seeks shelter in the depressed home of divorcee Adele (Kate Winslet) who lives with her son Henry who does his best to help her struggle through the day. Both lack confidence and need a shot of inspiration which arrives in the unexpected form of Frank Chambers (Josh Brolin). I won’t divulge the story any further, but it is a reminder that in life there are often people that lift us and inspire us. I think that for me this is often the role that art, in its many forms often plays in my own life. That is not to say that inspiration always comes from a perfect or purist place, but rather, true inspiration is invariably grounded in the difficulty of real life.

 A Passionate and Connected Life

For all the gloss of financial services, the reality is that great financial planning is grounded in real life, in your hopes and experiences. It is not a wish-making factory, though I can certainly see how this can appear to be the case. I work hard with clients to help them verbalise the life that they want. We might call this a lifestyle, which can sound like a glamorous term, in practice it invariably means a life where thought has been placed into how personal values are outworked. I cannot think of a single client for whom relationships, connection to others is not one of their driving motivations. It isn’t really about the toys, but a sense of being known. Money merely provides choices, it’s a resource, my clients reflect on how they wish to use it in order to reflect their own values. This is easier said than done in a world that honours and basks in the glitz, which can be a lot of fun, but can be a lonely place, where being oneself is increasingly difficult. What I find clients are really bothered by, is a very real, passionate and connected life, themes touched on in the film – hence the blog.

The BFI Film Festival continues until Sunday 20th October.BFI FFposter2013

Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA

The Red Carpet Effect2017-01-06T14:39:44+00:00
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