As visitors to the Ink Desk will know, my forthcoming book is an autobiographical account of my journey from racial hatred to the Catholic Church. News of this book appears to be spreading amongst my old enemies in the Old Country. Here’s an e-mail I’ve just received from someone who seems to believe that I carried out a serious physical assault on his brother back in the 1970s. My reply follows:
Dear Mr Pearce,
My name is ____________ and I come from Ilford, Essex.
When I was growing up your name became well known to me.
My brother was an activist in the Young Communist League in the mid to
late 1970s.
He was selling newspapers on the concourse at Barking Station and he was
physically assaulted by you. Quite seriously, in fact. He had serious facial injuries as he was kicked unconscious while he was on the ground.
Times move on and as I read in your autobiographical notes, those days are now apparently behind you. And if the conversion is a genuine one, then I
congratulate you on the change and on your new career. Not bad for a lad from
However, I remain curious. How do you come to terms with such past acts?
Does it not worry you, what you did?
And what do you think of past enemies like my brother?
Are Communists still repugnant to you? Or are merely mis-guided?
As I say I am only curious. Your story is a remarkable one. I am an optimist in life.
People can change and as I say I congratulate you.
But, it would be nice to hear from you.
My response: 
Dear ______


Thanks for your e-mail.
I can say with all honesty and sincerity that your brother must have been mistaken if he thought that I was his assailant at Barking station. I was involved in several scuffles over the years at Barking station, as often as not in self defence. Nobody was ever kicked unconscious during any of these scuffles at which I was present. The worst that I can remember is a few cuts and bruises and perhaps a bloody nose or two. If your brother was injured as severely as you say, I was not involved. I am not likely to have forgotten such a serious assault had I been involved!
In response to your questions, my conscience is certainly troubled by the harm I did in my ill-spent and misguided youth. Indeed, I am motivated by a desire to do as much good as I can in the future to endeavor to make amends for my past. The rest is in the loving and merciful hands of Christ. 
Although I still believe that communism is a harmful ideology, responsible for the killing of millions of people in the twentieth century, I respect and love every human being as being made in the image of God.
Incidentally, I am now good friends with a former communist from Ilford who believes that he may have thrown stones at me during the seventies. As you say, people change. Thanks be to God, it is sometimes for the better.
I wish you and your brother every good wish,