|CHAPTER TWO – The Escape Artist
||Fox’s father was a Sergeant in the Royal Canadian Army. What was his specific responsibility?
||He worked in the signal corps encoding and decoding messages for the army.
||What does PMQ stand for and what were these like, according to Fox?
||PMQ stands for Permanent Married Quarters. According to Fox, these were neither especially comfortable nor spacious but did provide unrivalled security given their location on an army base.
||Fox recounts a story about his grandmother who, during WWII, received two separate telegrams informing her that Harry and Kenny, two of her sons serving in the armed forces, were missing presumed dead. Sometime later she received news that both had survived and were alive and well albeit now Prisoners of War. Whilst she reacted very badly to the first telegram which concerned Kenny, she was less concerned about the second. Why was this?
||A few days after the second telegram she had a dream which she interpreted as meaning that Harry, like Kenny, had survived. She put total faith in this premonition. Thankfully for the family, this indeed proved to be the case.
||Causing great alarm among his family, Fox developed a tendency to wander out of his parental home and meet the neighbours who would invariably return him to his increasingly exasperated mother. On one trip he visited a local sweet shop whose owner telephoned to report the appearance of the missing child. His mother asked the owner to give him some candy while his father came to get him, adding that Fox’s father would of course pay for the sweets when he arrived. Why did the owner respond by laughing?
||Fox’s father did not need to bring any money to pay for the candy as Fox had taken his father’s entire transfer allowance with him to the store and thus had plenty of money to buy the candy.
||Both his father and his grandmother hold very important places within Fox’s heart, albeit for very different reasons. Explain this.
||Fox’s father is described as a realist who always looked for the safe and functional solution to a problem. On the other hand Fox’s grandmother is described as a dreamer who encouraged Fox’s eccentricities and fuelled his ambitions, hopes and desires.
||Why, in 1963, could Fox’s father apply for a larger house than was normally available for a man of his rank?
||With news of a fifth child on the way, the family were eligible for a housing upgrade which they duly applied for and eventually recieved.
||Why did Fox’s grandfather have a tattoo of a thoroughbred with a horseshoe shaped laurel of roses draped around his neck tattooed on his left bicep?
||As a teenager during the war, he worked briefly at a race track and, owing to his diminutive size, potentially had the chance of becoming a jokey. This was a dream he realised on a small number of occasions leading to a drunken decision to get the tattoo. With the end of the war and the return of a generation of soldiers, this dream vanished but the tattoo remained.
||Whilst watching an old home movie in which his father seems to display a great sense of pride and happiness on Christmas Eve whilst staring at the Christmas tree which was surrounded by presents, what does Fox conclude that his father was thinking?
||Having gone through a difficult and impoverished childhood in which his mother left the family unexpectedly and his father frequently had to work away from home to help the family survive financially, Fox decides that the tree surrounded by presents represented two important things to his father. First of all, the abundance of presents represented financial stability and even success which had been so lacking in his childhood. Secondly, and even more importantly, the presents represented a strong familial bond, another important aspect lacking in his childhood.
||The young Michael J. Fox proved to be one of the favourite topics of conversation at family gatherings when various members of the family would discuss his progress at school, whether he needed medication to help him grow or medication to help him concentrate during lessons. How did Fox’s grandmother always react to such concerns about him and his future?
||Fox’s grandmother would always tell the rest of the family not to worry about Fox because he was going to be fine. In fact, he was going to do very well for himself. She even told people that he would be famous when he grew up.
||When Fox reached Junior High School, he could take electives, a wide selection of optional courses from which he had to choose a limited number. Which two subjects did he take?
||As his electives, Fox decided to take guitar and acting.
||Whilst learning to play the guitar, Fox met a young man called Andy Hill with whom he formed a band. What was the name of that band and where did it come from.
||The band was called Halex, and the name was taken from the brand of ‘ping-pong’ balls they used at the school.
||Fox spent one summer working with his mother as a clerk. In exchange for completing any number of menial tasks, he was paid a total of $600 for his summer’s labour. Whilst this endeavour pleased his parents no end who no doubt hoped that this was the start of a more grounded focus for the young Fox, what he decided to spend the money on proved less popular. What did he spend it on?
||He used the $600 to buy a new guitar, replacing the cheap Japanese copy he owned with a real Fender.
||By his sixteenth birthday, Fox was spending most of his time with a more rebellious group of kids with whom he frequently drank and smoked. Fox tells his readers that he was in a downward spiral at this stage, one which many young men of his age experience. What does Fox call the bottom of such a journey?
||Fox refers to this as teenage wasteland.
||Before Fox could progress any further down this spiral, he got a stroke of luck. What was this?
||He was invited to audition for a show about a twelve year old boy. Even though he was sixteen his height and youthful features meant that he could pass for the age and his added maturity helped him land the role and the $6000 dollars it paid.
||Described as a ‘great irony’ by Fox, he found himself receiving great reviews for his professional acting but was failing high school drama along with every other subject. Why was this?
||He was working long hours on the television set for Leo & me and more often than not would fail to make it into school the next day. His high absentee rate contributed to his trouble at school.
||After a lengthy discussion with the school, Fox’s parents eventually decided to support his decision to ‘drop out’. This was partially due to their promise to do so if they couldn’t convince the school to take his professional acting into consideration when grading him, but it was also dependent on another reason. What was this?
||Fox’s parents told him that because his grandmother had been so strong in her beliefs, they would have felt like they were ‘letting her down’ had they not supported his decision to drop out of school to pursue acting as a full time career.