It wasn’t exactly a typical childhood.
At the age of two, Jeremy Hespeler-Boultbee’s mother packed her bags and took him, his brother and a nanny from Esquimalt on aworld-wide adventure.
With a fondness for warm, sunny places, they first went to California, followed by Panama, Jamaica, South Africa, Australia,England, and several places in between. By the time Hespeler-Boultbee reached the age of 10, he had already circumnavigated theglobe one-and-a-half times.
“I had quite a remarkable childhood,” said Hespeler-Boultbee, who started school in Australia and finished in England. “She (hismother) was basically enjoying herself. She had enough money that she could do this.”
The Victoria resident has seen and done a lot in his 81 years. He spent two years fighting for the British Empire in Kenya and Malay,worked as a journalist for several Canadian publications, including Macleans Magazine during the Portuguese revolution, was aprofessor of architectural history in Portugal, lived in Ethiopia for two years, and has become a published author, penning a memoirabout his experience in the military.
Now Hespeler-Boultbee is getting set to release his second book, Somersaults — which telling the story of his unusual childhood,along with his first foray into journalism once he returned to Canada after two active years of service in the British Army’s colonialwars in Africa and the far east.
“It’s telling the stories I’ve been telling for years and some that I haven’t ever told anybody,” said Hespeler-Boultbee. “There’snothing worse than having a story inside you and not being able to get it out. I decided to get them out.”
Nicola Peffers also had a story she needed to get out.
At the age of 25, she thought she’d hit the jackpot when she was deployed to sail on HMCS Winnipeg for six months in 2009 fromCFB Esquimalt. Peffers was the only female ordinary seaman in the engineering department on the ship. Rather than finding theteamwork and belonging she had hoped for, her boss made advances on her two weeks into the deployment.
But it didn’t end there. By the time she returned to CFB Esquimalt, Peffers had recorded two incidents of sexual assault andunwanted sexual touching. Sexual banter was also everywhere, leaving Peffers feeling helpless since she was the lowest rank.
Peffers has since been released from the military and was later diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to a nearmiss incident involving a refueling at sea. She’s now penned a memoir called Refuge in the Black Deck about her experience, whichbrings readers into the belly of the ship as she endures endless harassment, insults and abuse.
Initially Peffers wrote the book as therapy to let out everything that happened on the ship and when she returned. She hopes it willact as a wake-up call for all Canadians and help others come forward who’ve had similar experiences.
“Everything that I wrote about happened. It’s dense with icky stuff — sexual harassment, sexual assault, it’s an icky subject thatmakes you kind of squirm,” said Peffers, who has mixed emotions about her experience in the military.
Refuge in the Black Deck was released Feb. 22, but a public launch will be held at Chapters on Saturday, March 11 from 1 p.m. to 4p.m. A reading will be held at Bolen Books on Tuesday, March 14.
The launch of Somersaults will also take place Tuesday, March 14 at Cafe Fantastico (965 Kings Rd,) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thebook is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Chapters.ca.