Having known Tony closely for thirty years , and written his biography, what struck me most indelibly about him was his inner child. As already noted….It was clear that his own school experiences had marked him deeply and left a lasting impression on him. This was an impression , welling up from his formative years, which was to translate into a powerful and enduring legacy of mental achievement , which continues to affect and inspire millions of people around the world.
I have already remarked upon his early questioning of which authority it was that decided who was intelligent or not, and throughout the rest of his life Tony repeatedly positioned himself as that authority , in other words: the headmaster of the human race.
And his conclusion, the most endearing and inspiring aspect of his massive legacy of books, lectures, dvds, inventions and creations, was that everyone is intelligent. Every human being has that Marshall’s baton of Genius within them. What prevents that spark from bursting forth in the luminescence of a Leonardo, a Beethoven, an Einstein, was often accident, circumstance, environment or mental repression and discouragement during a child’s formative years. The Jesuits reportedly said that give them a child by the age of seven, and he will be theirs for life. Tony equally believed that given the opportunity to train young children, he could enlighten their path to Genius.
Indeed, one of his numerous unfinished books at his death was an ambitious report card on the human race, marking humanity out of 100 on such topics as the environment, education, peace, economics, race and gender relations ad infinitum. Another was an exploration into animal intelligence, a subject which constantly absorbed him. His specialty was the brain, so how could insects with micro brains achieve such feats of organisation as, for example, evinced by ants and termites, or arachnids such as the Portia spider? Indeed, for a man who wrote over 140 books during his lifetime, an entire library of as yet unpublished writings still awaits an enterprising publisher. A further potent arsenal of his intellectual legacy, waiting to be discovered.
Unsurprisingly Tony found himself particularly at ease with kids and one of his triumphs was the TV series In Search of Genius, in which Tony, on camera, took a class of delinquent comprehensive school children and converted them over six programmes into model pupils.
In contrast , at the elite end of the spectrum, Tony once received a mysterious phone call inviting him first class, no expense spared, to a desert hideout in Bahrain;sworn to secrecy, Tony was greeted by non other than Michael Jackson, who offered Tony £100,000 for a weekend to teach mental literacy, mind mapping, memory power and speed reading, to the megastar’s offspring. While Tony lectured the family on mental improvement, Jackson retired to his inner sanctum to imbibe a potent drug infused concoction of what he described as ” Mother’s Milk.” The contrast between the Mind snapping activities unfolding upstairs and the brain enhancing teaching imparted downstairs, could not have been more striking!
In spite of his impressive catalogue of published manuals on the working of the brain, what Tony truly craved was recognition as a poet. Particular favourites were his friend and poet laureate Ted Hughes, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Shakespeare’s Richard II, especially those lines where John of Gaunt advises his son Bolingbroke , to regard his banishment by the King as his volitional banishment of the King. As part of his legacy, many volumes of his unpublished poems still await their introduction to the light of the world.
Tony’s enduring legacy will, however, be those generations of readers of his books and attendees at his lectures who found unsuspected depths within themselves and were inspired to maximise what Tony frequently referred to as that sleeping giant, the human brain.