Why Psychic And Clairvoyant Powers Can Be A Barrier To Spiritual Development

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10497_487005687979215_193773654_nContrary to popular opinion, having psychic or mediumistic abilities is no indicator of spiritual advancement; in fact, it can actually be a hindrance to spiritual development. What many do not realise is that psychic and clairvoyant experiences take place at a level which is well below the plane of Self-realisation; therefore at best they can be nothing more than an illusion; just another game in the play of life. Most people who know me will be aware that I have worked as a platform medium for many years, and so may find that statement very difficult to comprehend; a medium saying that mediumship is nothing more than an illusion! What next? I’ve been aware of this truth for several years now and I realise that all I’m doing is going through the motions for the sake of appeasing the logical minds of those who wrongly believe they have “lost” loved ones. I suppose I’d better explain my thinking…

Firstly, I’m going to use an analogy my good friend, Michael Walters, coined a few years back. Michael says that life is like an onion; consisting of many layers. As we evolve, every now and then, one of those layers peels away and reveals a truth that was always there, it’s just that we couldn’t see it. As truth reveals itself, old, stale mindsets and beliefs simply dissolve away. They dissolve away because they are illusory and not true. They never were true; we simply made them our reality because we believed it to be so. With this in mind it’s fair to say that the onion, which is my life, has been peeling away layers in the last few years at an unbelievable speed.

So, what is clairvoyance? It is a series of temporary experiences that occur in the mind. This tells us that in order to experience clairvoyance we have to engage the mind. The mind is the ego, which falsely identifies with the body therefore what we experience is an illusion; it is transient and not true. If you have a clairvoyant experience there must be an object (your clairvoyant vision). If there is an object, there must also be a subject (the one having the vision). This is separateness (duality), which is an illusion. In infinite consciousness the object and the subject are one and the same; in ultimate truth nothing exists except infinite consciousness, which is One.

We also need to understand that in order to have a clairvoyant experience, the experiencer must be in communication with the astral planes. The astral planes are a vast, kind of extension, to the physical plane and are subject to the same natural laws. This means that the astral planes are subject to relativity, which in turn means that your experience of clairvoyance may be negative as well as positive. Similar conditions apply with regard to mediumship. You have a messenger, the one receiving the message and the message itself; this is another example of duality; in infinite consciousness the messenger, the receiver and the message are one and the same; there is no separateness.

As for psychic powers, they simply relate to the karmic pathway and like clairvoyance and mediumship, they will only exist when the mind falsely identifies with the body. Of course, it is true to say that if you are reading this and you have experienced any kind of psychic phenomenon, it is an indicator that you are starting to wake up to the reality of who you really are. Problems occur however, when people start to have these experiences and wrongly believe that they are the be-all-and-end-all. They develop attachments to the experiences and want them continuously, oblivious to the fact that such experiences are only ever going to be a stepping stone to Self-realisation. When we develop such attachments, and remain in the psychic and clairvoyant planes, it forms a barrier and keeps us in ignorance of our true nature.

Is it not a no-brainer? Why would you want to settle for a lettuce leaf when you can have a whole salad?

 

Spirituality vs Religion

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Whilst it is perfectly feasible that a religious person is able to display certain spiritual characteristics, and would also undertake some kind of spiritual practice, one who is spiritually awake has no need for a fear-based belief system. Hence, for the one who has awakened, no religion is necessary.

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The Transitory Phenomenon We Call Life


The nature of our relationship with creation is that of subject/object. The mind (subject) constantly seeks out objects in the world and interacts with them; objects can be things or people. It then draws a series of conclusions and opinions around the interaction, which determine whether we are happy, sad or indifferent with the experience. Relationships are so-called because we all exist in relation to each other. When two people are in love; genuinely in love, it is not because they are in a relationship with each other. It is actually because the soul connection between the two is so strong, that the illusion of the subject/object relationship has broken down and dissolved away, allowing the two souls to merge in Love with each other and experience the oneness of consciousness. This is a great paradox of life; we are only in a relationship when the relationship has broken down!

The subject/object relationship is what is also known as duality; the illusion that things and people exist separately and independently. The only reality is consciousness, however, when consciousness has its dancing shoes on, objects rise up and appear to exist independently of everything and everyone else. But all that rises up must also dissolve away; this is the transitory phenomenon that we call Creation.

Who Am I? Part Nineteen


When the fertilizer hit the fan at work I found that I still had a job, but not the one I’d been doing. It is not relevant to go into too much detail here so many years after the event, instead I will simply relate the main points. The marketing division was unrecognisable from that day in mid December 1998, when the “Swindon crew” rocked up in Reading for the first time. There had been many comings and goings, new jobs, but mainly for people with specific qualifications and young graduates. It was apparent that I was a fish out of water; at one point I was turning up for work in the knowledge that I didn’t really have a job. It was clear to me that I did not fit into the model of the division and that I was on borrowed time. Things got quite intense when I put up resistance to what was happening to me. It didn’t go down well that I was fighting my corner. I remember it being a terrible feeling, working in a place where I didn’t actually have a job. It was also obvious to all my workmates as well, but in the corporate world there is no room for sentiment and it was all about self-preservation. I could see that Gary and Huw were not comfortable with what was happening to me, but Gary had a position of great responsibility and had to get on with his own stuff. Huw as well; his job changed drastically and he was flying, but I will always respect that through that difficult time they remained friends.

Things eventually came to a head when my stubbornness won me a battle. However, it did not win me the war, because I turned up for work one day and the stress of everything had finally taken its toll. I sat down at my desk and had a pain above my eyes. I had not been myself for months; I’d not been sleeping well, drinking every night and with the realisation that I was now a “dead man walking”, having irritated management even more by winning my little battle against them, I had nothing more to give. I was spent. I was told to go home and I would spend six months off work with an acute stress related illness…. And it was the best thing that ever happened to me! Meanwhile…

The open circle became very frustrating. I was like a caged lion, hungry for knowledge of the spirit, and I wasn’t going to get it in a spiritualist church. But, while I was off sick I encountered Sue and John Geis; they ran a spiritual development centre in Gloucester. I got chatting to John at a charity clairvoyant night at Swindon Town Football Club in September 2000. I’d met him before when he’d been working at the church. John’s wife Sue was one of three mediums working that night and I, along with my friend (also called Sue) were helping out with the teas. We were chatting and out of the blue John asked me if I would be interested in developing spiritually. I didn’t need asking twice and I gave him my number. Hold that thought…

We were now into the new millennium and me and Sue, the graphic designer, were history; we had split for good around April 2000. I was off work from early September 2000 to March 2001, and that was a crazy time for me. I was full of anger and hatred towards those at work who I considered were responsible for my plight. The negative emotions festered within me and I became more bitter with each passing day. At first Huw kept in touch, and when Gary was in town we would meet up. But I became a very difficult and negative person to be around and eventually the phone stopped ringing.

It was just me, in my flat above the hairdressers, with my booze, my hatred and my anger. I hadn’t felt like this for a few years, but in that time of misery, every now and then, out of the blue, the phone would ring and it would be Sue. It was probably at this time that I realised what I’d lost. It was apparent that Sue Crewe was an exceptional human being with a heart of gold. She was genuinely concerned about me; even though she was now in a new relationship with a man she would eventually marry and have two lovely children with. She still thought about me and made the time to get in touch. I am eternally grateful for that. meanwhile….

It was around 1999 that I started having strange experiences in the early hours of the morning. Hold that thought because I’m going to elaborate in the next post.

There were some very significant events during my time in the grip of my self-made hell. I’d started trying to meditate. It was my own version but it suited where I was on my journey. I’d also got to know of a book called, “Discover Your Psychic Powers”, by an author called Tara Ward. Not the sort of book I would read today, but very significant indeed back then. It was one of those books that gives you exercises to do. I remember one day I was reading a particular chapter, and there was an exercise that was about forgiving those who you perceive to have done you wrong. The hackles went up and I put the book down in disgust. I wasn’t going to forgive anyone! It must have been a few months later (as I’m quite a slow reader) that I came to a passage that said, “please refer to the exercise on page …”. I leafed back through the book and to my disgust I saw it was the exercise about forgiving people. Once again I shut the book in a defiant mood; there was no way I was going to forgive those b*#*##*!!!!!!!

A few days later something inside me felt that if I was encountering this exercise twice, there must be something in it. I felt that someone, somewhere was trying to tell me something. I decided I was going to give it a go, but it took me a couple of days to psyche myself up, such was the depth of my anger and hatred. The time came and I sat down to do the exercise. I remember that I kind of put my own spin on it. I did a meditation, in which I divided all my “enemies” from work into two groups, men and women. I visualised that I encountered all the men one by one in the street. I greeted them, shook them by the hand and wished them well on their way. I then visualised encountering the women, greeting them with a friendly hug, producing a bunch of flowers from behind my back and giving them the flowers as I wished them well on their way. It wasn’t that difficult. When I’d finished I stood up from my seat and to my amazement I had the tangible experience of feeling something rising up inside my stomach. I realised years later that this was my kundalini rising after so many years of being stuck.

The next significant thing to happen was that in between the Christmas and New Year of 2000/01 I got a phone call out of the blue from John Geis. He said he was starting up a new closed circle in January and would I like to participate. It was manna from heaven for me and I snapped up the chance. But that wasn’t all! He said that before the circle begins there is a chance, if I want, to attend a meditation workshop at their centre. I jumped at the chance to do this as well, and what a choice it was. In all the time I’d been going to the spiritualist church I’d never had any proper guidance with regard to meditation. But in the space of a few hours on this particular Saturday I experienced an explosion within my being of epic proportions. I’d never experienced anything like it in my life and my new adventure had begun.

I’m so glad to have been able to write two blog posts in such quick succession, as my chronic fatigue has not been very kind to me since my return from Nepal. Thanks for your patience!

Who Am I? Part Eighteen


This post is going to be like one of those films where they keep switching from one scene to the other because there are several stories going on at the same time, which all come together in the end. Firstly, as far as work was going, I fell for the yarn that was spun to me prior to accepting the new position, and was swept away on the crest of a wave of delusion. I was constantly making enquiries as to whether any new positions were coming up, and I had my heart set on joining the marketing team. I was bored with key accounts, and my efforts to get myself noticed didn’t go down very well with key accounts management. So much so, that my line manager eventually took me to one side and reminded me that I was a customer agent in the key accounts team; implying that I should know my place and get on with the job I was paid to do.

Eventually, I was offered a position within the marketing team; I was elated! If only I knew then what was just around the corner! It was cloud cuckoo land for several months. The job was only a side-step, but the marketing manager promised me it would lead to a promotion. During a conversation I had with the key accounts manager some weeks after taking up the new position in marketing, I mentioned what I had been told about getting promoted; he just laughed and walked off! This was a sign of what was to come. But in the meantime I was still riding the crest of a wave. There was long lunches, paid for on the managers’ expense accounts, and even though I was quite a low grade I was issued with a company mobile phone and I could also claim any expenses that I incurred on my travels. I should mention that my new job entailed managing the products that we were trying to sell to our commercial customers. This meant going out on the road from time to time, hence I was allowed to claim any expenses incurred. As well as ordering any stocks that I thought we needed I was also responsible for managing the installation of the aforementioned products. By this time I was no longer using the rail warrant to get to work. I had been advised to take out a company loan and buy a car, as I would need one to do my new job. This I did, and because I was not the only one commuting from Swindon, we would car share so that the burden of fuel expense could be shared.

In the meantime I had started going back to the spiritualist church on a more regular basis. Nothing had particularly changed; I still felt that there was a staleness to Spiritualism and the atmosphere in the church was pretty much exactly as it was. This time however, I did get to meet several people who I could relate to, and eventually I decided to go along to what they called the “open circle”, which was held on the second and fourth Thursday of the month. An open circle is not something that I would particularly advise participating in these days; they can actually be quite dangerous, but at that time it suited me. The open circle is for people who are wanting to find out more about Spiritualism and to start to develop their psychic and mediumistic abilities. It’s called an open circle because anybody can come and sit. Me and my particular group of friends formed the nucleus of the open circle; there was about six of us. When it was just us it was great, but sometimes there would be loads of people turning up, and everyone brings their own horrors with them so to speak, so an open circle is not always the ideal experience. Meanwhile back in Reading…

My best mates at work were Gary and Huw. Gary was one grade below middle-management within the marketing team and he lived in London. Huw was also in the marketing team and lived in Swindon; he was one of the car sharers. From time to time Gary would come to Swindon and stay at Huw’s house and we would get together over a few bears and have a real laugh. Eventually, I realised that my sexy new job was nothing of the sort. My line manager had previously been responsible for what I was now doing. When it became apparent that it entailed a lot of hassle and that it was pretty much a losing battle, they needed someone to dump on, and that person was me. In theory the products were great, but in practice they simply didn’t work; mainly because of the many unforeseen problems with installation. Cracks started to appear and eventually someone very high up within the organisation realised that our new all-singing-all-dancing marketing department was haemorrhaging money. Thousands of pounds had been spent with very little return so heads had to roll. Incredibly, there was only one actual redundancy that I remember, but there was a huge restructuring. The one bloke who got made redundant was Dave. He was one of the three salespeople and a really good bloke. As ever in these situations it was the people who had been responsible for the biggest mess who came up smelling of roses once the dust had settled, poor Dave was just a scapegoat. Meanwhile back at the oasis…

Prior to things turning sour, I started a relationship with a woman called Sue. She worked in the same building as me in Reading; she was upstairs in graphic design. We were together for six months, during which time I was incredibly insensitive towards her. I really didn’t appreciate her and eventually we parted company. For me, it was a case of, “you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone”, but we still had some good times together. I’m mentioning Sue because I think she is quite significant to my story at this time, which will become clearer a little later. We had two things in common, an interest in Spiritualism and alcohol.

Eventually, I got more involved with trying to develop myself spiritually, and there is a milestone moment I will share with you. I’ll also have to backtrack because it was the first time I ever went to the open circle.  It was as though something inside me was saying, “now is the time to go forward”, so I decided that I was going to go to this open circle thing. The person in charge said we were going to try something called psychometry, which is to pick up information from an object by holding it. For example, by holding a piece of jewellery in your hand you may be able to pick up information about who has worn it. Most of the others present seemed quite apprehensive but I quickly offered myself forward to have a go, and to my amazement I was able to give some fairly accurate information to complete strangers simply by holding the items they had brought with them. This was the springboard for me and now there was no holding me back.

Because this period is quite involved I’m going to split it into two parts as I want to keep the reader’s interest. So I’m going to get straight on with part nineteen.

Tales From Kathmandu (And Other Places) #2


Buddhist World Peace Pagoda, Pokhara

As the weeks go by I will no doubt remember little snippets from my trip and share them with you. Today is no exception. I want to share a couple of things with you; one being a general Nepali thing and the other something specific. Firstly, something I observed during my visit to Pokhara.

It was my second full day in Pokhara and I’d discovered that there was a tourist information centre. For some strange reason it was nowhere near the centre of the Lakeside area where I was staying. It was in fact a bit of a walk, but I managed to find it, and also obtained some very valuable information from the helpful staff. I should add before going any further that Nepali politics is very corrupt (isn’t it all!!) and there had been sporadic demonstrations against various political leaders and their policies in the recent past. En-route to the tourist information centre I passed by a local government building, but didn’t pay much attention to it. As I was walking back to Lakeside I could hear some sort of chanting, and I also saw a bit of a crowd in the distance. As I got closer it seemed to be the sort of sound that you can hear in schools when teachers are singing songs with very enthusiastic kids. I automatically headed towards the crowd in order to take in the “joy” of the spectacle. As I got even closer the reality of what was happening dawned on me. I couldn’t have been more wrong in my assessment of the events.

I soon realised that there was not a child in sight. What I was witnessing was a crowd of people, mainly women, venting their anger outside the local government building. Stood in front of them, forming a barrier, was a line of police armed with huge sticks. I wanted to film it on my phone, but decided against it as there was no way of me doing it discretely. The crowd was really letting off steam, and I couldn’t help but admire the bravery of those women in the face of injustice. I went on my way with the sound of the protests accompanying me for what seemed like an age, until it eventually faded in the distance. Quite often in the history of our species it has been women of great courage who have helped to bring about positive change in the world, through their bravery in the face of adversity.

The other thing I wanted to share, which really put a smile on my face, was something I saw in Kathmandu and Pokhara on several occasions. I observed packed buses going by with musicians on board going at it full-throttle. It was an incredible sight to behold. There were tabla (drum) players and others playing crazy brass instruments, similar to those played by the Buddhist monks that I mentioned in my previous post. It seems to be just a normal part of every day life in Nepal. Below are some more pics for you to enjoy.

Golden Temple, Patan

Golden Temple, Patan

Golden Temple, Patan

Entrance to The Golden Temple, Patan

Tales From Kathmandu (And Other Places)


Well folks, I’m back from my travels in Nepal, and it all seems just a distant blur now. I thought I would share some of my experiences with you, as well as carrying on with the, “Who Am I?” series. In truth I don’t know where to start, as there is so much to relate, however, I thought I would start by writing about my experiences on the Tibetan refugee camps in and around Pokhara.

There are three Tibetan camps in and around Pokhara; all completely different, both location wise and in terms of ambiance. The first one I visited was quite open plan and situated at Chorepatan. I was taken inside and dropped off by transport I’d organised through my hotel. The next day I visited again, this time I walked. There was a building with loads of photos and information about the Tibetan plight and the history etc. There was a building that was dedicated to the sale of carpets and rugs, which I avoided as I’m not a carpet and rug man, gift and souvenir shops and a few very basic cafes that sold Tibetan and Nepali cuisine. Apart from that there was the accommodation buildings, and the jewel in the crown; the monastery.

First of all the gift shops. I was greeted by Gorkan who informed me that all his wares were made by Tibetans. When I returned on the second day and had a closer look, I found that to be very debatable. The smaller items especially seemed mass-produced and had that tacky look about them, but I don’t doubt that some of the goods were made by the refugees themselves. I did make a few purchases, and I’m sure he overcharged me, but what I paid was pennies by UK standards.

On the first day I went and sat in the monastery while the young monks were reciting their scriptures. I found it fascinating and there was such a feeling of love in there. So much so that I went back again the next day for more of the same. However, on this occasion I arrived at around 2.00 pm in the afternoon. The monastery was actually closed as the monks were in their lessons, but a lovely monk asked one of the youngsters to open up for me so that I could sit inside. The photos below are from this wonderful monastery.

The next day I decided to find another of the camps. The local tourist map did not show this particular camp, but in a little handbook that I obtained from tourist information, it stated that there was a camp at Prithvi Chowk, which seemed to be a similar distance and quite central. I set off, and in anticipation of not being able to find it, I had a piece of paper with “Prithvi Chowk” written on it, so that I could thrust it under people’s noses if I needed directions. Although Pokhara is not as congested and polluted as Kathmandu, outside of the tourist Lakeside area, it must run Kathmandu to a close second. My route was extremely busy; the area was teeming with people and traffic. Also, the pavements were pretty much non-existent and full of lumps and bumps and holes that you could just disappear down if you were not careful. It was time to utilise my piece of paper!

I learned a few Nepali words but it is such a difficult language that I didn’t have any delusions about becoming fluent during my time there. A lot of Nepalese speak some English at least but I learned that the average Nepali is quite indifferent to foreigners, probably because the cultures are so different and we must seem extremely strange to them. So, I chose my “direction giver” very carefully. I saw what appeared to be a kitchen show room, and inside the shop there was a rather smartly dressed man; a prime candidate for my piece of paper I thought. I went inside and thrust the piece of paper in front of his nose and spluttered, “Tibetan refugee camp”. He gave me a big beaming smile and informed me that it was just a ten minute WALTZ in the direction I was already going. That really did put a smile on my face. I’m sure if everybody went about waltzing instead of walking, the world would be a much better place.

I nearly missed the entrance to the camp. I saw a Western woman enter in through a gap in some corrugated iron fencing and decided to have a peek. To my amazement it turned out to be the entrance to the camp. It was small and very compact. I spied the monastery straight away and noted that it was smaller than the first one. I saw the little monks scurrying around and wanted my photo taken with them. Also, a Tibetan lady made a bee-line for me, and I just knew that when the small talk had finished she would want to sell me something. It somehow didn’t seem appropriate to take photos and the monks were busy anyway. The lady invited me into her dwelling. It was extremely basic, but not a hovel. There was an older man, who I presumed was her husband, and a younger man who I would put in his mid twenties. I got the impression that they did everything in that one room. She got out what looked like an old biscuit tin, which contained a number of necklaces and bracelets that she informed me she’d made herself. I wanted to take a bracelet back for a friend and managed to haggle her down from Rs300 to Rs150. She offered me some food from the communal kitchen, which seemed to be where all the residents went for their meals, but I’d already eaten lunch so declined.

I arranged hotel transport a couple of days later to take me to the viewpoint at Sarangot, and also to the third Tibetan camp at Hemja. Unfortunately, the monsoon causes havoc with landslides so I wasn’t able to get to Sarangot due to the road being closed. The Jeep dropped me off at the camp and I went in for a wander. I again wanted my photo taken with the monks, but decided again that it was not appropriate. How would I like it if I was going about my daily business in the UK, and tourists from some far-flung land pestered me to have their photo taken with me? I feel that there is a tendency for foreigners to look on these people as some sort of novelty, and it somehow seemed so disrespectful for me to ask for photos, so I didn’t. However, I learned a lot from this visit.

I learned that monks are human too. After my experience in the first monastery, I was only really interested in the monasteries during these visits. The one at Prithvi Chowk had not felt very inspiring, so I was full of anticipation as I entered the monastery grounds and saw that it was by far and away the biggest of the three. There was a sign at the entrance saying you could enter with permission.There was another building further down where there seemed to be some activity going on. I entered the building and realised that these monasteries are not just places where monks do their “monking”, but they are also schools. It stands to reason, that these young Lamas are just kids really and they need their schooling. There was a lot of monks in a hall and two Nepali ladies who I presumed were school teachers brought in from outside to teach the kids. I asked if I could enter the monastery and one of the teachers got one of the monks to escort me. Having got my permission I entered inside. There was already two young Westerners in there, being given the grand tour by another monk.

It was a truly spectacular building and I was particularly impressed by the huge drums. I’d heard that the monks do Pooja in the afternoon. I suppose the easiest way to explain pooja (or puja), is to say that it is the Buddhist equivalent of a Western church service. I was keen to experience this, but I had an hour wait. I went outside again and observed what was going on. It was in those moments that I realised that the monks are no different from all of us. I saw the youngsters larking around, just as I did when I was at school. I even saw a little monk bullying another little monk. I also observed the monk who had been showing the young Westerners around spit as he walked across the courtyard (everyone in Nepal is constantly spitting, young, old, male and female); it never occurred to me that a monk would spit; how naive of me!

The time came for pooja to begin; and what an amazing experience it was. The chanting, the young monks banging those huge drums and the crazy sounding brass instruments that blasted out every time one sequence came to an end, paving way for another. Eventually I felt it was time to go. I was collared by a lady on the way out who sold me a bracelet; this time I got it for Rs100. My experiences on the Tibetan refugee camps now seem to be nothing more than distant memories, but they are memories that will remain with me forever. Enjoy the photos!

Who Am I? Part Seventeen


This is the building on the Kembrey Park Industrial Estate (known as “Cherry Orchard”) where I worked for the utility company in the Corporate Accounts Dept.

1998 was a pretty good year. As the months went by I decided that I wanted to move on from the call centre and I watched the staff notice board closely to see what other vacancies came up. I saw a job advertised in Corporate Accounts and went for it. I was successful in my application, so after two years on the call centre I was on the move. It meant I would be working in a different building but on the same site. My feelings were that I wasn’t getting any younger, and having wasted my education and early working years, I decided that this was my last chance of building a career. I was now dealing with my own designated list of commercial customers. On the surface it seemed ideal, but some of the accounts were an absolute mess and of course, there were accounts that were in dispute. So, it wasn’t all plain sailing but it was better than having customers screaming in my ear.

I was settled in the flat and had a very close female friend, Maggie, who I spent a lot of time with. We’d been friends virtually since I started working full-time, and became very close during 1997. We went on holiday a few times together and in the summer of 1998 we became an item! There was 15 years between us, but Maggie was very mature for her age and we had some great times together.

Another change happened as the year was drawing to a close. Within the same office as the Corporate Accounts team there was the Key Accounts team. It was a very small team of two customer agents who looked after the biggest customers. These were the big corporations whose bills would be for hundreds of thousands of pounds, or even in excess of a million pounds. As well as the two customer agents there was three key account managers who were not office based. So, the agents would have their designated customer accounts to administer and the account managers would be on face-to-face terms with the customers “out in the field”, as they say. One of the agents was taking a team manager’s job and I was asked if I would like to take her place in key accounts. I agreed to move, but I only had to move a couple of feet as the girl I was replacing sat opposite me! Things appeared to be going swimmingly well. I had more stability within myself; and sinking into the depths of darkness seemed to be a thing of the past. The job might not have been the best paid in the world, but I was now earning more money than I’d ever earned in my life. I’d also developed a taste for red wine and Gorse Hill was a bachelor boy’s paradise with several supermarkets for buying my booze and a plethora of restaurants and fast food joints.

Me and Maggie had a good thing together but we were not joined at the hip. We would go for long country walks and meals, and during the time we’d known each other we visited the Lake District, Cornwall, Devon, the Peak District, Wales, Northumberland and the Isle of Wight to name just a few of the beautiful places our travels took us to. We both also liked our own space and sometimes we would not see each other for a week to ten days. Life was good and as we entered December 1998 I was given another opportunity. The manager of Corporate and Key Accounts approached me; I had only been in my new position for a couple of weeks, and he said that the industry was gong to go through drastic and exciting changes in the coming years. In line with these developments the organisation was forming a new Customer Marketing Division, which would be based in Reading. He said that I was under no obligation to move, however, the key account positions would be moving to Reading to form part of this new all-singing-all-dancing marketing division. He painted a rosy picture of sexy new jobs, with salaries to match, and gave me the impression that all else would be swept aside by this incredible tsunami of positive change that was going to engulf the industry. I was tempted, very tempted; and also excited, but commuting to Reading presented an obstacle. An 80 mile round trip every day! It would cost me a fortune in fuel.

A few days later I went to the spiritualist church and the medium came to me with a message. He said, “you are hesitating about something. You have been offered a golden opportunity”. I will never forget those words, “golden opportunity”. Had I known then exactly what that meant I might have declined the offer of the new position in Reading. But I was only thinking in worldly terms and on Monday morning I told the manager I was up for it. It’s a funny thing in life, that the soul’s definition of things is completely different to the human definition. As it happened it was a golden opportunity that I don’t regret, but it took me to a place of great pain first in order that I could free myself from the self-imposed shackles that had been holding me back for years.

It was agreed that the company would provide me with a rail warrant for the first six months. After that I would have to fend for myself, but I intended to use that six month period to nab one of the sexy new jobs that were being created. It all happened really quickly, two weeks before Christmas in 1998 I started the new job in Reading. The writing should have been on the wall from the off. Our Customer Services Director at the time, a lady called Jane May, took us all out for a celebration lunch to launch the new division. At that time there wasn’t that many of us, but the bill still came to £950, which was mainly for wine! Jane was a very nice lady who was always warm and friendly towards the staff, but soon after the official launch, she went off sick and we never saw her again. We were now into the early part of 1999. But I will finish with another little anecdote from the tail end of 1998.

I was still involved with the theatre productions put on by John Williams. Towards the end of 1998 he’d organised another night of theatre in Highworth. He gathered a group of actors together and we were to put on an extremely truncated production of Macbeth, to take place about two weeks before Christmas. John became the butt of the group’s jokes and it was obvious that the dynamic was not as it should be. To cut a long story short, the performance was absolutely awful, and it remains to this day the last time I ever set foot on a stage. I had made up my own batch of fake blood to use in the production, and in the dim light of the stage during the crucial moment, I’d managed to spill most of it onto the boards. On top of that the evening had ended with a distinctly icy atmosphere between John and the actors. He phoned me up a few days later; he wasn’t happy! He said he’d been given grief by the people who ran the community centre because of the fake blood all over the stage. He also expressed his general displeasure. A few months later I bumped into him in a supermarket in Swindon. There was no animosity between us, but it was the last time I ever saw him and my theatre days were over.

Soon my life would change forever!

PS See you when I get back from Nepal…

 

Who Am I? Part Sixteen


The metropolis that is Gorse Hill in Swindon

I inadvertently gave you false information in Part Fifteen; I remembered after posting that I did not go to the doctors straight away. I don’t know why, but my recollection of other events indicates that I actually left it until around October/November time before going to the doctor. I was kind of enjoying working full-time again, in an environment that wasn’t only very clean, but also completely alien to what I was used to. I’d never worked in an office environment before and I’d never worked with computers before. More good news followed in November 1996 when my job was made permanent. Being a fully fledged employee meant that I was earning more money, so things were looking up. However, I had regularly pondered what Whitey had said to me that day in college, and I came to the conclusion that I had to do something. I was prescribed some tablets at my own request, and of course, you were not meant to be drinking alcohol whilst taking them. I tried to be good, but my version of being good was only having a couple of pints of beer in the evening; sometimes I would exceed that. Then something happened that caused me to take drastic action.

I was well settled into the job and I got on great with most people in the organisation. It was approaching Christmas time; I would guess a coupe of weeks before. The company hired out one of the nightclubs in the centre of Swindon on an evening when they were not normally open, so it would have been a Monday or Tuesday. This was to be our Christmas do! Because of the alcohol thing with the tablets, I decided in my wisdom that I would stop taking them a couple of days before the party, get hammered with my work mates and then start taking them again afterwards. Anyway, I don’t think I really had all that much to drink, compared with what I was used to, but I woke up the next morning with the mother of all hangovers. I’d experienced hangovers in my time but this was ridiculous. Luckily, I didn’t have to start work until mid-day. I somehow managed to drive in but it was still a horrendous experience trying to do my job. What I haven’t mentioned is that I worked on a call centre trying to placate angry customers. That wasn’t what it was supposed to be, but because of the utter contempt that the company seemed to have for its customers, that’s what we were doing a lot of the time. It was a such a relief when I finished my shift that evening.

A few days later somebody told me some of the things I’d been doing on the night of the party. I was horrified; more so because I had no recollection whatsoever. I happened to mention that I’d been taking happy pills but had stopped taking them a couple of days before so that I could have a drink. The same person explained to me that those tablets take several weeks to leave your system once you stop taking them. I decided enough is enough. I got the tablets and flushed them down the toilet and then simply got myself by the scruff of the neck and sorted my head out. It worked! In a short time I was no longer suffering with depression. Now, I realise that this sounds a little bit too simple, but it isn’t the last word on the subject and I will return to it as my series of posts draws to a conclusion.

1997 brought with it more changes. I’d realised that my relationship with my landlady was becoming somewhat strained. The first 18 months had been very harmonious, but I was now approaching the four-year mark and I thought it best to jump before being pushed. One lunch time I took a stroll into the Gorse Hill area of Swindon, and as I walked past a hairdressers, I saw a sign on the door that said, “flat to let”. I went in to make some enquiries and before I knew where I was, I was moving into the flat above “LA Hairport”, in Cricklade Road, Swindon. This was great for me, it was a big change from my tiny room in the house in Penhill. I was also without a car again, having run my previous car into the ground, and the flat was around 10 minutes walk from work. Since leaving college I’d kept in touch with John Williams and he continued to get me work with the murder mystery company he was involved with and also another company that he’d set up himself with another lady. John also put on theatre nights in the town of Highworth where he lived (just outside Swindon), which he got me involved with. This wasn’t paid work but I just loved performing. He also got me into The One-Act Play Festival, at Swindon Arts Centre. On top of all this I joined a theatre company.

Head To Toe Theatre Company was based in Swindon. Although an amateur group it wasn’t the kind of namby-pamby amateur dramatics that you find in most villages and towns up and down the country. Head To Toe specialised in some of the darker works of Shakespeare and the productions tended to be extremely intense and powerful. The only thing was that it was quite a close-knit group; some of them had known each other from school days, so I was always a bit of an outsider. A couple of them were unreliable too when it came to turning up for rehearsals and there was of course the bickering that you always get when creative people are gathered together. I played George, Duke of Clarence in a production of Henry VI Part Three, which is the play that charts the rise of Richard, Duke of Gloucester as he murders his way to the throne to become Richard III. It was a fantastic experience but it turned out to be the only play I did with them as I left the following year having become fed up with the childish behaviour.

I ventured back to the Spiritualist church from time to time, mainly to avail myself of the spiritual healing. I’d managed to give myself knee ligament damage in both knees due to excessive use of the treadmill in the gym. At the time I didn’t know it was knee ligament damage because I hadn’t been to the doctors. But amusingly, I would go to the church on a Saturday or Sunday night, have healing and then go to the pub. I would then walk home from the Old Town area of Swindon and then wake up the next morning wondering why my knees were hurting!

1998 brought more changes; in fact life was leading me to places I never knew existed.