Who Am I? Part Twenty Seven


If all goes to plan this post will bring us up to April 2005. I’m going to start by relating something that happened either before I moved to Wales, or just after. that concerns my friend Sue. Before I knew her, Sue had experienced breast cancer, and soon after we met, she acquired lung cancer. She had major surgery that meant having a lung removed and she was told that she would be laid up for at least six months. However, only two weeks after having the operation, Sue was up and about and leading virtually a normal life again. Things went along normally for a few years and then she got a cough that just would not go away. She was at the spiritualist church in Swindon one night, when an extremely stupid and unprofessional medium told her, in front of the entire congregation, that her cancer had come back and that she would need another operation. This sent Sue into a panic and when we were discussing it some little time after the medium had so irresponsibly gave her that news, she said to me, “I just can’t face another major operation Richard”. But Holmsey had a brain wave!

I reminded her that just because there may be a need for an operation, it doesn’t mean it has to be a conventional operation. I suggested making an appointment to go and see Stephen Turoff in Chelmsford. Sue was in agreement and I phoned to make an appointment. In the meantime Sue had indeed been given a diagnosis of throat cancer. She was even given a detailed description of the type of strain she had. Then unbelievably, she received information from the hospital saying that for some reason they’d had her samples analysed by a third-party who decided she didn’t have cancer after all. This panicked her even more because she still had the cough and she knew her body, which was telling her there was definitely something wrong. I drove us to Chelmsford on the required day and went in with her when she had her operation. As I said in my previous post about Stephen Turoff, his operations are normally very quick, but this one seemed to go on for around four minutes. At some stage, he grabbed his scalpel and cut her throat. He did not use anaesthetic and there was no blood; just a tiny red mark that was gone the next day. When he left the room to carry out his next operation, I said to Sue, “did that hurt”? She said, “he cut my throat didn’t he”? I said, “yes”. She said, “it didn’t hurt, but it was very uncomfortable”? Just prior to leaving the room, Stephen said to Sue, “now go and enjoy the rest of your life”. She has been free of cancer ever since.

So, there I was living in Wales. I plodded along acquiring the odd client here and there, and just about keeping my head above water. Certain people were a godsend to me at this time. Mainly a man named John Rigby. He ran The Sacred Hands Spiritual Centre in Llandysul. He was a great bloke and seemed to understand what I was trying to achieve. I served the centre as a medium, but John also let me use the premises to run workshops, at no cost to me whatsoever. John also introduced me to my friend, Sarah Thomas, who I am still in touch with today. I got to know Sarah and her husband Kev very well, and some years later after I was back in England but visiting Wales to serve the churches, they would let me stay at their house in Pennant. Speaking of Pennant, that was where Carol and Bruce lived who were going to let me live in a caravan on their land. John Rigby had been a very unwell man for all the time I knew him, and he finally left this life a couple of years back. I will never forget him or his kindness.

Now, the next part of this sort of “round robin” post, I dedicated a whole chapter to in my book, The Amazing Journey, but there was no way that I could write an account of my time in Wales and not mention this. Remember, at the end of the previous post I mentioned a roller-coaster? Well, hold on, this is it!

Hold on…. My lovely people…. A confession…. This part of the story is so incredible that I need to write a lot of detail to give you the full picture. I have therefore decided that it will save me a lot of work if I simply copy and paste a large slice of Chapter 6 from The Amazing Journey. It does mean however that this post will end in February 2004 instead of April 2005, but when you’ve finished reading I think I can safely say that you will forgive me. Fasten your seat belts….

Because of the hilly nature of the land, during times of inclement weather you could be driving along the road and all could be fine, but a few hundred metres further down you could be driving in a blizzard, and then a little further on it would be fine again, and so on. On the Wednesday the weather seemed to be OK and at some stage I went down into Lampeter. As I was driving back to the house however the snow started coming down. The distance from the bottom of the hill up to the house is approximately two miles and under normal circumstances it’s only a few minutes’ drive. But when Keith came in at around 7:00 p.m. he said that it had taken him the best part of an hour to get up the hill because his car had been slipping and sliding. I was a bit worried now but nonetheless I packed some of my things into the car, and decided to leave the remainder until the morning.

I woke up at 07:00 a.m. and looked out of the window. There was a very restricted view from my room but it didn’t prevent me from seeing that the snow was still coming down and that what little I could see outside was a complete white-out. Now I was really worried! I asked the angels for a sign that all would be OK and got back into bed. I got the sign I asked for; it was indicated to me that all would be well, but being human I had more than my share of reservations. I couldn’t get back to sleep either; my mind was working overtime. I knew that things must be bad outside because, even though you don’t get much traffic up there during the course of any day, you do get the odd early morning delivery van and the post van at around 08:00 a.m.

I had a look outside and there were no tyre tracks at all; absolutely nothing, not that I’d heard any vehicles anyway. I looked at my car and all I could see was a kind of vague car shape completely covered in thick snow. I decided to carry on as best I could and proceeded to clear all the snow from the car before packing the rest of my things into it. My understanding was that I should wait for a sign and then just go. At 10:30 a.m. I got the sign but hesitated as I was not sure in my worried state that it was not my imagination. Within minutes I got the sign again as if in confirmation. I then had further confirmation when I heard the sound of a car engine. I looked out and saw a 4×4 Range Rover-type vehicle go past. “What a result”, I thought. I could simply aim my wheels into the tyre tracks of the 4×4 and all would be OK. It was now time to leave.

I had no choice but to drive in the direction I was facing because the narrowness of the road coupled with the thick snow made it impossible to turn around anyway. It was 0.6 of a mile up to the T-junction that would connect me with The Roman Road. The wise Keith informed me that I would be OK once I got up to The Roman Road because it would have been gritted. I said “bye for now” to Keith and aimed my wheels into the tracks left by the 4×4. I had only driven a few metres when I realised I could be making the biggest mistake of my life. Once I set off I couldn’t turn around so I had no choice but to keep going. The car was sliding, the engine was revving and the wheels were turning quite rapidly, but the car was moving, seemingly at minus miles per hour; progress really was that slow.

Looking back, there was one particularly amusing moment at this stage, albeit that I wasn’t laughing at the time as I was already building up to a state of panic. Although it was fairly remote up in those hills there were a few other houses dotted around at various intervals, and I remember passing neighbours both on the left and right hand sides of the road. Both the woman from the house on the left and the man from the house on the right stared in complete and utter amazement at this car that was moving so slowly it may as well have been in reverse, being driven by some lunatic. They both had looks of sheer bewilderment on their faces, obviously trying to fathom out what I thought I was doing.

0.6 of a mile is no distance at all, and normally it would take a couple of minutes at the most to reach the T-junction. But these were not normal circumstances. The narrow road is very windy in places and separated from the fields on either side by walls made from something similar to Cotswold Stone. The car edged its way round a slight bend and the houses were out of sight. I was now driving in a blizzard, still extremely slowly and all I could see was white. Everywhere I looked nothing but white. I started to get scared; I also started to think that I would get stuck, and thoughts such as “I might miss my flight” raced through my mind. Working at the centre near Banbury and the trip to Copenhagen were so important to me it was unthinkable that I might get stranded. Every now and then the car would skid towards a wall and I had thoughts of horror that my lights would get smashed. I called out for Baba to help me, and miraculously, every time the car skidded towards a wall, it stopped centimetres before impact. Little did I know that the fun was only just beginning.

At approximately the half-way point there is a real hair pin bend in the road. As the car went around this bend, it skidded and stalled and ended up sitting diagonally across the road. By now I was really panicking. I got out of the car to assess the situation, I was a nervous wreck and kept calling out to Baba to help me. I got back in the car and started it up. I put it into gear, gave it a few revs and to my amazement I was on the move again. I skidded a few more times along the way but eventually, after what seemed like an entire age, I made it up to the T-junction. This is where things started to get interesting.

My master plan was to turn right onto The Roman Road, which would have been gritted (I know this because the wise Keith said it would be so), I would then follow the road down into the village of Cellan (pronounced Keck-Lan) where the roads would also have been gritted. I was then going to drive through Cellan, up to the main A Road and turn right into Lampeter where I would nip into the library and use the facilities before setting off for Swindon. Unfortunately, things very rarely go according to plan in this world. As I said, I was already a nervous wreck, but I found to my horror that The Roman Road had not been gritted (what happened Keith!?!!??). I had to turn right, it was pointless turning left, but I knew that at some stage the road down into Cellan became very steep and my brakes would be useless in the snow.

When I first turned onto The Roman Road it didn’t seem too bad, but it wasn’t long before I was skidding again. Along this stretch of road there were not only stone walls either side, but at some points there were also ditches. I continued to call out for Baba to help me, and as before, every time I thought I was going to hit a wall or go into a ditch, the car stopped in the nick of time. When I got to the steep part of the road I just gripped onto the wheel for dear life; it was at this point that I learned the meaning of white knuckle ride. I was screaming for Baba now, literally, and I continued to hold onto the wheel for all I was worth. The car skidded, and even though I’ve known for ages that you are supposed to steer into a skid, what did I do? I can’t believe that I steered against it, but that’s what I did. The inevitable happened. I screamed some more and the car stalled again with the back-end appearing to be in a ditch.

I can’t remember if I got out of the car at this stage but I do remember starting it up again and putting it into gear. As before, I gave it a few revs, eased off the clutch and the car just started moving. Unbelievable! My heart rose as I thought I recognised a land mark through the whiteness that told me I was near the bottom of the hill. But it sunk again just as quickly when it appeared to be not so. As it turned out it was only the whiteness playing tricks on my eyes, and my heart rose again when I realised I was virtually at the bottom of the hill. “Nearly there”, I thought as I tried to gather myself for the last stage of the journey. I turned left along the road through Cellan to find that it also had not been gritted. Luckily, this road was wider, it was on the flat and there were also passing places.

There was also the added bonus of the snow no longer falling on the lower ground. Unfortunately, regardless of the passing places the snow still made it very difficult for two cars to pass each other. However, this road was busier than the mountain roads, therefore the problem was more with slush rather than snow and there was still an element of skidding. But to my amazement, every time I encountered a vehicle coming the other way, I was perfectly placed to pull into a recess. About three-quarters of the way through the village my heart rejoiced as the road was suddenly clear. I got to the junction and found that the busy A road in and out of Lampeter was also clear. I turned right into Lampeter and by the time I parked the car I was just about starting to return to some kind of normality, but nonetheless, I was trying to get my head around what I’d just experienced and wondered if it had actually happened. I just couldn’t believe it. It defied all human logic that anyone would be able to drive a car down from those hills in those weather conditions. When I spoke to Keith some time later he said he’d been snowed in for a number of days.

I did what I had to do in the library and set off on my journey. The road was clear and all of a sudden everything was rosy again. I’d driven a couple of miles out of Lampeter when something else quite amusing happened. I was driving along minding my own business when all of a sudden a voice in my head, that was as clear as a bell, said “you should have seen your face, it was a picture”. At first I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but I saw the funny side of things and had a chuckle to myself.

My route took me through the Brecon Beacons, and as I was approaching this most beautiful part of the world, the snow started coming down again. I suppose this was understandable as I was once again on high ground. The good thing was that there was a fair amount of traffic on the road and I just tried to keep my wheels in the tracks of the cars in front. There was a fair amount of slipping and sliding and the journey through the Brecons was very slow, but thankfully I reached the low ground without any problems. As I got further and further towards England the snow became less and less. Then just beyond Monmouth it was no more than a bit of sleet, until finally, as I neared Ross-On-Wye there was no evidence that even so much as a single snow flake had fallen from the sky. This just contributed to the strangeness of the day. I couldn’t stop reflecting on the morning’s events and still couldn’t quite believe what I had experienced.

Stay tuned folks, I’ll be back before you know it…

 

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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…

 

Just About Sums It Up…


???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I will be leaving for a working trip to Wales today and wanted to leave you with something special before I set off. I would like to be able to say that the following words came from within me; but if I did I would be a liar! I came across this fantastic piece of writing on a website called Pearls Of Wisdom – awakening personal and global consciousness. It truly is a wonderful piece of wisdom and just about sums up how I feel about religion and spirituality. I hope these words inspire you in the same way they inspired me:

For as far back as we can remember, religion has been a source of contention, being the cause of many wars and countless deaths and sufferenings in the name of God.  Most religions say that they are the only true religion and that all others are wrong.  This is a result of the false belief of separateness – separate from God and separate from each other and nature.  We are all a part of God because we exist.  God can be interpreted in many different ways.  Religions tend to teach that God is a separate entity, whilst other belief systems speak only of a ‘Creative Force’.

The notion that God is a separate external being, and that we are born ‘sinners’ who have to get back into the good graces of God (fear-based belief system to keep us in a powerless state), makes god a judgemental vengeful God.  Yet, God (the creative force) is no such thing. God is LOVE, and there is no judgement.  And the only ‘hell’ is the one we create for ourselves here on Earth.  There is NO one true religion, each religion has its truths and there are many paths we can choose to take that will lead us to God.  

We are ALL God, each of us.  We are of the same ‘stuff’ that God is made from.  Each a spark of the Divine Creative force (Love).  We are here to experience life in the form of matter.  We are all spiritual beings having an adventure, and we will all eventually return to the same place.  There is no judgement and there is no separateness.  Heaven and Hell are what we create for ourselves.  It is time now to have respect for each and every different religion or belief system, and allow each person his/her right to follow the path or belief system of their choice -without preaching at them or trying to convert them, or even killing those of a different belief system.

For the man who prays in his heart, the whole world is a church – Sylvain of Athos 

I will be back before you know it! In the meantime check out this fantastic website:

http://www.sapphyr.net/index.htm

Looked After In Every Way


I really do feel truly blessed.  I recently wrote about my physical-self being looked after in my post I will protect you like the eyelids protect the eyes.  Well it seems that even my possessions are looked after in the same way too.

I returned from my trip to Wales at some time after 10:00 p.m. on Sunday night.  As Monday was free I decided to make a lazy day of it.  At some stage during the late morning there was a knock at my door; it was my neighbour with a rather strange look on his face.  He was holding something in his hand that looked unbelievably familiar.  I noticed that it was my car keys, and as I began to wonder what they were doing in his hand, he explained that he had seen them dangling from the driver’s door of my car.  Oh!

Not only had I left my car unlocked in the street for the best part of 13 hours, but I had also left the keys in the door for all to see.  Needless to say, I thanked him profusely.  The thing is…… it wasn’t the first time I’ve done this.  Yes, I must confess that I’ve left my car unlocked with the keys in full view on no less than four occasions now, and this is the second time I’ve left it overnight with the keys dangling from the driver’s door.

I really don’t know why I am so lucky…. but I’m not complaining!