Amazing! I wrote below’s entry while travelling to London on the train from Scotland two days ago. Just the process of writing it made me feel better, but since then I’ve been attending UKESAD – an addiction symposium that included a panel discussion between Professor David Nutt, Bruce Parry, Kurikindi (a 5th generation Amazonian shaman) and more – and have renewed old connections, had lots of positive avenues for work opening up, and generally been reminded that there’s a big beautiful world out there beyond my own limited mind! Happy Beltane, May Day, Spring to us all….
….I have set myself the task of writing a post each week this month. But what happens if you are feeling down, morose and have nothing to say?! What then?
That is exactly how I feel at this moment in time. No bon mots, no derring-do, no flow. I am beginning to suspect that I am a bit stuck. I’ve been on this vibe for quite some time. I’m quite bored of ruminating about myself (too much time at present) and frustrated by waiting for the potential land in Devon of which Helena and I are hoping to become the grateful stewards. The owners are elderly, don’t really want to move out and are in a massive chain beyond them, upon which we depend. It’s not a strong position! It’s been 3 months already and not much sign of movement. Attempts to bargain with them have been met with threats to take the property off the market, so pressing for a date doesn’t seem to be a possibility. Everyone says keep looking – we are, but there’s nothing that seems to fit anything like this gorgeous little place does.
Then there’s work. I feel like I’ve run out of steam to create the retreat/workshop emporium I was envisioning. I’ve had the go-ahead to offer a progressive addiction workshop at Innisfree Therapy in London, but again am waiting on a date. I have a meeting scheduled to propose offering a spirituality-based workshop at another treatment facility in London in 10 days time and am trialling one of them with friends and ex-colleagues next Sunday.
I’ve been offered unpaid (for now) work with Sweet Enough, an exciting multi-media programme for those who want to transition from sugar-fuelled diets to healthy eating, and I’m doing some work as and when required at an exclusive treatment centre in Zurich. In Devon I’ve been offered voluntary work on a meditation and writing retreat at Sharpham House and an addiction-focused life narrative rewriting retreat on Dartmoor. Perhaps things are quite so bad as I am thinking they are…
I suspect, and feel, that I am still in a massive transitionary process in moving from Bristol to Devon but also from conventional counseling to…….something else, as yet unknown.
Anyway, I have survived the challenge of family and my father’s (ample!) 70th birthday celebrations: three nights of schmoozing with his pals, many of whom I am very fond of, some I am not. Nothing gives him greater pleasure than throwing parties and providing food, drink, games and merriment for as many people as possible. Over as long a period of time as possible. Owning a hotel makes entertaining people for extended periods of time not a mere possibility but a duty, at least in his eyes!
Apart from thinking (and talking) about little else for the last three months (my mother had to put a ban on the mention of it whilst on holiday to regain her flagging sanity) my father made the bold move of inviting us children to write a few words to say about him. I think he may have regretted it! Ever more frequent calls, enquiring about our “contribution” came through, to us all. Being a master of “doggerel verse”, meaning silly, hopefully humorous, rhyming poetry, he’s a hard man to follow, but putting it together was extremely entertaining. I was laughing out loud on the train at my siblings’ contributions highlighting the various foibles and eccentricities (of which there are many) of his life. Luckily my sisters vetoed some bits that were too close to the bone, but here’s some for your amusement. It probably won’t make much sense, because it’s so Giles-centric, with loads of references, and I’m just putting my bit in because it is really quite long! But to make it more relevant I’ll explain: he was called Sloth at school because he was so idle; he genuinely filled in as accountant for someone at the Beatles’ record label, Apple, and handed John, Paul, Ringo and George their weekly stipend; he fronted the Prudential’s fund management division and headed up Aberdeen Asset Management for a good while; he was Chairman of the Scottish National Galleries in Edinburgh and, most prestigiously, Prior of the order of the Monks of St Giles, a ridiculous fellowship of the doggerelly-inclined who meet monthly to recite their own verse to each other in a Greyfriars’ bell-tower. I am, I realise, very proud of him.
My father writes these sorts of ditties for most major occasions (all our births, major birthdays, weddings, absurd moments and more) so this will give you some insight into my family’s strange but warm ways. He said, of his birthday – seeing 150+ people, putting up and organizing a pentathlon for half of them, a boat trip around the Bass Rock and uncorking two bottles of Chateau Petrus for the winners – that his favourite moment was of us reading out our poem to him.
Maybe writing without much to say isn’t, like my work prospects, so bad after all?
Fred’s section of Dad’s 70th Birthday Blast
At work dad’s efforts have risen above an early lack of edge
The “Sloth” transformed itself to Hulk as he raked in the wedge!
From accountant to the Beatles, to the visage of the Pru,
And the Svengali of Aberdeen – there’s nothing he can’t do!
Director of the Galleries, and Prior of the Monks –
And even Harvard Business School’s own MBA slam-dunk!
Imagine, then, with that success, that drive and all that clout
If your treasured children turned out filthy layabouts…
That was his fear – that was his line – for, sadly, quite some time
But thankfully our paths have crossed from idle to sublime;
For tending to the suffering souls and nourishing with art
Are lucrative “growth markets” – if you’ve the stomach and the heart!
Heart is something that Giles has in plentiful amounts
To him the role of bon-viveur and “Buddy” is what counts
His laugh, his glee, his merriment is succour in itself
And all that warmth will always be, to us, his greatest wealth.