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About the origin of this site

High Wycombe skyline

High Wycombe skyline

(I donít recall who was the recipient of this letter).

Thanks for your letter. I have taken your advice and published on the Web!

I have two books by R L Stevenson though like most boys of my age I was introduced to him through Treasure Island—the book rather than the film.

The Amateur Emigrant describes his journey to the USA, by boat from Glasgow and then by train across to San Francisco.

Virginibus Puerisque is a collection of essays. Strangely it was these books which helped inspire me a few years ago (1993) to undertake a project which in retrospect is quite prophetic of what I am doing now with my website (which has grown quite a bit lately).

I was working at Eurotunnel ( the company which has linked England and France with an undersea rail tunnel) and a colleague was Nigel Woodhead, who had written a book on Hypertext. This was something which at the time I had some conceptual difficulty in understanding! Anyway, I was moved by the company to an office in Folkestone, where the English terminal was situated; so we started a correspondence by internal email ( a clunky system on the local network).

He was planning, as a hobby, a multimedia CD-ROM on Victorian London, especially on the serial killer known as Jack the Ripper. He also had a Compuserve account for access to the Internet, something I had never seen but could only imagine. Indeed, multimedia was also something I only imagined. (This is the story of my life: as a child, I picked up TV commercial jingles from the school playground, as we didn’t have TV; and most of the pop songs in the early fifties I heard not directly but from a similar source. I never saw the horror film “The Fly”, which came out in ’58: but imagined it so powerfully from someone telling me the story that it remains with me still and I can easily recognise it now when I see extracts on TV or comic spoofs).

In my imagination, CD-ROMs enabled the creation of a new art form: highbrow multimedia, But my idea of what you could do with it was more like what you can now do with a website, or indeed the global Web of many linked sites: a maze of links, in which you can get totally lost or make wonderful discoveries: a metaphor for life itself.

Indeed, I rather despised Nigel for his populist approach, though as it turns out even his CD-ROM - which he did indeed produce though I don’t know if it was published commercially - was highbrow by the standards of Microsoft’s Encarta etc.

My concept was entitled Windows on Other Worlds, a use of the word “Windows” in a context that was explicitly designed to annoy Microsoft and attract litigation from Bill Gates. I was certain I’d win on grounds of artistic freedom. I was realistic enough to realise that it would be a time-consuming enterprise and therefore would not permit me to produce original work myself. I therefore got the idea of putting in bits from authors out of copyright, & the same sort of thing with pictures, music and other sounds. I had acquired these books of RLS and in particular wanted to include part of an essay on the lamplighters, a species of worker which sprang into existence when the gas streetlamps were introduced, but was at the time of his essay about to be eclipsed by the introduction of electricity, which allowed hundreds of lamps to be switched on and off by a single sedentary electrician, something RLS felt sad about.

A sentiment which I shared, just as I regret the passing of the steam locomotives and the road traction engines, which for nearly a hundred years performed so many tasks, from fairground carousels and calliopes to road rolling, ploughing, harvesting and threshing.

So now I think I would like to publish this letter too - unedited, together with that extract from RLS!

David Blaine is one of the reasons why I dropped out of my counselling course. From the very first session the tutor was expressing her deeply-held views on all sorts of topics, none of which had any connection with Person-centred Counselling. Indeed her behaviour was often at odds with what she was supposed to teach. At one point in the first session she mentioned David Blaine and Sai Baba as two examples of people capable of truly supernatural feats, and thus demonstrating that so-called science was just a narrow viewpoint of an oligarchy. Pretty much. Knowing how David Blaineís levitation is done (the Balducci effect, that you can look up on the Web), and admiring his charm and stamina, I see him as simply a clever conjurer, a modern example of an ancient tradition, I took her up on this and said I respected anyone’s sincerely held beliefs, and hoped she for her part would respect my scepticism, and not assume that these were matters on which a common agreement was to be assumed. But she was rather a totalitarian of ideas and persisted in her fiction that we were a democratic group where everyone had equal weight and validity, whilst using her role to be a dictator and bully! I was the only man in a group of 12 students. I’m not sure whether this had anything to do with the fact that I didn’t feel any support from the others in my attempt not to be cowed by this power-obsessed woman. To cap it all she is German! I don’t say this from a “racist” point of view, but experience has shown me that the German ego can take strange and brittle forms.

RLS by the way was a Scot, born in Edinburgh, though he did spend lots of time in the States.

John Cowper Powys also spent lots of time in the States - thirty years, I believe, as an itinerant lecturer on literary subjects, though he is remembered now for his novels, e.g. A Glastonbury Romance, Wolf Solent, Owen Glendower. Are you familiar with Henry Miller, the writer from Brooklyn who emigrated to Paris, wrote Tropic of Cancer and ended his days in Big Sur, California? Henry Miller as a very young man heard one of Powys’ lectures and I believe it changed his life and turned him into a writer. When Powys was in his later years (he died in his nineties, still writing) the two of them established a correspondence (which has been published) and finally Miller arrived on Powys’ doorstep with his fourth wife Eve, to see the grand old man he so much admired. In fact I first heard about Powys through the works of Miller, which at one time I admired (in my beatnik days!) but no longer do.

So I am glad to hear that you are fully operative with client work, but (though it is doubtless stuff you have heard countless times) don’t neglect yourself. I have heard that CFS particularly strikes the personality who is working for others unceasingly. I have made some big discoveries recently and a healing process is advancing, though it’s not all smooth travelling. Have you heard of or read “The Journey” by Brandon Bays? She was an alternative or New Age therapist who developed a huge tumour n her abdomen, which dwindled to nothing in six weeks via the application of a process which she now promotes as
“The Journey” (TM) !!!! People over here say the book is terribly American (I could explain that, but won’t interrupt the flow, for once). But the book describes in a parallel fashion the process I have been going through with my shaman Shona (the kinesiologist: but I think of her as a magical healer).

The clue was in a throw-away remark she made over the phone, which Brandon’s book repeated on the first page which I opened at random.

Don’t squash the pain and the negative feelings with positivity. Don’t deny the things which you feel, which don’t fit into your vision of who you should be. Go to the pain, follow it deeper and deeper. Our body cells die but before they do they pass on their memories to the next generation: and when these are full of pain and distress they are locked in the cells, because we are not ready to handle them. But all the same, these cells send us messages, to say there is unresolved stuff there. When we acknowledge it and accept and forgive, only then can these cells with their toxic payload be eliminated (according to Shona through the kidneys mainly, at least in my case) without passing on their dreadful story to the next generation. That’s a garbled version of what I have understood, but my understanding of the theory, which may well be a metaphor for all I know rather than the literal truth, is not the key to getting well. The process, however, is the key.

I mention the above for obvious reasons, but realise that I have no qualification to help others. I can only tell my story. Which is where we got introduced to one another, if I remember rightly!


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