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Showing posts from February, 2014

54. The Bravest Man in Montana

This, just for a little light relief, is a story from my time in Montana, USA back in the late 1990s. 

The majority of my male friends have always been gay. My first adult disco was at Nightingales in Birmingham around the time of The Village People. What a fabulous experience that was! Theatre, leather, chains and 12-inch remixes: entertainment and a full body workout every time (I am referring to dancing BTW).

In fact, most of my disco experience from the age of 16-20 was at Nightingales or Heaven. A bit odd because I'm not gay as far as I know. It was just such fun company and such terrific music. And I found myself a great hairdresser.

With all those gay men in my life you'd think I'd be better dressed ... Hem. Any suggestions gentlemen?
A bit of background on the story of the Bravest Man in Montana before we start: Jay, my ex, and I had bought a cafe in Bozeman. We got visa problems, so Jay was stuck in the UK and I ended up in Bozeman, alone, with three months to sell th…

53. Intimacy with God.

That's the title of one of Fr. Thomas Keating's books which I'm re-reading at the moment.

The first time, about five years ago, I didn't really get it but now I think I do and it's glorious.

What struck me today is his thoughts on illusion, concupiscence and weakness of will.

I had to look up concupiscence. It means 'ardent, usually sensual, longing.'

The illusion part means that even though we humans are what Keating calls 'irresistibly programmed for for boundless happiness in a way that is inherent in human nature,' we do not know where happiness is to be found.

The concupiscence part means that we seek happiness in all the wrong places—or too much of it in the right places (the latter as in over-doing it in addictions).

That's what 'repentance' actually means: to look for happiness in a different direction from the one we've been trying and which has failed us so often.

And to cap it all, even if we do find the path to true happi…

52. Snowdrops

I've been pretty obsessed with snowdrops this year. I've always loved them and it was a thrill last January to realise that the garden of our new home was carpeted with them.

I suppose it's not surprising as they are tough little flowers for all their seeming delicacy. They just keep flowering through snow, ice or gales as a symbol of hope over adversity.

According to legend, snowdrops became the symbol of hope when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. When Eve was about to give up hope that the cold winters would never end, an angel appeared. She transformed some of the snowflakes into snowdrop flowers, proving that the winters do eventually give way to the spring.


The name snowdrop does not mean 'drop' of snow, it means drop as in eardrop - the old word for earring.
I think, at the end of February, they should all be gone, but our garden is still full of them. Every morning I go out and walk around the house and look at them all. As I drive to the M…

51. Lion

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Half-way through any conversation about the l-e-d (or, as it's also becoming known, 'The dis-ease Formerly Known as Nigel') people will ask, 'How is Lion coping?'*

Lion is my husband. We've been together since 2001 and we are best friends too.

Well it's hard to tell, even for me. For those of you who know about astrology, I can say 'he has no water in his chart' and that will make sense to you.

He's not much of a one for showing - or even feeling - emotions. As a Taurean, he shows his love in practical things. He drives me; he makes my juices for me; he puts out my vitamins every day; he washes up; he fixes the car... He tries hard not to mind that I don't cook the yummy, meaty food he likes so much and that I don't make cakes any more.**

I know he cares ... and we're one of those couples who always says 'I love you' and kisses with every meeting and parting ... and in his lovely gruff way, he lets me know how important it i…

50. Pictures of Dartmoor.

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Some pictures of Dartmoor - the bones of the land. I never knew I would love it so much.

When I went to give a talk in Exeter three years ago there was no late train back to Birmingham so John, the organiser, offered to put me up overnight at his home in the village of Throwleigh. When I woke up in the morning and drew the curtains I saw straight to Cosden Hill and my very soul sang 'I want to live here.'

Luckily for me, when I got home and mentioned the idea to Lion, he said 'then let's go and look for somewhere to live in Devon.'

There are Bronze-Age settlements all over the hills and dozens if not hundreds of stone circles dotted across the land. Scorhill is perhaps the most impressive when you're there but it does look a bit bleak in a photograph.


Lion and I both loved it when we came down to visit and to see if it was feasible to move here. Everything unfolded easily and even though it has been a difficult year, it was lovely to hear Lion say, the other d…

49. This Beautiful Land.

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On Facebook I often write about my love for the place where we live - just on the borders of north Dartmoor in West Devon.
So it's about time I introduced you to it.
This is the view over our gate to Cosden Hill. It's ten minutes' drive to the moor proper and I go there most days with our two beagles, Dessy and Razzle. They are better known as Biggle and Thunderfeet MegaBeagle (Mrs) on Facebook where they both have their own page which is written by Lion.
Right now, over the gateway it is a cold artist's palette of dark greens, browns and greys. This land is slowly awakening to spring with the snowdrops striving and shining like white candle-lit bulbs in the hedges and all round our driveway. The robins threaten the chaffinches and the blackbirds out-bully the robins on and around the bird table while the other finches, the yellow hammers and the tits circle the sunflower seeds and nuts. The ever-cleansing wind caresses us every time we go out. A little too cold for comfo…

48. Please Will You Help?

Today I've been very brave and put up a 'donate' button on this blog (top right hand side). Why? Because the alternative path to healing is a tad expensive and we could do with some help.
And even more than that, the path of healing includes joy - that is so important. And although Lion and I have done really well with all the expenses of healing this l-e-d we also really, really want to have some good times together too.
If you are enjoying this blog - and if you feel it's appropriate - I'd be so grateful for a contribution.

Yes, the dis-ease has enhanced my life - helped me to see things more clearly and release a lot of s*** and I truly wouldn't have been without it. It's a great teacher. But the goal is to release myself from it. That takes time and it takes cash because the NHS can't help with holistic treatments - let alone the Dartmoor Shaman!

I sometimes imagine my consultant's face when she got the email detailing how I was planning to dea…

47. Home.

Well, the vitamin C treatment is over. I have to wait and see if there’s any effect. I did think it would work and work immediately. But I also know I really, really need some time to rest and allow healing. I’m typing this on the train home to Devon with dusk falling outside.
Lion will meet me at Exeter St. Davids and I’ll probably cry a bit again. I do love that man and I so want to be home with the land, the beautiful moor and lovely South Zeal. And Soul Space meditation at St. Mary’s Church on Tuesdays with Kay, David, Paul, Jill and the others. And when I get back to the house, there will be an eruption of beagles and I’ll sit on the hall floor with them scritching and stroking and loving and getting covered in hair as we all whiffle and whine to each other.
Lion and I will have postman-shot pheasant casserole curled up together in front of the telly, a lovely long hot bath and sleep together again with the beagles in their own beds on the floor. Home. There is nothing like it.
On t…

46. Swanking at the Savoy.

Friday morning arrives at last. It’s been an incredibly busy week (aren’t I supposed to be resting God?). Every meeting has contained its blessing and some words said in either direction that were healing or helpful. There have been some challenges indeed but also the chance to be the catalyst in assisting two old friends to make-up from a quarrel that had led to a six-year stand-off.
But this morning, it’s goodbye to the dear Bish, who has given me a lovely icon of Elijah in his cave – the place where one retreats for meditation (which I haven’t been able to do here all week!) – and off to the Savoy to meet Q.
Who even went on the internet this morning to learn how to tie the perfect Winsdor knot in his tie!
We have such a lovely time. He buys me brunch instead of just tea and we both revel in the beauty and the excellence of the service. He’s never been here before but he absolutely gets it when I say this is my London office – with just a cuppa, you can hire this beautiful space for …

45. Food Fascism

Right now I’m a food fascist. One of those people whom, I’ll admit, I used to mock. Well not so much mock but to say ‘make jokes about’ would have been ending the sentence with a preposition and I do try not to do that when I can.
Not that I'm a grammar fascist, honest. If you happen to be one, you'll enjoy going back through these blogs and finding both places where I did end sentences with prepositions. :-D
Anyway, as I’m, technically, on a no gluten, no cow-dairy, mostly vegetarian etc. diet I now don’t eat the kinds of things that the food fascists don’t. But I’ve found that totally impossible while staying with friends in London. And almost totally impossible buying salad lunches from the shops. Everything seems to have something in it that I shouldn’t eat.
I’m fine with fish and chicken – though not every day. But it has been pretty much every day in London. Friends have cooked me chicken and fish or taken me to restaurants with chicken and fish ... or Indian restaurants …

44. The Worry Bug.

I’m a bit of a worrier. Nowadays it’s only a bit of a worrier. When you have something huge to worry about like a l-e-d you either a/ lie down and die b/jump off a cliff or c/ start dealing with the worry bug.
Firstly it’s terror, not worry. Then it’s pervading fear. Then it’s worry. And then, if you’re doing the Work, its times of incredible joy, being in the moment and a deep pervading happiness – interspersed with worry.
Worry usually catches me when I’m tired but it loves ego disappointment too. At the end of three weeks’ intravenous vitamin C therapy, when there appears to have been no physical effect whatsoever at a very large financial cost, worry and disappointment are waiting in the wings to have a field day.
The last two days it’s been an effort to outwit them. Yes, meditation is the answer but meditation in somebody else’s house when you’re sleeping on the sofa in the only room other than the two occupants' bedrooms, the loo or the kitchen is a tad of a challenge. There’…

43. Is It Just Me? (Part 2)

Remember that at the end of the second week, the doctor couldn't make the Friday treatment because he was going to see his daughter?

This week he suddenly says that he'll try to get to the 2.30 appointment on Friday in time but he's got a doctor's appointment of his own and may be late.

So? Well, at our very first conversations I told him that I really needed to get away on time on Fridays as it was the difference between a £40 ticket and a £140 one.

This time, I gave the receptionist a week's notice that I would need a 2pm appointment if I was going to have extra amounts of vitamin C (it's now 60 ml a day) as the drip takes more time. That was vital so I could catch my train home. She said 'fine.'

But now he's going to be later than 2.30pm. I say 'but the appointment's at 2pm.' Dr. W has no idea about that.'

I check with the receptionist and it turns out that the timing was never checked with him. I am cross. There is also another s…

42. Goddesses and Stuff.

The Bish’s place is three stops further up the Northern line, in Finchley ... another of my old stamping grounds. Jay and I lived there for six months before we set off for Montana;my friend Bernadette and I shared a house there when Jay and I broke up and Lion and I lived in a house there for a year when we first got together.
I was planning to do a little bit of ghost-laying as I did in Dartmouth Park but there isn’t a minute this week to do any of it – which is interesting in itself. Maybe none of those ghosts need any attention? It’s obviously more important to be in the Bish’s place, chatting, attending meetings and services, watching movies together (I adored the Johnny Depp Lone Ranger no matter what the critics think) or being out seeing friends or having the treatment.
BTW if you're reading Bishop's Palace rather than place, I'd probably better correct you. It's a flat on the second floor of a house. 
The first thing that happens is that the A-lister (who keeps …

41. My Body Knows What It Needs.

Week no. 3 of intravenous vitamin C. So, today I was supposed to have 75 ml instead of 50 because we missed a day last week.
So at 50ml I started feeling a bit light-headed (I haven’t had this drip for three days) and the line simply came out of my arm. My body said ‘enough.’ God I love my body; she’s so wise and so clever.
And she will lose these lumps as soon as she is ready to do just that.

40. The Third Week

This week I’m staying with the Bish. He’s my bishop in our newly re-named church The Flower of Carmel. It used to be TheApostolic Church of the Risen Christ or, according to predictive text, TheApologetic Church of the Risen Crisp. We’ve now amalgamated with a big American Church which gives us all the bells and whistles we need to step up in the world and be recognised – including the chance of studying for a legitimate doctorate, which is really exciting for me, and having parishes all round the world. And it’s definitely ‘Independent Catholic’ with capital letters and a lot of mysticism thrown in. As ordained priests, we still had to apply to join them – very fair given that their seminary training is much more intense than ours was.However, all of us who have jumped through the appropriate hoops have been accepted and welcomed in that uniquely enthusiastic American way which is both enchanting and overwhelming and more of us will do the jumping when they’ve got the time. The name’s…

39. Is It Working?

I first heard of intravenous vitamin C when Henry was ill. It’s the brainchild of Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling and his colleage Ewan Campbell and although it’s controversial it is, finally, starting to be taken seriously. It doesn’t cure life-enhancing diseases – although it has cured some. It’s as effective as chemotherapy, but it doesn’t hurt the immune system in any way, shape or form.
When Henry was ill, it wasn’t available in the UK so he had oral vitamin C. That and a very harsh diet did stop the tumours growing. At one point, I rang Ewan Campbell in California and, bless him, he took my call and was very kind. So is it working? I don't know. Dr. W says it won’t necessarily show until after the three weeks have ended. Well, let’s hope he’s right. Dear God, let’s hope so. I have a bit of a tendency to doubt things and it didn’t help when that new lump turned up in the first week of the treatment. But it did soften immediately and it's pretty much gone now.

I opened my TUT (N…

38. More a Clump than a Blog.

You may have noticed that I tend to put loads of postings up at once instead of daily updates. That’s because I’m writing most of this on the train up to and down from London. Once I’m back home that may change. I'm taking my laptop to London for creative writing as well as emails etc. I could take the iPad but although that’s a lovely toy it needs a separate keyboard if you’re going to use it as a writer and that kind of takes away the point for me.  I’ve got work to do as well – I’m ghost writing a book for a Kabbalist friend who has wonderful theories and ideas but lacks the common touch when writing. Given that the train tickets at the moment are non-restricted and I’m arriving early at the stations to get the first available train, I’m getting to sit at one of the two tables in a carriage which means that there are people on the other side of the table. This has led to some lovely conversations. Not bad for a hermit like me. On the way home last Friday I sat with a lovely Devon…

37. A Year of Weather in Two Weeks

It’s the year of the British floods — and of course the complaints about the floods. We Brits do love to complain. Certainly the first two weeks that I have to be in London for the intravenous vitamin C there are downpours and gales. The train services have been brilliant given all the challenges that they have faced but I’ve got soaking wet and blown about on London’s streets which are littered with the skeletons of dead umbrellas. Ironically my hostess for those first two weeks, is better clad than I am. She walks her dog on Hampstead Heath every day and has waterproof trousers. It’s much wetter and windier at home than it is in London but we just ‘do wet’ when we are in Devon. And on the second weekend of being home, there is one glorious day of sunshine and warmth. You know the kind of day - one when you can leave the back door open and the animals can potter in and out as they want. I was a bit pathetic about the snowdrops when I first set off for Birmingham and London. They are s…

36. Comedy Night in Kentish Town part 2.

Usually I have my act sorted word-for-word. It’s totally memorized apart from dealing with hecklers. But last week in Guildford I extemporized a little, dropping some and adding other bits on the hoof. And tonight I’m a lot less prepared in a way simply because I’m planning to do five minutes of audience participation. And, as an experiment, I don’t tell them that I’m an independent Catholic priest, a heretic, or do very much of the self-deprecating stuff that so many comedians use. Instead I’m quite authoritative – as in ‘I know my Bible, let’s play a game’ kind of way. Because of the torrential storms and wet, it’s definitely Noah’s Ark time and given that the UKIP Oxford councillor got all over the news for saying the floods were due to the government’s approving gay marriage, I do a session on how many of the Old Testament laws we have all broken, getting the audience to stand up and sit down and working out who’s broken the most laws ... and therefore who is to blame. Some of the l…