My Short Acting Career

Many many years ago, when I was about 13 I think, I was persuaded to appear in the school play. The play, and I will never forget it, was The Snow Queen. I managed to land the part of the Story Teller which, looking back, was a bit contrived but I guess was meant to be a parody of Hans Christian Anderson or similar. I played no role in the action but introduced the story and then popped in and out to explain what was going on, help the characters make key decisions and harass the audience. I can still recall part of the introduction where I was engaged in dancing a little dance while reciting a poem….

Snip, snap, snooper
Pooper bazalooper
Snip snap snooper

It went. Did I feel daft singing that? Yes, I did. Pooper bazalooper indeed! It sounds like something you do in a bathroom.

Having looked up the play on the internet, I am reminded the last part of my introduction went as follows;

Crippety! Crappity — Ugh! {As he fails to get
the right step.)
{He snaps his fingers and begins again.)
Snip! Snap! Snooper!
Pooper, bazalooper. {Quickening.)
Snip-snap-snooper —

Crippetycrappity — BOOM! {He succeeds with
his feet.)
{He hears the audience and slowly turns.)

No comment but the analogy definitely works doesn’t it?

Anyway, I recall learning these and other silly lines and rehearsing and rehearsing and…. The big day arrived and it seemed to go quite well but then how would you know. An audience of parents isn’t he most critical of theatre goers now is it?

Apparently, I did so well that I was invited back for the next school play – Time and The Conways by JB Priestley. I recall none of the lines from this one but I do recall that I played Earnest Beevers – a nice man! This one I found difficult. Ask a 14-year old to act the part of a young man then transition into a middle aged self-made man and then go back to a shy young man again…. I didn’t have much fun. I did like the play though with its messages about the nature of time and reality.


And this is the rub.

There are still nights when I wake up drenched in sweat and experiencing palpitations because I dreamed that I forgot my lines. Forty-years afterwards I still dream about my fear of it all going wrong. That pregnant pause and rising embarrassment as you realize the poor kid can’t recall what to say next…..You know, I don’t think I forgot my lines. To be honest, I recall very little of it now at all in normal consciousness but somewhere, deep down inside my psyche, I am still there, frozen in time, petrified that I would forget my lines.

Conforming to Conformity

Patterns in thinking
Growing up like I did
Gave me food for thought
A brainwashed kid?
Taught to see your world
The way you all did
Adopting your reality from the
Bottom of the pyramid
And if I did break free
Ah, God forbid
Would you persecute me
Until I am rid
Of all those original thoughts?
Simply splendid
My mind under lock and key
Forever hid.


A Barren Day and My Roots

Its one of those days when I am uninspired and don’t seem to have anything to say that I haven’t said before. No poetry, no bursts of irked energy for a good old rant and certainly no spiritually uplifting thoughts or feelings. These sorts of days happen. Perhaps its because I have done nothing but write anyway – white papers, Analyst briefing notes, articles, presentations etc. etc. I really do write for a living it seems – if you are interested in those professional writings take a look here).


What then?

Just recently I have been feeling a bit homesick for Houston. I mean, Houston was home for 17-years and after being away almost 8-years, I do miss it from time to time. I miss the heat would you believe and I miss the general ambience – the buildings, restaurants, bars…. but not enough to go back and live there.

I left home when I was 18. I couldn’t wait. There was nothing wrong with home nor family. I adored my parents and have two lovely brothers. I miss the hell out of my Dad and can’t wait to see my Mum here in a few weeks time. But, I wanted to stand on my own two feet and sooner rather than later. So off I headed to Birmingham and Aston University and the to Leeds for a year and then Glasgow for two more until, with Ph.D. done, I started my career in Aberdeen. Three years in, I moved to Sunbury on Thames and two years later to Ottershaw in Surrey then on to Basingstoke, Hampshire. From there, I was off to Houston and then Dallas before returning to Hampshire only to head back to Houston again. And from Houston I went to Brno spending a couple of years in Prague along the way.

You see, I got itchy feet!

I haven’t put down roots. I like all the places I have lived but none of these places is HOME. I don’t know where home is to be honest.

They do say home is where the heart is but where is my heart? Its physically located in Brno – which is home for me at the moment – but it is rootless as I am. Perhaps this is why I see things differently sometimes. I owe and have no allegiances (save to Hull City AFC) and my passports are to me simply papers of convenience. I am not to be labelled by nationality. I am me and me is fine thank you.

But roots? I’m unsure that I will ever find my roots this side of Neverland. I still remember something from my childhood… memories of somewhere else. That somewhere felt real to me and this one just doesn’t. My roots are there wherever there is…

Perhaps my roots are to be found towards the second star to the right, and straight on till morning………


Chat – Its Fate

One benefit of having a publisher is they do manage to get publicity you may not have been able to get yourself. In this case, the story published is honestly inaccurate and very sensationalized. The stories are loosely based on those I talked about in Inner Journeys: Explorations of the Soul (Thoth, 2006) but you know what, it has close to a 100,000 circulation and who knows…. maybe it will help sell a few books and add a few blog visits. There I am holding a copy of my novel – The Last Observer (Roundfire Books, 2013) in the lower right hand of the article. amazingly, what I was actually holding in that photo was a beer but I guess they photoshopped it…


The Visitor

It was some strange time in the morning

So early it was still night and without sunlight

The air was so cold and you could hear a pin drop

I shivered involuntarily and tried to sleep

But there it was again

The deepest of sighs rattling like a death breath

My blood ran cold

I strained to listen hearing the loudness of total silence

But there it was again

A scraping rustling sound scratching along the hallway

My heart palpitated

At any moment now that door will begin to open

At any moment now I will scream with all my lungs

And there will be nothing there

Nothing there at all

And I will lay and pray

That the morning sun rises soon illuminating my room

And ensuring that my ghostly visitor stays away

Throughout the day



Life’s Junk

Just over 7-years ago, I arrived in the Czech Republic with one suitcase. Later, I shipped one box to myself. It wasn’t a large box. I left a large house stuffed to the brim with stuff and do you know what, I didn’t really miss any of it. Anything I did miss turned out to have a connection to someone in my life. I did miss being able to look at certain photographs of my family, my boys, my parents, my college days. I did miss the framed picture bought for me as a gift by my Aunt in New Orleans as it reminded me of my Uncle who died too young. I missed a few items – trinkets mainly – given to me by my father and by my mother. All of these have since been retrieved. I also did subsequently panic about where my Ph.D thesis was again because its a one off put together the hard way before word processors and easy printing. My son has it so its safe.

So here I am 7-years later and we begin to pack to move back to Brno from Prague. Once again, I am surrounded by life’s junk. The stuff you think you need but really don’t. The stuff you keep because you may actually one day need it but never do. How did I accumulate so much crap again? Why?

What is it that I really value? That’s the question I ask myself right now. To be honest, it is again the small treasures probably worthless to anyone else that have an association with someone special that are the only things I value. The photograph of my Father on Eigg, the photo of my eldest son sat in the cockpit of a 747 mid-atlantic (shows how dated that is!), the electric guitar that I spent more than a year delivering newspapers at 1GBP per week to purchase, the photo collection of my boys, my parents and my brothers, the letter Gabriela sent to me with a 4-leaf clover in it and perfumed, the family history notes my Dad made as we worked on our ancestry together, the drawings, paintings and scribblings of my daughter saved in folders….. you get the drift.

At the end of the day its about memories but more importantly its about people for the treasured items are people-focused and trigger memories. Those memories are both good and not so good but they are strong and vibrant. When I move, I take with me my memories. I don’t need to pack them in a bag they are just there and a certain item, a certain smell will conjure them immediately in my mind. I suppose these memories, experiences, are the treasure that we accumulate in life while we somehow also accumulate so much bloody material junk.


Parallel Worlds, Aliens, Conspiracy and Life

Since I was knee high to a grasshopper I have wondered ‘what the hell is this all about?’ I mean this. The world, life and everything. It’s always been transparent to me that all is not what it seems. That ‘this’ really is an illusion – Maya. But what am I? Why do I exist? What’s the point? These questions often have plagued me and last night as I laid in bed I couldn’t sleep wondering yet again over these and similar questions. My problem was that I had been browsing the internet!

There are all sorts of ideas out there. Not just ideas but ‘creations’ if you want where someone – probably asking the same questions I am asking – decided on making some answers. I read amongst other things that we are all in a matrix providing fuel for the aliens from planet X that created us for the purpose, I read about parallel universes, all kinds of conspiracies about aliens, elite groups of lizard people and goodness knows what. Some of it is total crap I know but still, I’m not the only one who often thinks about the meaning of everything am I.


What really gets me. Eats at me in fact, is that I most likely will never actually know what anything is really about. I find this thought very difficult to deal with.

Oh yes, I have my own theories built upon my own experiences but I’m not silly enough to believe I am right. I suspect I am in for a surprise or total blackness as I simply cease to exist at all. But when I read about people like Steve jobs and his final words – “Ow wow, oh wow, oh wow” and what about Roger Ebert, the film critic, who wrote…”This is all an elaborate hoax.” I asked him, “What’s a hoax?” And he was talking about this world, this place. He said it was all an illusion. I thought he was just confused. But he was not confused. He wasn’t visiting heaven, not the way we think of heaven. He described it as a vastness that you can’t even imagine. It was a place where the past, present, and future were happening all at once.

Just two stories but it makes you think….. maybe all of these things are right. Maybe there are parallel universes where these things exist – where aliens from planet x have us all in enslavement, where a group of rich lizard people rule the world. As they say “God’s house is full of many rooms.”


Things That Went Bump in the Night

Growing up and leaving my version of Neverland, things took a turn for the worse. I guess it started around age 12 or so and maybe peaked at 17. Nights became sheer living hell at times as I lay in my bed scared to death. It started innocently enough in seeing a ghost. The man dressed as a Cavalier was sat at a desk writing, got up abruptly and walked out through my bedroom wall. My brother who I shared a room with saw him too.

It went a bit pear-shaped after that though. Strange noises…. bangs, cracks, deep sighs, all unexplainable. Then footsteps. I hated the footsteps. Listening to ghostly footsteps moving closer and closer and closer…. Doors opened by themselves, things vanished inexplicably to turn up equally inexplicably somewhere else or even where you knew you had left them.

The whole tale is told in Inner Journeys. Here is an excerpt…

For example, one evening in my late teens I came home from the pub just drunk enough to feel that I could get some sleep. I was visiting for the weekend from College and I always needed to have a couple of beers before I could sleep in that house. I was sleeping on the floor of my brother’s room and he was already soundly asleep when I lay down or rather passed out. Despite my drunken condition, I was suddenly aware of the front door of the house being opened. It’s amazing how alert you become when you are scared half to death. I was no longer feeling that warm woozy effect of alcohol but was now sat bolt upright, the hairs on my body stiff with fear.

“I did lock the door didn’t I?” I said to myself trying to recall if I had checked the lock as I had stumbled through the doorway. I knew I had. Next, I heard a quiet low pitch moaning and groaning that sent chills running up my spine. It was so quiet that I could hear the silence as a continual buzz only occasionally punctuated by the low moans. Then, I heard footsteps coming slowly up the staircase as if the person on the stairs was struggling to climb each step. As this was happening, my heart was racing and the noisy silence was now drowned out by the sound of my own pounding heartbeat deep inside my bursting chest. When finally, I realized that whatever or whoever this was had now reached the landing, I found that I could actually move and started to back away from the bedroom door slowly and as soundlessly as possible. As I did so, the door started to slowly open and I let out a scream that was loud enough to wake the entire city of Hull. Strangely enough, only moments later, my father burst through the door with such an angry look on his face that I thought he was about to chastise me for screaming. Instead, he simply asked if I was OK and told me that he too had heard our intruder.

Whatever this phenomenon was, it occurred more and more often and with greater observable physical activity as time went on. One evening, sitting with a girl friend in our living room in the early hours of a Saturday morning, a similar event occurred and the sight of a door opening by itself was enough to send her home for the evening. At least it wasn’t just my imagination!

These experiences too gradually faded. My poltergeist activity faded as those hormones settled down and as life drew me in…….


Seeking Neverland

As a young child I think I was quite innocent. Perhaps I was a tad over protected by my parents or perhaps I was just built that way. To be honest I do not know. I do know though that I had (and to some degree still do have) an imagination. My imagination was such that I drew other children in to my fantasy land and when I left it even momentarily, they stopped playing there. It was as if I were the catalyst for whatever fantasy we built. It was I that built layer upon layer of substance out of sticks, dustbins, stones and such. I would often delay having to go to the bathroom simply because I knew that on my return, the fantasy would be lost, gone, over. Looking back, it was if I created and wove the dance we danced in my childhood reality. And perhaps I did.

I dreamed well too. Better then than now. Lucid dreaming, something I find difficult these days, came naturally to me then. I would willfully continue a dream night after night picking up right where I recalled leaving off. One dream was about a girl. She lived in a castle-like house on an island. It was a small island with steep cliffs all around and it started with me finding a cave and working my way up to find the house. Looking in through a window I saw a girl. She was beautiful and I loved her as soon as my eyes saw her (she was my age in the dream – 6 or 7 perhaps). She looked sad and I wondered how such a pretty girl living in such a house could be so sad?

One day she caught sight of me. We made signs and faces through the window. She even smiled. But she kept looking around nervously. She would shoo me away at times and I would hide and spy as the witch-like lady entered the room and the girl would cry. I eventually discovered the witch-like lady was an evil old hag who practiced black magic in the basement and caves below the house. She abused the girl who was her niece. I discovered the girl’s parents had died leaving her in the care of this wicked Aunt. As the dream continued, she would let me in and we would play happily in that room until the Aunt came and then I would hide or leave or hide and then leave my heart pounding like a drum.

In the end, I was discovered and caught. The girl and I were taken to the basement and we were tied up. Somehow, we escaped and turned the tables on the wicked witch ridding the world of her via her own evil magic once and for all. The girl was free. She was happy and smiled and we would play until, eventually, the dreams stopped.

These dreams took place over an extended period of time and if you analyze them they have elements of all fairy tales don’t they? The wicked witch, the sad and mistreated niece or step daughter and the prince who frees the girl and, in the end marries her. The part of me that faces and confronts something within me and defeats it in order to reconcile other aspects of myself.

When I look back now at my childhood I wonder at how magical it was. I wonder at the abilities I seem to have lost or misplaced as I have grown older and become a part of another world. Imagination is a precious commodity and the art of dreaming is a wonderful and magical tool to heal oneself. I am convinced at times that I really lost something growing up, something truly magical. Some gift I was born with. Perhaps we all have. You see the problem is that “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.

peter pan

JM Barrie and Peter Pan has some interesting quotes throughout in my opinion that now resonate with me. Just consider the following and perhaps you will agree…

There could not have been a lovelier sight; but there was none to see it except a little boy who was staring in at the window. He had ecstasies innumerable that other children can never know; but he was looking through the window at the one joy from which he must be for ever barred.”

Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.

You know that place between sleeping and awake, that place where you can still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always think of you.

All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.

You see, the thing I miss about being a child is my Peter Pan. Everyone of us has Peter Pan within us and we lose him growing up. Some of us never realize it nor care but others, like me, keep looking and searching for Neverland knowing that, not only does it exist but I once went there all the time…..

My Dunkirk

It was 1974. Unlike many kids from Hull, I had already been abroad. My parents had driven in 1962 from Hull to St. Tropez and back in a Reliant Robin with me in tow. We still have cine film – miles and miles of french hedgerow goes flying by for much of the film as my parents marveled at their bravery of driving so far on small French roads in a three wheel car that attracted looks of disbelief from the locals. I guess they felt like they would never return and so best film as much as possible? The film also has me in it sitting in the warm blue ocean, looking at artists painting St. Tropez harbour and interfering with the locals’ game of boules…. But, I digress. I had also been to Switzerland and Italy in 1969 again camping and driving miles and miles on little French, Swiss and Italian roads – no motorways back then you know!

So, my exchange with a French student wasn’t quite as exciting as it might have been. France was no mystery to this 14-year old. I already knew the country as beautiful and the girls even more so. French – the language that is – was more of a challenge. I have no brain for languages and I was terrible at French. Jean Luc was excellent at English however so all was well. He came to Hull first and was duly taken to such wondrous locations as Brid, Scarboro, Whitby and York. He purchased several LPs by some band called Status Quo and before I knew it, I too was a fan. He also liked Pink Floyd. He had good taste in music.

Jean Luc and I in Dunkirk 1974

Jean Luc and I in Dunkirk 1974

The train ride to Dover from Hull is tedious – it was back then even more tedious. The train was full with strange pairings of English and French kids all over excited and boisterous. The ferry then from Dover to Calais and then a car ride to Dunkirk – or a small village outside of Dunkirk. My adventure had began.

I recall the concrete floors painted green and total absence of carpets. The blinds that wound down to create total darkness at night. The dirt in the streets – yes – it was dirty. The food. New tastes including raw minced beef with raw egg. To be honest much of the trip was a blur. His father was the Captain of a ship and wasn’t home but Mother had a small car and we went all over the region – even as far as Brugges in Belguim. It was all too soon over but it began my love affair with France and all things French.

The next two summers we repeated the exchange – privately however. The summer before college I spent 8-weeks hitch hiking around using Jean Luc’s home as my base. For a while, we were firm friends. I wonder where he is now? I was lucky I know to find such friends and to enjoy so many experiences as a growing child and young adult. It broadened my young mind and by 18, my French was more than passable but not fluent. It was good enough to talk to the girls….