My Passion for Writing

For a long time I did not realise I was a born writer because it was part of me. It was innate. What we do effortlessly we take for granted. That does not mean that we don’t need to learn the rules of grammar and the way the language we are born into works. I learned all that at my grammar school and very good it was too. One of the many things that worry me about education today is that this important area of knowledge has grown weaker and weaker due to government interference especially in comprehensive schools.

Many people, because they have learned the technique of writing, think that writing books is easy. We who can do it know better [you can’t say that! – Ed]. Since I first came across spoken and written words they were my main interest. I read avidly from the time I was four years old. All good writers do that without realising they are learning at the same time. We cannot find our own individual style if we haven’t taken in, quite unconsciously, all the styles of the books that we chose to read. They have provided me with the tools of the trade.

The same is true of artists and all other kinds of creative activities. Without knowing what we are doing, the words and phrases that appeal to us stick in our memories. We also notice everything that is going on around us. We remember what particularly catches our fancy.

I used to tell stories to my little sister when we were in bed at night. She usually fell asleep before I had finished. I always had vivid dreams that often took the frame of stories and have gone on all my life. Quite often, especially when I am working on one thing, like my PhD for instance, I have woken up in the middle of the night with new ideas. I usually get up and write them down immediately, in case I might have forgotten before morning dawns.

I liked to make a miniature theatre out of an old shoe box, paint a backcloth, dress up tiny china dolls for the cast and write the script. This took place when I was eight to ten years old. All the material came from my reading and my habit of noticing and listening to snatches of conversation.

All this material in my head was of immense help in my work as a psychotherapist. I was never at a loss for what to say to my clients and how to respond to them. So far I have had three books published about my therapy work. I have written several fictional short srories but have not published them. I am now on the brink of writing more fiction after I have completed several books related to my research, including this one.

One of the advantages of old age for writers is that, as long as we remain well enough, both physically and even more important mentally, we have plenty of time to do exciting work in our own comfortable homes. My son and daughter encouraged me to write my autobiography in this particular form because I have had a varied and unusual life. I learned to cope with disappointment and set- backs which are inevitable. This is the case when we are undertaking new ventures that provide valuable information for all creative people who are constantly feeling their way into the best work they can do. At the same time I aim to express myself clearly so that I am getting my special ideas across to those who are looking for new ways of writing and thinking. It is also very important that there is an element of humour and entertainment. That is the best kind of serious writing; otherwise it is easy to fall into a bog of boredom.



My Passion for Art

Since I was very young, I was sensitive to atmosphere. Whatever form of art met my eyes, whether it was buildings, furniture, pictures, people or nature itself my spirits either lifted or they sank. I knew at once what I liked and what I didn’t like. I sought pleasure in my surroundings which meant I would never go anywhere that exuded a sense of sadness and ugliness.

The same applied to my own shops. I had to take the best sites and furnish them with care so that the whole effect when a customer walked in was a work of art in itself. People liked my shops and soon became regular customers. I didn’t have to try to sell anything, but if people had difficulty in making a choice, I suggested that they wrote out a cheque for something they thought they might like. I would put the cheque to one side and let the customer take it home for a few days to make up her (or his) mind, as to whether they wanted to keep it or not. Very rarely did anyone return anything.

On one of my trips to Glasgow my manageress told me that a customer had complained that a set of three pictures had not been framed for his liking. She was so frightened by him that she begged me to talk to him myself. Before he came to the shop I made sure that the manageress was not there.

In strode a tall overweight, red-in-the-face man looking like a bull in a china shop. I really enjoy challenges like that. I began by receiving him in my usual friendly manner and let him rattle on with his sad story. At intervals I offered an assurance that we were very sorry and would do our best to put things right. Like all bad-tempered people they cannot stand their ground when no opposition is given.

He slowed down and I kept on smiling . He couldn’t resist that. I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

“We will get the pictures reframed and they will be ready in two weeks.”

“That is not good enough! I want them next week!”

“And in two weeks we will have the pictures delivered to your house.” (which happened to be a very posh part of Glasgow.) and since we have let you down, I would like to offer you a framed picture of your choice as compensation.”

He looked astonished. “For free?” he said. “Of course” I said.

His manner changed at once “Mrs Pain, you must think me very rude. Only you see, I have a dodgy leg that gives me lots of pain and it is especially bad today. You don’t have to deliver the pictures. I will see to that.”

He became a regular customer.

It is not what other people say to you that causes problems. It is how you respond and don’t lose your temper.

Because I was looking at pictures every day, I began to get my old yearning to start painting again for myself. I had had several starts but never yet a good teacher. I found myself becoming more and more critical of painters especially and I had the feeling that I could do better myself. One day I opened my Telegraph and found an interesting article in the middle. It was just up my street.

It was written by an art teacher, who taught at a well-known public school in Wiltshire for many years. He always had outstandingly good results in A-levels. He was tired of teaching boys and decided to take early retirement. He lived in an old cottage with a large barn in which to give lessons. He wanted to teach older people who wanted to learn art seriously.

I liked the sound of him. I sent him a letter. He received more than 400 altogether. I sent off for his brochure straight away. Clearly he was sought after. He was already getting booked up. His sessions were for one week and a few others for two. There were a few bed-and-breakfasts in neighbouring villages where I could stay.

Over a period of five years I went to Robin Child for some twenty courses. He is still teaching, I discovered recently. His teaching was inspirational! I discovered things in myself of which I was not aware. I developed a gift for portraits, probably because I have, all my life, scrutinised people’s faces. I have always loved bright colours and learned how to use them well.



Take it, Break it and Make Something New

A paraphrase of Shakespeare:

To do or not to do
Whether it is better to suffer what is thrown at you
Or to take action against a sea of boredom.

The lady client who couldn’t stop crying in my piece “ Fun in Therapy” was just putting up with her misery. It hadn’t occurred to her that she could deal with whatever it was that was bothering her in a different way. People like this are in a state of stuck-insidedness, and that condition arises in every case because of a fear of others one way or another.

I use the phrase “thrown at you” meaning that such beings simply let outside happenings get them down, in other words they “take in”. First, they need to break up the old pattern they have got used to and when that has been broken, the final step is to take action and try to do something different, such as bringing her weeping to a stop.

Many people make the mistake of offering sympathy to weepers. That is not what they need. No-one else can make us feel better. That is a necessary job for the self-disturbed person to deal with. Another brilliant quote from Shakespeare is:

Diseases desperate grown
By desperate appliances are relieved.

What we all want to do is to be able to look after ourselves by learning to think properly. In my early days as a therapist, one of my biggest mistakes with a client was to feel sorry for him. He twice tried to commit suicide but he made sure he would be found and taken to hospital. Like a fool, I twice visited him there. I made the mistake that because this man had completed a PhD I felt sure that he must be able to find a job in his field. His bank refused to lend him a small sum of money to get him started with a business to which he seemed well-suited . He was turned down. I lent him the money.

After some two years he wanted to come and see me again. “Are you bringing a cheque with you?” Of course he said he had not. He still wanted help. I sent him off with a flea in his ear.

Feeling sorry for other people was what originally aroused my interest in psychotherapy. I am still interested in the subject but I no longer work with people. I do research, write books and occasionally paint pictures instead.

Whilst I was a therapist I had plenty of free time to see a lot of my daughter and her two sons. I took them for holidays and I saw them every week until they were grown-up. My family is not just a family. They are my best friends because we all have much in common, quite the opposite of the family into which I was born. I am often surprised by friends who comment on how good a mother I must have been. Not at all!

I always did what I wanted to do first and I never tried to teach my children anything, except for a few basic rules and good manners such as going to bed on time and looking after their own bedrooms. They could do what they liked there, within reasonable limits, but they knew they must not mess up the family’s living rooms, kitchen and bathroom. The greatest bonus to me was the fun we all had and still have when we get together. I couldn’t have better friends. They were always doing and making things that interested them. As they grew up and became the people their genes designed them to be it was always a pleasure to see each other.

My friend Jerry Planus always said “Put yourself first. Never do anything you don’t want to do, unless it is essential for your own well being. He had a favourite proverb: “Why do you hate me? I haven’t helped you.” Do too much for people and you deprive them of their ability to do things for themselves.

Do you want to be a skivvy or a victim or a martyr? No. Of course not.

When I had my gallery shop in King’s Parade I employed two or three assistants. One of them never stopped working. When I made morning or afternoon tea she usually said “I don’t have time to drink it. I’ve got too much to do.”

That made me sound like a slave-driver. On the contrary, there was not a lot to do. She made work for herself, doing things like dusting or arranging things in a way that was unnecessary. She was determined to work every minute. Of course there was a reason for this. She had a very demanding mother who planted this habit in her when she was a child. She had made an unnecessary martyr of herself that was hard to ignore.

If you have a habit that annoys other people and probably yourself as well, you can deal with the problem by following these three steps:

  1. identify the bad habit
  2. break it up
  3. make something new.



Fun with Therapy

Whenever I went to a conference for psychotherapists I was overcome by the smugness and self-satisfaction that oozes from many of the delegates. I have at times had a strong impulse to leap to my feet and shout out “Knock off your halos! We are all far from perfect!” We ought to realise that we are perpetually on a pilgrimage to understand ourselves better. We are all prejudiced in one way or another and when working with clients we have to remember that we must be aware that whatever we say to them and how we respond to them will be picked up. This is why a sense of humour must be maintained.

In the distant past when Kings had great power, they always had a jester to knock him off his pedestal. There had to be at least this one person to prevent the king from thinking he was always right. We all need to pay attention to our own inner jesters. In other words, watch out for smugness. When I woke up this morning the first thing I did was to read the piece I wrote yesterday.

My inner jester had a good laugh at me. “Yes? So it is very easy for you to read other people’s minds? Think again. How were you so foolish not to have read the nature of the young woman you chose to spend two weeks with at Santa Cruz in my piece “A Big Mistake”?

I hasten to add to what I wrote yesterday, that, like everybody else, I make mistakes. With such a gift as Menschenkenntis, how could I have made such a mistake? Sheer bloody vanity. We can all be won over by flattery whatever we may say. I know I am good at what I do but that doesn’t mean that I am perfect. Thinking about it, I remembered something I read about the great hypnotist, Milton Erickson. He said never be one up on your client if you can help it. Let him find his own way to work through his difficulties. I assume that what he meant was that psychotherapists should act as guides but never tell people what to do. They who come to see us are nearly always lacking in confidence. We need to remain calm and confident ourselves. This isn’t always easy. We are only human and clients can sometimes be very irritating. Once we have established a degree of rapport, we can get down to the nitty gritty.

This is when we can make use of our sense of humour. If we find that difficult, then we must learn to start laughing at ourselves. In my book “Not Just Talking” there are several examples of my putting myself down in a humorous way which results in both of us laughing in unison.

When I was a child I had no sense of humour at all. Life was tough. life was earnest. I don’t know exactly when I began to see humour in every day of my life through watching how people talk to each other. My best tutors were my own children and my grandsons.

Hearty laughter is incredibly therapeutic. I have had some wonderful results with very unhappy people.

One day the telephone rang. It was a woman who was crying so hard that it wasn’t easy to understand her. I interrupted her and told her to speak more slowly. She came to see me. Bob opened the door to let her in. She was crying loudly. She followed me upstairs and she sat down, still crying.

I said in a loud and dominating voice “How long have you been crying?”. “I don’t know” she replied and stopped. She was just about to start again when I said in an even louder voice “Ten years?”

That stopped her in her tracks. She looked at me as though I were mad.

“Can you teach me how to cry?” I said. Silence. I began to make a great effort. I threw myself on the floor, just like a child having a tantrum, and I bellowed as hard as I could without a single tear getting in my way. She was dumbfounded. She sat quite still. Then I quietly got off the floor and sat down. “You see. You don’t have to cry” I said. I laughed with great delight and in a very short time she did the same and we kept it going for a while.

After that she remained calm and told me her story without a tear to be seen. Her spell was broken. She went off happily. She saw me twice more and that was all.

When she had gone, Bob said “Whatever did you do with her? She was in quite a state when I opened the door and shortly after I walked past your room and I heard all this laughing going on.”

“I just did a bit of magic” I said. “Well whatever it was it worked.” Bob had been very sceptical but he soon changed his mind: especially after this event.



The Art of Psychotherapy

After a few months of being a therapist I began to get phone calls from some of the colleagues I had met on courses. They wanted to ask me if I found it difficult to talk to strangers. I told them no. I had no trouble at all. I was not surprised that they had this problem. There are very few people who listen properly and know how to respond. Learning a set of techniques on a course is not good enough. Although many courses tell their students to listen properly they do not tell them how. The tutors probably don’t know that themselves.

No-one should attempt to work as a psychologist without having a sound knowledge of the founding three great ones: Freud, Jung and Adler. I only recently discovered that Adler had a gift called Menschenkenntnis, a word that has no equivalent in English. This clarified something that had puzzled me for some time. I realised at once that I, too, had the same skill but probably not quite as powerful as this quote shows. “In the presence of a new patient, about who he knew nothing, he would look at him a moment, ask a few questions, and then get a complete picture of the subject’s difficulties, clinical difficulties and life problems…he would immediately detect the part of play-acting and mendacity on the part of his patients.” (p.594 in Ellenberger’s book “ The Discovery of the Unconscious”.

Those who have this gift automatically use it from birth. They cannot do otherwise. At once I understood why I could not make friends as a child. I observed instead. Jung was just the same. What a relief to know that! There isn’t anything wrong with me except that having such an ability makes ordinary chit-chat unattractive. I now know why my extraordinary ability to recall very early memories in great detail, what I have called my magic camera, was not the only factor. I also picked up all sorts of information from listening intently to what other people say and the way the words are said. Back to the importance of Harvey Sacks. If he had been born earlier, he would have made a great friend of Adler.

My experience is that most people notice very little about whomsoever they talk to. Without making the least effort I often pick up what is going on in other people’s minds. Since I have been doing this unconsciously all my long life it is not surprising that I find it very easy to discover quickly what is bothering another person. It is a most useful thing to be able to do, especially if you are a psychotherapist.

By the same token I have no trouble in talking to strangers. I know who I want to talk to and who I do not simply by noticing many small details first. No wonder I was puzzled by the phone calls I got from my colleagues. Unfortunately I couldn’t show them how to do it but if they were willing to forget themselves, stop worrying and focus on clients with much more concentration, they could make things easier for themselves.

As for mendacity, it is very easy to notice it. As psychotherapists we get to see a lot of it. Why? Because although clients want to feel better, they are very reluctant to change anything they are used to. When people tell lies they tell them in a particular way, different from their norm. Here is a small example:

T. How are you?
C. Oh I’m fine! (expressed with emphasis and aggression).
T. Oh you’re fine! (in exactly the same tone as the client)
C and T laugh together.

The ice is broken and the client feels more secure because she knows that her therapist understands what is going on.

If you want to be of use to your client you need to gain her respect.

Therapists who do not pay attention to what is said can in no way be of use to clients.

Therapists must be implacable and confident. Once they have gained the client’s respect they can say what they like and they begin to lose their fear.

It all goes back to what went wrong in the relationship of the baby and whoever looked after him or her if it was not the mother.

This is just a very simple example of how to use words wisely. Things can get much more complex. The job of the therapist is to keep everything going in the right direction which means she has to be on her guard all the time and that is very tiring.

I once had a very difficult client. After a few sessions, I was getting nowhere, She was unusually resistant. I told her I did not want to work with her again. She protested. I refused. She said “I will pay you more.” I refused again. I told her if she gave me £1,000 a session I still wouldn’t want to see her.

“Why not?” she said. “All you have to do is listen to me.”

“Listening to you is the most tiring work I have ever done” I replied.

She had seen many therapists before. It seems incredible that someone would want to see one therapist after another, just to prove each one wrong. But there really are such people. Fortunately they are very rare.



We Do Best What We Like Best

The best kind of teaching is what we teach ourselves. Just as an acorn will grow into an oak tree and no other kind of tree, so we are all born with the seeds that we call genes. They make us who we are as we grow older. For example, painters, writers and teachers learn from within themselves. There is a long held mistaken belief that we can mould our children into what we want them to be. My husband’s mother came from Belgium and never learned English well. She often said to other people “Je ferais de Bobby medicin”, or “Je ferais de Bobby avocat”. She did not have the power to make him a doctor or a lawyer nor could anyone else. There have always been unhappy people who have been forced to do what they do not have the capacity to do. I cannot but believe, from my lifetime’s observation of all the people I came across, that there are many of us who construct false impressions of ourselves because we are afraid no-one will like us unless we “fit in”.

Despite what Bob’s mother tried to tell him, he was very much his own self and did not hesitate to tell anything but the truth as he saw it His strongest suits were brought to light by his unusual sense of humour: he had an uncanny way of spotting pretentions in people he had never met before. From everything he told me I gathered that he must have been a born soldier with his ability to lead and make decisions. He always said those years were very good for him, much more so than being a teacher or working in a big company.

Bob was the only one in our family who had no interests that filled him with enthusiasm. In that sense he was an outsider in a very close family. This had the effect of making him far too dependent on us, especially upon me. He had some great qualities but somehow he never was able to find an interest just for himself alone. He wasn’t at all interested in psychotherapy but nevertheless he wanted to help me, often in a way that was far from useful. In the last letter he left for us before he died, he wrote how proud of us he was for what we had achieved. We were reduced to tears.

My daughter is a painter. As soon as she could hold a pencil or crayon in her hand she was drawing with colours. She loved animals and insects, so that was what she drew. If anyone tried to make her portray anything else she would stoutly refuse. When she was in the Sixth Form she decided to study art. Before the first term was over, she gave up art. She would only draw what she wanted to draw.

Kate has always drawn and painted sporadically because she has done many other things. In her forties she has come to her peak and is a first-class cartoonist as well as painting small animals and birds.

“Compulsory” is the ugliest word for me and my children. I would go to any lengths at school to avoid group games such as Hockey. Miraculously I succeeded by various subterfuges. At least I learned some ingenious ways of avoiding what I did not want to do.

All three refused to go to university as I had hoped they would. Yet I need not to have worried. All three of them learned all they needed to know to develop the work they most enjoyed. In fact Kate, in her part time, completed a good degree in psychology with the Open University. She also worked for a diploma in psychotherapy. She intended to be a therapist. For a few years she used her skills successfully. At the same time she was writing a book about her experiences as a teacher’s helper. I was, of course delighted that she had chosen two of my favourite subjects. However, after a few years of very good work, she decided to end her career as a psychotherapist. Her book is of very high quality and no-one else has written anything important about this subject.

However, Kate continued with her art work and she got better and better. Despite the fact that she has three important skills she inevitably came to the conclusion that what she wanted to do most is her drawing and painting.

When we are multitalented people it can be very difficult for us to decide which is the subject from which we get most satisfaction. I have the same trilogy of talents that Kate has but our choice was different. After nearly twenty years doing my therapy work I found myself gradually verging more and more into research. Then when I looked back at my life I saw clearly that since I was a small girl, I had always been a writer. I did it so easily that I didn’t think of it as something special. Like all natural writers I had read all the best books in English literature when I came across them. I had learned to judge good writing intuitively and very quickly.

In our family, we have all put our creative interests before every thing else. We want recognition but only by people who are knowledgeable enough to recognise the value of what we are doing. Money does not come first. It must be earned by ourselves to please us. Plagiarism is anathema to us. All our work must come from us for us to be fully satisfied. not from copying someone else.



My Contribution to the World

I was very glad to have taken the world trip, something I had promised myself for many years and even more glad to be back in England again. I was proud of having spent over thirty years creating businesses to help make money for the family to be able to provide our children with a good education and holidays they could enjoy.

Another era began when I could spend time with Kate and her two small sons. They were six and seven years old. They lived near us just outside Cambridge and from since their birth I was delighted to play the role of grandmother and to take up again the good relationship I had always had with Kate as we both became older and more experienced. I was now more than ready to begin my practice as a psychotherapist.

At first Bob came with me as I searched for a suitable office to work from. I didn’t ask him if he would permit me to set up practice in our house. It soon became obvious that I couldn’t afford the rent at that time. He then suggested that it would be best for me to work from home. He put my needs before his feelings about not having strangers in the house. Once he had made his mind up I established a private practice as a psychotherapist in a suitably large room upstairs overlooking the garden. Typically of Bob, once I had begun my practice, he went out of his way to support me by answering the telephone if I was busy or away, so that I would not lose a possible client.

This new enterprise allowed me much more time to spend with my family. I came into my own during those later years. When I first returned home after my trip I had almost no money. I had finally managed to get rid of my Glasgow shop with Bob’s help. I still had my car and in the first few weeks of my new life I was delighted that I did not have to go bankrupt and after years of spending time in the shops, especially on Saturdays, I had a wonderful sense of freedom.

I started my practice at a good time. I was free of the presence of government’s intervention which is now doing its best to place unnecessary restraints in the fields of medicine, education and psychotherapy, to mention just a few.

This is indeed the era of The Nanny State. As things get worse, our freedom gets less. There are far too many do-gooders whose real aim is to gain power for themselves; regardless of other people’s needs. As the standards of most universities drop steadily, the best of our creative people are discouraged from teaching in state schools and many other areas. All this regulation smacks of dictatorship. Everyone ought to have the right to develop their skills in their own ways. Creative people who are good at what they do, need freedom to discover their ideas and build on them. The best of us need encouragement to explore ways in which we can do our own research and ensure that it is brought into the public arena.

I speak from experience. I learned a great deal from my therapeutic work. I became more and more aware that the essence of good psychotherapy is founded in the development of how the clients learned to take responsibility through thinking for themselves about the way in which they communicate with other people.

I have written a unique PhD that is the first of its kind in the world. I meant it to be a foundation to help other therapists to take my work further. It was published by Karnac, whose editor greatly valued it and entered it for a prize. To my great disappointment it did not sell. Yet the importance of the works of George Orwell and Harvey Sacks is vital for all psychotherapists and has been ignored. There are many psychotherapists and psychiatrists who cannot do their work properly because they have not learned about how to do Conversation Analysis.

My book is particularly important because my findings come from a wider basis of different disciplines than most other researchers. They include linguistics, philosophy, genetics, a wide knowledge of the best of English Literature, and personal observations and conclusions about how we ourselves and others reveal who we are, through the ways in which we communicate with words.

As far as I can tell, there are some therapists who think they know about the importance of the spoken word by placing too much importance on the well-known work of Noam Chomsky . Yes, his knowledge is important but it doesn’t apply to conversation analysis, so it is not applicable to psychotherapy. I am very proud of my PhD and I shall continue to take my ideas further. I live in the hope that there must be some readers who realise the importance of what I have done.



A Big Mistake

The last few weeks of my tour was like a damp squib. I made a big mistake in choosing to meet up with a younger girl I met in England after I had returned from San Diego. She was the only person I knew who had already taken a course in NLP. We got together a small group, mostly people she knew, so that we could practice NLP techniques. Such was my enthusiasm at that point to find out more about this method.

She wanted to go to America to do another course in NLP after having finished her first one in England. I agreed to go with her. One of my greatest incentives to go there was that one of my favourite American writers, John Steinbeck, who, in my opinion, is grossly undervalued by that small range of academic people who think they know better than anyone else, was born and bred there.

I wanted to see more of California and I did. Santa Cruz is only twenty-five miles from San Diego. We met in San Francisco, where we spent a couple of days in this beautiful city and then we travelled further north to Santa Cruz, where a branch of The University of California was located. We completed the second NLP course, the subject of which was to train us to teach other people the techniques. Afterwards, I hired a car and drove us both to the wonderful national park of Yosemite, where I saw the Grand Canyon and much of the fauna and flora of this extraordinarily wonderful experience of nature at its most inspiring. The colours were indescribable.

Afterwards we drove into the next state of Arizona, which brought back to me memories of cowboys and Indians films that I loved so much when I was small. The atmosphere of actually being there, was exactly as I had imagined.

So what was I complaining about? This woman I had agreed to travel with me. We had so little in common. I would have enjoyed myself much more if I had gone on my own. She showed very little interest in all the wonderful things we saw. All she wanted to talk about was the complaints she made about what was going on in her private life. She was very ignorant of every conversation I attempted to make with her. I should have known better. I had a life-times experience of not being able to find people who had the same pleasure that I enjoyed when I discovered new things about the planet and the live beings of animals including ourselves. What I cannot abide and refuse to have anything to do with that kind of people whom I call “stuck insiders”, because they are imprisoned, by their own choice, in their own boring little world.

Her presence irritated me far too much. More fool me. I should have learned this lesson many times before and I still find myself falling into the trap. When I am making new discoveries about the world, I like to soak myself in the new environment. It increases my feelings of pleasure and expands my joy in life.

I am reminded of a trip I made to Switzerland some twenty years later, with my daughter. It was a guided tour. My husband was close to death. He was dying slowly of cancer and I and my children helped me to look after him. Anyone who has been in this situation will know what a painful experience this is for those who have to watch this happening to someone they love.

I was told at his hospital that he might well go on in this state for some time to come. My heart sank. How much longer could we all stand this agony?

My husband was a very good patient. He never complained. I suggested to him that I should take Kate and myself, who were with him every day, for a short holiday. He at once agreed. My elder son lived very close by and said he would look after his father whilst we were away. Bob told me that if he should die whilst we were away, we should stay and finish our holiday. This raised a pang in both of us. Nevertheless we went, and it was a very good thing to be away from the situation at home and enjoy the beauty of the Swiss spring with all the flowers glowing in the fields.

It was a wonderful holiday and we both enjoyed the change in environment. We rang Bob up every night to have a talk with him. He wanted to hear what we had seen. He was certainly not a “stuck insider”. He ended with a few jokey words. We were then able to have a restful sleep.

All the travelling was by train and very comfortable it was. The hotel where we stayed in Vervey was run by a single family and I have never seen better. The only thorn in the flesh, which did not bother us, was some of the older people on the trip who, instead of taking in all the beauty around us, gossiped about unimportant chit-chat and noticed nothing.

Bob died a few months later in the Autumn. The holiday we had enjoyed enabled us to feel refreshed and more able to do our best for him.



New Zealand

I failed to realise that Margo and her partner had a homosexual relationship: something I had never come across before in women. I was astonished. I know that some people believe that everyone is capable of being bi-sexual, given certain conditions. I had no idea that this was the case. I believe that it is impossible for anyone to understand something of which they have had no experience. I could not imagine in my wildest dreams what it could be like to fall in love with someone of the same sex as myself. Nevertheless, as a psychotherapist, I needed to know something about all kinds of relationships. My gay book-seller enlightened me about the differences of the nature of a male homosexual relationship and a strong friendship between two “straight” men. He helped me to realise that this is something we are born with and not something that could be “cured” by psychotherapy. Now, I could at least have some idea about the differences between what are called “straight” and “gay” couples.

I have collected enough information to write a book about the nature of friendship and the nature of sexual relationships. Another book that is waiting to be written is “Lib for Women and Men”. I am disgusted by some of the ridiculous beliefs and attitudes in general that have emanated from books in the ‘sixties written by women writers of strong, badly written and prejudiced ideas.

Enough for now. Later! Margo and her friends were very kind to me and I learned a lot from them. They fed and watered me for six weeks. Then I went to Aukland in New Zealand. My daughter-in-law’s brother, Chris, is an entrepreneur and a good businessman. He has also spent many years as an air steward. He and his sister had parents who emigrated to England from Cyprus. The whole family is very hospitable and lively. I went from a rough life in the outbacks of Australia to a luxurious flat in a grand new building. I had a room and shower to myself and he cooked delicious meals for his partner and me every evening.

I was there for a week. Not only did he take me out to all the centres associated with Maori histories and the hot springs, but he also planned an itinerary for me for my second week in the South Island by ‘plane, train and bus to wherever I wanted to go. He thoughtfully provided me with some of his partner’s warm clothing as I had not realised it would be so cold, especially in the south where I took a trip by ship down two of the fiords and when I enjoyed a train journey up over the mountains on the west side of the island.

It wasn’t cold everywhere. On my journey back to the North by bus over the central plane it was warm and sunny. There were many well-kept small villages and the people were very hospitable. I also visited some of the best known cities. I particularly liked Christchurch. I was very sorry to hear recently about the earthquake there. My host had done his best to make sure that I saw most of the many beauties of both nature and towns.

I can understand why the South island of New Zealand is so popular. It has all kinds of different things to do and places to visit. Everywhere I found helpful people who took their time and were enjoying themselves. I liked it very much.

I flew back to the North island, stayed over with Chris in his flat and the next day I went to the airport to make the long journey to Texas, stopping briefly at Honolulu on the way. Once in America I made the long journey from the east to the west coast and San Francisco. I have never seen such an endless expanse of brown mountain tops. It seemed that they would never end. I thought about what I had read of the lives of the hill-billies and how easy it could be for them to get lost and cut off , by intention, from the noise and bustle of big cities and live out their lives in a primitive way.



My Trip Round the World

When I got back to Cambridge things were still much the same. I had made up my mind that I would go bankrupt or I might just be able to avoid it. In fact the latter was the case. I had three assets I could sell: my piece of land, my Kings Parade shop and my Glasgow shop. Within one year I sold two without any difficulty, but I was unable to sell the Princes Square shop.

This was a time of great trial. Bob and my children were very supportive and I kept myself busy in my Cambridge shop that was now doing very well. At the same time I was finishing my training in psychotherapy with the National College. I had several good diplomas to give me credibility. The worst time for me was when I was in bed at night. I often woke up in the small hours feeling anxiety. I made myself a cup of tea and went back to bed. I was so fed-up with this no-man’s land I was in, that I did something that gave me back my self-belief.

I went through everything I had achieved and surprised myself how creative and determined I had been. We would never have come to Cambridge if I had not taken the important step of opening my Trinity Street shop, which was a great risk. All my children had benefited from the move. They all came with us and now, they are still here and each of them established in what they wanted to do. I am very proud of them. They said that I had set them a good example in taking risks and always looking ahead with plans for what I could do if something went wrong.

I sat down and wrote a list of everything I had done and I was amazed at it all. I told myself that I had always managed to get out of difficulties because of my temperament, my fighting spirit and the vast range of knowledge and experience that I had accumulated. No-one could take that away from me.

This was important. From then on I slept much better and accepted the situation.

Within nine months I had sold my piece of land and also my Cambridge shop as a going concern and. I had a few thousand pounds left over so I did what I had always wanted to do, a trip round the world before I settled down to a new career.

Bob again said he would keep an eye on the Glasgow shop and I had found a reliable manageress to run it. I flew to Australia in June. I was sixty-two years old and very fit for my age. The plane stopped at Singapore on the way. I had enough time to get some feeling of its atmosphere.

Margo, the friend I met in San Diego, was waiting for me at Melbourne Airport in the pouring rain. In my ignorance I did not realise that June was winter to them.

Margo’s motor was designed to drive on rough roads, somewhat like a Jeep. It was dark so I did not see very much. Finally we arrived at a large house in the open countryside. Outside there were two or three fixed caravans for guests. She led me to one. She explained that I would have to leave the caravan every day to wash myself. There was no supply of water as I was accustomed to. All the water was collected from rainfall. Everyone had to take no more than three minutes for a shower.

This was a very new experience for me. I had to remember to take towels and soap. There were a few emus wandering about. One day on my way to the shower, an emu ran up to me and snatched my face-flannel out of my hand. I was terrified! Seen so closely they look enormous and they have very sharp eyes. He obviously thought it was a piece of bread. I don’t need to say that I made no attempt to get it back.

There were a few women living in the house. They were an entourage of Margo’s healers who helped her in her work. They used Reiki and other kinds of hands on, such as Seichem. I was there to help as the only one who was a hypnotist. One day she asked me if I would go out with her to visit a young man who was dying of Aids. He lived in a small house with his partner who was taking care of him. He was young, in his twenties I thought, and he looked very ill indeed. Margo introduced him to me, told him I was a hypnotist and asked him if he would like me to use it on him. Yes, he was pleased if I would.

I asked him what had been his favourite outdoors activity when he was well. He told me that what he liked best was riding a mountain bike. I asked him to describe such a trip. I listened carefully so that I could remember what he said and I used my magic camera to fix a picture in my mind. I sat beside him on the edge of his bed and I held his hand. Don’t ask me how I do it. I don’t know. But I go into a trance myself as I talk and see visions and it always seems to have a strong effect on anyone who wants to accept it. In my mind’s eye we were riding side by side on bicycles. His eyes were closed but his face was alight with pleasure. He had clearly taken it all in as though he was really there.

One of the things I like most about hypnosis and hands-on is that I get as much pleasure from it as whoever I am working with. He thanked me warmly when we left. He died a few days later. We went on several visits during the six weeks I stayed there. I heard many an interesting story about the work done by this group.

Whilst I was there I went to Perth which I loved: a beautiful city and a wonderful museum of Australian art. On the way back I stopped at Adelaide to visit a relation of Margo. He read my palm and told me I had a new career in my future. At the time I didn’t know what he meant. It was not for some years before I realised I was a writer and always had been.