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.



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.



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.


NLP Sixties

Bandler’s Ways

Did we enjoy the rest of the course? You bet! Bandler made sure we did in the most unorthodox way. This is how I read him. He clearly had an overview of what he was aiming for and at the same time he kept his eye open to see how we were progressing and what changes he meant to make so that we all gained something from the course. Within the first few days of the course he had grasped what kind of audience he had. He liked our group very much because it was full of the energy that arises from enthusiasm. He knew exactly which delegates were enthusiastic. He recognised that Paul and I were two of that number. In every course there is usually at least one person that no-one wants to work with, and the opposite, someome who throws their weight about. He dealt with both of them in his own way. I think he aimed to help the weak ones who lacked confidence and he slapped down the over- confident.

In every group with at least fifty members there always seem to be at least one person that no-one wants to work with.

There were two or three such people who appeared to have no idea about how to approach strangers in a pleasant way. It is very understandable that such people are rejected. Especially when we are on a learning course where we need to work in small groups for which we pay money, we automatically look for people who exude a pleasant manner.

One of these was a woman who was in no way attractive. One day when Pedro and I were having an animated talk over the breakfast table she made an attempt to join us. Pedro sent her off at once. “Don’t you see we are having a private conversation?” he said. When Bandler was instructing us in a new technique, he took aside two people who were left on their own and went out of his way to show them what to do. He gave a lot of time to the woman who interrupted us and managed to get across enough help to give her some idea of what she was supposed to be doing.

There was a man who was wandering about trying to find what group he was supposed to belong to. He was tall, attractive and quite capable of looking after himself. Bandler said sharply where did he think he was going. He then looked around and soon found his group. “You can’t get through your life with height and good looks!” he said. Bandler told us not to make notes, but I did anyway. This man asked me if I would lend him mine. I refused. I couldn’t help liking Bandler. He was perceptive, clever and very funny and he was kind to those who needed it.

Soon after I arrived, a man from Canada came up to me and said “What a bright yellow halo you have!”. No-one had said any such thing to me before. Very few people have this gift. A few days later he spoke to me again. “Half of your halo has gone black. What is troubling you?”. I told him I had a message from my husband in England that things were getting worse with my business. “But don’t worry. Enjoy yourself. I am keeping an eye open for you.” my husband told me.

I had never met anyone who could read halos before. I believed that this must be a gift some people have. The ability to see emotional states through colour. The next day he came up to me again and said “Now it is shining brightly” I am an up- and- down person. Blows hit me hard but I very soon recover. On the whole I am happy and optimistic. Sensitive people notice it, but not by seeing colours. I have always run my own life and never asked for help or advice except financial help from the bank, if I am sure enough that I can pay it back. I find this to be the best way to live. I take full responsibility, and get roughly equal quantities of good and bad luck, because I think hard about all the possible things that could go wrong.

I worked with two multi-millionaires, separately of course, when I became a psychotherapist. I told each of them they must be optimistic to have done so well. Each gave the same response. They both thought they were pessimists because they made out lists of all that might go wrong and all that might go right. He made his choice by selecting the longest of the two lists. That is what happens when you trust your own judgement and take risks. Is it worth it? Yes it is, providing you know yourself well enough. Most of us think we do but we don’t. It is very unlikely that something is going to drop out of the sky into your lap. My best advice comes from somewhere inside me. For instance, when I am writing I often find myself going down a path I hadn’t chosen. I call this inner voice “my daemon”. He is usually right. You might ask me “What sort of being is a daemon?”. That’s easy. If you take notice of the mistakes you have made and remember them so that they don’t happen again you are creating for yourself a guide you can trust.

Richard Bandler does not read halos but I think he is very good at summing up people.



Sunday in San Diego

I made one other very good friend, Pedro, a medical man from Argentina. We had breakfast and lunch together every day. We both had a natural gift for hypnosis. We shared the same interests so we never stopped talking about Spanish literature and history, philosophy and psychology. We spoke in Spanish all the time. I was pleased that, twenty years having lapsed since I left Venezuela, I had no difficulty in speaking Spanish and understanding him. I had read the news of the political problems that dogged his country. I asked him how he managed to lead his life under such circumstances and how he was affected by it. He merely shrugged his shoulders and said “Es normal”, meaning it was the same as usual.

I wish I had stayed in touch with him. We exchanged a few letters when I went back to England but we didn’t keep it up. These conversations gave both of us great pleasure. Alas, I have had very few friendships so enjoyable. We had very similar fundamental principles by which we lived. He was very tolerant, humourous and knowledgeable. We both liked watching people to see what we could find out about them. Like the Americans he could not abide poor service in restaurants. He would roar out a complaint that brought the waiter to him instantly; “I asked for my toast to be burnt! Take this away and fetch what I want at once!” One of the things that I was aware of in America was that you never saw dirty plates on the tables. The minute we had finished, the plates and cutlery were removed at once.

We could do with more of this straightforwardness in England.

On Sunday, Paul and I explored some of the pleasures of this wonderful city. We visited the zoo, the sea world, the museum of ships and a nearby village called La Jolla. We walked everywhere. Nothing was very far away. In the zoo we were astonished to see there was not one but several kiosks selling snacks in cardboard cups of enormous size. Most people seemed to have one. I had never seen so many grossly fat people in one place. At that time it was quite rare in England. It is often said that we copy what the Americans do some ten to twenty years later. Why don’t we leave the bad habits alone and focus on the good ones? One of our government’s biggest mistakes was to try to get everyone to university. The result was exactly what has happened: a severe drop in the quality of the degrees with a few exceptions of a very small number of top-quality universities in both countries.

The Sea World was entrancing. We had never seen killer whales performing tricks. Trust the Americans to go to extremes! We could hardly believe how big they were as we watched them jumping high out of the water. An incredible sight! All the animals and fishes were very well kept. After lunch we went to the village of La Jolla (pronounced La Hoya) that was close by. The shops were full of beautiful things well displayed: paintings, jewellery, glassware, clothes , furniture, everything you could think of. Everywhere there were blazes of colour.

It was a pleasure just to walk round the streets which were nearly all bordered by trees and flowers of many kinds that we had never seen before. When we walked along the road next to the sea we saw many different kinds of birds from very small to very big. The pelicans were proliferate and much bigger than I thought they were. They came very close to us, obviously looking at us to see if we would toss them a fish or two. Much the same as we feed bread to birds in parks.

We were quite tired after our long walk and made our way back to the hotel. Many of our friends were gathered around the swimming pool making the most of the sunshine to get a bit of a tan and the others were in the water moving around in a languish sort of way. Paul and I retired early to get a good night’s sleep to be prepared for our second weeks work.

What a beautiful place and how clean everywhere was!


NLP Sixties

Glorious San Diego (Richard Bandler, Reiki, NLP)

Most of the delegates arrived on Sunday so we had a chance to talk to each other. Paul and I were the only two English people. There were about sixty of us altogether. Most were American. There was a small group of South-Americans, all Brazilians who spoke English, Spanish and Portuguese and one man from Argentina. Several people came from Europe, and a few from Canada.

The very next day, the first of the course, I met an Australian. I was on my way to the large room where we would be working. I walked alone on a long, glassed-in corridor that overlooked the sea and all the boats. In the distance was a stationary lady watching me. As I drew within hearing distance she addressed me.

“Hello. I know you. You are a healer and an old friend of mine. We worked together long ago in different times. It might have been Egypt or perhaps Atlantis.”

I was dumbstruck for a few moments. “I am here as part of my training to be a psychotherapist.”

“Give me your hand” she said and she scrutinised my palm. After a short time she said “Yes, we are old friends, you have the gift.” I am a Reiki Master and I shall initiate you whilst you are here. “ She was true to her word and she put me through Reiki 1 and Reike 2 within the first ten days. It was a strange experience. I felt very emotional and my hands became burning hot.

She didn’t charge me. “I don’t take money from friends” she said. “But use your gift of healing whenever you have the chance. She was right. Back in England I used what my grandsons called my “Magic Hands”. I used it many times when the children were small and it always seemed to work. Several years later my daughter was afflicted unexpectedly with something called Bell’s Palsy. It is a kind of paralysis that distorted one side of her face. Kate had been to see her doctor who told her it would probably go of its own accord or it might not. I went straight over to see her and I used my ‘magic hands’. They heated up very quickly. Nothing happened at once but that very evening she rang to tell me that every trace had gone. She was back to normal and has remained so. I have used it on myself many times and it usually brings relief.

Margo, for that was her name, invited me to go and stay with her in Australia where she taught Reiki in her house outside Melbourne. The very next year my business finally collapsed and I went off for my trip round the world. I went to Margo first for six weeks. I’ll tell you about it later.

This was the second time in my life that a complete stranger played the role of a guardian angel to me. I am a highly sceptical being. I always want to find a logical answer. But I cannot explain either of these events but both of them came to me out of the blue and both helped me to move in another direction when I was perplexed. More of this later.

I had a splended time. Never in my whole life have I spent two weeks on a learning course with international people, all of them interesting and different, in a perfect climate. Wherever we looked we saw beautiful views: a delightful mix of man-made creations and exotic flora and fauna much of which we had never seen before. Richard Bandler is a law unto himself. It was his baby and he was full of things to teach us. He would change direction at any time so you never knew exactly what we were going to do. There was an atmosphere of good-humoured joyousness all around us. Paul and I, both unorthodox people, fitted nicely into this kind of world that we had rarely come across before if ever.

Paul and I were instantly taken up as free-living Brits. We became popular because we were the only two English ones. I dislike the term Brits and we made it clear that we preferred English. Everyone was interested in us and we were very soon adopted in different groups. Bandler arranged them, so that we could all compete with each other for what he called tournaments.

Because I spoke Spanish, the South-Americans insisted I join their group. Since I was a natural-born hypnotist they told me they would teach me how to use hypnosis in Spanish. This was great fun because I had to change most of my vowels and consonants. It hadn’t occurred to me that it was a particular language that governed the way we use hypnosis because the sounds were different. Some languages are more emotionally effective than others. It was a pity that I never found any Spanish person to practise on when I returned home. We had lots of fun.

The people in our group were mostly American business men. Their companies had sent them there to learn NLP skills which can be very useful for business. They all towered above me, were beautifully dressed in well-cut suits, interesting ties and rings with big diamonds in them. As usually happened when Americans heard us English, they kept asking me to say something. “Why do you want me to speak.?” I asked. “Oh it sounds so cultured” they said. Another man told me “If you want to make a lot of money in California when you begin your practice as a psychotherapist, everyone will want to see you. You could make a fortune with an accent like that.” They seemed to take it for granted that I was well-educated because of the way I spoke. All this happened over twenty years ago. Recently someone who had lived in America for a while told me that the attitude there to the way we talk has changed somewhat. I don’t know whether he is right or not.

I was used to going to bed early. My Brazilian friends would have none of it. “No! No! You must come with us to a night club. “ I said I must get something to eat. “That’s all right. The night clubs all serve food as well.” I had no excuse. The few night clubs I had visited in England and Paris were not at all my cup of tea. However, what they called night-clubs were not what I called them. They were delightful. Each one had a restaurant. There was a small circle, in the middle of the chairs and tables, where people could dance. There was an even smaller band with only a few musicians. Having lived in Venezuela for nearly ten years I was very familiar with them. They played very enjoyable South-American songs and the dances were South-American too. They were quite easy to learn. I loved the rhythms. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. The atmosphere was great. It also closed quite early, usually before midnight.

Well, I said to myself, if that is what their idea of night-clubs is, I like them. Why can’t we have the same sort of thing in England?

After that first night out I went with them every night. Paul didn’t go. The course was continual hard work and he was in need of his bed. Sunday was a day off. We spent the day together exploring San Diego.