Whilst I owned the shop in Glasgow I went up once a month to check out how things were going. I borrowed money from my bank to buy a new flat there. The price was very reasonable. I only had it for a short time. Kate now had two small sons. She and her husband brought them to stay with me there for a week. I shall never forget the sight of three-year-old Oliver with a blue hat on his head and a wide smile on his face climbing up all the stairs to the second floor. It was a big adventure for him. During the stay we went over to visit my great friend Alasdair in his fairy-tale house in the middle of mountains and country views. The boys were very thrilled with Scotland. I loved it too and even thought of going to live there in the land of my grandfather. But that was one of the many dreams that I came up with that never happened.
The country was on the edge of falling into one of those economic troughs that government was unable to prevent happening several times since the end of World War 2. I tried to find a buyer for my business in Glasgow but without success. But I did sell my Glasgow flat and made a small profit on it.
Before that happened, I had given up my franchise idea. Whilst I was thinking of doing some training for my future to work as a therapist. I saw an article in a Sunday newspaper about a new method called Neuro Linguistic Programming. Two American accademics, Richard Bandler and John Grinder had worked out a new way of altering lives by finding fresh ways to see, hear and feel. It is to do with changing habits. A sensible and popular motto for NLP is:
If you always do what you’ve always done then you’ll always get what you always got.
Think about it.
The fundamental principles of psychology were laid by Freud, Jung and Adler. I believe NLP is by far the most original and practical way of tackling human problems since those days. Nevertheless, NLP is a set of very useful techniques and that is all it is. Most people, more than anything else, love to be told what to do. That is why it has become so popular. It is great fun. Anyone can learn it. To try to penetrate the mysteries of any one human being and get through to him or her is another matter altogether. Very few people can do that.
Hypnosis is an important tool for NLP. My great grandfather had been a well-known hypnotist and I already knew that I, too, was born with this gift. That is the main reason why I paid money to learn this new method: that and curiosity. I wanted to see if hypnosis could be taught. After my experience in courses, conferences and watching people trying to learn it, I came to the conclusion that it is an inborn skill. It is just like everything else.
I always wanted to play the piano when I first heard the piano. I had to wait until my mother bought one when I was fourteen. I had lessons and practised every day. In three years I got up to grade six, which is quite an accomplishment, especially when I was studying for my School Certificate. My music teacher held a class for some of her keener pupils every Saturday morning. I listened to an eight year old boy playing a very simple piece. He had only been learning for two months. I realised that he had a musical gift that I would never have. I gave up once and for all.
I heard that an NLP course was being run by a Scotsman, who had been a social worker and had gone to America to be taught by the two founders. He was one of the first to teach this new method. My talented friend, Paul Brook, who designed two shops for me: the one on Kings Parade and the one in Glasgow, was intrigued when I told him about it. I had done some work with him using hypnosis and he was very impressed. He said he, too, wanted to go on the course. The venue was the Lake District in a large house used for educational purposes. We completed that course and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. This was indeed something new and we enjoyed the enthusiastic people who attended. It was especially exciting because it was the first one John McWhirter organised and he did it very well.
We liked it so much that he suggested that we go to America later in the same year where Bandler himself was leading another course in San Diego in California. My Cambridge shop was in business again after the repairs and doing very well. We were both self-employed and we could afford it.
We flew out together a few months after our first course.
I have been to several different conferences and courses and I had more fun on this one than any of the others. San Diego is famous for its interest in ships. We stayed in a splendid hotel at the edge of the sea which was full of all kinds of boats. We all had our own suites with sitting rooms, kitchens and bathrooms. The hotel price was incredibly cheap. The reason for this was that it had got into difficulties and had been taken over by receivers who were desperate to bring money in. Lucky old us!