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Showing posts from January, 2020

My Father and the Pathfinders

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Updated version of this story
My father is very British. My grandmother disowned me as a teenager due to my waywardness, my grandfather was very loyal to me but was not my biological grandfather. My grandmother was a stern and hard woman, well regarded in the community, a magistrate.

My Father was sent to boys boarding school from a fairly young age, Stowe. That makes him a Stoic by tradition. He enjoyed it, despite breaking his back whilst he was there. He was disowned by his family for marrying a poor Jewish girl, daughter of an academic and well below his station. They were reconciled.

My real Grandfather died when my father was young. He was called Mr Curry and my Father knew very little about him until after his mother died and he found some old family papers through which he tracked down many cousins and other relatives he'd never known.

His father was a fighter pilot in the second world war, in the pathfinder squadron. In the early parts of the war the average British bomb …

Tales From the Past: Pungent Effulgent, The Serbian and Nightmare on Watling Street

Pungent Effulgent We've just passed the thirty year anniversary of the release of Pungent Effulgent by Ozric Tentacles. It's epic.
I've seen Ozric Tentacles live twice, several years apart and both times on their "last ever" tour. Once in Cambridge and once in Northampton.
On the Northampton occasion I sneaked out of the commune, against strict orders and with no money to go and see them. My "shepherd", the one to whom I was accountable, demanded I didn't go with a command "as if from the Lord". I told him I didn't see it like that and cadged a lift with one of the brightly coloured minibuses taking volunteers from the farm to the various town commune houses.
A lovely woman who liked me bought me the ticket. After the show I told her I wouldn't go out with her (I had already told her that!) and had to find a different lift back home to the commune.
The first occasion, Cambridge about 1994, was at the Corn Exchange, when I was at u…

The Senior Apostolic Leader of the Cult

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I'm a cult survivor. I joined the Jesus Army in 1996 when homeless. I lived in the "all things in common" communes until 2006. There are more stories and information on the Jesus Army Survivors blog.

See also: Crimes of the Cult
I remember what in retrospect is an even odder occasion than what already seemed like an odd thing at the time.

I no longer lived with the cult but had retained my association with them, and some sincerely held faith, whilst being a programmer on the side.

Whilst living with them, seven years single and three years as a married man, I had reached the lowest echelons of male leadership as a Leading Serving Brother. An LSB. Mr Stanton was fond of acronyms. And he was in charge of everything.

This story is from some time after Mr Stanton was dead. Someone else was in charge. We had, what later turned out to be the very last of the "leaders meetings", an all male affair and a tradition of the cult stretching back beyond my two decades of ass…

Crimes of the Cult

Content warnings: mentions of child abuse

I'm a cult survivor. I joined the Jesus Army in 1996 when homeless. I lived in the "all things in common" communes until 2006. There are more stories and information on the Jesus Army Survivors blog.

See also: The Senior Apostolic Leader of the Cult

There was a man in the cult who it later turned out was a paedophile who abused some of the children brought up in the cult. We watched his personality crumble until he became a kind of shambling tramp. And then he was arrested for the abuse, which kind of explained the change.

I knew him from my early days in the cult. When I first arrived, homeless and broken, I was set to work in the chicken huts collecting eggs from the thousands of free range chickens at the farm. All the "guests" were put to labour on the farm or the cult businesses. I went on to work for nearly ten years at a Builder's Merchant owned by the cult. I learned a great deal in that time and made many fr…

Dealing with it

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The only time that I've been involved in drug dealing it was with the Director of Communications for the Church of Scotland. Let's call him John to protect the guilty. We were both at Corpus Christi college, Cambridge university. I was doing a law degree and going mad, he was doing a sociology degree (widely considered to be a drinking degree) and getting laid a lot. We both smoked a lot of weed. He was into out of body experiences and history. I was fairly convinced that whatever career path he wandered down "diabolical genius" was the job title he would end up with. I wasn't too far wrong as it turned out.

One of his acquaintances had come into "quite a lot of weed" and we were both aspiring entrepreneurs and fed up of paying retail price for weed.

The standard unit for buying "not small" quantities of weed was still a nine-bar, nine ounces imperial units. This was about 1994 or thereabouts. A nine-bar usually referred to a nine ounce slab …

Love is a Superpower

For most people, adults and children alike, something extraordinary happens when we feel very loved. The defences drop, the eyes go clear and bright, a light turns on. And beauty shines.

That's the best sight in the world. The most remarkable feat of nature. Natural goodness.

Do you know how to tell how to love people? You listen to them. Do you know when most people will feel loved? When you listen to them.

Listening to people to work out what makes them feel loved, and proving you've listened and seeing if you're right, and watching people open up and grow. That's the most fulfilling thing I know to do. Given the choice that's how I'd spend my days.

For myself, and others I know like most cats, my love language is respect. I observe in myself that when I'm treated with respect I feel loved and that makes me grateful. So I try to do the same for others

My favourite reason that love is a superpower. When you love people it's hard for them not to open t…

A Travel Tip for Visiting New Cities

Here's one of my travel tips for visiting new cities. Mostly an excuse to tell a story really. Part of my ongoing auto-hagiography.

When I was twenty I was homeless for about a year. I slept in squats, cars, hostels, night shelters, shop doorways, car parks and a whole bunch of other places. The concrete multi-storey car park, woken up at 6am by a security guard every morning and with cardboard for a mattress if we were lucky, was the worst. The cold of the concrete seeped right into my bones and I swear some still resides there in a numb part of my leg.

I was involved with a charity working with the homeless for about eight or nine years, six of them employed part time doing service development and community liaison. The cult I was part of had a particular "ministry" of serving the homeless and vulnerable. During the ten years I'd lived in the cult commune at "The Farm" we'd had homeless people, ex homeless people, and about to be homeless people with…

The Occult

When I was mad in Cambridge, all those years ago, I visited a synagogue. I'd never been in a synagogue before. I have a strange relationship with my Jewish heritage, somewhat distant, having grown up as a Christian. My mother's parents weren't religious, the holocaust having killed any semblance of faith, but her father still regarded it as something of a betrayal as he felt that Hitler had done what he'd done to the Jews in the name of Christianity.

Anyway, that's a part of the story I didn't really mean to tell. It had fascinated me, all part of my descent into madness, that the mystical foundation of much of what was called "the occult", at least by the occultists I admired, came out of Jewish mysticism.

The tree of life, numerology and the Hebrew alphabet hold, in these systems of thinking, some of the most powerful expressions of the deepest secrets of the nature of reality. These elements come from the Kabbalah, not something I know much about,…

Paradise Mill

I remember not long having started secondary school, Tytherington High School, but before we moved from Macclesfield to Harpenden for my Dad's new job when I was 14.

I was probably about ten or eleven. We lived on Tytherington Park Road, a leafy suburb of the northern industrial town Macclesfield. Once the termination of the international silk trade. Silk caravans ended in Macclesfield. Last I knew there was still one working silk mill in Macclesfield; Paradise Mill.

Nearby were saltmines, once worked by the Romans about a couple of millenia ago. Lion Salt Works still operated then, with huge evaporation pans for the rock salt dug up there.

I knew a girl. A lovely young lady, she was as shy as I but very pretty and went to the same church as we did. I think we may have played together on occasion. Her mother died and her father remarried, almost "suspiciously quickly" was the general consensus. I don't think I saw her very much after that.

She inspired strange feeli…

Accidental Millionaire

An acquaintance of mine once won a million pounds on the lottery. He was sitting on the toilet doing the scratchcard when he discovered. It was January. He was a nice chap, I'd met him in the cult. Him and his mrs and kid. He spent quite a lot on trainers and watches, and a great deal more than that on mdma and cocaine. He was paying full whack, retail, on the mandy and charlie too. By the end of the year the money was gone but he still owned his house, and he'd had a great year.

He hired a limo for us all to go to a rave in Manchester or Liverpool or somewhere. He had infinite mandy. I'd done more than a gram by the end of the night and wasn't really functioning. His brother and his girlfriend both kissed other people and had a furious fight on the way back. She said her love bite was from a girl so it didn't count. Turned out it wasn't from a girl anyway. Scott and I went on one of those catapult ball things which was reckless and astonishing. I saw strange …

Sheol: A Little Poem on the Christian Concept of Hell

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A little poem on the Christian concept of hell. There is no word "hell" in New Testament Greek. The words translated as hell in the New Testament are either Hades (the underworld and realm of the dead), called Sheol in Hebrew, or Gehenna. In the Talmud [1] Sheol and Gehenna are the same place. 
Gehenna, The Valley of the Children of Hinnom, is where the Kings of Judah are said to have sacrificed their own to children to the god Moloch the Blind who is industry and which the prophet Jeremiah cursed. No hell, it's just a place.
A place where bad things happened a long time ago.
Gehenna, that's what he said.
All those years ago.
Not hell.
No hell but what they make.  And we are the unmakers, the cocreators, the divinely mad.
Holy Fools.
So when Jesus warns their bodes will be thrown in Gehenna and the worms will eat them, he wasn't necessarily talking about hell. He could have been prophesying the revolution that happened after his death, in 70AD, where the bodies of many…