Friday, 29 June 2012

ANOTHER DAY------ ANOTHER and Another .....

When nothing works ---  do nothing.

I broke into smile. For this last week- and longer - I've been hitting a brick wall - smashing into the buffers - everything that could go wrong, went wrong. My creativity stifled and the universe is not co-operating. I want to get on and DO, but everywhere I turn I'm met with non-cooperation and stupid, automated, non-human systems, or if there's an actual human lurking behind the system, they're behaving like a stupid automaton just to wind me up. I want to do things with my website - make changes, bring it unto date, add some new art and take away some of the older stuff;

I want to revise my book, Dreaming Worlds Awake, on Lulu - improve the colour quality and proportions of the cover design plus add the dollar price to the UK price. Also I want to include a new illustration to the interior and a new poem. But after going through all the steps, successfully uploading all the revised content and improved cover, when I went in to actually buy a couple of review copies I discover that Lulu have somehow upped my cover price by quite some. It's now priced something like $2.50 higher than the price on my cover -- the price which I entered as I went through the revision procedure -  and the figure which it had been priced at before, the UK £ price, is nowhere to be seen.

The whole reason I decided to give Lulu a try and go Self-Publishing, was so that I could be solely in charge of the procedure. It would give me the freedom as an artist to make these new additions and improvements as and when I felt prompted by my creative urge to do so. And I have to say, until now, I have been very pleased with my Lulu experience. But something has happened. I didn't ask for this hike in cover price - I don't want it. It doesn't match the price stated on the back cover. If someone buys it and sees the cover price they'll wonder who's ripping them off --- and it isn't me.

Is this happening to anyone else? No-one but me seems to have noticed. Or if they have no-one has brought it up on Lulu's system. It's a system where you don't get answers easily. You're given all those FAQs to look at, and a list of virtual 'experts' who, it turns out, shower you with a load more of other poor  b******s unsatisfactorily answered questions, plus an email help, which again no-one ever responds to -- or was that just my experience?

I went back through the 'revision' process and tried again -- and again - to get it to accept the dollar price I wanted. Made sure I'd entered UK and not US as my country of residence and entered my UK cover price as priority. Still nothing changed. Then eventually I managed to do an online chat in which I was told that because production costs in the US are higher than in England, that would probably account for the hike in price. YET, and tell me if I'm wrong -- when my revised copy arrived, it seems to have been printed and despatched from within the UK. Am I being ripped off? It feels like it, and if Lulu's policy has changed, no-one told me. I can't get through this barrier and I can't get any sensible information.

This is just one of the barriers I've crashed into these last few days. My webpage inaccessibility is another. My Amazon Author page another. And there are others I won't go into (including a hellish bout of cramp, my whole body seizing up.)

All of this happening down at the physical level, the real-life in-the-body everyday existence level. But this is not the whole story. This is not the whole ME. My whole reason and purpose -- call it what you will - in living and writing and creating art, is a spiritual one. Whenever I hit brick walls I talk to my 'friends in higher places'. Not only when I crash and dive, of course; I talk to them every day come whatever. I have many such friends. A large family of guides, helpers, healers and advisers  on 'the other side'.  Some of them I have known in this lifetime, others from lifetimes in the past, as well as my Soul-Self, Divine Self. One of these friends, ascended master Kuthumi, last night reminded me of something he'd told me months ago. ' Whenever you're feeling stuck and unable to move forward, things are not always as they seem. A lot is going on beneath the surface. Let go the feeling that your not doing enough and can't move on. It's time for an energetic Time Out with your self. Rest and recuperate, let go.'

And this is why I smiled this morning. I opened a book lying beside my computer, 'Duck Soup for the Soul' by Celestial comedian, Swami Beyondanander who I'd met staring on stage at a Mind and Consciousness conference in Albuquerque some years ago. Top of the page it said, When Nothing Works --- Do Nothing. I'd suddenly seen the double meaning. Nothing Works!

(By the way if anyone is interested in buying my book(s) at cover price plus P&P, they can still be got from my website  or email me at )

Sunday, 10 June 2012


This time I was in Rome - or this is where it started. Back in about 1958/9 after leaving the RCA, (Royal College of Art) I'd applied for a prestigious scholarship, The Prix de Rome. And I'd been accepted as one of 12 post grad. art students and given 6 months to complete a life-sized sculpture with the title, Youth. Hiring a furniture van was the only way to get the finished work to the venue in South Kensington, (Imperial College) where it was to be exhibited and judged. Nail-biting days went by until we were informed who had won. Unlike the several scholarships available to students from the Painting School, there was only one prize for sculpture, and I was bitterly disappointed to find I'd been placed 2nd. (I'll make this short and to the point, but I'd been told this by my tutor who'd been on the judging committee. I'd tied for 1st place with a student from the Salde School of Fine Art, and my tutor had tried his best, arguing for me, but the R.C. had won the year before and the view of the committee was that it was the Slade's turn this year.)

Eventually, though, I'd travelled to Rome with Rose, my friend from the painting school who'd been given an Abbey Major (or Minor, can't remember, anyway a scholarship for one year.) She was later to marry the much older-than-herself, well established painter Roger Hilton. Rose, a fine artist, lived for years in his shadow, although teaching herself at Falmouth College of Art in Cornwall. Roger is now dead and Rose has now blossomed forth in her own right.

Back then and long before Roger came on the scene, she and I shared a flat for some time, right by the Spanish Steps. We lived there together until September when her studio in the British School at Rome became vacant, at which point I would find another flat for myself. I would then try to get a part-time job, and continue with my studies. In the meantime, in what was left of the summer, we decided to adventure, taking several trips hitch-hiking around southern Italy. At a youth hostel in Sorrento, we were picked up by 2 Italian male students from Naples university and asked out for a whole day. They planned to hire a rowing boat and take us down the coast, stopping off mid-day at a beach restaurant, where they would buy us a meal and continue down along the coast. There was something special they wanted to show us.

Sorrento was near Capri, noted for its Blue Grotto, but these two could show us something better and what's more it wouldn't cost us a lira! After leaving the pleasant stretch of beach where we'd stopped for a slap-up lunch, far more luxurious then we could have afford of ourselves, we set off once more rowing southwards along the coast line. This fine, sandy bay left behind, we were soon travelling beneath a stretch of towering, high, very high cliffs with no further landing places or beaches in sight. On and on we went. Beautiful day, blue as blue sea, but where were they taking us? Rock-face, after forbidding rock-face reared up, and no let up. Not a soul in sight. Were we mad to trust them? Oh, my God! If they had something untoward in mind, even if we jumped over board and made a swim for it, there wouldn't be a snowball in Hell's chance of escape.

They stopped rowing. "This is it."

Did they say that, or did we think it out loud? We two girls smiled at each other uneasily. They shipped the oars. "Now what?"

"This is the place,' they said. "our secret. You can both swim, can't you?" they asked. "Just follow us. Swim until you see us disappear, and then dive down. Follow our legs, keep close. OK?"

They dived in -- we followed suit. Swimming fast towards the towering cliff before us, panting hard we tried to keep up. The boys disappeared from sight, and we gulped a big breath and dived down after them. A trail of bubbles in the bluest of blue water, and two pairs of thrashing feet. Breath running out, feet in front getting fainter as they seemed to dissolve into an indigo underwater blur. Follow, follow. Then....

I can see it now. Feel it, sense it. It all comes alive. We're surrounded by the most luminous, ethereal blue. An underwater heaven. A cavern filled with great Breath of sighing, singing Light, and we gulped it, filling our lungs with something indescribably Celestial. We had been taken into a secret Blue Grotto. Our smiling faces a luminous cerulean blue; blue mermaid hair streaming out; we'd become transparent, more areal than solid flesh. We lifted our arms into the air, spread wide out fingers in a gesture of pure rapture.

Dive in in Faith and Trust. Many years later, writing the Fish tale/tail at the end of my book, Dreaming Worlds Awake, the same thing was said to me by the ascended master, Kuthumi."Dive into your creativity. Dive even deeper. Like the fish being released into unknown waters - keep moving because you know your surrounds intimately even though you have never been in them before. There are just more resources and more to explore. The gates are open and you are stepping through. Namaste."

Friday, 8 June 2012


STILL WITH THE RED, WHITE AND BLUE Theme, of this week's Jubilee, there was a discussion on BBC radio 4 a couple of days ago about our national anthem and should we pack it off to the knackers yard and look for a more appropriate, up-to-date one. One suggestion was that people attending another of our nation institutions went wild every year at the last day of the PROMS, frantically waving union jacks and singing en mass the words of Rule Britannia. Hardly less arcane and Imperial than God Save, I'd have thought. But moderated slightly when we learn the original words were Britannia rule the waves, a maxim, not Britannia rules, an assertion. In spite of its doubtful and un Politically Correct words the gathered multitude, it seems, partakes with gusto in its much catchy, festive tune.  Away with the Old, and on with the er.. slightly less Old?
Yet my mind went back...

Some years ago I went to a concert put on by the Bath Natural Theatre Co. led by the eccentrically talented, cross-dressng Ralph Oswick. We were issued at the door with small Union Jacks, and guessed we were in for a good time. A trio of musicians struck up the famous rollicking overture theme from William Tell -  and we were off....  joining in with whatever make-believe instruments we could fashion. Dum-de-dum-de-drum, drum, drum. The climactic end to the evening was the waving of flags and the audience singing tops of voices, 'Rule Britannia, Britannia Waives the Rules, Britons never, never, never shall be Fools.'

Well, that's good enough for me. I'll vote for that.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


Since my last post the Queen's Jubilee has come and gone. I also went and came back again. A few days away for a well deserver break, we found a cottage in the White Peak of Derbyshire. Every village and small town, every front garden, pub, shop front and street we encountered was decked out with red, white and blue bunting. 20,000 miles of bunting sold, so they say. 

Cottage with yours truly peeping out of it.
And a peep at Wolfsdale down deep in the dale with sheep grazing safely beside the River Dove.

Then home again, I watched the flotilla of thousands of boats sailing down the Thames in London, everyone, including Her Maj braving the cold, wind and pouring rain. Then on TV again I saw the last hour or so of that concert in the Mall and gasped with genuine amazed pleasure to see the electronic lazier show transforming Buck Palace into a mundane, but hilariously audacious block of red brick Council flats where every so often virtual windows opened to reveal parties of virtual London revellers dancing and singing inside. What Fun! Truly, this was the best street party I've ever virtually been present at. Tech magic at it best ever yet. And even our dear 'monarch in waiting,' Charles 111, managed to out-do the comics on stage with a bit of warm, wry humour of his own. Almost makes one proud to be British. Anyway - enough of that....

Regretfully, no red, white or blue to illustrate any of the above. It simply didn't occur to me to take a photo of the decked-out streets. Altho' possibly we shall never see their likes quite like it again. Or so they say. England is changing, or has changed irrevocably. In the South, in London, certainly - even here in Conservative Bath I only saw one house with bunting -- but maybe I don't look hard enough. The rural villages up in the north midlands though were an eye-opener. Derbyshire: my own back yard. Though Sheffield born and bred, my city has its toes well and truly in Derbyshire, and in my youth and early 20s as an art student, I spent nearly every week-end climbing, walking and sometimes caving in Derbyshire. The Derbyshire edges in the Black Peak; Froggatt Edge, Burbage, Curbar, left by the receding Ice Age glaciers are of Mill Sone Grit and more appropriately linked with gritty steely Sheffield. These were the nursery edges we practiced on as a warm-up to the mountains of North Wales. Shorter in height, yet, in places, just as demanding in severity of challenge.

Memory. How far to trust it. The mention of caving triggered an urge to recapture one of the admittedly few caving experiences of my life. If I told you it took place in the Giant's Hole there's a good chance that was it. But I know I did some of my underworld delving in other Derbyshire caves - so it could have taken place elsewhere. But let's say Giant's Hole (or as it was known in times less proper, Giant's Arse.) 

Imagine if you will a lot of Black. I don't have a picture to illustrate blackness, but I can safely leave it to you I think to conjure up. We've entered at the mouth of the cave and at this moment it is still normal daylight - but we've come prepared. Prepared as far as amateurs in those far off days of my youth could be. Several other more professional groups were assembled at the cave mouth, but these were clad in proper boots, waterproofs and helmets with safety lamps attached. These people called themselves, Speleologists, and they went in first. I'd never been on such an expedition, so the two male companions who'd tried this cave out before, kind of updated us on what we were in for. At some point, they told us, after following the underground stream for some way, travelling downwards all the time, yet still able to stand upright, the tunnel would begin to narrow and we would be faced with a huge rock-face blocking our way. Standing there in our comparatively primitive gear; basic boots, cut off father's raincoats as anorak, clutching the candles and matches we'd brought with us to light our progress, we sized up then next step. Obviously we weren't meant to turn round and go back. The pros., the speleologists by this time well ahead, had gone under the rock, and we must follow. Their waterproof head lights had shown them the way, but candlelight was all we had, and these life-saving essentials must now be protected. 

We'd equipped ourselves with metal Oxo tins with tight fitting lids. Our candles, now must be extinguished, blown out and placed with our box or matches in the Oxo tin and tightly closed.  Then in utter darkness we must go down into the water, feeling our way with our hands, sensing with our feet the river bed, and prepare to dive under the rock-face which had seemed to block the passage. A deep breath -- and dive in faith and trust, until we bobbed up again on the other side, ready to continue further along the passage of our adventure.

Since asking you to imagine a lot of black at the beginning, you may be wondering why I've wandered off - and maybe left you and blackness hanging in the air. Candlelight may not be the last word in illumination, but it's not exactly dead of night BLACK. But stick with me. More to come. The passage continues and so did ours. I can't quite remember if among our equipment items I mentioned climbing ropes, but we must have had them with us, for the next stretch of the journey underground necessitated a bit of rock climbing. Leaving the river/stream behind or below, we began to climb up the sides of the underground cave system and onto a narrow ledge, from which a new passage opened onwards. More exploration lay ahead, but soon we began to notice a certain flickering of the light. Checking our supplies, we realised that we were almost out of candles. The boys, determined to carry on as far as possible suggested that we two girls sat it out while they forged on further. Only this meant taking the candles with them. 

Promising not to be too long, and that they'd tell us all about their discoveries on return, we agreed to wait in the dark. Off they went and we sat tight on the very narrow ledge while the light from the boy's candles grew ever fainter. With their disappearance, light and sounds of crawling menfolk fading and dwindling into nothing, the rock-face pressure at our backs and our narrow seat seeming to grow skimpier and less secure by the minute, blackness descended. A blackness like no other I have experienced. Outer blackness even at dead of night and sans moon or stars had never been like this. This was ABSOLUTE.  Absolute black. 

A long time passed; our feet dangling into space, a strange sensation overtook us; we could no longer tell up from down, right from left. Time lost its meaning too in this extraordinary world of sensory deprivation, similar I believe to that experienced by trainee astronaughts before they're allowed to fly weightless into space for the first time. The boys had their experience; we had ours. A bonding of sorts. Two girls on a ledge holding hands, exchanging thoughts, seeing it though together. Rite of Passage?