Flying and Dying - (Part Four)

Flying and Dying in Synchronicity

I was sitting in the aircraft, en- route from Houston to Blighty, reading a book I had bought just before I boarded the plane, when I realized that I was not only flying over the exact locations mentioned by the author, but also at the precise moment I was reading about them!


Huston via Hartford and Maine to England

My fears about flying had receded somewhat since the sad event of the Phuket air disaster - I was after all, going home to England and not to Hartford; what I didn’t at first realize, was that my flight-path went directly from Houston diagonally to the right, toward Hartford and Maine, before turning directly right toward home.

The book “Here if you Need Me” a true story by Kate Braestrup, was immediately totally absorbing. Around ten years ago, Kate’s husband Drew, a Maine state trouper was killed by an out-of-control, oncoming driver. This tragedy caused Kate to re-examine her life and take on the future path her husband had chosen, which was to become a chaplain with the Maine Warden Service. This caused Kate to take up the studies her husband had decided to embark upon. She is now one of the first chaplains ever appointed to the Maine Warden Service.

I felt an immediate empathy with Kate’s need to care, wash and see her deceased husband right through to his cremation and to the final scattering of his ashes, by the lighthouse in Port Clyde. Then it struck me with a shock that I was reading about Port Clyde at the exact moment I was flying over it!

I had paused in my reading and had switched the video monitor screen to a map of the flightpath we were taking. Frankly up to that moment I had only a hazy idea of where Houston was (extreme left pin) and I certainly didn’t know that Hartford was on route (second pin to the right) but the real shock came when I realized that I was thinking about how I scattered Christina’s ashes along the Durham river banks and how I stripped off in front of folk (who didn’t seem to notice) and swam to the middle of the River Wear, before letting the urn sink to the bottom, at the precise moment my plane flew over Port Clyde. (third pin)

I then realized that I was doing what the spirit-ball in my prophetic dream had asked: “Have you checked your route to Hartford?”

I read the book from cover to cover throughout the flight. Kate is a Universalist Unitarian minister, with a natural view of spirituality that resonates with the North American Indian and also the English Pagan/Druid ‘Old’ religious ways. She talks of honouring the dead by lining simple graves with flowers and by building mounds of stone to both commemorate them and also to keep contact through the active process of digging, tending and building. Kate’s spirituality goes beyond the tramlines of accepted religious practice, to an instinctive understanding of “The All”.

I have seldom felt such an affinity with a writer’s beliefs. If this was ‘the prophecy’ then all my fears about my journey were mistaken. Was it just by chance that I had picked up the book at the airport shop? (I have never bought a book in an airport to read on a flight before). Was it the spirit of Kate’s husband guiding me? Was it the spirit of my mother nudging me on?.. Or was it just chance?

I think that once a person decides to ‘tune into’ the spiritual dimension, the spiritual dimension then reciprocates and begins to reach toward them. All that is then really needed is ‘acceptance’. It seems to be an active/passive process that is easily dispersed by intellectual resistance. “Want” and then “Accept” and then “Wait” seems to have been the process I have gone through and through which I still pass. I do not feel that the messages I receive should be of any great importance. It is enough that I now feel that I walk with my ancestors; that I am part of a process of Love that is passed on from generation to generation.

One thing intrigues me a little is a story near the end of the book: A young women left her dorm’ room at St. Mary’s College in Waterford Maine, planning to drive to Portland for a dental appointment and then to meet her mother for lunch…She was murdered as she crossed the campus car park. It did not escape me that the young woman’s name was Christina and that the surname of the detective who solved the murder was Love.

For me it is now like a living conversation. Events both simple and significant are offered to me, rather like in normal family life, where the stories of the day are related over dinner; for me to place any great meaning on them, would be to court sensationalism and self-importance.

It is enough that they happen and that I recognize them for what they are.

I have now returned to the US and I’m writing this from Hartford. The weather is warm and sunny, like a wonderful Summer day in England - But the next journey from England to Hartford would prove to test me to the limit…


Click on this link: Here if You Need Me

A little thought: “Being Professional is about doing the things you love, on the days you don’t feel like doing them.” - David Halberstam, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist who died in a car crash in April.

Flying and Dying (part three)

Flying and Dying (part three)

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……I awoke the following morning with the words “air disaster” ringing in my ears – I had left the TV on – a bad habit of mine. The air crash had killed 89 of the 130 persons listed onboard; the plane had skidded off the runway and had broken into two, before bursting into flame at Phuket International Airport during a landing attempt in a monsoon.



Now get this: the emotion I felt at that instant was that of relief – followed a moment later by the guilt of knowing that I had thought of myself first – before thinking of the passengers who had perished. This initial reaction was the same as the man in the story of Death (previous entry – part two) and how he blundered and stumbled back to his house, without a thought for the others he was bumping into and possibly hurting through his selfish panic.


But I was relieved as I reasoned that the air-disaster must have been the cause of my feelings of foreboding the previous night. The fact that I was due to travel back to England the next day had given the bad news a veneer of good news. I’m really sorry about this.


Is death good or bad news only when put in relationship with it’s hearer?



So that might have been the end of the story – except for an extraordinary series of linked events that happened to me during the flight home…


(to be continued in a day or so…)


And now for a favourite poem


Life is an old man carrying flowers on his head.


Young death sits in a café
smiling, a piece of money held between
his thumb and first finger


(i say “will he buy flowers” to you

and “Death is young
life wears velour trousers
life totters, life has a beard” i


say to you who are silent.- “Do you see
Life? he is there and here,
or that, or this
or nothing, or an old man 3 thirds
asleep, on his head

flowers, always crying
to nobody something about les
roses les bluets




will He buy?
Les belles bottes – oh hear
, pas cheres”)


and my love slowly answered I think so. But
I think I see someone else


there is a lady, whose name is Afterwards
she is sitting beside young death, is slender;
likes flowers


~e.e. cummings



‘till the next time



Flying and Dying ~Vivid Dreams and Premonitions (1)


Flying and Dying.

I am susceptible to vivid dreams, visions and premonitions, especially when I’m tired and stressed-out. I also have a fear of flying…

You might therefore think that I’m tempting fate with a title like “Flying and Dying”, especially as I’m currently at somewhere between 30 and 40,000 feet over central America, on my way back from Houston-upon-Hell, to the green countryside of Warwickshire - and to my favourite oak tree. And even if the flight arrives safely, will I be extinguished in the coach taking me from Gatwick to Heathrow? And even if I reach the long-term car park and actually find my car, will I perish on the motorway? And upon arriving home, will I die of a heart attack brought on by all the worry about dying?


So why all this speculation about death?





Well, the night before last, I had a vivid dream, which woke me in the wee small hours and kept me from returning to peaceful slumber for a long while…

David and I were standing in a dimly lit octagonal-shaped room; on the floor was a white ball that kept rolling about and changing direction of its own accord. I remember feeling excited and ‘knowing’ that a spirit presence was moving the ball. David then remarked that he could see the shape of a person start to materialize. I looked and I could make out a dim smoky outline. I then recall approaching the ball and picking it up and finding it had an internal energy, like a gyroscope that resists a change of direction, or a bit like the plastic hamster exercise ball that Polo my pet hamster used to love whizzing around the house in and which my mam, in her last days, used to rescue from the deep groove leading into the cupboard below the stairs, where it used to get trapped…. suddenly David and I were standing at Victoria Station in London and the American actors and performers were all there with us. I was delighted to show them how the ball moved by itself when I put it down and they all agreed that it was proof that a spirit or some supernatural force was moving the sphere. When I picked it up however, it changed into a face - a sad face. “Have you checked your flight to Dartford” was all it said.

Life has been very hectic the last few days and I have been gradually sleeping and eating less as my work-pace and stress levels have risen. Mystic and psychic people over the ages have functioned at a higher sensitivity when their bodies and minds are pushed beyond normal limits, when they find themselves in extreme situations. I find my developing abilities increase substantially under extreme ‘load’ – my various neuroses also increase however, together with what seem to be hallucinations – so I am always careful to make and place interpretations on my dreams and visions, later when I am rested.

The next episode follows in around 24 hours…..(I’ve just got to catch up on sleep as I’m going to King’s Lynn near Norwich tomorrow)…and involves a tight weave of co-incidental and highly improbably events that point firmly to the existence of pre-ordination.



It’s good to be home

(if only for a few days)


(photos by soulMerlin)

Sunday 9th September ~ Houston Vanilla

Houston Vanilla



Around five weeks ago, Shirley, a spiritualist minister at our church, took me to one side and predicted that I would ‘see’ a North American Indian during my US travels. “…but only you will see…other people will not notice” she said finally.

For Japanese




Now the memory of that conversation has stayed with me since that time. I certainly didn’t see one during my stay in New York – but then I didn’t expect to see one in the frothy metropolis of Times Square. Nevertheless I know enough to expect the unexpected and think and hope that have learnt enough to never second-guess life, so I tucked the prediction away in a corner of my mind, like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle, promising not to force it into the developing picture of my American travels, unless I found a space into which it fitted…



…The sky clicks, like a jigsaw piece, into the angular Houston architecture. At first I found it alienating and memories of England and especially my home town of Durham City came crowding in, producing the all-too familiar knot of homesickness that I always feel low in my throat when I am in unfamiliar surroundings.





Are people the picture within a frame of their environment? I have always thought that the frame that surrounded me in my growing years, has helped to form and produce the individual that I am. The frame of my city; the frame of my friends and the frame of my parents have all contributed to the entity that is now ‘me’. Opening my hotel curtains on my first morning revealed a frame into which I thought I did not fit and which, almost at once, brought on the familiar pangs in my gullet…



…not only that, but the humidity was such that it seemed difficult to draw oxygen from the hot air – perhaps one day in the far future, Housteners will develop gills to augment their lungs - People walk slowly in Houston to avoid evaporating.





After a space-shuttle descent, by lift, from my room on the 26th floor, I set out into the futuristic glass, concrete and metal world. Maybe because I needed to pull myself into focus, I searched out the centre of town, only to discover no real axis but several; some of them I know I have yet to identify.

My first walk down the angular streets soon became intimidating; the vertical buildings join the sidewalk at a set-square angle. I progressed like an ant, along the grid-formed streets; right-turn, left-turn…lost…



…then I found Main Street.

Main Street looks like all the other rectangular passageways, except for the local general-store. I gratefully retreated into a semi-shoddy conglomerate of £store cheapness, KFC chicken (and sausage-on-a-stick North-East English ‘Chippy-Dinge’) The higgledy-piggledy contents of nylon socks, shampoo, batteries, unfamiliar tobacco, sweatshirt, children’s games, and general-store paraphernalia rested my eyes from the hospital corridor sidewalks. After browsing for a while, I bought a ham sandwich and a packet of Bugler tobacco (!) And set out again into Houston’s geometric streets.



Passing the Dolphin Fountains on Main I felt the first spats of the storm that was about to lash space-town. At first I thought I had caught spray from the leaping jets, but the drops of water that spoilt my first half-rolled cigarette, caused me to look up.



The sky had become a vanilla and ice-cream soda float, pouring into the spaces between the angular buildings, where dimensions of vertical and horizontal became indistinguishable, lurid and blurred in the down-pour that hit like a forearm smash and drenched me in a steaming melting-pot of warm rain.



At that moment I was baptised into the raw spirit of Houston, where the peach like vulnerability of flesh is at mercy from its own artificial creation; where heritage is ripped down for the new and history dies at the end of the present moment.



Houston is the Savage Rose.

Sunday 2nd September ~ ‘Twas the Night before Houston

‘Twas the Night before Houston…



Ninth Avenue from the Top of the Hudson Hotel

…and I was lying on a recliner, right on the top of the Hudson Hotel in New York. It had been the last day of rehearsals for the “Whistle” company, before we all move to Houston tomorrow.


Click above for Japanese translation

You will appreciate that I cannot “blog” about what goes on in rehearsals; to do that would be the equivalent of a doctor, publishing details of your private visit – but what I feel I can say, is that this is one of the most special companies I have worked with, during my rather long career (42yrs). Perhaps one day, when I have long retired from this strange volatile profession, I will include in my theatrical reminiscences, stories of the moments that the vulnerable people I work with have encountered. We have many young members in our company; the youngest is around 8 yrs of age and the oldest member has reached the bridge of the half-century, but they all share the innocence of early childhood – an innocence and openness that is essential, in my opinion, for every performer.

Children remembered

But only a few

And down they forgot

As up they grew…

ee. cummings

All I feel I can say is that yesterdays final “run-through” before we move to Houston “we have a problem” (‘course we don’t – it’s just a phrase that makes people smile), astounded me. Frankly I thought it was Fantastic.

There was one moment, which was rather spiritual. Everything was prepared and so I decided to do something that I have never done before the production is on the stage in the technical rehearsals – I decided to set the final curtain-calls (the bows). Suddenly my mind went blank and I seemed to be stopped by an unseen hand. “Sorry I can’t do it” I said. Many company members then reminded me about the theatre superstition of planning curtain-calls in the rehearsal room. They and I felt it was a good omen – or “Spooky” as one company member remarked…

After the company left to prepare their private lives for the move and also for the forthcoming tour of the mid-west, I sat in the empty rehearsal room and felt the echo of the vibrations of the last two weeks; emotions do leave an imprint after the ‘emotioners’ have gone. To me it’s like a silent buzz; a sort of vibrating static that makes the air slightly viscous and treacly-fluid – I love it.

Finally leaving the Chelsea studios on W26th street (between 6th and 7th avenues, leading to Broadway) I experienced the usual ‘come-down’ to Normality (whatever that is) and hailed a yellow cab to the Hudson Hotel…

In the evening I visited “Whims” the fantastic restaurant that David and I found a couple of weeks ago and had my final New York meal. It was delicious.



Five Spiced Duck Breast

With fingerling potatoes

Sautéed Bok choy

And a Red Wine Raspberry Reduction.

Have you ever had a meal which is so delicious that you just have to go so slowly and savour each little taste?

The meal was served by a bright attractive and very friendly waitress called Rachael Lee. Rachael hailes from Oklahoma and we chatted about my impending move to Houston. Americans really know about good service and Rachael is no exception. I wish her well with her future and with her future plans, whatever they may be. Thanks Rach’

Sunday Morning…

I’m sitting in my hotel room, finishing this short entry, before taking a taxi to the airport in a couple of hours…

‘till the next time

(from Houston!)


I apologise for the lack of definition in recent photos. I forgot to pack my camera when I left for the States, so therefore all photos are from my camera-phone.(I’m actually a little surprised at how good they are)

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