Wed 1st August 2001
9 hours sleep and still tired. Should I have strong coffee this morning or not? No, not today anyway…
Morning introduction for which everyone had to be present. A bit talky but okay.
Afternoon: greeting games, running and more tactile doings – better than the morning but I am not sure I have got the feel of the place, or ECC. It seems to be almost about a sort of individuality/spirituality where the consequences of your actions/drives are by definition good. Can this be so?
Tour of the house by one of the residents. So that is where the nettles and mint are! (For years I have liked to make fresh mint or nettle ‘tea’ picking the leaves fresh from the garden).
Evening: long time in the sauna. No touch just watch. Hot and good.
Thursday 2nd Aug 2001
Up in time for morning mediation. Guided. I liked it.
Morning session: What do I want from the week? Spontaneity, affection, connection.
Did the T.H. group (I have no idea now what T. H. stood for), an interesting way to find out where I have come from, where we have all come from. Why do my life stories have sadder punch lines than everyone else’s? Or am I being more brave and honest (in telling them here in this positive place when as stories they go so much against the grain of the event, and the collective positivity)?
Afternoon: aromatherapy massage. A., a handsome rurally-minded chap with a bushy ginger goatee beard rubbed my back until I unknowingly fell asleep. Woke up with mild alarm.
Evening: Ceilidh; tried it but with two left feet and tired legs it proved not for me, a late sauna was apt though.
Friday 3rd August 2001
Up too late for the guided meditation and I would have gone into Castle Douglas on the bus but it was the wrong day for that. So to get into some sort of step I did the Tai Chi. Henry who took the class was very gentle with me and I did get a fair grasp of the theory and metaphors that it is built on.
Afternoon: Kitties Cake shop, I had not intended to go but I wanted to find a post office (and a resident did too) but it was all to my and other peoples good. I chose first the sweet that most other men chose second – now who would have thought I was a fashion plate/illustration?
Went to dinner in drag as Lady Peony.
Evening: the five modes (actually called the five rhythms) of dance – a loosener in many ways. I never thought Barry White and Ethel Merman were ever part of my universe, though much else that was played I liked. Then the sauna and cuddles with D.
Saturday 4th August 2001
Again up too late for the morning meditation, but I am getting closer!
Spent all morning in the kitchen preparing lunch, chopping and adding to the banter, such as it was, and having a whole album’s worth of Take That: I didn’t take it well though (as music) it was sugary enough to slip down easy. My found mushrooms were a real treat (I would have found them at the side of the road or some such place, after a damp day yesterday). I appear to be a countryman which I am by comparison with many here but I also know I don’t really exist on any hunter-gatherer scale of living.
Afternoon: ‘What is behind the fig leaf?’ was a workshop about non-sexual nudity, undressing others with utter respect and receiving others’ respect and affection.
Evening: I supervised at the trance dance/shamanic healing so that when they danced blind I stopped them walking into walls etc. Potentially alarming.
Later A. massaged me over a period of 2½ hours and we both fell asleep, apart. (That would have been in the bookable space). He is a singularly positive person.
Sunday 5th August 2001
A later breakfast and The Archers for the morning; thank God I was being useful building the stage set at the same time. The relative stillness of The Archers was useful.
It looked fabulous especially when it was finished off with thick black lines. (There was foot and mouth going about the countryside that year, for real, so the scene chosen was a farm set against a hill and anyone not doing the main set could paint cut out sheep and cows which were stuck on after).
Afternoon: did the second of my kitchen duties, afternoon and I did okay – I felt a bit disengaged. But it was only physical labour.
Did not go to heart circle, felt talked-out and I am sure I am not the only one.
Dinner was okay, I like the way they recycle last night’s meal.
Evening: The Cabaret. I could have done without the alcohol but A. got me in a hug and I enjoyed myself. The finale of everyone singing ‘Over the Rainbow’ was good.
Later A. took me down to the woods in the dark of night – not so good (his alcohol intake had emboldened him, but I wondered what I was meant to be doing and felt a bit lost).
Monday 6th August 2001
I could not face a workshop on narcissism – am I good or bad for that? And whilst I respect T. who ran the workshop I haven’t warmed to him. Is there a touch of the Brian Sewells about him? I am not sure.
Anyway went on the loch in the rowing boat with A., at his request I might add. But it was very good. I was surprised and I led: led in the rowing and the story telling too (I gave him a potted history of The Grateful Dead). Got back just in time for lunch.
Afternoon was spent in the kitchen chopping etc., it was all fairly grown up and lacked a certain swing. Hey ho, the meal was great though.
Afternoon heart circle was good: the ‘closing time’ feeling was well reflected.
The last ‘go round’ was a stunner, wool, talk and brevity (the wool was in a big ball, whenever one person finished speaking they would nominate the next speaker and throw the ball to them, creating in total between everybody a sort of cats cradle effect). Sauna’d and fully immersed in the cold pool. To bed 1.30am.
Tuesday 7th August 2001
Breakfast, then the final circle and then waiting for the taxis to take everyone away. Whilst I waited for the bus I was offered a lift. Eventually I settled in the park (at the edge of Castle Douglas) and on my own I waited for the coach to take me home (my coach did not leave until 6pm). I had a big weep for the connections in suspension because the circle has yet to reconvene.
Wednesday 8th August 2001
Took Oscar (my dog and part of my then magic circle at home) for a long walk around the lake and unpacked from my journey. What can I say after such an intense experience of positivity and affirmation? Hold on to it Malcolm and use it to separate yourself from the horrors of Lincolnshire (where I was born and lived, though I used the term with caution, for most of the first 28 years of my life). Use the reassurance for your own good.