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Impressions by Nick Dane

This piece was written by Nick Dane shortly before his untimely death in 2010. He had returned home from an Edward Carpenter week entitled The Intimacy of Being at Laurieston Hall, and his reminiscences of the week capture some feelings which many men in the community will recognise.

The lawn at Laurieston Hall

I am back home. I have returned and determined to prevent the well of loneliness overtaking me, as can happen after these events. This is, has been, my fifth year in a row that I have been to Laurieston. I remember saying in the initial Heart Circle that I find Laurieston inspiring. This is still the case. The big difference is, this time the inspiration has happened after the event.

I love the relaxed unjudgemental atmosphere of the place. I enjoy the fires, saunas, the walks (not that I did many this year due to my health). I always learn new and interesting things from weeks at Laurieston.

I missed the morning talks and chanting regards to chakras and shamans as well as spirituality, although I was able to make the afternoon sessions and sit and talk about what being gay means. And the talks were always interesting. The evening massage session and the S&M session were very good in very different ways. One slightly more serious than the other!

And of course the people. The newcomers, those you have not seen for a few years, those you have met the previous year, and those you met the previous month. All there. And the meeting on the Saturday, the listening that evening then gradually during the week getting to know them as time went on.  The varied and various types of men, the middle-classes, the working classes, the middle classes done bad (me myself and I) and all points in between! Listening to all types of life experiences is forever fascinating. The courage people have always amazes me.

Nick at a cabaret

I am in my favourite bar in Manchester as I write this down on my ever faithful dependable notebook (prior to writing it down on my laptop). I had a wonderful journey home sitting in a Smart Car with Dr Timotee - this year there were two Timothys, one was a nurse and the other a doctor, so you can guess the nick-names they were rewarded with! The journey is a round circle that one travels along surrounded by ancient hills. The view spectacular, the horizons amazing. I soon forgot about my leg cramp. We played cool and groovy music. We chatted about the week, the post heart circle and the post base group talk devoid of names but thoughts and opinions.

What I  have realised was that I wanted to explore the elsewheres. I did that at Grasmere and Manorbier as well, and there are others I would like to visit. I have painted and drawn Laurieston, I have photographed Laurieston. I have written poems about Laurie, as it sounds the place feels like a second home to me. I know most of the staff, and I am always so well looked after when I have my turns. But I will give myself (and the staff!) a break for a year and return seeing the place with fresh eyes again.

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