Drafted at eighteen to service under Menengai, a mountain with a flat wooded peak and bare sides just like the haircut they gave us, overlooking the Kenya Regiment Depot outside Nakuru, I got my first taste of army life. Six months tough training and how we grew to hate that hill. Mostly guys from the farms around the Highlands, a few city slickers from Nairobi, one bearded artist from the UK – well he lost that on Day 1, and then into the bush and up the Aberdares.
And as we marched we sang the songs that soldiers sing and it wasn’t long before I met Sarie Marais. A bunch of Afrikaaner boys were leading the march the day I first heard the song that popped back into my head last Sunday. I didn’t understand the words – still don’t, except the first line I’ve misquoted above, but I know them all. She joined our marches, sang around our camp fires and lived in my head. We could go for hours, swinging along the tracks and trails, light of heart and loud of voice.
I’ve been looking for a recording of her as a march sung by the voices of men as I first heard. The Royal Marines adopted her as an instrumental, pretty rousing but no singing, there’s a bagpipe version, a couple of high-pitched choir renditions and plenty of balladic solos, but the song in my head is loud and raw, packed with rhythm, and the colors of the Regiment: through the mud and the blood to the green hills beyond – as it happens the same colors of the Gurkhas where I ended my military career thirteen years and a thousand marches later.
So if you know her, and you know her sung in a rowdy chorus of bullets, bass and baritone, please send me a link. And if you don’t know her, here’s a sweet karaoke version. Play it loud. Totsiens!
Every day it wakes me. Yesterday it was Saturday Night Fever – and the pictures that go with, Travolta sashaying down the sidewalk, the songs in his head filling his day. Today it’s Yesterday and an image of young Paul playing left-handed guitar. It’s not always pop – sometimes the dirges of compulsory chapel sixtyfive years ago pop up. How does my brain still know all the Latin words to Tantum Ergo? I barely remember the meaning but somewhere in my sensory library the suffocation of incense evokes aching knees on a Sunday night. Other times dirty ditties from nights after rugby: Off To See The Wild West Show…
Now I’m writing about it, my head is crowded with songs, wannabe songs competing to be the song of the day, my own x-factor, head’s-got-talent, my voice. Lucky me, they’re all great performers singing great songs and I don’t have to suffer Cowellisms such as ‘So your mum told you you could sing?’ It’s my free-to-air, unsubscribed cable, on demand entertainment. Happy Hippocampus!
Literary research brings me to amazing places and interesting discoveries: here in Bali a shrine to the Goddess Kuan Yin and her worship even today. I was privileged to share, beside my beloved Anamarta, a blessing.from her living embodiment.
Chinese merchant seafarers came by these islands some 1500 years BCE, the period setting for a book I’m researching and that so far has taken ne up the Himalayas, down the Ganges and across the ocean following the trail of those ancient travelers, and finding Kuan Yin.
Where next – soon to be revealed!
Contemplating the setting sun of 2016 from a little island in the Indian Ocean I am moved to gratitude for the many blessings, both personal and business, that flowed to us this year.
Thanks to all who attended our courses, most of which were full. Thanks to everyone who read my books: this means so much to me, to be able to share the knowledge and the practices that have changed my life for the better.
Thanks too for the challenges: especially the fire that rendered our workspace unusable for three months in our busiest time, that made us appreciate the space when restored, and to our host Monika at Kentish Town Studio who sorted out the insurance, and to Sasha Hollis and her dad Mike who came to the rescue by providing alternative space at Carlton Primary School.
Thanks, long life and good health to my teachers and inspiration, Master Mantak Chia and Dr Richard Bandler.
Above all, thanks to my beloved partner Anamarta who shares love, life, and work with me.
I look forward to 2017 when the trickster Monkey makes way for the show-off Rooster!
June 1993 When I left Pattaya after the Fusion week I had been training with Mantak for over a year and pretty much decided that was the way I wanted to go. It wasn’t just the learning: he seemed to have such a deep store of wisdom, such a kind and witty way of putting it across, combined with a degree of patience, and tolerance I could only envy. But he was human too, as we shall learn.
The question in my mind at the time was, could I make my living teaching the Tao? As it turned out, I got lucky.
Planning to go to the instructor training in Poughkeepsie, I needed practice. Far too many delicious distractions living on Leela beach, so I took myself up the jungle-clad mountain to a little hut overlooking Sunrise Bay. A friendly snake occupied the palm-thatched roof – sometimes we would get home at the same time and I would see him slither into a sliver of bamboo. Other neighbors some distance up the path were human, for which I was truly thankful when struck down with dengue fever: they carried me down the mountain, installed me in luxury in Bayshore, and had an orgy in the bathroom. Too weak to join in, I was nevertheless motivated to recover.
Teaching shiatsu on the beach and attending Tai Chi at Heart of the Dragon, I found a rich source of students and playmates. With enough practice to feel confident about attempting instructor certification I once again headed for the USA. There I met The Weasel. You will hear more about this creature in the future and how he attempted to bring down the Master, but for now I’m taking a break.
Season’s Greetings! See you next year, Roosters!
What is in my Heart, let it be clean;
In my head, let it be clear;
In my Body, let it be pure;
In my Spirit, let it be free;
In my Life, let it be open;
In this moment, let it be!
8th February 2013 Back in Pattaya, spending our days learning about raising the sexual energy and our nights practicing. No sex in class, to the disappointment of some and the relief of others, led to such a charged atmosphere it was surprising the whole place did not erupt in a mushroom shaped cloud of ecstasy. I confess to being among the disappointed. A perfunctory rub on the front of the trousers when Mantak instructed us to stimulate the energy was no substitute for some good stiff solo cultivation, and ‘imagining gods and goddesses making love’ a poor replacement for remembering the Cuban of the night before or anticipating the Swiss Miss of the night to come.
I had returned to Pattaya via the magical island of Koh Pha Ngan, where a trio of Israelis, two Catalans and Kerry, followers of a tantalisingly tempting tantric cult, had initiated me into the art of sexual ecstasy. I later learned their Laden-lookalike leader was referred to by HH the DL as a ‘tantric fraud’ (a teeny bit of celibate envy perhaps?) but did freshly-divorced me care, when the table was new-laid for pleasure and I was getting laid on it? No no no noooo! They were intrigued by Mantak’s stuff and I was very happy to trade initiations.
After Pattaya I returned to the Island with two of my friends excited at the prospect of plundering so many rich niches. Mr Electric travelled with twentyseven pairs of socks and difficulty sustaining relationships due to his practice, at the point of no return, of adopting the Embracing the Tree posture to recycle his ejaculation leaving the squeeze of the moment both mystified and frustrated. White Tiger ate crab every day and went on to teach a version of Mantak’s practice that gave his students headaches. We all need a happy ending from time to time, including – oops, sorry, no gossip! Not just yet, anyway.
Next Time – Got Lucky 13