Neither of were sad to be leaving Willowman Festival. I’d begun to think perhaps I’d made the expected attendance figures up but another trader-stall holder had mentioned he’d been told 4000 expected. It was more like 1200, which isn’t too bad really, the music was pretty good, but somehow not the right crowd, but what is the right crowd, for Healing Hypnotherapy and Card readings? I really don’t know. One thing for sure though is that were ever we go there sure are a lot of folk who could do with a little help. It feels at times like we are an overlooked diamond in the mud
It doesn’t seem right to blow our trumpet and harp on about the beneficial effects, or the track record, healing and all that, it isn’t miraculous, it just is. Something happens, something is exchanged; something comes through one and goes to another. Hypnotherapy too I am convinced is the future of medicine, personal responsibility, confidence and well-being, the power of the mind and all that.
People tell us all the time, “Oh yeah I’ve read that we only use a small percentage of our brain, think what could be done if we used our whole brain.. wow!!”
Is it the brain, is the mind within the brain, is the brain the mind, or does the mind press the buttons that that are transmitted to the body via central control, the brain. Now there‘s a discussion.
There have even been films about it I believe, a person becomes aware by some accident that they can use more of their brain or their whole brain, consciously, usually they become a god, super human or something, perhaps wicked and controlling , I don’t know, I didn’t see it, I only saw the trailers.
People say things like “Oh yeah I saw some amazing things on Youtube” Voyeurs, everyone is a believer as long as it outside of themselves, and stays in the realms of superstition. Superstition hobbles the joyous power of the running horse and clips the wings of the free high flying bird of the imagination
The mind is a powerful thing, maybe somebody did, can or does walk on water, I don’t know, I have only read about that, but I have seen people transform when fresh positive ideas about themselves are accepted into deeper parts of the mind. That I have seen.
Card reading, what to say about it. Well for the record “We don’t do divination” too much responsibility? Maybe, but mostly because your future is all in your own choices and your present is in your emotional response to the situations you are presented with or where you find yourself.
The cards do seem to have an uncanny accuracy, how they work I don’t really know, but they do and in the right hands, superstations swept aside, they can be a liberating powerful and uplifting healing tool. That I have seen.
We’d stood outside our beautiful blue dome at the Willowman Festival, waiting, humble, sincere and open hearted. We’d got there a day early, we’d been asked too, in retrospect I don’t know why, there was plenty of space for everyone there, no squabbling over territory or frontage. It was a cold and restless time. Our line was out, we were constantly nibbled, we answered so many questions, Orsi did ok, I did many demonstrations of how to move energy and mild demonstrations of Hypnosis on the spot stood there in the field.
But nothing to write home about and why should people come to us, they are there for a good time right, not all this delving into the mind stuff, leave it as it is, right? Yeah right we get it. We are questioning ourselves too. What are we doing?
Over the next few days the two of us repaired ourselves were feeling better about one another though Orsi had still been pretty sick. It turned out to be colder at Willowman for the first few days than Download. We shivered each morning neither of us wanting to get out from under the quilt.
I’d not been able to sleep the first night, feeling the burden, have we been foolhardy. How can we put over what we do. We are not a fairground attraction, but we need to find someway to drum up customers, clients.
We’d talked that first night I’d said ‘we are the support band on our first ever tour nobody knows who we are or what we do, it’ll come, But we were floundering a little, looking over the edge and it was misty down there, but we can’t turn back, not yet.
There were highlights though The Membranes, old friends of mine. John Robb and to my happy surprise Nick Brown on second Guitar. John has always had his own rhythm, jarring in the saddle of the horse he rides. He’s turned into a fine bass player. Pete the guitarist from Goldblade, just excellent bringing down fireworks from some place he continuously glanced up to at, listening, talking whispering those gods down then channeled through black Gibson.
Nick had to run to catch a train back to London after their set. John came across to the dome later it was good to see him again. Over the years we have continuously crisscrossed each others paths in the most unusual places, not just on email or YouTube, but genuine accidents here and there. This was one of them. I have got to really enjoy it as the years have gone on and have watched from afar and noted magic happening over in Johns field, if you watch closely enough you can learn many things from another’s journey, John is generous and the Membranes were genuinely great.
I recalled back in late 1979 and early 1980’s The Fits and the Membranes launching their canoes into the same river from the same bank, both of us paddling hard, not really competitive, just going for it with who ever was on board at the time, great times, fit and strong and full of ideas, they a little deeper than us, we a little more fury than they. These days when we see one another out on the river and sail close, we hold onto each others boat out in the current for a while, we come from the same time, we are familiar, we catch up and then paddle on. Always good to see him.
We’d watched across the green field from us the a group of unusual Scotts working hard setting up a strange shaped tent, we weren’t sure what it was, all we knew was that they were working hard and had arrived about the same time as us. They turned out to be a mobile steam room advertised as a “Turkish Steam room” and “Tepidarium” all built by the Scottish inventor Tony Milroy. It was quite remarkable. Tony looked for all the world like he had been fast forwarded from the industrial revolution or the Victorian age of discovery into the field in front of us.
Charming and gently spoken, dressed each day in mustard coloured trousers, check cotton shirt, burgundy waistcoat, brown shoes, blue eyes, light brown shoulder length hair and a wide intelligent forehead. He had made the heater by welding two gas canisters together, added wheels and the chimney and of course all the inner workings that are way above my humbled head. It was capable of reaching 800c, and was drip fed by wooden pine pellets, it recycled and burnt any gas and smoke it produced, it had he said “a 98% burn”
It really was genuinely amazing what he’d managed to do, the steam room was immaculate and the lounge area exotic, tastefully lit and draped. We’d gone across on that first night to have a nosey. He told us he had been paid to come to the festival, that was his angle, then people could pay either £5 a go, or £10 for the weekend and go as many times as you like. We bought the weekend ticket on the spot and went twice a day. It warmed us up in the mornings and cozied us up last thing at night. His ever changing crew too were open and friendly. I liked them very much and honestly, we were so grateful they were there just across a small field from us all that weekend.
We saw a few bands Stereo MC who were great, it must have been hard for them to have been so high and now playing to a strange waterproofed clad few hundred in a wet field somewhere easily forgettable, under grey skies and pouring rain. I watched him dig deep about half way through, I could be projecting of course, but having trod the boards myself in times gone by, I recognized him turning into himself. It’s all the same in that place on there, sometimes you have to dig deep for the company of the gods, my instincts pricked up and I noticed him get visited, they were great, the backing girls, giving it plenty. Thumbs up for the Stereo MC’s
On the first night we went to see the opening band a tribute David Bowie band. It was great to hear bowies songs and be reminded yet again at just what a great talent he was, I don’t need to tell you how incredible Bowie’s songs are but there is only one David Bowie. We left after a few songs
We watched the Lemon & Spoon race, the child in a sack race and the tug of war, we listened to the Beat from the Tepidarium steam rooms. I’m sorry but we’d been stood still in the rain all that day, we needed heat, but they sounded good. On another night, I wasn’t too keen on the Undertones singer, not a natural, I thought so anyway, so we went back to the Tepidarium and then I sat on the steps of Pearl playing guitar. It had been a while.
Oh and there was Esperanza an 8 piece Scottish Ska band that were just great, but boy what a strange gathering of souls all on one stage together, the Commitments on some strange veterinary pharmaceuticals, playing incredibly well, but all doing their own thing and remarkably all in time. They had killers, victims, drug pushers, hero’s, feminists, chauvinists, skinheads and hippies, all in the same band, on stage it worked musically but visually it was bewildering. I wondered if they all travelled back home in the same van and if so, how? Now that would be an interesting journey.
Right in front of our blue jellyfish dome was the acoustic tent. It was sign. Each morning the guy would announce in old music hall tones
“Now at 12 O’clock we have Ooooooopen mic time”
On the first day one person got up and so I just couldn’t help it. I went across, got up played “Road Song” “London Time” “Cover Me” & “Time is kind” At one point I got a lump in my throat and my eyes welled up. It just felt so good to be playing again, even if it was to a virtually empty tent, the PA was loud, I knew it was being pumped out into the fields beyond, so I played to the hills over yonder where I knew family were listening. I went up at 12pm every day from then on, no pressure, blowing the years of dust of some of my beautiful songs, very nice indeed.
Right next to door the Beetroot café who seemed to be a lightly floating co-op of young dread locks making veggie food and drinks, they seemed pretty together and were usually the first up, opening the huge blue drapes of their tent. We did feel we should go across and support them but honestly Orsi ever the magician came up with amazing food constantly. There was no contest. It still amazes me how she does it. After we closed up shop each evening we had some incredible food she’d magic’d up with the Punk IPA’s, Guinness, Kronenbourg or a nice bottle of red that we’d got to last us the 4 days 5 nights.
But the festival when all said and done just didn’t get more than a few feet of the ground. Sonia the Yoga lady next to us with her two young sons was up at 10am each day working up the energy and for moments it was there, but it was only moments.
I’d used the time to cut tiles and fit them onto the kitchen top I’d built in Pearl. I also helped Janet one of the Trepidarium workers to jig saw panels out of her trailer home, all done in the blink of an eye, made me feel useful
I remember one point stood in the queue to the porta loo there was a big rounded hefty security guy stood in front of me. I said pleasantly
“Hey, man how’s it going?”
He said in all sincerity seeing as how I’d asked
“Oh, it’s ok, pretty quiet, just a few a few finger bends, that’s all really”
I had to keep a straight face till I got in the loo, not really what ‘d meant but it said it all really. It was quiet. Just not enough people for us to work with, though as I said I did a lot more subtle hypnosis stood out there in the field, good practice, but still we were glad to leave.
As we set sail out and onto the A19 the oil light came on again I didn’t want to drive to far, I should have gone to Thirsk but instead for some reason went north. I turned of onto the A684 to Northallerton to get oil and petrol. On the way back to the A19 Orsi spotted a sign that said ‘Sentry Standing Stone Circle’. So we turned back and off the road into what seemed like private farmland. We immediately saw the stone circle up on the hillside. Instinct said to me it was new. I don’t know why. I just knew.
Pearl swayed up the pot holed road. We got out and before we knew it a man appeared with mischievous sparkling hazel eyes set in a wide face topped with wavy shaggy graying hair.
I asked him straight off “Are the stones….” he cut me off
“Authentic” he said with that twinkle.
“Yes” I said.
“When the stones of old were first put in place they were authentic weren’t they? … So yes they are authentic” He said looking me straight in the eye. “There is magic up there, a sacred space”
“Good” I said laughing “We’ve come to the right place then” We liked him instantly and he laughed with us.
“Would you like to come in for a coffee” he said. So go with the flow right.
“Perfect” I said and in we went. He had the most charming house with four Lhasa Apso, Tibetan Temple dogs, delightful and playful.
“People say dogs are like their owners” he said
He identified with the grumpy one but it struck me that they were all different temperaments and as he talked I thought ‘yeah he is all of them’
He was called Derek but everyone called him ‘Mad Farmer’ Mad he wasn’t, but sensitive he was, and really quite funny on first meeting. He told us the story of how spirit had come to talk with him, about how the land was special there. This was all done and delivered with the most charming gentle Yorkshire accent. He’d heard that around 6000 years ago there had been a circle. There were stories that the Romans had destroyed it and used the stone for a road through here. He’d got together with a group of people and expressed his idea about building a circle. They’d liked it but he’d come to realize he didn’t like committee’s and so decided to just go ahead whilst they discussed and talked, discussed deliberated and conferred.
He’d found the stones near a place called Kirby Steven and paid £350 each for them. I counted them later and there were 17 including the center stone, which he stressed to us was just off center for a reason and was not an altar. He didn’t like altars either. It had taken 3 years from the first stone going in in October 2005 and the last one in 2008 he’d said
He’d been married he said an uneven amount of times and described himself as spiritual rather than pagan, said he just didn’t get on with all those committees and groups, he liked to do his own thing in his own way.
He sat there chuckling like some old sage at his own misfortunes and his triumphs in the same measure. He told us about Venus being the time clock of the world whilst he drank from a cup that said ‘Wake up and smell the coffee and I have to say the coffee was dark thick and delicious.
He told us of an entity there who had waited for the stones to be replaced and now it had been done had decided to stay there, it was benevolent and smiled upon him for his efforts. I believed him, you only had to look up to the hill and any notion he was spinning a yarn were chased away. He’d built it he said for healing and education
“Was beyond my comprehension” He said“It’s a portal and an opening, a meeting place that would draw people”
It had certainly drawn us. There were other people out in the parking lot too so we were both a little startled to be invited into his home, why us? Had we had stumbled into this place for something? We told him what we were doing and I asked if he’d like some healing
He said “I never say no to some healing”
So sat on a chair nearer to us and ever so subtly, he became a little guarded but we’d been there at that point a good hour and it seemed right. His energies were very wide, he thought it was good, I suggested that he should get some sleep. He seemed quite surprised at that. My old teacher Phil Pooke came into my mind, just a whisper.
“Derek is a tough cookie.”
We did the session with him, around 20 minutes, it was interesting, it was private so that what came was for him alone. He tried to give to us too, to push back, not taking what was being offered, it seemed to be his nature, giving out all the time.
Afterwards we went up to sit in the circle, it was a beautiful place. We both sat for a little while. I did see a spinning dome with a cord leading off up into the blue skies, I am still a punk rocker when all said and done, I brushed if off at the time and as usual I later realized what I saw. It is how it is with me. I can be hard work and quite foolish at times, I’m sure there are those around who get quite exasperated with me
We said our goodbyes, it seemed a bit of a wrench, we’d enjoyed his company but we had distance to cover.
We’d decided on Staithes over on the coast and then Whitby later on that day. It was a remarkable few hours, both of us quietened by it all. The drive along the A171 was remarkably beautiful skirting through the hills along the edge of the old northeast industrial region. Old train tracks and valleys, old scars now over grown and renewed by lush woodlands and the unstoppable evergreen grass. I hadn’t known what a beautiful area awaited us.
Staithes was a surprise, tiny and beautiful, sleepy and still. We’d wanted to have lunch but the pubs were not serving right then so after an hour just walking through the tiny place, imagining the hive of activity it must have been when it rivaled Whitby and when Captain Cook had lived there. It still had that look perhaps and maybe if you stopped and stilled for long enough the sea would have chance to pull those ancient feelings up from beneath, from below from deep within the soul of the collective. There was something, but it was deeper down than we had time for right then.
We had both loved Whitby and so back we went. Parked up on the promenade at the same place above the pavilion, the day had been warm and as we got into I was suddenly deeply tired. So I went to sit and have a coffee and try to catch up and Orsi went swimming with the territorial old ladies of the town
We met up later and wandered down the hillside into the ancient place searching for chips and a tipple down by the harbour’s edge. All the pubs were hushed, all eyes gazing upwards at the TV sets long stony faces and muffled grumbling at England’s performance against Croatia.
Outside the sea was a mirror of peaceful depth. It was midsummer night we watched the sun set and the full moon rise. Both feeling a little easier. Willowman had unified us. So thanks for that
We sat looking out across the harbor. Bad tempered powerful seagulls circled above proclaiming territory and ownership and a don’t mess with us attitude. The seagulls along this part of the coast have muscles, are a gang and will come down in force on the unwary if tempted or provoked. I kid you not
Across from us on the other side of the harbor gathered like a nosey crowd up the hill side narrow threes storied white washed houses with white window frames, red tiles roofs like ill fitting hats, the skyline of chimney pots and church spires outlined against blue pastel smudged with faint pink clouds. Whitby is full of churches and pubs, sanctuaries from the sea.
We were sat quietly watching the full moon rise over the beautiful town when a boy racer tore along the sea front took the corner to fast, sand and smooth cobble stone roads don’t go well at 40 mph on a bend. Whitby was quite then that the whole harbour heard the screech a pause and then the crash. People ran away into the evening to see what had happened. We passed a demolished wall and railings to the public toilets on the way home. Somebodies mum and dad were going to be withholding pocket money for sure.I’d woken in the middle of the night I couldn’t get back t sleep, so I climbed into the cab as quietly as I could, sat up all night writing. We’d watched full moon rise over the harbor earlier I sat there and watched the sun rise over the North sea. Beautiful.