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     “We are all of us palimpsests; we carry the past around, it comes surging up whether or not we want it,

it is an albatross, and a crutch.” 


Penelope Lively

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      Some people like to think of life as a journey. Not being a fan of cheap cliches, I am sadly not among them. If I were, I would have to say that mine seems to have brought me full circle.


     I was born, and came to young adulthood,  in the cultural wasteland of the industrial West Midlands (I still have traces of the accent to prove it). As I child I painted and drew feverishly. "You have talent, Terry, but you need to find something else as a career. There's no place for creativity in these parts", my art teacher bleakly confided shortly before she departed for a new life in Canada. She wasn't wrong. The acme of achievement for most of my contemporaries was an engineering apprenticeship at the local steelworks.   Engineering was not my bag. I could read when I started school, blagged myself a pass to the  grown-ups library in town and immersed myself in books on philosophy, theology, culture, politics and  psychology. I taught myself French and how to read music. But I was functionally innumerate.  Plus I was a little weird. I went through a stage of making myself Batman costumes from cast off scraps of clothing. I was  If were asked to  multiply 147 by 62 I would have to do it by adding the numbers up. At 14 I was more familiar with the Analects of Confucius than with logarithms. No engineering apprenticeship for me.


      Thank God


      I left school at 16, went to college to gain my O and A levels and I entered a different world. This was the early 1970s, punk hadn't arrived and flower power was rapidly wilting. But we did our utmost to keep it blossoming. Listening to Dylan, Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Captain Beefheart and a whole lot of other people few teenagers these days have ever heard of. We dropped acid, psilocybin, mescaline. We smoked prodigious amounts of weed. We read the Tibetan Book of the Dead to each other while meditating in incense wreathed bedsits hung with saris and lit by candles. We hitch-hiked around the country sleeping in fields, hedges, crash-pads and squats and, once or twice, spent sleepless but magical nights in what was left of the 14th century tower on top of Glastonbury Tor. Finally, I decided I'd had enough of blowin' in the wind and applied for a place at art college. I studied three-dimensional design, in the hopes of becoming an interior designer. Not so. This was still the industrial West Midland. The nearest to David Hicks anyone on my course ever got was landing a job planning kitchens for MFI. So I took my art degree (useless as it was) and shelved it quietly while applying for a position as a trainee journalist on the local evening paper. There were hundreds upon hundreds of applicants but I got the job. The rest is history, or rather the ret is my story. I left journalism to work in advertising in London - that was in the 80s when the ad business was still glamorous. I went freelance. Started my own consultancy. Made a lot of money and some great friends. I did most of the creative writing and concept work for the Body Zone at the Millennium Dome and a lot of other impressive projects I now find too inconsequential and meaningless to list. I have been a practising Buddhist since my twenties - I also teach meditation and am a member and official of my local spiritualist church. I also qualified as a Master of Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki. My spiritual pursuits inform all of my work.

       I went late, and at my own expense, to study part-time at London University. Gained a good degree in Humanities, went on to do an MA in Renaissance Studies then got involved in the burgeoning "personal growth" movement. I did the EST training. Qualified as a Master of Neurolinguistic Programming and, finally decided to go the whole hog and retrain as an Existential Psychotherapist - another four years hard work and a few more letters after my name. Then I decided to go back to art school. I completed the two-year DipAd at Putney School of Art and Design. A wonderful place with wonderful teachers and wonderful students.


     Ten years ago I suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm while on holiday in Morocco and, survived without any noticeable permanent damage. It was something a wake-up call, a the saying goes. three years later  I moved to Yorkshire with my husband. We bought a nice house with a three acre garden. I decided to limit the number of therapy clients  I work with and concentrate on more creative pursuits. I learned to play Sitar, banjo,  and polished up my guitar skills. I write and produce music, am just completing my second novel and I also have a couple of screenplays currently hunting for agents. 


     I also started to paint again. In earnest. 


     Every day. Sometimes all day.On occasion all night too.


     And last year I decided to grow my hair again.


     So here I am again? As the Moog synthesiser on the Toto's Expanding Headband album Zero Time sang in 1971"


"The only way

Out of a circle

Is through the centre"


     Life is only a journey if you know where you want to be. If you're not the kind of person who needs a map then any road will take you there.


     I hope you enjoy my work. Feel free to share your views, opinions, compliments and insults in the comments section.

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