Offended by the word Cunt? (This one’s for you)

Mark was my best friend.

We grew up together. I knew him since I was 4 years old.

We used to sleep over at each other’s houses, sliding down the staircases in sleeping bags, keeping each other’s parents awake at night.

I never felt comfortable in his house though. Everything was too clean and tidy – not a thing out of place.

And he wasn’t allowed to say ‘God’. He got round this by saying Gaw’ instead (like Gawd – ‘Queen’s English’ pronunciation, but without the D). I remember the first time I heard him say it. I laughed out loud.

His mother (who I must say is a lovely lady, and still friends with my mother) didn’t let him say God, but Gaw’ was ok. Even though we all knew that the meaning was the same.

I was always afraid of his Mother as a child. She reminded me of Nurse Ratched.

The thing that bothered me the most about this vocabulary restriction that my friend was under – it sounded so contrived. As if, at the moment when he wanted to exclaim “Oh my God, the house is on fire!” or “Good God, I’ve never seen such a large carrot”, or “God Almighty is that really the time?”, he had to check his surprise / indignation / relief, and redirect his feeling into another direction. It was the censorship of expression that I found hard to swallow...


Why I had to leave Bangkok after just one night. Part 1 - The Girl with Black Eyes.

I cried a little writing this. Sometimes, I am ashamed to be a man…

I was 21 years old and I went to Thailand. A guy I knew who was very cool had been there, so I thought that perhaps if I went to Thailand, I’d be cool too. As far as I can remember that was my motivation… and I guess I wanted to grow up a little.

Well, I grew up a little.

It’s funny. Before I left, my Mum begged me to promise to call her every day. I thought she was insane and I assured her in no uncertain terms that I would not be giving her daily progress reports. As it turned out though, she had good reason to worry!

I’d planned to stay 3 nights in Bangkok, and then get on a train and go North. It didn’t work out that way…

When I arrived, I headed for the area where all the tourists usually stay. I forget the name (Khao San road?), but it’s very well know. And actually, the place I ended up staying is the place where Leonardo DiCaprio’s character stays in the movie The Beach. I was there first, but only for one night.

I was 21 years old and alone in a very strange land. I went down the steps into the sitting area below and ordered a beer. I remember feeling like a fish out of water. I don’t know what I was thinking, going to Thailand. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin, let alone South East Asia. But there I was…

And there were a couple of old Thai Dudes playing chess, and I sat near them and plucked up the courage to watch. In the end, I had a game with one of them (my Dad taught me to play chess when I was about 5 years old, and by the time I was 15 I was beating him consistently. He was a very, very sore loser, and wouldn’t speak to me after we played. He’d just go to bed sulking. I never let him win though, even though my Mum asked me to when he was sick. I couldn’t do that to him. I loved him too much).

Anyway, here’s what happened in Bangkok:

I played a little chess with this old Thai Dude and he was a bit of a charmer. After our game, he invited me out for some “traditional Thai food and music”. I was really happy – I wanted to get to know the real Thailand, not just the Khao San road (or whatever it’s called). So off we went… and ended up in this fairly tacky looking restaurant. The manager was floating around us, wringing his hands and doing his best “I’m servile and I’ll do anything for a tip” act. The band played synthesized Western rock songs. It was awful. And the only other thing I remember from the evening was the girl with black eyes...


My wife told me to edit this (too graphic). I didn’t – read at your own discretion.

I had a miserable childhood.

Don’t get me wrong: I was blessed with great parents who gave me very strong foundations. But beyond that, I got a fairly tough deal.

Each and every school I went to sucked. Sucked with a capital S.

Strange really because they were all private schools; or as we say in England (in a typically counter-intuitive, oxymoronic kind of a way), public schools. The schools that parents have to pay a lot of money to send their kids to.

So I supposedly had one of the best educations that money can buy! Sure didn’t feel like it though… and I suspect that education is not something that can, or should be, bought…


When I was six, we lived in Israel for a year. I didn’t speak a word of Hebrew when we first got there, and I didn’t know a soul, but the ‘teacher’ made me stand facing into the corner at the front of the classroom, all the Israeli kids behind me sniggering at the pale, dumb kid who even the teacher didn’t like.

My mother had to pick me up from hospital one day – I’d had my head cracked open by a rock-wielding Israelite. I must admit, I may have thrown the first stone. But his was a lot bigger…


How your personal views are worthless (and why you should probably re-think everything you think you know)

I once believed that:
If I don’t wear shoes, I’ll hurt my feet.
If I don’t keep warm, I’ll catch a cold.
I only need to practice yoga to stay fit and healthy.
I only need to stay fit and healthy to be happy.
What’s good for me is good for everyone.

When I was at school I had a friend who was, to be honest, an asshole. He once hawked up a big green lump of phlegm out of the depths of his chest and spat it full in my face. Yes, that kind of asshole. But he was nevertheless my friend, and I loved him, and somehow still do (although we’ve long since lost touch).
He once told me this saying, and it’s stuck with me ever since:
The more you study, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more you know. The more you know, the more you forget. The more you forget, the less you know. So why bother?
Of course it’s a bit silly, but when I heard it then it felt very right. Perhaps because at that time the whole adult world seemed to be pitted in a deadly struggle to teach me crap. Parents, teachers, extended family, family friends, and distant relatives were all hell-bent on cramming my head full of algebra, geology, ancient history and chemistry, at a time when all I really wanted to do was climb trees.
Many years later I read the classic book ‘I Am That’, by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, and the following line changed my life:
“Love says ‘I am everything’. Wisdom says ‘I am nothing’. Between the two, my life flows.”
Socrates said:
“All I know is that I know nothing”.
Such simplicity. Such beauty. Such wisdom.
That’s the kind of ancient history I am interested in... 

The reason why most alternative healing doesn’t work: Secondary Gain

 Secondary Gain is a medical term. If you ask a doctor what it means, they’ll know. If you ask a Reiki practitioner, they probably won’t. That’s because it’s a concept that the world of alternative healing has generally not woken up to yet. I believe it’s also one of the main reasons why: most alternative healing doesn’t work; and most personal development methods are inefficient. *

What is secondary gain exactly?

Secondary gain** may be defined as ‘a hidden benefit that is derived from the problem’.

The best example I can give is the one Simon Rose (founder of Reference Point Therapy) gave me when he taught me RPT. It is a true story.

There was an old lady who had cancer. Despite the fact that she had expert care her condition did not improve – against all expectation. When asked the simple (and seemingly ridiculous) question:
“What would you lose if the cancer was healed” she finally replied:
“I would be lonely again”.

Before the diagnosis of cancer, she had been very lonely. When they found out that she was ill, her grandchildren began to visit her daily. Faced with the simple choice between cancer and loneliness, she (subconsciously) chose cancer.


London is burning. (Here's why).

Photograph: Kerim Okten/EPA

I spent 14 years living in London. I lived in Tottenham—North London—where this past weekend’s rioting started, and Hackney, where it continues. I didn’t live in Peckham, Lewisham, Croydon or Brixton—South London—where more rioting has since broken out.
The violence has not only been rife throughout London—on a 30 mile radius—but also throughout England. The cities and counties of Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol and Nottinghamshire have all seen hundreds of people rampaging through streets destroying property and looting.
There are reports of scores of injured police; many shops have been looted; bins, cars, buses, shops and residences have been set alight.
London is burning.

My job was to take a group of up to 15 young people (aged 16 – 25) and help them to turn their lives around. These were young people who had fallen through society’s ‘net’. I worked with drug addicts, prison leavers and pregnant teenage girls. I was alone with this group of 15. There was no funding for the assistant that I was supposed to have.When I moved out of London seven years ago, I worked for one year as a youth worker in Watford (a large town in the suburbs of London), and what I learnt in that year astounded me...