Shortly after we moved to East. Grinstead we went out as a family to look about the town, we found ourselves in the church yard up on the main High street. Under three slabs were buried the ashes of three witches.All I knew about witches at this time was that they flew around on broomsticks, boiled cauldrons, put spells on people and were generally out to make mischief. My Father explained that really they were mythical people who practised a kind of medicine using herbs and unusual chants and rituals. He explained that really they were real people whom were misunderstood and could no more fly on a broomstick than you or I. He said that these people, more often women, were taken down to the village pond and held down under the water. If they drowned, they were proven innocent. If they lived, they were burnt at the stake. Under these stones, lay the ashes of real, once live people whom had been burnt to death because of their strange beliefs. This always held a strange fascination for me, and over the years in East. Grinstead I often went to this spot in the churchyard.
It was a difficult concept for my young mind to comprehend that human beings could set light to and burn other humans , just for their beliefs, because they were different to the norm.
When at school I became known as the scientology kid, this was difficult for me as I tried to explain I wasn't a scientologist, my parents were and so were most of the inhabitants of our household, of which there were many.As far as most of the other kids were concerned that made me a scientology kid.I would be taunted by my Dad says, or my Mum says they are all weirdos. In their eyes that instantly made me a weirdo too.
They could be forgiven for being right, when my Father decided that going to St. Hill and doing some of the scientology childrens courses seemed like a good idea. He thought it would help me overcome some of my shyness and enable me to get on better in the outside world.
The course room was full of young children learning these training routines.The ones that stick out in my mind so vividly even all these years later are the ones that I found to cause me to be very confused and did nothing to help my shyness at all.
Having to sit opposite a man, and focus all my attention on his eyes. Just staring, solidly for such a long time. My eyes hurt, I felt strange and I wanted to cry, I didn't want to be there, yet I knew I had to sit it out. All the other children were doing it, so I had to get on with it.
I was asked;
Do birds fly? I kept thinking what kind of a stupid question is that, and it came from an adult, didn't he know?
Do fish swim? All I kept thinking was what is wrong with these people that don't know the answer to these questions. I was only a little kid, and I knew.
Everyone else had a teddybear, I got an ashtray.
Sit down on that chair!
This was done whilst sitting in a chair with another chair opposite me and the ashtray was on the chair. I had to tell the ashtray to Standup! Pick it up, hold it in the air and command it to sit back down. Then thanking it for obeying. Yet again, this was repeated many, many times, over and over and I couldn't for the life of me understand why I was doing it. It made no sense. But it would please my Father.
Passages from Alice in Wonderland were read, this was a bit more interesting as I loved to read, but the passage was chosen for me and I had to repeat it so many times. I went right off Alice in Wonderland for a very long time.
Walk over to that wall. Thank you. Touch that wall. Thankyou. Walk over to that wall. Thankyou. Touch that wall. Thankyou. Imagine doing that over and over and over again, for hours.
Maybe the justification for burning witches was warranted.
After it was all over, I told my Father I had enjoyed doing these routines. The smile on his face told me I had done good. Secretly, I thought please don't ever make me do anything like that again. I became even more shy, shy of going to St. Hill.