Yesterday, I read it was the 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral and I saw that on Monday, Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were performing together in a concert to celebrate 50 years ago when the Beatles took the States by storm. So that all means it’s 50 years since I first set foot in the US with Theatre Group 20 for a four month tour. I remember it was at our first stop out of New York, at a hotel in Maryland, that Churchill’s funeral was on television. I didn’t watch it but I remember my friends who did being pretty shocked with the interruption, ‘Now a word from our sponsor – Winston cigarettes!’ Can you imagine? I’ve never forgotten arriving at that hotel. I got out of our coach – well a big Greyhound type bus that carried all our gear, props and scenery, as well as us – and as I strolled to the hotel entrance a group of teenage girls started screaming. I couldn’t quite believe it, so I quickly thought of an excuse to go back out to the bus – and they screamed again. And again when I went back into the hotel! I found it was to happen quite often on that tour but pretty modest compared to the Beatles. Another thing I remember at that hotel was seeing our advance manager open his suitcase and there was his gun. I’d never seen anyone wandering around with a loaded pistol before. Fifty years! Hardly believable.
Sitting here in Thailand with practically nothing to do I‘ve looked at my blog. Well, I knew it was ages since I wrote anything for it but I hadn’t quite realised how long. So, now for a long overdue update.
It’s pointless trying to remember everything that’s happened since the last posting in October and then deciding what of that’s worth writing about or needs to be included. I’m not even going to try, I’m just going to tell you where I am now and what that might mean for the future.
Yes, I’m in Thailand and as I write this I am by the sea with sound of the waves in the background at Cha’am. In a little over an hour we leave for Bangkok where we are to eat at Khun Yod’s factory. Then Ajahn Manapo will leave for London and I will remain in Bangkok for another night. On Monday evening I will attend the chanting for Somdet Phra Sangharaja who died recently. Then shortly after midnight on Monday I too return to the UK.
I have had a marvellous two weeks. I flew out of London a fortnight ago tonight and on the following Tuesday I was received with much ceremony at Mahachulalongkornrajavideyalaya University where I was presented with an Honorary Doctorate. Then Ajahn Manapo and I were driven at some speed to Ubon where we were to stay at Wat Pah Nanchat for a few days. On the Thursday it was the big day at Wat Pah Pong, the Ajahn Chah Memorial Day, and there I took part in the annual circumambulation of the Ajahn Chah Chedi. After that I had the chance to visit Peter and Tipawan and to see my old friend and mentor, Luangpor Dang, before flying back to Bangkok and driving South to Cha’am. While in the North East for some of the time we were in the enjoyable company of Ant and Joob and when we went for tea at Peter and Tipawan’s we surprised them by turning up at their house with Matthew and his wife. And throughout our trip, from time to time and much of the time, we have been looked after by the loyal and admirable Ken.
Throughout I have been shown care and kindness and I’m afraid I’ve needed it. In fact I‘ve been lucky to have made it here this year and in the procession circumambulating the Luang Por Chah Chedi I was almost shedding tears of joy.
You see, in December I became rather unwell and was eventually diagnosed with Temporal Arteritis or Giant Cell Arteritis. Fortunately my GP was onto it pretty sharpish and there has been no damage to my sight. I am being treated. It is incurable but does sometimes go into remission and I am optimistic. I’m all right. But I shall have to take things easy, or at least easier and do less than before. But I don’t mind that, after all I’m not exactly in the springtime of life!
So there you are. Now you know. And I’ll try in future to reform and update this blog more often.