There was a time in the late 1990s that I joined Toast Masters. One thing I had never attained in my life was the art of speaking in public. I had no reason to. I had done client presentations when I owned my picture library Retrograph Archive and got up and spoken to classes of foreign students when decades ago I had been a TEFL teacher, but never got up in front of an audience of strangers. A question of self confidence!
I needed to hear a master speak like Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins or Zig Zigler. Americans or even Australians are always the best speakers captivating their audiences.
Somehow I got to hear that there was to be a film showing in a Brighton hotel of the World Peace guru, Prem Ravat. Along I went and sat next to a middle aged frail looking woman in the only seat available.
Judith had an interesting manner despite looking very ordinary. She was wearing a pale blue two piece, buttoned up with the inevitable string of 1950s pearls. Nevertheless, we went for coffee and talked about her life, her talented son John who was a professional organist and her beloved late husband John. She told me that she cried herself to sleep every night thinking about him looking at his side of the bed that they had shared thinking of their happy long life together. Oh how she had loved him! She could not wait to join him in heaven.
Judith was religious and a do-gooder always thinking of members of her Christian church and community and, despite having a murmur in her heart, was always driving members of her flock in need here and there, never having a moment to catch her breath.
Their's was a platonic relationship she emphasised especially as she and John had had an excellent sexual relationship. She did not however being typically English go into detail but gave me a secret knowing smile!
Bruno was the key to The Knowledge but how had they met I asked. Judith smiled wistfully and began the story that changed her life forever one Sunday morning after church on the crowded London Road, Brighton.
She was walking with Father James after the service chatting about the service and God no doubt when she saw a man of about forty lying on the pavement in pain. No one stopped. People just glanced and went on their way hurriedly. He was ignored but instinctively she knew he was not a drunk. She told Father James that she was compelled to speak him. "Come along Judith. Don't get involved." He insisted. No, Judith felt the man needed her help. She approached him asking his name. Bruno was the reply. Then she asked where he lived, realising he had a French accent. Nowhere was the reply. Bruno was homeless because his credit card had expired and had been "eaten" by the bank somewhere in India and he had no money to get to France to go to his bank to renew it. There was no answer as to what he was doing in England or how he had got to Brighton from India or why!
What did she do being a charitable woman? Of course she bundled him in his soiled clothes into her car not heeding the words of the priest in charge of St. Bart's. She drove her new 'find' home as she instinctively knew The Law of Attraction was at work. And so they sped off somewhere between Seaford and Eastbourne.
I was never invited to her home. I just knew it was full of books and papers. So full that you could hardly move around freely. No one was invited to the house. It was her sanctuary with her son the organist John and the memory of her late husband. The only available space thus was the door mat at the entrance to the house and Judith told me that to leave her house, she had to step over Bruno who rarely left his new 'home.'
Then phone calls came from Bruno's brother, a banker somewhere in France with an unpronounceable name. It seemed Bruno lived off a trust fund and had nominated her as a trustee in England. But did she really want to get involved that much with the stress of controlling money, something she knew nothing about? By this time Bruno had recovered, even though he still slept across the door like the guardian of her house. Life continued. John got married and had a child.
A year had passed or more. Judith was a changed woman with a new lease of life and a spring in her step. She still, however, dressed the same and never once changed her outdated hairstyle. But she had the keys to a new world, new thoughts and understanding. She had been reborn and had a glowing secret smile on her face.
I lost touch with her as I got better and began my travels again renewing my zest for life. A few years ago I heard, via the grapevine, that Judith had died of a heart attack in her car on the motorway near her home. A sad ending to a woman who had never stopped loving her husband and wished to join him the heavens above.
Written at The Emporium, Brighton at 2.00 am at an all night writing session. As a result I have now damaged my sciatic nerve again after the spine operation on 20/5/16. I was told by the surgeon not to sit too long.