Here are some of the things that fascinate me when I'm not working :
|I have been a music lover since the age of
eight when I played
harmonica in my primary school band. As I grew up I became
deeply interested in both folk song and rock music. After a
while I discovered world music and
jazz, and later on classical music too.
Like most young males in the sixties I bought a guitar - and I've been struggling to play it ever since. After a long time I discovered I was better at singing than playing - what a relief - and nervously began to sing in folk clubs.
Soon I joined a community choir and discovered the beauty of a cappella harmony singing. Over the years I've sung world music in Norwich, music from the Republic of Georgia in London, folk music and barbershop in Cornwall, and African songs in Plymouth. After moving to Totnes I joined Glorious Chorus, singing gospel music and original works by their musical director Helen Yeomans.
More recently I've sung for a couple of seasons in the chorus of the regional opera company New Devon Opera, in successful productions of Rigoletto and La Traviata.
At the moment I am involved in a newly formed sextet of male voices - so new it doesn't have a name yet ! I'm also continuing to develop my solo work - this includes beginning to write my own material (training with the London Song Company), and (still !) trying to learn play guitar.
|A long time ago I went on a trip to Cairo - visiting the
Great Pyramid and the Sphinx kicked of a life-long
fascination with ancient Egypt and its extraordinary structures
and mysterious history. Although the opportunity to visit the
country didn't arise again for a long time I have in the last
few years read a great deal about this ancient culture and after
a long wait I was able to sign up for a wonderful tour along the
Nile, led by Sue Minns, from Aswan on Lake Nasser in the south, by boat north to
Luxor and then by train to Cairo and Giza, finishing with a
camping trip in the Western Desert.
A description of our extraordinary experiences in the temples, tombs and pyramids would not fit into the space available here, but I can say that the power of the sites and the wonder of the statues, carvings, paintings, obelisks, pylons, and underground tunnels only served to strengthen my desire to know more about the knowledge and spiritual wisdom that underlies it all.
Maybe we'll never know, but as part of my attempt to find out what I can I'll be returning to Egypt in autumn 2012 on another tour along the Nile - this time as assistant to the group leader ! (if you're interested in joining us, please take a look at www.sueminns.co.uk for more details and get in touch).
|I've been deeply concerned about humanity's destructive relationship to the environment for as long as I can remember. I'm shocked and frustrated by the belief prevalent in our culture that the non-human elements of our planet - whether animal, vegetable of mineral (or spiritual ) - are just there to be used and abused. This is why I'm a member of the Green Party and why, 'thinking globally but acting locally' I joined my local sustainability group. Sustainable South Brent has launched a number of initiatives and one in which I have a particular interest is the community composting scheme. We take garden waste from our local residents and turn smelly grass clippings and prickly old hedge trimmings into lovely rich fertile compost for use in the next season's growing.|
|Totnes Lantern Procession|
|A great local event each autumn for the last few years has
Totnes Lantern Procession. The people of Totnes
make wonderful paper and willow lanterns in workshops through
the summer which are then paraded thorough the streets in the
autumn, along with giant illuminated figures made by local
I was so impressed with the colour and sound and sense of community in this event when I first saw it that I've been involved ever since in one role or another.
The 2011 event was the fourth in a cycle of four themed on Earth, Water, Air and Fire. Plans are being hatched for future events.
For some years now I have been searching for a better way of
being, one centered around peace and stillness instead of
competition and acquisition, around contentment instead of
Of course, this is not just about moving to a different part of the country and changing one's career direction - it is about changing oneself. The pursuit of this inner change has led me to many places, including communal living, co-counseling, men's groups, and the Ridhwan School where for several years I learned and practiced the 'Diamond Approach' of A.H. Almaas, which has been described as "a path of wisdom, an approach to the investigation of reality and a method of working on oneself that leads to human maturity and liberation". Wow ! Sounds great, doesn't it ? Still just a work in progress for me, I'm afraid.
|Whenever I can I love to spend time on Dartmoor, up there with the granite and the buzzards, getting sore feet and soaking up the spaciousness and wildness of that glorious land. A long hike around the high moor is the best way of healing the cuts and bruises of life that I know of.|
Original artwork by NORMAN YOUNG