2nd Revised Edition
Authors - Digby & Gill
I first met Digby at Art School. He was learning Silversmithing & Jewellery and one day we were comparing notes about how we happened to be there, and his story was much more interesting than mine. 'I have come to the conclusion Fate had a hand in it', he said. I knew him quite wall by then and thought that sounded interesting so I kept quiet and let him continue.
Nothing seems to happen by accident', he said. 'I finished my National Service a couple years earlier and was living with my parents not knowing really what to do when I met a Norwegian bloke who showed me some agates he had found nearby. I was hooked and started using week-ends for hunting agates and eventually found some. The next two or three years were used to get started cutting & polishing them and inevitably I had nice-looking stones and that's what brought me here doing this non-dip course learning how to make jewellery.
And this is where I've got interested in the Hieroglyph Zodiac Signs, and they don't make sense. I'm trying to find their origins but it's all dead ends'.
I suggested he asked a fellow student who might be able to help. He was illustrating John Barleycorn at the time, and suggested Jung's book about signs & symbols. But Digby said he had learned about mandalas and the 'Union of Opposites', but absolutely nothing about Zodiac Symbols.
He left at the end of that year having taken to silver-smithing as if born to it; getting set up with great tools being sold off cheap at that time; falling in love & getting married. I plodded on for another year but we kept in contact.
We met up again about a couple of years later. By then he had got a cottage on a hillside overlooking the Clyde estuary and set up his first shop & workshop. It was up a half-mile steep and muddy footpath to an unsurfaced road at least half a mile from the nearest tarmac. Believe it or not it was successful and he was selling Zodiac pendants to all comers. He told me Fate had appeared again.
'One fine day an old lady and her younger companion struggled up the path and into the showroom,' he said. 'They went straight to the zodiacs, muttering to each other and eventually the old lady looked at me and said 'Zat-a one iss-a wronk'. I asked her what was wrong and she explained in her broken English that Libra should have a loop, and why had I given it a point? I told her it was to make it more like the Scales, and she erupted saying, 'Iss'a not zee Scailes. Iss-a zee Thrashink-Floor & Flailles'. I asked her politely where the scales were. She answered that they were what looked like the sting on the tail of the Scorpion. Then the two of them muttered something to each other, turned and left.'
I stayed a few days with Digby, helping to clear a ditch that was flooding his pathway down to the road, and met his new neighbour, a woodcarver/sculptor who had arrived from London. He had set up a 'Psycho-therapy' group with his wife, which Digby had joined. It flew apart after a year or so, leaving Digby in limbo. The group had been a sort of offshoot from a clinic in Glasgow, and Digby was offered very good terms. His jewellery was flourishing so he took one day a week off and met Zaggy. Maybe Fate had struck again. Who Knows?
I have written up the therapy from his very detailed notes and it follows:-
When they met in February, Zaggy said, 'So. You've decided to take the risk?' but Digby reckoned he was nowhere near 'taking the risk'. He wanted to know a lot more about this 'journey' before he committed himself to it. What he had learned about it so far was totally incomprehensible, and he hadn't travelled all that way to be bounced into anything so strange without asking a few questions.
Over the last few months he had heard one or two weird things, such as:
'Life can regenerate,' and,
'If it wasn't you doing it you'd be terrified', and,
'When you first arrive, it's like Heaven. But then it's downhill all the way until you reach the end. Then it's weird & wonderful.'
Digby asked if there were any risks involved in this therapy. What he wanted to know was what really was it like? Was it worth the money and so on? How many people had made this journey? How long it would take? And so on.
Zaggy said the only real risk was if he had a heart problem, but Digby said he thought he was fit as could be.
'In that case I can see no problems', said Zaggy, 'But I have another patient to prepare for, so 'Yes or No?' he asked. And Digby, to his own astonishment and without hesitation said 'Yes.'
Zaggy pulled out a notebook and said, 'OK. Next Friday. Twelve o' clock,' and that was that. He was slotted in.
A night or two after that meeting Digby dreamt he was in a pretty little country hotel packed with people. They were all talking, eating & drinking, bustling around on their various businesses, bells ringing, doors opening, doors shutting, someone standing at a telephone and talking, and another telephone ringing urgently. There was a funny little man called Mr. Notman, small and round with spectacles and an agitated manner. He was beckoning to Digby and saying, 'Come on. This way. This way. Do come on.' He had quite a sharp manner and Digby followed him outside. The fussy little fellow picked up a ladder and jostled his way to an old stone wall, ten feet high and covered in ivy. 'Come on,' he said, 'Don't be so slow. This way.' He put the ladder against the wall and climbed until he could get over the top, still saying, 'Quick. Come on. Do come on. This way. This way. This way.' That's where the dream ended. And that's where Digby's inner journey began.
12 o'clock the next Friday. A cold wet and miserable day in February. Zaggy's room was the size of a small study, furnished with a hard looking couch, a small table and a chair. Very plain. A small empty fireplace in one corner, and an unremarkable carpet on the floor and Digby couldn't remember the colour of the walls. It was on the first floor of a big, solid and gloomy Victorian building in the middle of Glasgow. Even the window had no view except onto other people's back yards. If any place was an entrance to 'Reichian Therapies', then this dingy place was it.
'Right,' said Zaggy, 'Any dreams?' Digby was surprised at the abruptness of the question. He told him what he had dreamt.
'Good.' said Zaggy, 'No need to go into that one. Now. Did you say you had a heart condition or anything?' Digby hadn't
'OK,' said Zaggy, 'Now. Your Underworld is in your flesh & blood. Your body remembers things your mind has forgotten. Go over to the wall there and stand sideways. Now push with the back of your hand as hard as you can against the wall'.
'OK. What for?' said Digby.
'You don't have to if you don't want to,' said Zaggy, and Digby did as he was asked.
'That's right', said Zaggy, 'That's right - a bit longer - longer still - now turn and let your arm do what it wants.'
Digby's arm floated gently upwards to shoulder height, and he smiled from ear to ear.
'Everybody smiles when that happens,' said Zaggy, 'Now. Can you see what I'm getting at?'
'Yes,' said Digby, 'I didn't tell my arm what to do. It just did it by itself.'
'Right,' said Zaggy, 'The next bit is not so easy. It involves breathing. Stay standing up and let's see how you breathe.'
Digby stood up straight and breathed his best.
'Relax,' said Zaggy, 'That's not bad but you're only breathing into your chest. Try to imagine that you're breathing into your guts. That's better. Breathe in through your nose. Relax some more. See if you can breathe with your whole torso. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Right down to your balls. Really fill your lungs to the bottom. Let your whole body benefit from your breathing. Loosen up. Let your arms hang loose. That's better. I think you're beginning to relax. What's it feel like?'
'Er. Good,' said Digby, and he noticed his voice was more resonant than usual.
'OK,' said Zaggy, 'Keep going for a minute or two. Get used to being a bit more relaxed than usual. Try not to think of anything. Focus on the breathing.'
Digby was beginning to feel a bit different from usual. When Zaggy asked him 'how different' he said he couldn't say but it felt better.
'Right,' said Zaggy, 'Now. Do you think you could lie down and still be as relaxed and breathing so fully?'
Digby lay down with only the slightest hesitation. Zaggy smiled and told him in a quiet voice to stay relaxed and to breathe deeply. 'Just relax and breathe,' he said, 'Try to think of nothing but the breathing. And let your whole weight lie on the couch. Make yourself as heavy as you can whilst you're breathing.'
Digby was enjoying this exercise. The more he breathed the more the enjoyment. 'I can feel the blood going through my veins,' he said.
'Just let the breathing fill your mind,' said Zaggy.
Digby's breathing became stronger and more rapid. He felt he was pursuing something. He didn't know what. Nor exactly how. He didn't care. Whatever it was he wanted it. With his whole being he wanted it. He breathed in as though he was desperate for air in his lungs. His whole body was moving with the breathing. His mind was empty and he wanted - wanted - wanted with every ounce of his strength, and at the height of the wanting he gave in. He let go. He didn't care. HE SCREAMED. Only once did he scream. An eyrie long drawn-out uninhibited howl of a scream. Weird. Like nothing you could describe. Digby thought it came from the bottom of God knows where and went out far into somewhere unknown. He said it split the Welkin and spiralled into the stars. Unearthly. Like nothing you can imagine. He lay still. His mind was empty and his body was alive. Silence. Absolute silence. A wonderful sort of silence until Zaggy began to close the session.
'What do you make of that?' he asked, but Digby didn't know.
'Where did it come from?' but Digby didn't know.
'Oh come on. Where did it come from?'
'Alright. Alright,' said Digby, 'It came from me.'
'Right,' said Zaggy, 'Just rest. I'll tell you when your hour's up.'
So Digby rested. His mind was without thoughts. After a while he sat up and smiled.
'Good,' said Zaggy, 'Well timed,' and Digby put on his coat. 'Next Friday. 12 o'clock,' was all Zaggy said.
'Right,' said Digby and he left. And that was all. Outside the colours were brighter, traffic noisier, people all wrapped in their worlds, and Digby enjoyed a new sort of being as he made his way down to the station.
'Well well well,' he thought.
A night or two later Digby dreamed he was swimming in a huge pool. The water was a sparkling clear blue/green and there were other people swimming around with him. The strange thing was that he was swimming underwater and all the other people were underwater too. They smiled to him and nodded, and swam as if in their natural environment. They all seemed to be breathing the water as if it was air, and Digby did likewise. He enjoyed swimming around with the others, and felt quite at home flipping around like a fish, breathing that sparkling clear blue-green water in and out until he woke up.
Back in Zaggy's room it was just as dingy as before.
'How are you?' he asked, and then, 'Any dreams?' and when he had heard what Digby had to say he said, 'Good. I'm sure you'll know what that was about', and when Digby said 'A different world' he asked him to lie down and relax the same as before, and to start breathing deeply as before, and not to inhibit his body. All this Digby enjoyed doing, and he relaxed further into himself and breathed ever more deeply. After some little time one thought stayed in his head. Eventually, when he could feel the blood going through his body and the one thought didn't go away, he paused. 'Look,' he said, 'I'm worried. The only thing I want to do is to stop breathing. Isn't that dangerous? Won't I die?'
Zaggy reassured him. 'It's nothing to worry about,' he said, 'If you could stop breathing for long enough, you would simply pass out and start breathing again whether you wanted to or not. But what you do is up to you.'
So Digby resumed his breathing more firmly and more deeply than before until he could hold out against his desire no longer. He breathed out. He breathed out and expelled every last thimbleful of air from his body and then closed up mouth and nose tight. Very tight. Not one atom of air could get through. He held himself like that for as long as he could. Then for a bit longer, until his head was spinning and reeling. Then he gave in. He opened his mouth and took in the biggest lung-full of air you can imagine. His head lit up and filled totally and wonderfully full of light and like a baby he started crying ... aaaah aaaah ... aaah aaaah ... aaaah aaaah ... and he lifted his hands and arms above his head as if grasping the air, started little kicking movements with his legs like a new born baby, and continued crying ... aaaah aaaah ... aaaah aaaah ... aaaah aaaah ... He did this for some time before he realised what he was doing.
Then he lay quiet. His breathing was calm and full. His mind was still and quiet. Blissfully and wonderfully quiet. No inner voice droning away. Quiet. Quiet. Quiet. He felt as if he had occupied his body. He was totally himself. He lay like that getting used to the perfect relaxation, the absence of tensions in his body and the pleasure there was in his quiet breathing. He lay like that until he heard Zaggy's voice.
'No need to say anything,' he said, 'But I wouldn't want you to miss your train.'
'Thanks,' said Digby, 'Absolutely right. No need to say anything,' and he got up and put on his coat.
'Same time next week,' said Zaggy.
'Same time next week,' said Digby.
When Digby got outside he was immediately stunned by the noise of the traffic. He had no thoughts in his head and he was much much more aware of being in his surroundings. He heard the unrelenting noise of the city and saw the drab buildings and garish goods in the shops as if for the first time. He walked to the railway station and made his way home experiencing the world as it was, looking round in wonder as he took all this new experience in.
One thing he noted in particular. Whilst he was lying on his back and crying like a baby he was that baby. He was aware of his present position, where he was and how big he was and so on, but the cries and movements were involuntary. Digby was not in any way aware of anything except his own being. He was totally himself at that time, being himself reborn.
And years later his Mum told him he had been born with the cord round his neck unable to breathe.
Back again in Zaggy's dingy room he began to wonder if everything he had been told about the Underworld was true. The last few days had been extraordinary. He hadn't felt in the least bit inadequate, and sleeping had been different. Total bliss. No dreams at all and waking full of energy looking forward to the day. If this was rebirth he would recommend it. But his next session was not what he expected. Not in the least.
'How are you?' asked Zaggy.
'Very well thank you. Everything is absolutely wonderful.'
'That sounds good. And how do you feel?'
'Never better. I've been in a rosy glow from morning until night.'
'Did you imagine you could ever feel like this?' asked Zaggy.
'No,' said Digby, 'This is like Heaven. No thoughts. No anxieties. Perfect bliss. I feel really marvellous.'
He had lain down as usual when he came into the room and as he was speaking his breathing became stronger and more rapid. He was getting used to the process.
'No-one could possibly know how marvellous I feel,' he said. 'It is like heaven,' he said. And as he spoke he became engulfed before he realised what was happening. 'I feel wonderful,' he said, 'No worries. No anxieties. No pressing tasks to be done. It's wonderful. Wonderful,' and at this point Digby stood up, and he raised his arms above his head with his hands sloping outward as if over a vast sea.
'If anybody knew how wonderful I feel they would be struck dumb with wonder,' he said. His voice was sonorous and sounding weird. 'Everything I could possibly want is mine ... everything in the world is mine ... the world knows what I want and it is given to me ... the whole world is mine ... I want everyone to know that the whole world is mine ... that the whole universe is mine... if people knew they would bow down and worship me ... they would look at me and bow down ... they would kneel down in wonder ... I want the whole world to kneel down and worship me ... I want the whole world to lie down at my feet ... and I want to live forever ... and ever ... and ever.'
There was a silence after that. Quite a long silence. Digby lowered his arms and sat down, letting himself return to normal. He looked a bit sheepish.
Then Zaggy asked, 'Anything else while you're at it?' and they both laughed, and he asked if Digby had ever felt like that before.
'Never,' said Digby.
'No memories of having everything you wanted without even having to say what it was?'
'Like being in heaven,' said Digby, 'No. I can't remember anything like that.'
'Or feeling yourself to be the Omnipotent Lord of the Universe?'
'No. Nothing like that either.'
'Can you think of anything that would give a person everything they wanted?'
'No. Not really. Well. There's the Cornucopia but that only gives food,' and then he remembered that his mother had told him long ago that he had been happy on her breast for a full year, and maybe longer.
'I've got it,' he said with some excitement, 'I've remembered.'
'Good,' said Zaggy, 'Myths are designed to help people to think. Can you see what's happening?'
'Well. Er. Are these things from my babyhood coming to life through me?' he asked.
'Yes, but there's more to it than that. Maybe you'll see it in due course. Are you OK for next week?'
'Fine,' said Digby, and he left wondering what Zaggy had meant. The Underworld was obviously an even stranger place than he'd been told.
Once again Digby noted that for that length of time he was that omnipotent person. He had been that omnipotent person and he was still the same flesh and blood as that omnipotent person. That person had came from the flesh and blood of his body, and whilst he was in that character he was offering no apology, nor was he asking for acceptance nor anything like that. That omnipotent person was declaring that that is who he was, and that is what he was like. Until he made himself known Digby had had no knowledge of his existence. And most astonishing was that although the state of being was from his earliest babyhood he had visualised himself in it as a grown man.
Digby's mood of heavenly bliss disappeared into not much more than a memory after that experience. He churned it round in his head. He wasn't an omnipotent character or anything like it was he? Or did some idea of it still lurk somewhere in his being? Did it start pulling the levers of behaviour when his plans were thwarted? And only a few days ago hadn't he been congratulating himself on how well things were turning out? And so on and so on.
After a day or two Roz noticed he wasn't his usual self and Digby wondered if his facade was crumbling or something. He had to put off his next session so had an extra week to bear with the slow circle of thoughts. He came to the conclusion that babies experience quite ordinary things in extraordinary ways, and felt a bit better about it all. But then a few days later Digby had a dream that showed him what a miminy-piminy conclusion that was.
'Hello. How are you?' asked Zaggy, and the innocent question was no longer simple politeness.
'Well. A bit worried really. I hate the very thought of that omnipotence and yet those ideas came from me.'
'Yes. They did. Can you see what's happening yet?'
'What do you mean?' asked Digby.
'Can you see a pattern emerging?'
'Hadn't thought about it,' said Digby, then, 'You mean I breathe and things happen from my babyhood?'
'There's more to it than that,' said Zaggy, 'Maybe it'll come to you.'
Digby had been sitting on the bed rather anxiously. He had been wondering what would come next. When Zaggy asked, 'Any dreams?' he lay down resignedly.
'Er. Yes. A strange one,' he said. 'I don't like it. It was a dark, wet day, and I was wandering through a weird old town with black and derelict looking buildings. One that I came to had a black iron railing round it. The gate was rusty and hanging off its hinges. It squealed in protest as I opened it onto crumbling steps. They looked slippery and precarious in the drizzle and led me down steeply to a dangerous-looking arched doorway. The threshold was worn hollow; the beautifully carved fluted jambs were horrifyingly squint, and the arch was cracked in half and about to fall. It had strange writing in some obscure sort of alphabet carved onto it.'
'I was intrigued. I stood on the threshold, hung onto one jamb and looked through the doorway. It was dense inky-black inside and smelled of damp and decay. I couldn't see anything in there. I looked up at the carved lintel and noticed how clear and precise the carving was. Then the very dangerous condition of the building frightened me. Terrified me. I started back up the slippery steps. That's when I woke up. Quite glad to really. It had been a splendid building in its day but it filled me with dread.'
He lay there quietly, breathing deeply but nothing excessive.
Then Zaggy spoke. 'What did the carving on the lintel say?' he asked..
'I don't know,' said Digby, and his breathing became more determined.
'Yes you do. It was your dream.'
'It was in an unknown language,' and Digby's breathing became more rapid.
'It was your dream. You invented the language. What did it say?' Quite firm he was.
'I don't know. I don't know,' and then he blurted out the first thing that came to his head, 'Abandon hope all ye who enter here,' he said, as if to put an end to the questioning. But that did not end the questions.
'How does that make you feel?' asked Zaggy.
'Worried. Scared. don't want to go on,' but his breathing was stronger than ever.
Zaggy said nothing.
Then Digby covered his eyes with his hands. 'I'm so alone in this,' he said, 'It's so dark and I feel so alone. So alone. Alone, alone,' and his voice went up an octave and he sounded like a child.
'Alone on a wide wide sea,' said Zaggy quietly, 'Can you finish the rhyme?'
'And not a soul in all the world looked on to pity me,' and that did it. Digby curled up on the couch with his head in his hands and he sobbed his heart out, high pitched like a child.
'Nobody loves me,' he wailed, 'Nobody loves me,' and he continued sobbing, the tears running over his face, 'Nobody really loves me. Nobody. Nobody. Nooooooobody.'
'What happened?' asked Zaggy quietly.
'I don't know … I don't know ... The world is black and I feel lost and alone' ... and between sobs ... 'I am so so alone ... and so helpless ... and the whole world is black .... black … endless black' ... and slowly, slowly, Digby regained some composure.
'I'm still here,' Zaggy said quietly.
Digby sat up slowly and leaned forward with his head in his hands.
'That looked as if it happened to you a long time ago', said Zaggy, still quiet, 'Can you remember when?'
'A long long time ago,' said Digby, and his voice was returning to normal, 'I'm beginning to remember the story. I think my mother had been taken into hospital with blood poisoning so I was weaned abruptly at the same time. I was left with her father and a nanny and the first few nights I was inconsolable. I wouldn't eat anything. I only know that because I've been told the story. Now I know it was true. I know how it felt. It was frightful.'
'But you have survived, haven't you?'
'Yes. I suppose so. I suppose so. But it leaves me feeling wretched,' and then Digby remembered his mother's conversation again, 'I can't have been much more than fifteen months old,' he said.
'And that little baby didn't want to be forgotten, did it,' said Zaggy.
'No,' said Digby, 'I feel so sad for the poor little soul. He couldn't know why. He just had to bear with it. He felt desolate. Utterly desolate.'
'But now someone has looked on to take pity the wee soul?' was Zaggy's reply. And Digby said nothing.
It was years later, when Digby was recounting that dream to me, he said that he had learned that the line was 'All hope abandon', and it was the doorway into the Inferno's Ninth and final Hell. 'And I've looked through the thing', he said, and believe me it lives up to its name'.
”I think you're going to like this dream.' Digby was looking pleased with himself lying on the couch, but Zaggy was as matter-of-fact as ever.
'Sounds promising,' was all he said and Digby started his narrative.
'Well. OK. You and me were standing together on the edge of a cliff looking across a wide sunshine-filled valley, with farms, winding roads, trees hedges cows & sheep grazing, streams and a railway train chuff-chuffing through it'.
'A happy valley', said Zaggy.
'Yes. And it stretched to a great wall of mountains on the other side. You told me to watch carefully because not many people had seen what was about to happen. You said the Rhine was about to change its course. After a minute or two a crack appeared in the mountain wall on the other side of the valley. Water began to spurt through. It was slow at first but then got stronger. Finally great waterfalls were cascading down the mountainsides and half the range cracked open and collapsed. It let a monstrous tidal wave surge into the valley. You told me not to worry about it because we were high enough on the cliff-top for the water not to reach us and within seconds it was lapping at our feet. The whole scene had changed. We were now under a grey sky, looking across what looked like a lake so wide we couldn't see the entire shoreline.'
Digby looked pleased with such a momentous dream, but Zaggy was non-committal.
'Why should I like this dream?' he asked.
Digby began to look a bit uncomfortable. 'Well. It's such a big spectacular dream, and you figure in it so strongly.' he said.
'So what you mean is that I should be pleased with you for fetching along such a big spectacular dream.'
'Well yes. I suppose so.'
'Do you want me to be pleased with you?'
Digby was beginning to squirm around at this line of thought. His breathing began to exercise his body. He didn't say anything.
'Did you dream it to get into my good books?' asked Zaggy, and Digby sat up breathing heavily, and looked at him.
'No,' quite sharp, 'I just dreamed it. That's how it came. You were there as a helpful sort of guide,' and by now he was sitting on the edge of the couch, breathing more heavily than ever.
'And why was I supposed to like that?' Zaggy sounded quite firm.
'I don't know. I don't know. I just thought you would be'.
'Do you often try to please people?'
Digby said nothing but his breathing and body movements were beginning to take over and he slid off the couch into a half-crouching position. Then, snarling in a harsh voice, low and seething with hatred, his body started to contort: arms, back, shoulders and his fingers contorted into claws, and half crouching he bared his teeth fully. His voice changed to a slow, deep, rasping growl as if coming from a bear … 'I … aaaam … eeeevil,' he rasped.
His breathing deepened further, his nostrils flared open, his eyes began to spit fire and he clawed the air with his fingers '… I am eeevil ... eeevil … eeevil … eeeeeeeeeevil … I … want … to … rule … theee … worrrrrld ..' and by this time he was grotesque … the very essence of evil … …glaring, clawing, trampling, snarling and breathing fire into this horrifying energy and horrifying voice ---.
'I ... waaaaant ... tooooo ... rooooool ... theeeee ... worrrrrld ... aaand ... aaaal... theeeee ... peeeeeeple ... I ... waaaaant ... tooooo ... roooool ... aaaaal ... theeee ... peeeeple ... aaand ... tooooo ... furrrrrk ... aaaaal ... theeee ... weeeemen ... I ,,, aaaaam ... eeeeeevil ... eeeevil ... eeeeeeeeeeeeevil…'
Again this was no act. No. Not in the least. It was the real thing. Not asking forgiveness. No. No. No. Body crouching, teeth bared and snarling this was a naked and unashamed declaration of character: the naked lust for power.
There was a deep silence after that. Digby sat down on the couch with his head in his hands and Zaggy said nothing. For a good few minutes anyway.
Then quietly he said, 'That looks as if it started when you were very young and has festered bigger ever since.'
'Like some ghastly boil,' said Digby.
'How do you feel about it?'
'Great. Absolutely great. It's burst', said Digby.
'Right,' said Zaggy, 'You've still got half an hour. Fancy a beer?'
In the pub Zaggy asked if, apart from the content of the sessions could Digby see anything else that was happening, but Digby couldn't.
'Oh well,' said Zaggy, 'I'll have to tell you. You started with birth and in each session you have been a little older. This last episode could refer to something when you were about two years old. Can you bring anything to mind?'
But Digby couldn't. So they sat and enjoyed their beer.
'Any dreams?' asked Zaggy.
'None,' said Digby.
'So you're not trying to please me.'
Given that up,' said Digby.
'So maybe we haven't finished with the Rhine yet. Why the Rhine? Any associations worth talking about?'
'I don't know,' said Digby, then - 'How about 'the German Officers crossed the Rhine, to fuck the women and drink the wine'. Germany. The Fatherland.'
'Did you get on well with your father?'
'No,' said Digby, 'Definitely not. I hate him. Have done ever since I can remember.'
'Corporal punishment. That's what it's called. Sadism would be nearer the truth I think.'
'Can you get back to the beginning?'
'Like it happened yesterday,' said Digby. His voice was bitter.
'It was when I was just learning how to talk. I was still in a high-chair at table, kneeling in it mostly. One tea-time there was a bowl of sugar just in reach if I leaned forward so I put one hand on the table, grabbed a fist-full of sugar with the other, and grinned looking from one parent to the other.'
'Trying them out.' said Zaggy.
'Yes,' said Digby, and now his voice was low and menacing, 'But my father blew up. 'Blah blah blah,' he roared. My mother grabbed my wrist and they opened my hand to let the sugar fall back into the bowl. 'Blah blah blah blah', …my father was red with anger … 'Blah blah blah'.
My mother protested. She didn't like whatever he said. But in the end she had to give in. They dragged me up to a bedroom. My father shouted something at my mother. She put me across her knee. My father took a long handled hairbrush and he whacked me. Twice. Hard. It was painful. I yelled out loud, but I didn't cry. I stood and looked straight up at him. I looked at him with every ounce of hatred in my body. 'Don't look at me like that' he roared'….I remember those words well. They terrified me into submission.'
As he was recounting this story Digby was stamping round the little room and his breathing started to take over. He was looking at the ground, fists clenched and looking angry. He stamped his feet and punched at the air with his clenched fists in time with his breathing. He began to yell as he breathed and stamped and punched … 'I hate you … I hate you … I hate you.,' punching the air.
Zaggy picked up a cushion and held it out, 'Go on,' he said, 'Hit. Hit. Hit. As hard as you can.' So Digby hit out as hard as he could, chanting 'I hate you … I hate you … I hate you,' his teeth bared, his mouth biting and keeping time with his stamping. He didn't stop until he was exhausted and sat on the couch getting his breath back.
Composing between breaths, 'Wow,' he said, 'You're tougher than you look.'
'Maybe you are too,' said Zaggy, 'Listen. How about another beer? You might have some talking to do and I have a thirst.' They both laughed.
In the pub next door Digby explained that the beatings went on until the war started and his father was called up. He said that wasn't the whole story. No. He also got the stick at school for playing truant, more punishment for stealing things from shops and still more for telling lies, and during the war, when he was sent to a cold and cruel boarding school, there the beatings continued.
'A sorry story', Digby said, when he ended.
'But a very big one' said Zaggy, 'Look at the size of that lake.'
'It was such a small dream,' he explained to Zaggy, 'And I haven't the least idea what it's about.'
'That means it's important,' said Zaggy.
'OK. Here goes. I was dancing happily, left foot … right foot … hands in the air. I saw I was dancing in front of a big woman. About twice my size she was and I didn't know her. As I danced my trousers opened and my flaccid penis flapped around in full view. The big woman saw it and smiled with approval. Then the dream ended.'
'How did you feel when you woke up?'
'Quite good really. Here was this big woman smiling in approval at my genitalia.'
'Your flaccid penis. Tell me, were you a child in this dream?' Zaggy asked.
'No. I was just as I am now.'
'And yet she was twice your size,' a pause, then, 'Just relax and talk. Have you any very early sexual experiences?'
'Er. Yes. Er. Two,' and Digby fell silent.
'You're reluctant,' said Zaggy.
'Yes. No. I'm thinking.' Eventually he looked up and said, 'This is one of my most treasured memories. It involved a little girl about the same age as me. You might not think that love making figured very high with six and seven year olds, but with me one sunny day it jumped at me without any warning in a game of 'Hide & Seek'
'It figures much more with children than people remember.' said Zaggy.
Digby began to talk. 'The little girl was called Hetty and we found ourselves hiding under the same hedge just off the road. 'No one will find us in this little hidey place' we said, and indeed the space under the hedge wasn't very big and we were quite close together. Not as close as playing 'Horses & Riders' mind you, but this was the first time we were so close and by ourselves. After a minute being so close I told Hetty that I had started tingling and how did she feel? She was tingling too but neither of us knew what it was.'
'Then my penis started to erect. I was enraptured by this new and totally unexpected event. Not in the least alarmed. It felt wonderful. 'Look what's happening to me,' I said, and pulled down my shorts to show Hetty.
'She thought it was wonderful too. 'Ooh. That's lovely,' she said, 'Can I touch?'
'I said, 'Yes,; and she curled her hand around my erection with great gentleness and she squeezed once or twice. 'It's lovely,' she said again, and I said 'It feels nice.'
'Then Hetty said, 'Look. See what I've got', and she pulled down her knickers so that I could see what she was showing me. I had never seen a little girl before and it was so different. 'Look,' she said, My mummy says this is my purse, and this is my money,' and she pulled back the lips of her purse and showed me a little knob nestling inside it like a little pink currant. I said, 'Oh,' and then asked if I could touch. She said 'Yes,' and when I stroked her little currant she said 'Oooh, oooh,' and I asked if it was nice. 'It's lovely.' she said, and she curled her hand around me again, 'Is that nice for you?" I told her it was lovely and suggested touching ourselves together. 'Yes let's.' said Hetty, and we began to move ourselves closer together, We didn't quite manage to touch each other.'
'Suddenly, Bang, Bang, Bang. We turned and looked. The hedge we were hiding under bordered a neighbour's garden. She had seen us. She banged on her window again, Bang, Bang, Bang, and she looked cross and wagged her finger at us saying 'No, No, No,' behind the glass. We ran away to find another hiding place but Hetty's mum was calling out of the door, 'Hetty. Hetty, Hetty,' and Hetty said 'She wants me,' and off she ran. We saw each other again after a day or two and Hetty said, 'My mummy says I have never to see you again.'
Digby finished by saying, 'I was very disappointed. My mother had told me that 'I should give Hetty a bag of sweets or something,' and that's the last time we saw each other. Maybe we were being kept apart. The war started two or three years after that, and we moved away.'
When the story was over Digby told Zaggy that he had been surprised he had suffered no punishment. Not even a reprimand. He thought that after what Hetty had said it would lead to trouble, but it didn't. He told Zaggy that in telling these stories it occurred to him that until then he had never put them together.
Zaggy said nothing, and eventually Digby started speaking.
'The thing is that there's something doesn't add up about this,' he said, and went on to say he thought the dream about his dance in front of the big kindly-looking woman related to a baby-sitter who appeared soon after the incident with Hetty.
'The Baby-sitter was a big smiling homely sort of a woman.' he said, 'and she had a broad Yorkshire voice, rich and friendly. She assured my parents that 'everything would be alright and for them not to worry', and they left.
'They hadn't been gone very long before she got me out of my bed. She needed help she said, 'to see if there was a mouse on top of the dresser.' In a warm and kindly voice she said she would hoist me up to look over the top and see if it was still there. This she did quite easily with one hand over my thigh and the other on my hip holding my backside close against her shoulder. There was no mouse that I could see and she lowered me back to the ground slowly. Her hands were gentle but firm on my body, and I began to tingle. 'Do you have many mice in the house?' she asked, and she sat down by the fire. With her hands on my waist she put me on her knee and started talking.
'As we talked I noticed her hands were moving around my hips and legs, and I started to tingle all over. At length the tingling intensified and it became obvious that she was moving her hands towards my penis and it started to erect. 'Where are you going?' I asked, smiling and pleased at the pleasure she was giving me. But abruptly she covered my now fully erected penis with her hand.'
'Eee. Yer dirty little bugger', she said in a really nasty voice, 'Nay. Nay. Nay, not like that,' and she crumpled my erection flat under her hand, and that hurt. She started to fondle me saying, 'There. Nice and soft. Like that. That's better isn't it? Nice. Nice. Let me get hold of you. I'll show you what it should be like'
I was puzzled. The pleasure was immense. New and exciting. Not orgasmic but really pleasurable. I let her pick me up and lay me down on the table. 'Let me see yours,' I said, but she smiled indulgently and said 'Naaay, naaay,' and she slid her hands oh so gently between my thighs, and she eased my legs apart and she put both her hands over my penis. She leaned over me pushing it down on my pelvis as she did so, and then she straightened up keeping her hands firmly on me. She did this rhythmically, up and down, fondling and saying, 'There. There. That's nice isn't it? That's how it should be. Not hard and nasty. N-i-i-ce and soft. That's n-i-i-i-i-ce isn't it", and she kept me in her cupped hands as she moved up and down. She went on doing this for some time, and indeed it was nice. Very pleasurable. I relaxed and gave in under her soft touch and her even softer voice. She continued pushing down on me gently with her hands but gave up fondling, and said, "There. Nice and soft. That's what it should be like. Yer like that don't yer?" and I cannot deny that I did. Eventually she picked me up from the table and cuddled me into her soft body and said, 'EE. What a luvly little boy y'are' and she tucked me up in bed and I fell asleep at once."
When Digby had finished this dreadful story Zaggy asked him why he thought it didn't add up properly.
'I have always thought that this episode came out of the blue.' he said, 'and that the woman was perverted and I was her victim. But bringing it back to mind I remembered something more.'
'The next day my father took me for a little walk. After about five minutes he asked me about the baby-sitter. 'Did she maul you?' he asked. I said 'No.' I had no idea what 'maul' meant but I was sure that 'yes' would lead to trouble. My father accepted my lie without question and I felt relieved, but of course at sea trying to make sense of the events. Thinking about it I'm beginning to realise that he knew all about it. Why otherwise would he ask such a question?'
'Why indeed?' said Zaggy, and then after a pause, 'How old did you say you were when all this happened?' Zaggy asked.
'I would be coming up for seven and Hetty was maybe a year or two younger.'
'So your orgasms would be years away in the future.'
'Oh yes. I'd been through two more schools before I found out how to do it.'
'With girls?' asked Zaggy.
'Alas no. I was very shy with girls. Looking back I missed dozens of invitations. They must have thought I was a dead loss.'
'You wouldn't realise the harm that had been done to you.'
'No. And the attitudes to sex in those days were severe. Everything was taboo and not mentioned. I played safe. I became a do-it-yourself enthusiast. I never got going with a girl again until National Service in Germany. I never responded with a girl the way I had with Hetty. And anyway we always seemed to move away as soon it looked likely. Then the last school I was at was a boarding school, all beatings and no girls for several miles. That's what it felt like anyway. And I was ravenous. Couldn't stop thinking about girls. Morning noon and night, and yet timid and shy whenever I met a girl. Heaven knows how I coped,'
'Especially after such a wicked episode and trying to please such a disciplinarian father,' said Zaggy.
'Yes. That's what I've been wondering about,' said Digby, 'My father said nothing about Hetty but now I think he must have known all about it.'
'I felt sure I was going to get a punishment of some sort but I didn't. It left me feeling confused. One thing I am certain of now is that my rosy little affair with Hetty happened before that horrible woman got her hands on me. And I have the sickening idea that my father organised that nauseating episode to curtail my activities with girls. In which case I want nothing more to do with him.'
Silence for a while, then, 'Are you still in contact with your father?' asked Zaggy.
'He no longer has anything to do with me since I set up my own business, but parents and brothers live quite close. Too close in fact. Much too close. In fact I have it in mind to pack up and go, but it's a bit risky with my wife and children. Setting up in a new place would be difficult until we got established,'
'So those two early experiences haven't left haven't spoilt your love- life then?'
'I'm not sure about that,' said Digby, 'I had two marriages fail. That might have been because of my own inadequacy. I couldn't respond properly when I was being encouraged to do so. Love-making was not as joyful as it could have been.'
'We're a bit older and get by. We missed out on the 'Summer of Love' and all that. And we never saw any merit in the drugs. But we do have our own life.'
'I think that is the most important thing. Do you want to open your love-life?'
'I can't see the point really. I don't want to open another can of worms. As I said we have our own life and can live with our shortcomings.'
'In that case I would offer another beer, but you would be a bit pushed for your train. Perhaps call it a day. OK for next week?'
'Yes. Fine. See you then. Cheers,' and Digby made his way home. He had a lot to think about on his way. He realised that his love – life had been warped by what had happened in his childhood.
'How are you?' asked Zaggy. The dreaded question.
'As well as can be expected I suppose.' said Digby.
'Oh. What do you mean?'
'It's all been a bit flat. Boring. The business we started way back in the early sixties is now looking a bit stale. Not so many customers as when we started. Mind you the workshop and showroom are 300 feet above sea level and a mile from the nearest tarmac, and not only are people past that sort of set up … there are fewer of them. We were pretty unique in the sixties … silversmithing & jewellery using local semi-precious stones and no competition. There's now six more jewellers all working away and that's not helpful. We're seriously beginning to look for a new home. So I'm not dreaming much that's sensible.'
Zaggy laughed. 'Dreams are rarely sensible,' he said.
'Wait until you hear this,' said Digby. 'I was in a bath. Quite a big bath that had a curious arrangement of pipes joining into each other and leading to the taps. Curious isn't really the right word. Bewilderingly complicated would be better. They were all copper and full of bends, joins, short bits and long bits making a jumbled lattice of pipes leading to the brass taps. The water that came out through the taps was clear and greeny/blue. I was naked, sitting enjoying the warmth, and a voice from somewhere said, 'Let it be as big as it wants'. There the dream faded and I woke up feeling rested and relaxed.'
'Any ideas about it?' asked Zaggy.
'Except that the message is the opposite of the horrible baby-sitter. But I have no inclination to start unravelling that incomprehensible network of pipes.'
'That could be the answer', said Zaggy.
'Your life is becoming more important to you. How about a walk in the park? Better than sitting in my room.'
And that's what they did. And indeed it was on such a sunny day.
Digby spent the next week just getting on with things. Although the holiday season was coming to an end he was still fully occupied with orders taken in the summer and he found he was able to engage fully with what he was doing. He felt unburdened and had only one dream to take to his next session, but he thought it was the strangest dream of them all.
He dreamed that he was climbing a small but very steep hill. In fact so steep, so rocky and overgrown that torn and bleeding he had to spiral his way round it to get to the top.
Once there he found a small house, more or less square, and beautiful in the sunshine, with outlooks to all four points of the compass. Inside the open door stood an old man. He had snowy white hair and a beard down to his waist. He had very kindly eyes. Beside him was seated a young woman in a white dress. She was working at a spinning-wheel producing a fine white thread.
'What took you so long?' asked the old man, 'My daughter has been waiting for you.'
Digby said this dream left him feeling sort of fulfilled and complete.
Zaggy said so it should, but there might be one last scene to play, and he suggested one or two more sessions to give space. However Digby said he was feeling he had reached the end of his journey. He and his wife were beginning to look for a new home. In fact they had settled on a small fishing town on the south coast where the only jeweller had just gone bust and left for somewhere else, and that appealed to him.
'We've found a house on a hillside, and a separate workshop & showroom in the town, and we've started negotiations', he said, 'and we're hoping to move next summer holidays as it fits in nicely with schools. We have a lot to do first'.
Zaggy laughed and said, 'Well … there was time for a last beer'.
And there was. And that was that.
Well, not quite. About a couple of years ago Digby wrote to Zaggy saying he was writing up the sessions with a view to publication, and did Zaggy mind being contacted for verification if the need arose. Zaggy replied not in the least … he had no problems with any of that.
The need did not arise. No one seemed in the least interested in publishing. Digby concluded his only way forward was to put it all on line, and I have been glad to help with that.
Alas Zaggy died in Glasgow nearly a year before that happened.