Archives for February 2010

Another Country…

I have just been watching Andrew Marr's brilliant programme Britain From the Air. One of the facts that struck me was how our concept of the British countryside is actually a false one – so much of it is man- made and the idyllic pastoral scenes we all cling to are figments of our imagination.

It made me think of how I view Britain from here in Italy. I've been living here 15 years now (16 in June), and I am guilty of romanticizing England as a land of cathedrals, cottages, cricket and choirs and turning a blind eye to the carbon copy High Streets, yellow lines and clogged up roads as well as the omnipresent cameras, Tesco Express and celebrity-obsessed population.

But Italy too is romanticized in people's minds – mine too when I am thinking of while back in the UK visiting. We dream of pantiled farmhouses, lines of cypresses, happy natives quaffing purple wine… when the reality for many Italians is a daily struggle to make ends meet while living in a condominio in a little sea of concrete.

So where do these dreamscapes come from? Are we all blind?

I think we need our fantasies, our distilled 'essence of Italy' or 'essence of Britain' and they are based on the soul of the place rather than anything that matches reality. I am happy in my imaginary England and I do see glimpses of it every day I'm there, just as my fantasy Italy glimmers through from time to time.

And there is always the hope that somewhere, someday you might find a real place that matches up to the vision.

Déjà Vu

As promised, here is the guest blog from writer Anthony Peake. Thanks Tony!

The itch had been building up for a few months. Now I was in the position to respond with a damn good scratching. I was going to write a book!

I was in the fortunate position of being able to take a twelve month sabbatical from my “normal” job as a management consultant. My contract was due to come to an end in a week’s time and I was free to follow my muse. It was very exciting.

One problem though. My muse had suggested a book but that was it. No subject, structure plot or even genre was in my mind as, on that fateful first morning when I sat myself down in front of a blank computer screen. I fired up my word processor software. A vast expanse of virgin white pixels presented themselves. My fingers poised themselves over the keyboard lying below them in expectation.

Nothing. Well not quite, simply a realisation that this writing lark was not as easy as I had thought.

Then it started. I felt a tingling sensation in my lips and I noticed that a small part of the screen had started to break up into a tell-tail pattern of jagged lines vibrating and swirling. I was starting a migraine attack. What I was experiencing was not the attack itself but the tell-tail precursors; a series of visual and sensory disturbances known as the “aura”.

What happened next was extremely strange. I looked through the jagged lines at the screen and I had the overpowering sensation that I had done this before. I had sat in that very position looking at a computer screen. At some indeterminate time in my past I had looked out of the windows behind the computer and looked at that North Horsham street with the early spring blooms appearing on the tree opposite.

 The sensation of familiarity was overwhelming, both in relation to the scene and also to the nature of the sensation itself. It was a déjà vu – that odd feeling that you are living a moment that you have lived before. It was a sensation I had long lived with but it was only at that moment in March 2000 that I realised that this curious sensation was linked to my migraine aura.

As the sensation faded so did the aura and as its echoes reverberated around my head a new feeling arose – I had the subject for my book. I would write a book about déjà vu!

Exactly one year later the first draft of my first book was completed. My déjà vu sensation had not only acted as my “muse” but it had also set in motion a book that may explain what this curious memory anomaly really signifies.

Is There Life After Death? – The Extraordinary Science of What Happens When You Die

Anthony Peake to Guest Blog

I'm very pleased that Anthony Peake has agreed to write a guest blog for me. Tony, author of Is There LIfe After Death and The Daemon, is a  highly original author with provocative views on consciousness and is a sought-after speaker who, among other things, has a regular fortnightly slot on BBC Radio Merseyside. You can find details of that as well as all his upcoming lectures and media appearances on his website

Anthony will be sending me his blog in the next few days and as I have an avid interest in the brain, consciousness and quantum physics (well, everyone has to have a hobby!) I am really looking forward to learning more about him and his writing.