Prospecting for Ben – Confessions of counter-intelligence…

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo


The image of a man dying the cruel and tortured death of a criminal is not an inspiring one, yet for millions it is a focus not only for their own personal faith and relationship with divinity, but a token of sacrifice made with love. Some Christian movements prefer a bare cross, perhaps to emphasise the resurrection, others choose to replace the central figure with a rose or dove…a more abstract symbol… and that word itself may be a key to understanding.

Even the most ardent and orthodox believer does not worship the crucifix itself; their love and faith are directed at what is depicted by the crucifix; for many this is the ultimate sacrifice for redemption through love. The crucifix, therefore, is a symbol and a potent one.

For others the interpretation of the symbol is less dependent upon orthodox religious doctrine, but applies the essence of that spiritual…

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Prospecting for Ben… the interior castle II

Sue, holding all the strings, of course, sheds some light on Ben’s predicament . . . from afar . . .

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

“May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.”

Teresa of Ávila


‘Ben’ is in prison. His own choices led him there and his incarceration begins at the end of Scions of Albion. He is, of course, a character in our books, but his journey is one we all share. Readers will know that there is a deeper current of symbolic meaning running through these books and may already equate Ben’s incarceration with the process of incarnation and spiritual growth.

The name for this character was not chosen at random. Amongst its many meanings ‘Ben’ means ‘son’ in Hebrew and may originate from the root benah… to build. It seems a perfect combination for those who consider the soul to be a child of the divine and who see the human personality as something built in response to life and experience… a…

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Names Matter…

Stuart takes us deeply into spiritual riddles . . .

Stuart France


“What’s your name? Why, it’s pudding and tame.
And if you ask me again I’ll tell you the same.”
Children’s Rhyme.

Once there were a woman and she baked five pies…

“Are we confusing were and was perhaps?”
“Its dialect and it gives the story character, and history, and… Oh, I don’t know… a certain resonance with time and place!”
…“Which dialect is it?”
“East Anglian…”
“Norfolk and Suffolk!”

…When they came out of the oven they was that over baked, the crust were too hard to eat…

“They appear to be transposing tenses.”…

…So she says to her darter.
‘Maw’r,’ says she, ‘put you them there pies on the shelf an’ leave ‘em there a little, an they’ll come agin’…

…“Whoa… Whoa… Whoa… ‘Maw’r’?”
“It’s short for ‘mawther’ which is a term of endearment for the daughter.”
“A ‘term of endearment’ might be stretching it a bit.”
“Stretching the…

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Ben’s Bit, part five – The Reasonable Dr Grey

Fisted gloveAA

Ben’s Bit – part five – The Reasonable Dr Grey

The man is calm. His dark-rimmed, circular glasses focus the intensity of his study at me, rather than taking in the light that bounces off my prison uniform, whose monotone colour, resembling a modern warship, bears his name.

“Do you think it’s normal for a person in your position to refuse bail?” Dr Grey asks, reasonably.  He knits the fingers of his hands together into an unconscious tight fist, in a movement that reminds me how physically close together two entirely different gestures can be. “It was, after all, a first offence?” he says.

He’s not a reasonable person, though the system, no doubt, judges him to be so. He’s a very person. Very educated, very fair . . . very capable of judgement.

I have no doubt that I am in the presence of evil, very here.

I put my hands on the old metal table that separates us and look back through the glass circles that shield his eyes. Deliberately and slowly, I gather my own hands and pull his attention towards the fingers which interlock gently and lovingly, bringing mind and matter into harmony as I cross the thumbs and breathe the silence of calmness and life into this sterile exchange.

Despite his intent, he realises that I have created a parody of his false tranquility. He separates his own clenched fingers and knits his brows.

“We are not unreasonable people, Ben,” he says, reassuringly; hiding his inner frustration that a renowned Derbyshire psychiatrist could be tripped up so soon in a relationship by a gesture. “I am sure that you . . .” he pauses for effect. “ . . . And your accomplices had your reasons for the crime, but wouldn’t it have been easier to accept the bail conditions once you were caught?”  He smiles, and I have to acknowledge that I am in the presence of a very clever man.

I want this to be over, so a degree of cooperation is necessary, though I already know what the outcome will be. I respond with, “The bail figure set by the local judge took advantage of my perceived status as a businessman. It was inflated beyond reasonableness and based on a false value of my so-called wealth.”  Then I look him in the eyes and say, pointedly, “Hundreds of thousands is not funny, nor is it justice . . .”

Dr Grey smiles, understandingly, and mulls this over with an opening of his fingers to show that’s debatable for a criminal masquerading as a respectable pillar of the community. For the thousandth time, he clicks the silver ball at the end of his pen, then scribbles some notes in his expensive looking and weather-beaten black leather pad. “So, you weren’t against the idea of bail?” he asks.

“Not at all.” I say.  “Do you think I enjoy being in here?”

“I just wondered,” he muses. “If, perhaps you felt like a martyr to your cause?”

“What cause?” I add, pulling my eyes from looking at my crossed thumbs and raising them to look, calmly, into his.

“The cause that took you all out in the late night, dressed and armed for theft, to raid our ancient church?”

I think of Wen’s humble but accurate air rife . . . hardly special forces, even given our impromptu, all-black uniforms. “Don’t you think you’re getting carried away with this?” I ask, reasonably, avoiding any response to his carefully hidden word ‘all’.

“Carried away as in our precious stone . . .” He sneers, proud of his timely quip in the face of the first real response he’s had from me.

Our precious stone?” I ask. “You’re local then?”

Dr Grey breathes deeply. His body language suggests growing impatience.  I’m learning far more about him than he is about me. He has all the power, of course.  But I don’t want to show him I know that . . .

“This is an old jail, Ben,” he lets out the held breath. “It is not a pleasant place to be – it has a history of doing strange things to one’s mental state.  Wouldn’t you rather cooperate with us and put this behind you?”  He drums his fingers on the metal surface; it sounds a lot like the drum roll that might precede a hanging.  It’s cleverly done and quite sinister; changing the emotional atmosphere in this room of interrogation. “We can be creatively lenient, too . . .” It’s a chilling statement, given what it really says.

Before I can extract this outrageous mental dagger, he continues, “Conspiring to carry out an act like this – as the stone could not have been stolen by one man, alone – can be considered a serious offence . . . if there are thought to be deeper motives.” Dr Grey smiles, bringing the drum roll to a sudden stop.

“We -when,” I say, shrieking inside that I nearby dropped the ball. “When I moved the stone, I did not steal it, I simply moved it somewhere else – somewhere it had originally been . . .”

“I know,” he says, gleefully, pouncing on the cue he’s been expecting.  He pushes another edition of the Bakewell Gazette across the table at me.

Bakewell Gazette Article 2

The article is an old one. I suspect Dr Grey has been saving it. It is simply an update on the one that Yellow Eyes brought me, but hints that the inhabitants of the nearby village, to which we took the stone, are secretly pleased that their choice piece of sacred history has been restored. Quite how the good and the great of Bakewell are taking it can be read in the determined expression on Dr Grey’s face, as he watches me clutch at this ray of hope.

“Not in a million years . .  .” he says, meaning any determined opposition to my incarceration from the villagers, but pointing at the article. “. . . Could you have moved that stone, alone.” It’s a very clever use of English, and even someone studying the videotape of the interview would easily miss it.

“I did move the stone, I used portable machinery. It’s quite possible if you know what you’re doing – and my car is more that capable of carrying that load.” The latter is true.

“Beautiful car, I’m told . . . a BMW?” he adds. “You must miss it?”

I pretend I’m looking back at my featureless cell wall. I miss more than just my bloody car . . .

He leans forward. “Ben,” he says, changing his tone back to Dr Reasonable, “Do you think that the man in the street, in a Bakewell street, say, would describe you as a sane person . . .”

It is, unfortunately and terrifyingly, a very reasonable question . . .

———————————————————–< to be continued-

Ben’s Bit is a continuing first-person narrative of the character created by Stuart France and Sue Vincent, which may bear some relation to the author of this story, Steve Tanham, their fellow director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness.  In the latest of their books, Scions of Albion, Ben is arrested for his overly enthusiastic part in a mad escapade, and the other two are nowhere to be seen . . .  For more, enjoy their Doomsday series of books, and the new series (Lands of Exile) beginning soon. Click here for details.

Rooted in the Land

The Ridge Tree

Rooted in the Land

No raging storm front tears my roots from ridge

No howling sky will twist and drag my limbs from land

The densest deluge will not wash my will

enduring, rooted here to frame and feed this place.

But one day the lightning may come . . .

And neither rhyme nor reason then resist endurance’s end

©Copyright words and image Stephen Tanham 2015

One step…

Sue (and the rest of us) recalls one of the most intense and dramatic moments of the Silent Eye’s history . . . was that only a year ago?

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo


I was going through the files and came across a picture that seemed perfect for Colleen’s Writer’s Quote Wednesday. It is very pertinent at present, as my son opens a new chapter of adventure in his story… which inevitably sets off a chain reaction in my own life too. We never really know where the road is going to lead us as we face the mysteries of tomorrow.

It seemed appropriate too as we approach September and the Silent Eye’s Harvest of Being weekend at Ilkley, where, in what seems like a complete lapse from sanity, I crossed these same stepping stones blindfold. That was an exercise in trust, a very visible one, guided by my two fellow directors, Steve and Stuart.

The trust goes deeper than friendship with these two, but there is a trust deeper still that carries me forward, one foot in front of the other, every…

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Mist over Pendle

A haunting photo of Pendle Hill, in my home county of Lancashire; and some deep thoughts from smackedpendtax about one of the sadder periods in that county’s history . . . and the weakness of the human mind in the face of collective fear.

Walking with a Smacked Pentax

Rising up like the bow of an old battleship, this is Pendle hill in nearby Lancashire – the scene of the Lancashire Witch Trials which happened in the 17th century.

Twelve were accused of the murder of ten people by witchcraft, and after a lengthy trial ten were found guilty and hanged. One died in prison and one was found not guilty. It is a fascinating story and much too long for this post. There are plenty of references to it on the web – but for those of you who want a full history here is the Wikipedia version of events.

The prosecutions star witness was a nine year old child – Jennet Device, who was a family member of some of those accused. Jennet gave evidence against her mother, brother and sister. The trials tore families apart and aroused suspicions and resentment in the district for years.

Several years ago I worked in…

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Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee, part 25 – The Turning Point

Nine Deadly 25 Backwards hat head

I knew it was Alexandra. I could feel her strong presence as she entered the cafe for our Monday morning chat. Even though I could not see it, I could tell, exactly, the moment that she stood still to take in the scene, unmoving by the doorway, gazing across the busy tables, her vision locking on to the spectacle . . .

I had worn the best of my suits. Following a purge of what turned out to be fourteen of them, I had three remaining, of which this plain blue travel suit was the best. It was freshly laundered and pressed. It felt strange to be back in it after three years of living the very opposite of the IT corporate life from which I had departed. Chinos and a good shirt were my usual ‘best dressed’ these days.

But she wasn’t looking at the unusual sight of me in a suit . . .

Around me was a circle of silent people. Despite the usual crush of Monday morningers, as we had come to know them (and us), there was an eerie quiet over several tables on either side. They were waiting, as people often do in this situation. They were waiting to find out why the usual emotional space in which they lived had been ‘stopped’.

You needed the eyes of good friends in a scene like this. Good friends need not be those you already know – in fact, they are often completely new to you; and hence of the moment, which is everythingMy particular good friends of this moment of presence were a rotund couple, presumably grandparents of the two red-faced and excited children, both in stripey tops and clutching buckets and spades still in the post-purchase netting. Several minutes prior, the children had caught my conspiratorial wink, and had, gleefully, winked back at me, whispering to a silent and astonished Janet and John senior that there was a game being played . . . Children are wonderful accomplices, if you solicit their help at the right moment.

There is also, of course, the danger of a real madman, so people are cautious, too. But I wasn’t radiating the same sort of vibes you would get in that situation. I was making it comic, but unexplained, and that can be a powerful combination, as mime artists throughout history would attest.

There was a cough behind me.

“It deserved a response,” I said, looking at Janet and John senior but not talking to them. I winked again at the kids, who crushed together and waved their little legs in glee.

“It was that good?” Alexandra said to the back of my neck.

“It was better than that . . .”

“Will I need to help you drink your coffee?” she asked.

“No, but you might straighten my tie, if you would be so kind – I think it has twisted a bit.”

“It has,” she said, leaning over our usual small coffee table and adjusting the oversized, orange knot I had carefully tied an hour ago, before wresting myself into the suit jacket at the back of the car.

“The tie would be one of nine you have left, I take it?”

I laughed at the cleverness of that. “Yes, I used to have nine, but we have only one remaining.”

“Nine of nine?” she asked.

“Of course!”

“Going out in style?”

“A suitable response to that magnificent performance of yours last week!”

I heard her chuckle. “Well, a girl’s gotta graduate some time . . .”

“Can you turn around and drink your coffee?” she asked.

“Can’t possibly,” I said, rolling my eyes at Janet junior who giggled and shook her head, certain that one couldn’t.

“Because the Nine has his head backwards by virtue of a jacket, shirt and tie that cover his back and not his front.”

“Nope,” said the reversed man. “Now, you’ve stopped trying and are getting piqued!”

I heard her sit down and drink some coffee. The whole cafe had dropped into silence. It can be like that, being creatively different or an idiot, depending on your perspective; but, if you stick with it, amazing things can happen.

There was an audible in-breath, the sort you’d take if you were a barrister and about to make your closing address. Then she let it out and giggled. “The suit isn’t turned around – you are!”

“Big difference?” the reversed man asked.

“Huge difference.” I could feel her neck straightening as the point of the charade came clear.

“He’s turned away . . . he’s fully equipped for the best of life if he were just to use it, but he’s turned away!”

“Metanoia.” I said.


“Greek. Metanoia was wrongly translated when the versions of the Bible we use today were being assembled.” I could feel her listening. “Metanoia was rendered as ‘repent’, but its root word means a turning around.”

“‘Unless ye turn around‘ . . .” said my clever and learned friend. “To face what?”

“To face where you came from – our shared divine origin. I looked at John junior’s shining eyes and smiled back, drawing a pretend halo over my head – something quite difficult in a backwards suit.  He laughed with me and swung his feet again, enjoying the strangest Punch and Judy show he’d ever seen.

“I get it,” she said, much closer than she should have been. With a strength I didn’t know she possessed, she spun my chair around and I looked up into eyes which were shining every bit as much as John junior’s. “I get it,” she repeated, as I ground to a halt. “Now drink your bloody coffee and let all these people have their breakfast!”

There was spontaneous applause at her actions, as everyone returned to a normal Monday morning. There were tears in her eyes. “But someone from ‘in life’ had to swing you around didn’t they?” she said.

I looked back with tenderness into the tears. Shaking my head, I started to speak, “It’s a mirr. . .” But she hung her head and sniffed, speaking very low; really getting it.

“It wasn’t you that was turned around, was it . . . ” It was not a question.

“No,” I said softly. Leaning forward and planting a small kiss on the top of her head. “No.”

“And you did all this for me,” she looked up and around at a room returned to its normal state.

“For anyone who comes to the gate and asks,” I said softly.

It was a little while later. I had, at Alexandra’s insistence, put my jacket on correctly, and removed my tie. At least I now just looked like a vicar, she had said, leaving for her train.

Rose arrived at my table with a fresh coffee. She had a mischievous twinkle in her eyes. I looked down at the coffee cup. She had placed the saucer upside down on the cup’s rim. On the top of the inverted saucer were a neatly folded bill and a delicately-balanced, heart-shaped chocolate from a Black Magic selection.

“Five coffees and two ice creams.” she barked, smiling into my open-mouthed response. “Three for you and the lady, and the rest for your backstage team behind – it’s the least you can do.”

I could only agree; and turned to smile at the four happy faces grinning at me, tucking into the additional course.

“And the chocolate?”

“Made me cry, too – you idiot; and I’ve no idea why . . .”

Behind me, John junior’s legs were swinging, happily, making the whole floor tremble.


Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee is usually published on Thursdays.

All images and text ©International copyright, The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, 2015.

Steve Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness; a place of companionship, sharing and the search for the real in life, using the loving techniques and insights of esoteric psychology. He retired from a life as an IT entrepreneur to establish the School in 2012, and, having persuaded Sue Vincent to . . .

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The Path

Another lovely moorland journey from James at smackedpentax

Walking with a Smacked Pentax

This is what I love the most about hiking – walking for miles and miles without seeing anyone else.

This track starts at the old Victorian dam at Scar House a few miles outside Pateley Bridge, and it leads to Great Whernside mountain, passing Dead Mans Hill on the right.

Now tell me, who wouldn’t love to walk this path on a beautiful autumn morning…and spend the day on the fells?

Go on, you know you would…

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Turn of the wheel

Sue does a wheelie . . .

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo


The car pulled out in front of me and stood out from the rest of the traffic like the proverbial sore thumb. I followed it up the long road towards the village, conscious of how different it looked. Neither veteran nor vintage, it was simply an older model Volvo… nothing special, not that old either; but while all the other cars on the road, including my own display all the seductive curves of a beauty contest, the Volvo still sported the angularity of … well, not so very long ago, when I thought about it.

It struck me that it is only over the past decade, really, that cars have moved into this aerodynamic voluptuousness. Even then, the change has been such a gradual shift, with cars of all ages on the roads, that we barely take any notice. It was only seeing this one against the backdrop of so…

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