After booking on the Dave Davies satsang spiritual retreat weekend, we received a long list of terms and conditions in the mail. We pored through these highly explicit demands, prohibiting us from all kinds of specific activities and behaviour, and found them quite puzzling. I’ve never prohibited people visiting our house from removing any item of clothing, for instance.

An addendum to one reads ‘7’’ is big enough for anyone!’ (exclamation mark in original). Some of them definitely raised both a smile and an eyebrow.

The strict secrecy wasn’t something I found that hard to adhere to – no one’s that bothered what I do or where I go since my mother died (she would have insisted on minute particulars but now it’s a case of ‘No one’s going to care if you don’t call them when you said’, as Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker points out in ‘Razzmatazz’).

But actually my dad, who, ten years ago, would let me venture to Australia or the US without so much as asking a flight number, seemed a little put out that I literally have no idea where I’m going. At one point he even mumbled something about ‘white slavery’.

Something that I had found mildly perturbing was seeing ‘Flowers in the Rain’ prominently featured on the David Icke website. But what did I really know about this man – that he’d been a TV sports presenter and was now popularly cast as a nut? And something about a turquoise jumpsuit. Maybe I should have found out a bit more before judging him.  Anyway, it was too late to worry about that so I postponed checking him out until after I came back.

David Icke

Now I learn from Wikipedia that Icke heard voices telling him he was destined to be a healer and that he believes events on earth are being controlled by reptilian humanoids, with the ability to shape-shift, originally from outer space. These humanoids include the Queen and George W. Bush. I’m thinking one too many episodes of Roswell here. Hmm, okay, the research wasn’t as reassuring as I’d expected. I think ‘crackpot’ wasn’t that harsh a classification after all.

More worrying for me personally is that Icke had an experience at an ancient burial site in Peru that was remarkably similar to one I had on Dartmoor in the days after the weekend, maybe because my chakras had been activated (without my knowledge, I have to say).

Among subsequent adventures, we’d stopped in a car park near Merrivale while looking for a stone row. Decided to ask a rather brisk-looking woman who’d just got out of a red sports car for directions, not holding out much hope that she’d be able to help. Serendipitously (sorry, Tom, if you’re reading this one), she turned out to be a druid about to get ‘robed up’ to perform a ceremony in the middle of a stone circle at the end of the row we’d been looking for. So we wound up taking part in a druid ritual to celebrate the equinox while some curious cows regarded us, one idly scratching its flank against a larger standing stone nearby. No respect, bovines.

And I apparently had none either as I’d blundered on ahead over letes and through squishy bits of bog and strayed into the centre of the circle without hearing the strict proviso that it should never be entered straight off. Instead I should have walked round it three times anticlockwise first. Oops. As Britney says, ‘That is just so typically me.’ I quickly exit and join the others. Coincidentally, the arch druidess, Andraste (real name Lois) had other similarities to Dave, being the same age as him, dyslexic, owning a sword and saying a prayer for world peace.

Arch druidess Andraste

We stood in a row inside the circle and joined Andraste in chanting, saying prayers, leaving offerings for the ancestors. But being there had this strange effect on me – and it was very much like energy was flowing through me. It was similar to how I’d felt when Rosina practised about five minutes of reiki on me on the Sunday, a tingling from the crown of my head down around my entire body together with a kind of light-headedness, a bit like I had an aura around me after having Ready Brek for breakfast.

And here’s an experience that David Icke had in February 1991 on a visit to a pre-Inca burial ground in Peru.

He writes that he felt drawn to a large mound of earth, at the top of which lay a circle of waist-high stones. As he stood in the circle, he again felt his feet pulled to the earth as if by a magnet, and an urge to outstretch his arms. His feet started vibrating, and his head felt as though a drill was passing through it. … He described it later as the kundalini—a term from Indian yoga describing a libidinal force that lies coiled at the base of the spine—exploding up through his spine, activating his brain and his chakras, or energy centres, triggering a higher level of consciousness.

In my case, however, no higher level of consciousness ensued. And I put the feeling down to it being a bit cold and exposed out there as the sun went down.

But I realised that I’d not only felt this sensation during the reiki but also, to a less intense extent, when we’d earlier braved a roaring gale to traipse out to Dunkery Beacon on Exmoor. I met some other drenched individuals at the monument engaged on a similar quest and shouted at them through the downpour ‘What are you people, crazy?’ They just laughed and followed their dogs on through the lashing rain further out onto the windswept and desolate moor.

While I waited by the beacon for my companion (sometimes I swear it’s like she’s walking backwards) to catch up, I tried to shelter on the leeside. It was cold, my mac hadn’t been waterproof in a few years, and I started to feel this odd tingling coursing through my body. Once again, I put it down to exposure. Could it be I’m more receptive than I think ?

But back to the actual weekend.

Another thing that did go according to plan was the hour’s enjoyable yoga with Zena each day, which she adroitly adapted to the level of (in)competence of the group.

During the final gig, a birthday cake was brought in for one of our party, held aloft till the sparkler atop was blown out and then removed for cutting. ‘Happy Birthday’ was sung and I whispered to Dave ‘Now all we need is for someone to stamp on the cake.’ That would have made the evening complete. He laughs and I think he says, ‘Be careful.’

Some sexy hip action at the start of this version of  the Kinks’ ‘Live Life’

Growly, in-your-face vocals on ‘Milk Cow Blues’, Dave delivering threats with a joyful smile and seductive hair toss

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