A river journey, (part true, half true and fiction).

I bumped into an old friend of mine whilst walking through town yesterday. I was looking for some maps and a blue panama hat, things I feel I will want if I attempt a long walk South, through France and Spain and a ferry to the Canary islands, and then onto the smallest most Westerly island called El Hierro, my personal island of magic and relaxation.

I scoured the charity shops and came away with a map of Brittany, then found a local map on marketplace, but no blue panama hat as yet.

I hadn’t seen Jenson since 2017 when he had recounted his venture to a Greek island which I wrote about in my short e book, The Briefcase, (available on Amazon!). He was cleaning beaches of plastic when he made an equally important find the other side of the island.

We sat down and had a coffee. He said that he had another boat story to tell me. I put my listening cap on because Jenson’s stories are always good-in my opinion.

It was earlier in the year and Jenson, as usual, was trying to find a way to be of use on the planet. His frustrations often came to a head, and at that point he would pray. He would put out a request to somehow be of use and to do some good. Jenson was living in one of the local boatyards on his boat called Surething. Surething was confined to living on the concrete hard standing in the yard. She wouldn’t be going to sea again, converting her 19 foot length into a liveaboard meant cutting holes in her and adding bits here and there that made her unseaworthy, but Jenson also felt like living on the river, not maybe for ever, but for the experience.

He made that prayer. He asked God, the Universe, whoever, whatever, to put something in his way, to offer him guidance. And it came quick! As he walked into the yard that night he found a couple of people that he knew chatting by the cafe. Someone had offered a very good deal on a small local boat. It was a 14 foot 6 inch sailboat called Cheesecake which was ready to sail, and came with a local mooring which cost only fifty pounds a year. The owner wanted £200 for the boat, and the remainder of £400 paid by the end of the year. And that was six months away.

The other guys weren’t interested so Jenson found the owner and said could he have it. The only thing Jenson wanted to stipulate was that if he himself wanted to sell the boat before the end of the year then he could, and he would pay the balance immediately on that sale. Jenson felt strongly that this was the way to go, and the owner agreed. Jenson paid the £200 and immediately became the owner of a small seaworthy sailing boat, which had its own mooring on the river. Things can happen fast when you ask the right question.

Jenson took a few navigation lessons from a local chap who knew the river well. They went out a couple of times too so that Jenson could get a sense of what it was like to sail on a tidal river. He bought some local river maps, made sure he had all the safety gear on board, told his mates where he was going and two weeks to the day since purchase, he was off on a small adventure. His goal was to sail ten miles up river on an incoming tide, stay at anchor in a spot he knew was a good anchorage, and then return, somehow, sometime! He knew this was a trip following his gut feeling. He was not after any results. He just wanted a few nights of silence, rocking in his boat, talking to God, and then as he said, to return, hopefully somehow having done some good.

It was an easy sail. The wind was behind him. It was a clear day, and in three hours he had found his anchorage spot, in a sort of bay, protected from any wind from most directions. He had food, water, a radio, a portable typewriter and paper. He had a gas stove, sleeping bag, warm clothes, and a very very still night to sleep through.

Jenson ordered us both another coffee, and carried on with his story.

He had spent all day just chilling at anchor. There was nowhere to go, nowhere needed to go that is. There was a gentle breeze and the boat swung easily on her anchor. He was totally alone. But for one red blotch ashore, that didn’t seem to fit into the surroundings. There were the browns of tree trunks, greens of leaves and vegetation. There were the greens, blues and browns of the surrounding river water, yet for some reason this blotch of red. It was about two hundred meters from Jenson, and it got him curious. But the day passed by and another night of silence started.

But there was disturbance, and Jenson couldn’t work out what that disturbance was. It sounded a bit like someone sobbing. But surely not. There was no one around here, no houses, no roads, no music, no human activity at all, he thought. But this noise, this sobbing sound continued. In fact, to Jenson’s alarm, at one point, there was a torturous wail. The night was dark, the wind slight, and a wail tore across the waters. It was a wail of such ferocity that Jenson stopped breathing. He listened intently. But that was it. The wail had stopped. Jenson was pretty shook up. He decided to go ashore in the morning and see if he could find out what the wail was and where it had come from. Yes, it shook him up, he said, but for some reason there seemed to be some goodness within that wail. He slept soundly because deep down inside himself he had a strong feeling that all would be well, and that somehow within that torturous wail lay healing.

Jenson woke with great intention for the day ahead. He knew what he wanted to do, so having washed and eaten, he pumped up the rubber dinghy that came with the sale of the boat, and rowed towards the red blotch not far away up river. The red blotch was a tent, a very smart new tent as it seemed and as Jenson stepped out of the dinghy which he pulled up ashore, the zip came down at the tent entrance and out stepped a young man. He was clean shaven, well dressed, and didn’t look particularly disturbed to see Jenson.

Jenson said hi, the fella said hi. Jenson immediately asked the chap what he was doing here. Camping was the answer!

This young man who had just stepped fully dressed out of his tent looked like he had just appeared from a camping magazine. He had a brand new black anorak on, clean blue jeans, a smart red jumper, and a decent pair of what looked like new work boots on his feet.

“What’s going on”? said Jenson. There were no airs and graces here. There were two people in the middle of nature, unknown to each other, no seeming threat to each other, who needed to break the ice.

“I’ve just got out of prison,” said the fella. “Got freed last night.” I was given a black bag with clothes, wash stuff, a sleeping bag, a mug, plate etc., and this red tent. I was given forty quid in cash, so I got to the nearest train station and headed to the nearest port I could. I think there’s a big sailing community here. Is that correct?”

And Jenson simply replied, “Yes”. This town had one of the biggest sailing communities in the country. “Yes,” Jenson said again, “You might have come to the right place.”

Jenson and I moved out of the cafe and continued our walk along the seafront. “So what happened Jenson?” I said, “What happened?”

“Well, it was magic really. I asked him what he was going to do. He said he was looking for a boat. He needed somewhere to live and he had lived on boats before and was actually a pretty good sailor. He had £1000 in his bank account. And we did the deal there and then! He transferred £600 into my account as I still had battery left on my phone. He packed up his tent and bag. We rowed back to the boat. He unpacked his black bag, which he gave to me. I packed my new black bag with my stuff from the boat. And we sailed back to the mooring-his mooring”.

“It was a very good day,” Jenson said to me, “A very good day. I couldn’t, and still can’t, find any fault in what happened”.

Yes, it’s me again.

Sixty years old, vocation eating away at myself, videos done, websites done, podcasts done etc. etc. but never any continuity. Until perhaps now?

I was going to attempt a monetized podcast but having posted it on Twitter just an hour ago, I decided to remove the monetizing and just allow people to listen freely-should they wish.

Same subjects, Missing Persons and Unidentified Bodies. I need to tighten up my website, upgrade it, and really go for regular podcasts alongside walking.

Here we go again!


Whose job is it anyway?

Ever since reading that a gentleman’s body was found hanging in a tree due to a wildlife photographer inadvertently taking photos in the woods where he was found; I make it a point to look up towards the sky, through the branches of trees, when I go out walking.  There is always a chance that I may discover someone else’s body.

Many missing people finally get discovered through chance encounters, situations where there is no pressure on them to be found, just a passer by in a wood, a jogger along a canal, an explorer in a remote jungle, a google photo of a car in a lake.

Are we in a position, and I think somehow we are, to bring these incidents we call coincidence, closer to the present time?  Are we able to look up-rather than down, search lakes, ponds and rivers?  Are we able to scour off-beat countryside, abandoned wells, dilapidated buildings and long forgotten landfills, for bodies that have been missing for years?

I think we are.

I think it is a question of not expecting immediate results but just tiptoeing into the unknown, thinking, just maybe, if we keep on trying, we will eventually start to bring those neat timings of coincidence closer to our present time.  In doing so, maybe we can reduce the horrors and the very long periods of time that so many families and friends have to wait, to find their loved ones.

If this is a notion, then whose job is it to undertake this work, this vocation, this service?  The police do not have the time, the manpower, or the funds to dedicate to such shot in the dark investigating.

But what of those of us who wake up every morning thinking, ‘surely we can find these people, surely we can solve this mystery, surely we can find a perpetrator-if there is one to be found’?

And of all the thousands of people who lay in mortuaries or on lists with photographs and stored belongings, who wait to be identified.  Surely, with dedicate time, and heavy listening to one’s intuition and heart, answers can be found, in a gentle, non invasive way.

Do you wake up every morning thinking about those that are missing, and the families of those that are missing?  I do believe there is a role for us.  But believing perhaps is not enough.  We have to put ourselves forward.  We have to say, “There is a role for those that can bring chance closer to the present moment”.

Can we scale down the searching?

A body is burnt beyond recognition, the ashes buried, hidden, scattered in a body of water, a lake, the sea, underground-somewhere chosen by the perpetrator/s.

A human body is taken apart, hidden, where no one seemingly will ever find it.

A body is encased in concrete, weighted deep in an ocean, or added to the crushing and dispersing ability of a recycling centre.  How horrible.  How desperate.

However one disposes of a body, the truth of that action can never be lost.  The memory of that action will exist in existence, awaiting the ideal circumstances to be recovered, the perfect time.

When is that perfect time though?  Does it depend on the victim?  Does it depend on the perpetrator/s?  Does it depend on the searching energy of loved ones and friends?  Or does it simply, yet agonisingly, depend on the ability of that memory to reveal itself, in its own time, at its own discretion?

And what of the family, the friends, and much lower down the scale of grief, those concerned members of the public?

Are the family supposed to continually search for a body that potentially exists only in miniscule, hidden, scattered form?  How difficult is that, for the family, and for the search.

Are there searches for some of the Missing that are so difficult that no human being is able to find that person?

But what if nothing is impossible in this world?  What conflict… 

…fighting with the need to search, the need to know, yet considering the fact that you alone, quite possibly, cannot solve this appalling tragedy.

But how to know.  How to know that there is a suggestion out there to scale down the searching for your loved one-so that nature, God, life, can take over, and somehow give you solace, some form of peace, some belief that you have tried everything in your power to find your loved one.

Is it just that some interactions in life stop the flow of truth?

Is there a way to scale down these searches-and in turn allow another force to take over, the truth, the memory of the moment your loved ones were taken from the living?

Is there another way to reveal your long-awaited answers?

I believe it could be possible.  Do you?

PI for God.

What does a private investigator for God look like? In my eyes it is a human being who either believes in a God, or is satisfied to trust in a God that provides guidance in helping solve seemingly complicated earthly situations. Whether that God is able or is willing to use that volunteer is only known when said volunteer offers himself or herself to that guidance.

I am no scholar, but the above words make quite a lot of sense to me.

So many earthly situations seem highly complicated, but in my opinion that God or earthly energy knows all the answers, knows all our histories, knows all our faults, our visions, our characters-and our potentials.

I once solved a robbery, not by intention, but by being at the right place at the right time doing the right thing. I knew of the crime but made no effort to try and solve it because I did not see it as my place to do so. But by simply buying a ladder from a local shop, circumstances quickly unravelled, a suspect was suggested, and all was made clear.

Similarly, by being given a photograph of a young lad who disappeared in a far Eastern country, without effort and any real intention, I bumped into the guy three hours after having landed in the country’s capitol, right people, right time, right place, right circumstances. Are there moments in your own life that seem miraculous, meant to be, coincidental, mind blowing?

And for the third blog post in a row I bring up the saying, When nothing goes right-go left.

I mention this quote for two reasons. The first reason I mention it is to those many many people who are searching for a loved Missing Person. To those people, who have tried all manner of ways to work out what has happened to them, maybe try a different direction. The second reason I mention it is for personal reasons, to attempt to find work or vocation within the Missing Persons field. I am sure I can help, somewhere, somehow.

To announce oneself, or apply in spirit to work for God as a gentle private investigator attempting to help solve complicated earthly situations, to me, is going left. It is not an ordinary job. There seems to be no job ads in the local newspaper for it. If you cannot find an outlet for your passions, create it.

I would imagine that work like this would involve no direct payment from anyone wanting help in finding a loved one or a friend. I will find ways to support my work financially, hopefully that will come with the job application-but I have no idea of the terms, but I am willing to bet that the terms could be good, and relative to the work undertaken.

Twitter seems to be my preferred method of advertising, but with new management there, who know what replies, if any, I may get.

This short piece of writing is a direct application to work for God as a private investigator and I imagine primarily in the Missing Persons and Unidentified Body field. Please do get in touch if any of the above appeals to you. Thank you.

Writings from ‘another’ Motorway Service Station.

Laptop on table, Costa coffee on table, mobile phone, pens, paper, unlimited free wifi, 24 hour use of electric plug sockets, (if I don’t get moved on for loitering with intent to write). I have spent so many hours in service stations, recently here on the M20, but formerly literally weeks at both Clacket Lane Eastbound services on the M25 around the year 2011, and also at Rownhams Westbound on the M3 around 2018 time.

I spent a total of nearly 100 hours hitchhiking for a lift in just yellow Ferraris at Clacket. I got offered a lift in a beige Maserati, but that wasn’t a yellow Ferrari was it. When do you settle for just less than your goal, and when do you just stick to your guns? To me, turning down the Maserati was a success in itself.

After spending days writing in Rownhams I managed to secure a job in the services’ carpark washing HGV lorries for a small business there. It was a great job, hard work, but the money obsessed owner always made a point of thanking all his staff at the end of every day. I have never forgotten that. It gave me inspiration to turn up bright and breezy the next day. It was winter time, so it was always cold and always dark, both as work started and as it ended.

So now it’s Maidstone services on the M20. It’s my day off from picking apples for a local business. There is a big harvest this year and they are crying out for helpers to finish the two week season off. Do you know a team of 5 reliable people who could help them out and want the work?

Terribly sad news the other day. The remains and belongings of dear Leah Croucher the 19 year old girl who disappeared on the 15th February 2019 from Milton Keynes were found in a loft of a house just half a mile from where she disappeared. How utterly tragic for her, her parents, her family and friends. And it trickles down through society to those of us who could only look on in despair at yet another true story of a Missing Person. The only apparent saving grace is that Leah’s whereabouts is known to the family. Their agonies will continue but not the harrowing one of not knowing where she is. God bless them All.

If the police had considered searching every loft in the immediate neighbourhood Leah may have been found earlier. But was that realistic? When people disappear the scenarios of what happened to them can be endless. To check every shed, every woodland, every nook and cranny of our towns, our neighbourhoods, our industrial estates, our sewer system, our countryside would take enormous amounts of time, money, man and woman power. Some people are found quickly. They are found in accessible and open places, but so many lay missing for years in places that are never searched, or never thought to be areas of possibility.

Leah seems to have been found perhaps by chance. It seems, (and I am speculating here) that a random person went into the loft, perhaps looking for something else, and came across her remains. I do realise though that someone may have known where she was, somehow, and went to specifically look.

But for many people who eventually get found there is that notion of the happenings of chance, where for whatever reason circumstances come together to reveal a body, their remains, someone who had been searched for for weeks, months, years.

But surely there must be some way of reducing the agony time of those that are looking for their missing loved ones, and there are so many instances of this. Leah was one of the 8 people I had listed on this website, and Georgina Gharsallah is another young woman also listed.

Georgina disappeared from her hometown of Worthing, UK on the 7th March 2018. She will be 35 years old this coming Saturday, and her family, including 2 young boys, agonise in their wait to find out what has become of her.

As in Leah’s story there were and are little to no clues as to what happened at the time of their disappearances. Andrea, Georgina’s Mum has a daily fight to keep Georgina’s plight in public view, yet seemingly there are no clues to her whereabouts or timeline of what may have happened to her.

How can we help Andrea, her two boys, her father, her sisters, family and friends find out what has happened to Georgina? Can we help create the right circumstances for life to reveal the answers? Not only can we help, but how do we help create those circumstances so that this agony can end, or at least be greatly reduced for them? The truth is always out there, but how can we safely and speedily help reveal it? Surely, it must be possible. Surely we do not inhabit this earth to just create and have to put up with such agonies? Surely there are moments in time that we say to ourselves, and each other, enough is enough, let’s concentrate our minds on beginning to end the agonies of so many people and so many families.

If I was to put myself forward for this job, this role, this honour, because it would be an honour in my opinion, how would I go about it? I have the belief in miracles. I have the belief that the truth is always out there, despite the myriad ways humanity might want to hide it. I have the experience of finding a missing person, years ago, where I witnessed that definite moment when the right people were in the right place doing the right thing for the right reason.

How can I create this role in my own life? And I hark back to my last blogpost with the three sayings in it, “When nothing goes right-go left”, “Go and wake up your luck”, “Don’t wait for the opportunity-create it”.

My way at the moment is to sit and write and get my thoughts down. I firmly believe that if one makes a firm enough request to the universe, that the universe hears that request and replies in turn. But where do we look for that reply?! Over the past couple of decades, although not recently, I used to try and help many families of those that had gone missing-but that wasn’t right. It took me a long time to learn that the Universe would use me when it could. I needed to step back, not try and force results, but wait to see where I could be of use, knowing that God, the Universe, Nature, all knew best where I could be used. Compared to them, I know nothing!

But where to put that energy of what seems like a burning passion, a vocational gift? Where to put my energies when on waking every morning, within minutes, often seconds, I am thinking of finding people who have gone missing, of listening to the concerns and horrors of those that have missing relatives and friends.

There must be a way of carefully, sensitively, and increasingly speedily, alongside God, the Universe, Nature, whatever that energy might or might not be, of ending the horrors of the Missing Person phenomenon. There is. I know it.

Writings from a campervan.

Seemingly a waste of time!  How many times over the years have I sat down with a laptop, a computer, a word processor or a typewriter and set out on that quest for the long awaited ‘bestseller’!  Back in the earlier days it would be a sack on my back, a wad of A4 paper, a bunch of pens, a few carrots, bottles of water and a search for solitude in the mountains or along a coastline.  There were the mountains in Kashmir, the beaches in Cyprus, Greece, the Canaries, Thailand.  The list goes on.  The failures go on!

But I sit here again, laptop out and my AEG Olympia Traveller de Luxe S typewriter under the desk, ready for when power dies down or I feel the need for the physical satisfaction of bashing out words and seeing them in instant print.

I made another short video on my mobile phone yesterday.  Another video about the quest to help in the Missing Persons field.  I think I will get there.  I just need to keep trying.

I have three sayings written down on my office whiteboard in front of me.  They are:

“When nothing goes right-go left”.

“Go and wake up your luck”.   (An Iranian saying).

And “Don’t wait for the opportunity-create it”.

All good sayings I feel. The first one reminds me of a trip through Turkey back in 2001.  I had no money and no work.  I was hitchhiking to Damascus from Geneva and was walking along a windy and dangerous road with traffic roaring past me.  My thumb was out but no lifts were offered.  The noise of the lorries was horrible, the fumes equally bad.  I was really pissed off, and a little voice in my head said ‘turn around, go in the opposite direction’.  Of course, I thought this was ridiculous.  Damascus was that direction, why would I want to go the other way?  But the voice grew louder and I said right, things are bad enough as they are, let’s turn around.  And I did.  I put my thumb down and walked in the opposite direction.  After a short while I saw a turning to the right.  The traffic noise receded, and the fumes disappeared.  The roads narrowed and I walked up into the hills.  The birds sang and the sun started to set.  I walked through a very small village and then darkness came down.  It was cold but I wrapped myself in my jacket, lay down in a field and actually managed some sleep, some peaceful sleep.  I was right to follow the voice.  Sometimes, when struggling, it can be a good idea to stop the struggle, slow down, and try the opposite approach.  I got up from my field as dawn broke and started walking down the road.  A horse and cart drew up beside me and the driver motioned for me to climb aboard.  I did.  He gave me a lift for about a mile and a half.  Such a pleasure that was.

The second saying is as I say an Iranian one.  I came across it after having read a book by an English lady who travelled around Iran on her motorbike.  It was a good read and I thought the saying was mighty powerful.  If life is boring, or not working for you, and no one is helping you to change that life, then it can be up to you, “Go and wake up your life”!

And the third, “Don’t wait for the opportunity-create it”.  However hard this might seem to do, it has to be possible.  If we have a strong enough drive or desire to do something then as Goethe says, and I have his full saying on the wall of my campervan, “commit yourself and a whole stream of events issues from this decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no one could have dreamt could have come your way.  Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it.  Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

So, what do you want to do with your life?  Are you happy with it, then fine, if you are not, would anything of these sayings help you change direction?