moved into a nice condominium apartment overlooking a small park. The
building was called ‘Parkview’ and it really does overlook one of our
many municipal parks, I am sure this distinguished appellation was
designed to sell people on the idea of buying into it, in the event
however my actual view was of the parking lot and swimming pool at the
back of the building.
All went smoothly until a downturn in the economy coincided with
‘Management experts’ coming into fashion. These people were, (still are?) people who take courses on how companies
can be run more efficiently, fine in theory but lacking in common sense
and experience. They don’t know what they are talking about, but they can speak the
latest ‘buzz’ words, and in those days this used to impress people no
For some time I had been recommending that our company close the Quebec
operation and move the head office to Ontario. The cost of doing business
in that province had increased quite considerably since the new language
laws had been implemented, not many people in what was now known as
‘ROC’, (Rest of Canada) wished to increase their costs by translating
documents and dealing with the Québec government. The narrow vision of the bureaucrats was particularly galling, especially
when it was so unnecessary; most Quebec business people spoke and, quite
often, preferred, like most of the rest of the world, to conduct business
Ontario is more central for the rest of the country, and in this province,
there is no imposed language obstacles, whatever language was used. An illustration of this is, to visit downtown Toronto. Here the street
signs match the ethnic group majority, Greek, Chinese, etc... Kitchener, (Ontario) for example, has a huge German speaking population
and holds an annual “Oktober Fest” every fall with lots of
“oompapa” music and traditional German beer and sausages etc. there
are no problems with this and absolutely no necessity to introduce laws to
accommodate this situation, indeed, this rich diversity is most warmly
...the owner took me out to lunch and as we parted in the
parking lot he told me to have my desk cleared by four thirty!
Unfortunately, to add to the equation, the owner of the company got
re-married and the Montreal section started filling up with members of his
wife’s family; it rapidly became an example of nepotism at its worst. From my point of view it took on a nightmare quality, these incompetent
buffoons were continually sending out the wrong products and, worse,
denying responsibility. We started losing customers, the ‘experts’ were consulted and in
November 1989 the owner took me out to lunch and as we parted in the
parking lot he told me to have my desk cleared by four thirty!
He had decided to close the wrong part of the business!
I was within a few weeks of age sixty and it was quite an adjustment
period for me to be applying for jobs and being told; “You are far too
experienced for this position” (“I’ll take it, I’ll take it!”)
or worse; “We could not afford the salary you are entitled to expect”,
“I’m cheap, I’m cheap!”. Of course, there were quite a number of us older men caught in this
situation at that time and it was then that my son Paul spoke those
memorable words; “You are driving us all nuts Dad, why don’t you just
stop trying for a management job and take on something like security
guard, something without stress, something to get you out of Moms hair
during the day”. Unbelievably, during that period of time, even those types of jobs were
hard to come by and I had to use some contacts to find a position. The pay scale was about two points below abysmal. However it stopped me
from chasing around fooling myself that I was going to achieve anything
Through a good friend’s recommendation I found a job with a Security
Company acting as a Concierge in a large modern office building, I enjoyed
this as it gave me something to do which I enjoyed doing, it was also a
very pleasant atmosphere to work in. If the pay had been sufficient to pay the bills incurred travelling to it
I would have stayed longer, unfortunately it barely covered my expenses
In the next building to where I worked there was another Security company
that, I discovered, had a vacancy for a Supervisor; I decided to do them a
favour and accept it.
A man wielding a hunting knife had been reported... and the guard, rather smugly I thought, informed me that the man
had a record of violent behaviour.
The owner was a tad surprised when I turned up and announced his problem
was solved, but I guess my novel approach emphasised my versatility and he
immediately accepted my application. Eventually I occupied the position of
Senior Accounts Executive, shortly after which, and now able to draw on my
savings, I left to take an early retirement.
One story that illustrates the pitfalls of being security supervisor
happened when I received an alert on my radio from the Security guard at a
A man wielding a hunting knife had been reported as being seen in the
corridor close to the room of his ex- girlfriend, there had been some
shouting and the guard, rather smugly I thought, informed me that the man
had a record of violent behaviour. I instructed both Guards to take no action until I got there but to
observe and take notes of all that happened.
Just my luck, I thought, why can’t he come back tomorrow when someone
else is on duty?
I happened to be close by so I quickly drove to the building. Gathering
the two guards together I hastily instructed one to stay close to the main
desk telephone, ready to phone the police if required, and to remain in
radio contact with his partner. Taking the second guard with me I went into detail as to what I required
of him, (stay out of the way, inform the other guard by radio as to what
was going on, and write down everything that happened, staunch my blood if
things went wrong, etc..). I stationed him in the corridor and entered the room where the man was
threatening the girl. Fortunately, the villain was so surprised at my sudden appearance I was
able to take an advantage over him, but he managed to escape and ran off,
he sped past my back up guard, who clearly did not wish to get involved,
and disappeared into the grounds. I told my hero to radio his pal to call the police. It was then that I
found out that he had not known what I had wanted in the first place!
He was deaf, and his hearing aid battery had run down!
As my finances were inadequate, to say the least, we cut costs by moving
into a cramped, very small one bedroom apartment and settled down to make
the best of it. We had barely established ourselves when a couple of very dear friends
from my old regiment, Dot and Harry Hooson, decided to pay us a visit. We talked it over between the four of us and agreed that it would be a
good idea to stretch things a bit and all of us take a visit to the USA. A
paddlewheel boat trip on the Mississippi was deemed to fit the bill, it
certainly resolved the problem of us all squashing into a one bedroom
apartment for a few days and, in the event, we all enjoyed the adventure.
Shortly after this, Val’s Aunt, (Constance) phoned from her home in
Bournemouth, to say that she was planning to visit Florida. We talked it over and decided that it would be a nice break for us to
drive down and meet her. I had the route planned and all was set to go when she let us know that
she had changed her mind. We mulled it over and made the decision to travel down anyway and routed a
trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Smokey Mountains, and have
ourselves a mini holiday.
Overnight I had become allergic to any manner of things: cats, dogs,
perfume, cold air. You name it, I had it.
Upon our return I became afflicted with Asthma. I could not believe it,
indeed I refused to believe it, my lovely lady physician, Doctor Louise
Rosa, with her stethoscope on my chest was saying; “You have asthma
Brian,” and there was I, denying it, saying; “Don’t be silly, I have
never had asthma in my life”.
“Well, you have it now,” came her reply. Overnight I had become allergic to any manner of
things: cats, dogs,
perfume, cold air. You name it, I had it. A specialist in allergies was consulted and he prescribed the appropriate
medication. His reply to my whining on about the injustice of this malady
was to say, “Well Brian, just look on the bright side; you have had
sixty two years free of it!”
Asthma restricted my life, I was unable to do simple things like going out
in public where there was a chance of someone smoking a cigarette, or
wearing perfume, coming close to me, the hardest part was being unable to
go hiking on the trails; the more remote areas were strenuous walking and,
in my condition, could be dangerous, also the wild animals and pollens
triggered asthma attacks. The trails closer to home were infested by people unable to control their
dogs, which, needless to say always came bounding up to me, giving me
instant purgatory. The medication, (‘puffers’) did help but they were
not a total success.
I started looking for an exercise which I could perform that would not
trigger an attack. It so happened that there was a Tai Chi Chuan class commencing at the
senior citizens club. Recalling my time in Hong Kong, I remembered watching the people in that
city, and noticed how the participants of this ancient art form always
appeared supple and healthy. I decided to join the class and learn how to accomplish the one hundred
and eight moves of the ‘Yang style’ set. There are different styles
but I was obliged to learn the only one that was available to me at that
It took me two years before I was able to leave the group and practice on
my own with any real proficiency and, to me, more importantly, to be
confident enough to ignore a lot of what the instructors told me. I remembered how the Chinese man who lived opposite me in Kowloon used to
practice in his roof garden, and, although the moves I had now learned
were similar, the way this man used to practice was by using a much more
controlled and soothing technique; it was this mans art that I now
attempted to emulate. It took me a further year before I began to be content with my ‘form’
and another year after that before I really began to understand the
extraordinary power of this powerful art.
Whilst all this was going on my daughter, (Angela) was experiencing some
ill health, the moronic doctor treating her was not monitoring the
medication he had prescribed and the side effects were considerable.
She started having moments where she would have a total blackout and
collapse; this would be entirely without warning so she could not be left
on her own for any length of time. In the early hours of one
night she went to the bathroom and passed out, fell into the bathtub, she
hit the tap, thus turning on the hot water and scalded herself very badly
indeed, luckily she had a friend staying with her that night who turned
off the tap and quickly phoned us and organised an ambulance to take her
to the hospital. She had huge blisters from
her shoulders and down her arms and the side of her body, and, of course,
she was in considerable pain.
I decided to concentrate my mind as if I were practicing Tai Chi and then
waved my hands over Angela’s arm.
To the utter astonishment of us all... the grey
colour of her arm instantly changed to a bright red!
Some days later, whilst Val was attending a Tai Chi class and talking this
situation over with a friend, one of the group mentioned a therapy called;
“Therapeutic Touch” whereby a person would just place their hands
about three or four inches away from someone and, using ‘stroking’
motions, could induce a healing energy to the person requiring help.
“Load of old Bologna” was my reaction to this, although in truth I had
been feeling a peculiar sort of energy flow, (the ‘chi’) whilst
practicing Tai Chi Chuan.
“It’s the same energy” explained my sweetie.
“Will you two shut up and give it a try!” Exclaimed my Angela, “I
will try anything to get out of this pain”
Val started the motions but nothing happened.
Old ‘know it all’,
smirking away, and in true, (Yorkshire) male fashion said; “women just
don’t know what they are doing, move over.”
At this time Angela’s arm and hand had started to turn a dark grey
colour; there were still ‘pillow’ blisters on her shoulders and body
which were covered with bandages, her arm was bare to let the air to it.
I decided to concentrate my mind as if I were practicing Tai Chi and then
waved my hands over Angela’s arm. To the utter astonishment of us all, me most of all I am sure, the grey
colour of her arm instantly changed to a bright red! With popping eyes I
hastily apologised, I thought it must have hurt her.
“Oh dad, do it again, it took the pain right out,” begged my Angie.
I did, and, not understanding what I was doing I inadvertently left her
with a pain in her toes and finger ends! We immediately phoned Val’s friend who gave us the phone number of the
local instructor of “Therapeutic Touch”. I phoned her straight away, explained what had happened and she told me
what I had done wrong, described how to get rid of the pain I had
unconsciously induced and told me to get myself down to a workshop she was
running that weekend. She didn’t ask; she told me!
It was the beginning of a whole new appreciation of spiritual
understanding for me, and led to me, not only receiving answers to the
questions I had been, (unsuccessfully) asking all my life, but getting
answers to which I was not aware I had asked the questions!
The ‘Therapeutic Touch’ workshop was most enlightening and made a lot
of sense to me.
Evelyn McKay, the lady who
taught the subject, is one of those rare people who actually practices
what she preaches, a most compassionate and wonderful lady from whom it is
a pleasure to learn, and to just be in the company of. I expect I gave her a bit of a jolt however when, as the workshop
progressed, she sat me in front of the class and got another student to
practice the moves over me. I had a very bad reaction whereby I lived
again an experience of being beaten up rather badly out in the East. It was as though it was all happening right now, a nightmare!
I yelled and cried and got all upset, the person actually waving her hands
over me became agitated for some reason. It later occurred to me that she must have been put off the subject for
evermore! Evelyn took me outside and comforted me, then went back to calm the class
down whilst I went for a walk. Ever a sucker for punishment and whimpering away, I returned to finish the
lessons and have been glad I did so ever since. All of my past life experience now came into focus, in the Christian
tradition it was like being ‘born again’.
the next installment: Late