Tom Cruise helped me escape Scientology.
The impending HBO release of Alex Gibney’s and Lawrence Wright’s documentary and the sheer volume of interest it has engendered, in print and on the web, pushed me to revisit my own Scientology experience and beyond that, to try to contextualise it in terms of the path my life took before my fateful encounter and to try to make some kind of sense of the broken pieces of my life since I left Scientology behind.
This is what I came up with.
Trepidation accompanied a profound sense of liberation when, on the 16th of July 2006, I gave up on religion and such ideation, for good. I will try to reassemble the scattered pieces of the event herein before I become too old and addled to reconstruct this seminal moment in my convoluted life’s narrative.
Tom Cruise and I had something important in common. We were both fanatical adherents of the Church of Scientology. Otherwise the differences in the lifestyles that defined us could not be more stark. My blind faith in Hubbard had been shaken a few years before when I happened upon incontestable evidence that my all-knowing savior and guru had been telling porkie-pies the whole time.
Twenty two years of life at the very core of Scientology – the elite, communal living, unquestioning, ecclesiastical hierarchy, came to an abrupt end thanks to the Top Gun star. L. Ron Hubbard founded this ‘elite’ operation in the Spring of 1967. He christened it the ‘Sea Organization’ and then set off with a select few in a bunch of creaky old ships to mine the pockets and life energy of the vulnerable and credulous.
It was Tom that kept me clinging to the last threads of my shaken faith. I willingly absorbed the abuse, insane work schedules, laughable ‘pay’ and awful living conditions. Tom’s dedication and his courting of politicians, presidents, movie stars and film industry executives, the likes of Spielberg, promised a bright new future for our maligned and shabby little cult. But he went and spoiled it.
I could forgive him ‘South Park’, I even forgave him Oprah’s couch. I could not forgive him standing up on that stage in Saint Hill, Southern England, next to our diminutive dictator and tell me that he was more dedicated, worked harder and suffered more for the Scientology cause than me and my downtrodden sea Org comrades.
I lived with my compatriots on an average of £10.00 for a 140 hour work week. We traveled back and forth from our overcrowded communal housing in overcrowded, beat up, old, Ford mini buses.
In October 2005 Tom and his entourage arrived at Scientology’s UK base, Saint Hill Manor in leafy West Sussex. He swept down the drive in a gleaming Mercedes E500 and a metallic grey Range Rover – for transporting the kids I assume. His hand-crafted suits and Italian leather shoes screamed cosseted opulence. In contrast, my rumpled looking Scientology interpretation of a naval officer’s uniform with its worn, shiny patches on thigh and bum, told a story of desperation, depredation and intimidation.
Cheap, cracked shoe leather and off-white shirts bore witness to sleepless work stints. Another 24 hour shift where the brass alternately cajoled and threatened their quivering Sea Org subordinates to rocket our sales and delivery statistics. Our pale, pinched faces yelled down phone lines demanding ever more production from browbeaten org staff working from cold, leaky buildings in cities spread out between London, Manchester, Plymouth, Birmingham and Edinburgh.
Our normal frantic work-mode had been driven up several notches as we made ready the Saint Hill base in anticipation of the imminent arrival of ‘Chairman of the Board’, David Miscavige. The abbreviated term COB struck terror into the hearts of Sea Org members at all levels and seniority. He wielded absolute power over us. This man was a tightly wound spring exuding a malevolent air of barely suppressed violence. His personal staff included drivers, a medical doctor, stylists and armed body guards. Beyond these he had around him his very own corporate entity known as RTC.
Sea Org members of this unit wielded His power and authority. They were recruited from a pool of second and third generation Scientology and Sea Org children. They had to be young and physically perfect. They were fanatical in their allegiance to Miscavige. Even the most senior executives feared them. These people were COB by extension.
Several layers of bureaucracy pressed down on us to ready the faux Saint Hill Castle, its grounds and its people in time for an annual showcase event designed to impress the great and the good of Scientology and with that extract breathtaking sums from them that would end up in a murky bank account in a tax free and audit free island in the Netherland Antilles.
Attendance numbers had to be big, up on previous years, to give a feeling of success and expansion. This impression helped soften people up to donate silly amounts to the fund known as ‘The War Chest’.
To that end, along with our regular full time duties, the additional cleaning, painting, the building of a huge, temporary, hangar-like auditorium and an interminable dragnet trawl in our dedicated call centre through lists of thousands of fanatical believers, book buyers and casual contacts while being berated and terrorised by a complement of Scientology top brass. These, mistrustful by nurture, had descended on us from corporate headquarters in California and from the forty year old Sea Org cruise ship based in the Caribbean island of Curacao.
By the night of the big event we were burnt out. I was particularly grumpy as I was on call 24/7 and managed about six hours sleep over the preceding week. But we still had a full weekend of events to get through. We were not guests, you understand. We had to do all the work from cleaning to security and everything in between. Then we were faced with a tense week of inspection by Miscavige and his retinue of brass. But attendance at the main event was mandatory. This was a black tie affair where Miscavige reeled off a glut of improbable up-statistics and stunning expansion news and paraded the stars of Scientology Corporate growth. This is when Tom Cruise was introduced to the credulous, awestruck gathering.
He was cold, arrogant. He berated us about his dedication. He echoed Miscavige in ordering us to greater efforts. More work, less self indulgence. Here was this multimillionaire, glowing with carefully cultivated health. His private Gulfstream jet had deposited him beside his Mercedes and then he had been driven to the exclusive South Lodge Hotel to rest after his long journey.
Here was I. Twenty two years of sweat and tears behind me. I considered myself pretty damned dedicated. Well, I suppose I must thank him. A few months ruminating over this insulated, privileged Hollywood star and his sense of entitlement saw me leave Scientology forever and I became a mask wearing Anonymous, an author and a vocal critic of him and his cult.
I often feel kinship with former alcoholics and heroin addicts. My life since childhood had been defined by religion and the search for God. I find that I struggle in my efforts to deconstruct religious habits, thought patterns and the wishful consolation it once offered me.
While I have gained theistic liberation I accept that I will forever live with this empty space, like one bereaved, that describes the place where I once pinned hopes, gratitude, fears and indeed, that unhinged sense of spiritual ecstasy.
What I discarded was delusion. I had to that point in 2005, not felt that I could independently act in my life. I believed that I more or less required divine dispensation to breath. It had been drilled into me that I could not be a moral agent without the providence of the Christian God. I had been trained since babyhood to accept statements by authority figures without critique or question.
My job as a Catholic school boy was to accept and then believe, not to critique. The convoluted logic involved in trying to reconcile how God the father became his own son incarnate served to dull my thinking. It demanded blind faith. This served to blunt my ability to analyze worldviews that I came into contact with. It served to distort how I interacted with others and my sense of self as an actor in my own life.
I hold my mother at least partly accountable. My dad, Jim, was a covert agnostic. He attended Mass on most Sundays. He would stand, kneel and sit as the rituals dictated. But he would do it with bitter resentment. I internalized his conflicts. While he never spoke about it, I did discover that something awful had happened to him as fourteen year old while a boarder in a Scottish Catholic seminary. The rage ate at him and finally took him, at the age of thirty five, assisted by a running Vauxhall engine and a stretch of flexible washing-machine pipe.
I was not stupid as a child. I was observant. I could see, but I had no voice. As a teenager I was angry. I had not been given the tools to analyze or articulate the glaring inconsistencies the Catholic milieu presented. Those seething resentments and disagreements drove me to despair. I could find no vehicle that allowed me expression of such feelings. Eventually I could not fight them, I succumbed to religious belief. I channeled my anger and resentment into the Catholic revival, then Protestant evangelical Christianity, then Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s movement and finally into Hubbard’s space alien seeking outfit.
Priests administering sacraments and speaking from pulpits, demanded my submission. They demanded my subservience. At mass on Sundays the robed and anointed ones led us in the recitation of the Apostles Creed. I believe in one God, Father Almighty, maker of heaven and Earth. And in Jesus Christ our Lord….’ Hang on, I was never asked if I believed in this stuff. I was never asked what I thought about it. I went to mass as a result of social conditioning and familial pressure. The concept of dialogue and disputation was not part of the curriculum.
Talking with contemporaries, people who went through the school/church system in the 1970s and early 1980s indicates that I am not alone in my frustration. We can see the issues, a political elite demanding we accept more austerity, they appear to act against us. We are trained to be a social order that willingly accepts harsh cuts, unfair tax and an ever eroding quality of public service.
We seethe and yet seem to encounter great difficulty in articulating what it is that we are mad about. It is surely an outcome of the Catholic didactic system we middle aged Irish were subjected to. This, along with a dose of Catholic guilt, sheds some light on why so few of us Irish don’t come out on the streets in mass protest against seemingly idiotic and corrupt political decisions that enriched the few while further impoverishing the rest of us.
I voted for our current coterie of government leaders on the basis of their proffered platform of reform and corrective justice. We were assured, at least I was, that corrupt bankers, developers and the politicians that were in league with them would face justice. No such justice has manifested. Reforms have been cosmetic. The corrupt and incompetent elite are still free of sanction. No one has been jailed. Then on the ecclesiastical front we find that not a single bishop or cardinal has been imprisoned for covering up for pedophile priests. There is plenty to get angry about, plenty to protest about.
Since the vast majority of Irish schools are to this day owned and funded by the Catholic orders and the bias is in favour of the Catholic ethos, the dialectic arts are not taught. Rote learning is encouraged and indeed validated by the current examination system. University by definition is supposed to be a hub of debate and intellectual discourse. It was actively encouraged, yet in my four years as an undergrad in Cork, the vast majority of my fellow students simply did not respond to the prodding of lecturers and tutors.
There was more often than not a pained silence when student groups were asked in tutorials and lectures to discuss and debate. My fellow students generally came straight from the Leaving Certificate Examination – the final Irish High School examination. They so often miss out on the real gift that university provides; that is the empowering of the person to challenge ideas and the forming of better ideas by being challenged back.
I ask myself whether or not it is thanks to the Catholic Church that I ended up trapped for twenty two precious years in the utterly bonkers Scientology world? I believe that the didactic method employed in the school system, overlaid and deeply bound as it is with Catholic rites and rituals, robs the child of much of the education that he deserves.
The Catholic method of salvation, reliant as it is, on mindless devotional rites and incantations, in my view drives the worshiper into a state of servile supplication. This is reinforced by the demeaning insistence that we are sinners and that we are commanded to be saved and to accept vicarious redemption. It is not an educational recipe that would encourage the development of an inquisitive, creative and original intellect.
I had thus no defences against the intense and invasive methods the Scientology recruiters employed when I was first accosted by them on Hirsch Strassa in Stuttgart in 1985. It had been long inculcated in me to look up to ostensibly enlightened male authorities. I was inured to them telling me what to think and what to do and not to do in order to achieve heavenly salvation.
During those first weeks after I fled Hubbard and his minions; while I was ducking and diving around the seedier areas of Birmingham to avoid the cultist that were hunting me, I sought help in Catholic, Anglican and a Unitarian churches. At best they gave me a pat on the back and sent me on my way. They did not want to know.
Secular humanism, sits well with me. It is perhaps the single profit my confinement in the Scientology mind trap provided. Having pierced the complexity of the Hubbard fraud, I found that any last vestiges of servile religious delusion that I might have held was forever banished. I was freed from the sense that this worm of a human was yet guided and redeemed by an aloof and jealous God. I discovered that I had a strong and innate sense of morality and virtue outside of the religious framework. It was no longer required that a priest or some mystical entity validate my humanity.
The Scientology narrative is quintessentially no different to the Catholic or Protestant fairytale. Once all the spaceships and quasi-scientific verbiage is stripped away, I find that Hubbard was telling me that I was fallen, a sinner, not through choice, but simply by merit of being born. I could only be saved by dint of lifelong adherence to the rituals of faith and abnegation before Hubbard and his ‘spiritual tech’. It was a comfortable fit.
Scientology employs myth as much as any religion. But it is presented in a pseudo scientific wrapping. That is was one of its attractions. Following a few months of indoctrination one discovers another wrapping entirely; that of the Gnostic myths. Of course I did not recognize it as such back then.
I recently read Henry Chadwick’s ‘The Early Church’. In his chapter on Gnosticism the reader encounters the Collossaen Gnostic Christians. This being just one of the many early Christian splinter groups that gave Saint Paul such headaches between A.D. 30 and 50 as he endeavored to maintain orthodoxy as the burgeoning Jewish breakaway sect expanded its influence.
This community blended Gnostic Christianity with Greek and Persian esotericism. They adopted the Platonic take on the immortality of the soul. They believed that they were essentially perfect spiritual entities. They were dualists who considered the spirit to be everything and the body to be nothing.
Angelic powers served as arbiters between us earth bound spirits and God. Their creation myth told of a pre-cosmic disaster that explained the misery humans suffered on Earth. The divine spirit had become embedded in human flesh and lost its memory of its nature and its cosmic past.
The Gnostic teachings were there to shake the spirit out of its sleepwalking state and remind it of its true destiny. Earth and the natural order were seen as alien to God.
Earth-bound powers were seen as constraints and thus burdensome on the spirit. The ethic running through the theology was that of total freedom from constraint and obligation to government, law and the social order, which were seen as degenerate and referred to in scathing terms. They held that Earth was in the grip of evil powers from the seven planets.
Hubbard, or one of his minions, lifted this creation myth and rejigged it so as to fit within the Scientology design. I recognize this Gnostic foundation myth in the bulk of Hubbard’s theology.
It took me twenty plus years, but once I began looking, it did not take long to see that this ‘scientific’ religion required as much blind faith as did the Christian insistence that followers accept vicarious redemption. Scientology would have us believe in the first instance that we are each born into this world with two minds. One is a nasty, hidden, stupid, primitive mind. It is a throwback to caveman times. It could only be dissipated through the Hubbard techniques that would weaken the primitive mind and empower the analytical one. The end product of this stage of the process is that the subject reaches the ‘State of Clear’. The primitive has been vanquished and now the computer like analytical mind rules supreme.
Further complexities were added as one progressed. Hubbard must have loved the abrahamic religions. They did all his prep work for him. All he had to do was to plug into the core narrative, shift a few characters around, rename them and presto, he had malleable subject delivered to him on a platter.
Atheism forced me to grow up. Forced me to confront and then to reject the idea of the invisible patriarchal archetype; I had to begin to figure this life out for myself. I am genuinely shamed and saddened that it took me until I reached the age of forty five to emerge from my psychological chrysalis.
My assumption of the atheist view was not anything like the euphoric state I experienced when becoming a born again Christian, nor was it like the Scientology equivalent, what they call ‘cognitions’ or ‘wins’. It was rather, rational and considered. It was quintessentially the vanquishing of occupying forces; taking back my own territory, my ownership of self.
The life that courses through our veins and goes on all around us is astounding in itself. It does not need the gloomy filters of religion. Reflecting on this from the standpoint of what I am, a member of a species of evolved primate, a species that is capable of abstract thought. A species that is capable of self-criticism. That I can sit here and reflect on this is extraordinary. I avoid the word ‘miraculous’. The term means a suspension of the natural order of things. The natural order is surely wonderful enough and terrible enough on its own.
While working within the administrative wing of the Scientology Corporation, I worked with a woman who had delivered Scientology counselling to the great William Burroughs. It was only after I had escaped the cult and started reading English Lit in university that the importance of this revelation hit me.
After he defected from Hubbard’s mind trap he wrote an astounding critique of the cult and its methods. – See David S. Will’s book ‘Scientologist!: William S. Burroughs and the ‘Weird Cult’ available in paperback and on Kindle.
Burroughs decade long involvement with Scientology did not seem to leave lasting damage. He seems to have eluded the crushing psychological distress that I have seen in others and indeed experience myself to this day. Unlike so many of us who succumbed, forfeiting our freedom to think and act, Burroughs, it seemed, did not surrender his soul. He did not sell his birthright for a ‘mess of potage’. He did not become a Scientology junky.
I have long puzzled as to why this was so. Perhaps it is because he was a man of prodigious creative output and was actively involved in the artistic scene. He was a pioneer, a prophet, a spokesman for a cutting edge literary, musical, visual movement that pushed against normative artistic constraints. Perhaps he was able to put it into perspective in a way that I and others have failed to. Or it could be that Scientology never became his whole world, it was just another creative experiment the like of his experiences with Carlos Castaneda’s psychoactive plant-induced Nagual states.
The attraction for me might be that the Scientology system came to resemble the model and the function of the spider’s web, better yet a Venus flytrap. The insect flies through a garden of spiritual possibility searching for spiritual sustenance. A plethora of seductive flowers scent the air with elusive promise. These webs and flytraps reach to up capture inquisitive spirits seeking to satisfy an existential yearning for an intangible, an elusive, and indefinable something. Perhaps it is that the child demands more than the parent has the time or energy to give. Does this create a void that cannot be satisfied until we learn to parent and to nurture ourselves? Cults, drug pushers and marketers intuit this existential void, see it as exploitable and mine it for all that it is worth.
Once I had been trapped, I was on a finely tuned conveyor belt system. The dismantling of selfhood began. Some, and by no means all, of the techniques that scientologists were subject to included endless repletion of a course of ‘Training Routines ’. The hypnotic states induced by this process served to make the individual cede self control to the cult authorities.
When I was first introduced to this process I was ‘twinned’ with US Naval Intelligence operative based up at a local major US military base. He copped on to the dangerous level of intrusion that the Scientologists were pushing even at this early stage. He left quickly. I remained, captivated. It was during this course of Training Routines that I had my first of several severe dissociative episodes. Later I would fall into semi conscious states as I fought the ceding of control of self to the cult. I ultimately failed of course and lost myself utterly.
Hubbard, and laterally Miscavige, add group and peer pressure to the mix. Then fear. Less obvious, as Jon Atack detailed in his article ‘Hubbard and The Occult’ – http://www.spaink.net/cos/essays/atack_occult.html – is Hubbard’s use of contradictory statements. These were seeded in many forms into all of his lectures and his broad range of indoctrination material. Contradictions are designed to cause confusion; ‘This must be wrong, yet Hubbard cannot be wrong’ sort of thing. This seemingly binds the follower ever tighter to the guru. An example being that of the omnipresent exhortation to achieve ‘total freedom’ and yet all directives, all training materials advocated total control of the individual in order to attain that elusive end.
To be in that cult was to exist in an intellectual and emotional desert. It permeated every waking moment. When I was with Charles Tanner’s Christian cult The Covenant Players, a mere two years before I encountered the Scientology recruiters, I spent about eight months working the US Military base circuit. During this time I lived in US military housing and my days were spent on one drab base after the other. The only colour was the olive green of the jeeps, trucks and tanks. Offices and performance spaces were a uniform dirty shade of cream while fixtures and furniture were of an uninspiring standard grey or matt green finish. After a few months of this I hankered to get out off the bases, and I would at any opportunity. Even a few hours spent in a rather uninspiring shopping centre in Dortmund proved to be as refreshing as a day at beach by comparison. But the drab uniformity of cult life permeated in far more profound a fashion. And I could not just pop out into a more pleasant environment. The drabness and uniformity was in me and there was no out.
Euphoric moments of the were provided through the auditing session that one partook in order to achieve the designated levels of enlightenment mapped on a chart boldly headed with the aspirational designation ‘The Bridge to Total Freedom’.
The auditing sessions that the Scientologist engaged with were the steps one took on the journey across that bridge. These provided sensations of euphoria, of floating and of disassociation. Often they conjured up imagined past life incidents. Pretty much every Scientologist will have experienced being Alexander the Great, Marie Antoinette, Jesus Christ, Churchill or even Hitler.
These brief ‘insights’ might resemble moments of Pavlovian canine reward techniques – you can observe the Scientologist practically salivating at the prospect of being granted permission to take his next step on ‘The Bridge to Total Freedom’ and he could be denied the reward of auditing as a result of any infringement of arbitrary codes and expectations.
What happens to the otherwise normal, unremarkable person that becomes a Scientologist? It is so much more than the holding of an odd set of ideas and adherence to skewed systems of belief.
Foundation myths baffle when they are subjected to rational scrutiny. The Catholic’s have transubstantiation; the Hindu’s have avatars and priceless rubies embedded in mangos; the Muslim has The Prophet in a trance while Gabriel recites to him the text of the Quran. Wiccans have the lady dancing in the heavens and the sparks from her hair forming the stars and the planets.
Burning bushes, talking corpses leaping up into the trees, and invisible talking spirits are the stuff of religious mythology and belief.
The Scientologist’s Galactic Lord Xenu, the being now trapped in a mountain by a force-field, who hydrogen bombed prehistoric volcanoes with a fleet space ships modeled on 1960’s McDonnell-Douglas airliners; millions of disembodied aliens, beings that have attached themselves to the human body, are just as improbable as any of the others.
Cognitive dissonance kicks in when the believer is faced with such improbable founding myths. Either the relevance and veracity of the story is reduced in the believer’s mind or the reality of the world around him is viewed through a distorted lens so that it can be rationalized to fit within the frame of the story that he has taken on in faith.
Post traumatic stress symptoms are not generally seen to manifest in the ex Anglican, Lutheran or Catholic, unless the apostate has suffered sexual abuse or other forms of manipulative treatment at the hands of clergy. But the condition is commonly manifested in former members of cults the like of the Moonies, Jehovah Witnesses, Scientologists, Hare Krishna and some of the fundamentalist cults that form on the fringes of mainstream faiths, The Branch Davidians, for example.
For the ex Scientologist, or the ‘apostate’ as the cult’s corporate pr people like to label us, it is more than the dissolution of the foundation myth that consequences debilitating post-cult psychic trauma. It is more than the loss of familiar ritual. Scientology has an altogether more insidious impact on the participant.
The Irish radio presenter, Marian Finucane, interviewed me on her Saturday show in 2008. I described the Scientology equivalent of Mao’s re-education camps, the dreaded and dehumanising RPF or Rehabilitation Project Force, for her. She is a sharp and perceptive woman, but she did not get it at all. ‘So it is like the Trappist monks?’ she asked. ‘No, unless those monks live under a regime that scorns them as scum, holds them under a system of fear, sleeplessness, enforced heavy labour and a daily series of intrusive interrogations’ I replied.
I mentioned the earlier the term ‘institutionalized’ meaning that after twenty two years of learned helplessness I had no experience of looking after my own affairs. How do I go about the renting and furnishing of living space; how to secure regular income and how to manage money. Paying taxes and voting and having a sense of partaking in a local community were foreign lands to me. I am just scratching the surface, but these aspects are perhaps important components in understanding what the excommunicated Scientologist suffers and why they suffer so much.
The road back to some kind of normality, irrespective of whether he was a customer paying for the courses and the auditing that he hoped would result in his becoming ‘total cause over the universe’ or whether a fanatical Sea Org Member who was simply expected to be ‘total cause’, is a fraught and often terrifying journey. It is one seeded with psychological landmines.
The tortured set of post-cult emotional fall-outs forms a norm irrespective of gender, age, degree of immersion or even time spent in the cult. Person to person the commonalities are astonishing.
The crude survey I conducted over a period of four or five years of interaction with former Scientologists in a variety of forums has enabled me to form a picture of the psychological state of the person, once he finds himself out of the Scientology world. Frequently used terms include ‘shattered’, ‘traumatized’, ‘raging’, ‘and grieving’. These emotions are felt even years after contact with the cult ceased.
Quizzed on a deeper level many admitted to feeling isolated; constrained by cultural ignorance and the lack of a sense of social and cultural cues – those reference points such as TV shows, football teams, election results, social trends – that give one a sense of commonality and belonging.
Focusing back in from the general to the specific, I used the term ‘institutionalised’ to describe how I had lost the ability to look after my affairs. But beyond my cultural and social isolation was the fact that I had lost whatever circle of friends I had two decades before. And thanks to the cult’s excommunication policy, I had lost all of the close friendships I had formed while in the cult.
The cultural and ethical relativist would like to stuff such observations as these into the back of the filing cabinet. The cult apologist falls into this category. And there are plenty of them about. These are people who seem to prefer a blurred, soft-focus reality that would smudge over observations such as I have detailed herein. They envision a sickly version of pluralism that would grant cults the same unquestioned standing in society as the Anglican or Unitarian faiths.
In December 2013 British Supreme Court, Justice Lord Roger Toulson, ruled that Scientology had to be granted the right to perform legally binding marriage ceremonies. The ruling applied throughout England, Scotland and Wales. It effectively gives Hubbard’s cult the standing of a bona fide religion. It sanctions all of the rights and protections that mainstream religious institutions enjoy under UK law. I fell into a dark and troubled place upon reading this news.
John Duignan spent twenty two years in the Sea Organization stationed in Europe, Australia, Canada, the US and United Kingdom. He fled the cult in 2006 and after suffering through an acute depressive episode and a rocky return to ‘normality’ wrote a book about his experience. ‘The Complex’. It was published in Dublin in 2008 by Merlin Press. This article is extracted from his yet unpublished work with the working title ‘Gullible’s Travels ’. John lives in Ireland and is a writes when he feels cross about things.