Simon Parke  
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Painting of Julian of Norwich

Constellations of demands

Newsletter: October 2020

Dear Web friends

Greetings from the white cliffs and choppy sea; and it’s a delight to be sitting down again to write to you. Life has been busy, a strange constellation of demands, but as October begins I find some space to scribble another unruly message.

Covid has changed all our lives in small and large ways; so many stories and no two the same. My story (or one of my stories) is that it has rendered me much busier with the counselling side of my life. Some of the organisations I work with through The Mind Clinic have asked for additional support during this time. Necessity also invited me to meet Zoom, a meeting which has given birth to a whole new set of relationships which couldn’t have been before. So yesterday, while sitting in Seaford, I met with someone in Edinburgh, someone in the south-west, someone in France. Different days, though I know I have been slow to catch up.

I am also seeing people face-to-face again. I know a number prefer this, while phone sessions are also popular. (I had heard of the phone before Covid, just in case you were wondering.) ‘I find the phone much less exhausting than Zoom,’ said one therapist, and I can understand that.  On the phone, you can focus on the voice without having to scan the horizon for body messages, and of course the voice never lies. The words might, but the voice doesn’t.

You’re also spared the dreaded freeze which occasioanally occurs on Zoom: ‘I seem to have lost you.’ Those words never sound good. Or worse, ‘I’m afraid you’ve disappeared.’

We’re all having to find new ways to communicate. Certainly for me, though, a virus that looked like the end of everything has instead brought everything to my door. I am one of the lucky ones. And having had a retreat cancelled earlier this year due to the virus, I was lucky again to be able to lead a retreat at Sheldon in Devon last week. It was a bit touch and go with government guidelines/confusion changing by the minute. But we got there, and they were wonderful hosts. They made us feel so safe, and when we feel safe, we adventure. The theme was The Journey Home, based on my book of the same name. There’s more about the book on the link.

Meanwhile, a different part of my life has been work on the Julian of Norwich musical, All Shall be Well, with Martin Hoile (see the image above). For the last couple of months, we have been recording with Ellen Armstrong as Julian, and Zac Wancke, fresh from a successful stint as Jean Valjean in Les Mis, as God and the revolutionary John Ball. They both sound wonderful, as does Martin’s musical production. The first step is to get the songs up on platforms such as Itunes, Spotify etc. I’ll let you know when they exist in that form. It’s not a great time to be contemplating live performances. But that, of course, is the goal. It will be a good show.

And finally – if anyone out there is still awake – my new book, Gospel: Rumours of Love. We made no headway with some of the bigger publishers; my agent is not sure anyone actually read it. ‘It would undoubtedly help if you were black, female, ebullient and gorgeous,’ he said. But while I work on that, and it could take a while, I’m delighted to say a much smaller publisher has said ‘Yes’ to the adventure, and the hope is to publish in February 2021.

The book will be flimsily-clad in publicity – no sawdust and glitter, no literary events, no reviews. But it will exist in the world, it will have form, which is the starting point for a relationship. What more could I ask? I had already accepted that it would probably remain in my bottom drawer, to be thrown out with my old biros sometime after my death. So everything’s a bonus and I’ll let you know more when there is something more to know.

And Christmas? Who knows? But just in case you’re looking for something booky, something particular, here’s my Books page. It’s like visit to Waterstone’s but with less author-choice.

For now, though, I am glad of your company, near and far, and wish you strength for your days, which tumble upon us in various states, one after the other, demanding to be lived, demanding to be loved.

We will do our best, and sometimes the best will arrive in return.

Until soon

Simon x

P.S. Oh! – and here’s a link to a book about which one reader recently said, ‘It’s changed my life’. Of course, there’s no book that can come with that guarantee; and anyway, your life might not need changing.

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