I met Laurence more than 35 years ago, in Tenby. It was summer and I was staying with my sister. My brother was also there, working and staying in a hotel. My brother had become very enthusiastic about transcendental meditation and had swept us along in his wake. All three of us, plus friends, husband and kids, had learnt to meditate. He had also set up classes to teach TM to the people of Tenby, but this meant we needed a teacher – a qualified, experienced teacher of meditation – Laurence.
Laurence seemed very relaxed and happy, as if he had discovered some secret to a peaceful existence. At the time I thought it might be the meditation, all sorts of unlikely claims were being made for it back then, but knowing him as I do now, I think it was just natural for Laurence – he is simply a lovely man.
At the end of the summer I went back home to my parents and Laurence went off to India. We were both letter writers and so have kept in touch over the years, meeting up occasionally when we were both in West Wales or when Laurence was in Swansea.
Laurence agonised over a venue, at first choosing several places in West Wales which could loosely be described as old haunts. These turned out not to be available when we were or just not practical. As it happens I wasn’t sorry we couldn’t meet in Tenby as the combination of the town and Laurence would irresistibly remind me of a dear friend of ours who died last year. I haven’t been back to Tenby since his funeral and am not looking forward to going.
In the event, Laurence decided on the Worm Head Hotel, surely there are not many places in the world with a better view, but possibly because of this it sometimes seems they don’t try quite as hard as they might with their food – like a lot of beautiful places they seem to rely on the scenery to carry them through. It works too, the food was adequate but lack-lustre but no one cared.
28 February 2015
Worm’s Head Hotel, Rhosilli
Laurence has someone relatively new in his life, a Novocastrian lady called Ellie and so we decided to invite her and my other half along so that we could all meet. It then seemed churlish not to invite my kids, one of whom accepted the invitation, so our intimate lunch for two became a bit of a bun fight.
Laurence was married for many years but despite my husband being very much a part of our friendship, his ex-wife somehow didn’t. I was never sure if she avoided us or if it was just bad luck, but we never seemed to be n the right place to spend any time with her. A consequence of this is that Laurence always seemed more of a bachelor than a married man, so it was great to see him being affectionate and warm with Ellie.
We talked about the old days, not too much as it would have been rude in front of our fellow diners, but Laurence wanted to know how I felt these days about meditation and spirituality generally. This is an odd one. We were so convinced at the time that meditation was the answer to everything, yet a life time later nothing has changed. Some people get angry, as if they feel they were duped, but Laurence and I both seem to have come to roughly the same conclusion, that we just don’t know and that it’s the preserve of the young to be certain about stuff. As we have got older, more of our beliefs and perspectives have been proved wrong, and I mean everything from giving peanuts to kids (in my years as a parent it’s been do, don’t, do) to Jimmy Saville (just don’t). It gets more difficult to be sure about anything, and certainties like there is a god and his name is Jehovah, meditation is pointless or eating butter causes heart disease all start to look like callow arrogance.