Do Not Disturb

Sshh…silence is golden

“What? A week of silence…you mean saying nothing? I dunno, I think I might blow it in the first two minutes and you how will you manage?”

The Maharani was right, I struggle with keeping silence on Remembrance Day. It’s a bit like telling Simon Cowell he can’t wear foundation for an entire week, impossible…a silent retreat, a challenge of greater proportion. However, the purpose was a noble one, to find balance, calm and the ability to be and connect at a higher level. Perhaps a bit of soul training, after all I’d tested my body to marathon proportions, pushed my cognitive power to figure out a Rubik’s cube, witnessed a few wonders of the world (tax rebates are a marvellous thing). Maybe it was time to switch focus from the temporal to the internal and the eternal, could it be that I could discover something of lasting value in the clutter of life. I’m drawn to the idea but like colonic irrigation it’s something I’ve pondered but never succumbed.

Charging up the A40 to a destination just outside Cheltenham we fill up on audio fuel and tune into the meanderings of the BBC, dribbling through made up social ills. Promiscuous with our listening habits we skit across the airwaves finding no satisfaction and agree on conversation.

“Do you think the nuns will be in habits or civvies, I wonder if they’re allowed to wear make up.”  The Maharani questions aloud.

“Maybe they’ve taken a vow to couture as God’s Fashion Police…maybe they belong to the Order de Dior.”



Glenfall House was to the diocese of Gloucester, a handsome stately home standing in several acres of parkland and surrounded by classic English hills grazed upon by silky friesian cows. Leaving the car we entered a domain of tangible tranquillity re-affirmed by the note attached to the grand oak door “House In Silence” a stone built Marie Celeste greeted by a gentle faced greying lady speaking in a tiny whisper. She led us to our room whilst I let the door crash shut petrifying the silence.

Feeling like an awkward teenager meeting the parents for the first time the quietness disturbed my comfort, pushing me to question whether I could hack an hour let alone a few days of verbal solitude. Feeling every inch the novice we met the rest of the sojourners on garden seats, silent lounges and in the library most with a middle distance stare exuding contentment, indicating a journey of serenity. Middle class, middle age and retaining a middle age spread, I’d clearly arrived a decade too early.

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