I did my Communication Course and PE course in May 67. I helped out with volunteer work for the harried staff of the local Sydney organisation while studying my Dianetics course. At that time you had to study the whole course three times through. I really enjoyed myself being part of the team and the moment I was legally able to at 15 years old, I left school. It was quite a long journey from our outer suburb home into the organisation in the city and I did it alone every day. Often I was scared travelling so after a while it was arranged I could catch the train with Peter and Maureen Sparshott when they were travelling at the same time.
At some point during this year, my mother came around to accepting Scientology. I know my brother and I drove her crazy with our newly learned acknowledgment skills. “OK”, “Thankyou” etc became banned words for a while.
I remember one incident where Dad came home really looking haggard and distressed. Apparently the whole of Sydney Organisation was assigned a “Doubt Condition” (this is part of the application of the scientology ethics and justice system) and Dad would not agree. He was threatened with being declared a “Suppressive Person” because refused to compromise. I have always admired him for that. My memory is hazy on these early years, but I think the whole thing was cancelled and it was life as normal again, a common thing in scientology.
During my time in Sydney I had met the first love of my life, a young man working on “staff” called Chris. We were very young and it was an innocent relationship only going as far as furtive kisses, however we were inseparable and wanted to marry when we could. This was all part of the delightful rose-coloured scenario for me at this time, aged 15. Studying this “technology” in the day, lunches at a nearby park with my love and a seemingly bright future.
Dad was heavily involved with scientology now and my mother and brother and I followed in his footsteps. Dad wanted to move the whole family to join the newly formed “Sea Organisation”. This was based aboard a ship called the Royal Scotsman which I think was anchored in Corfu at the time. The idea was to fly to the UK and then get a van to drive the family to the ship. (It didn’t work out that way, for which I am eternally and extremely grateful.)
So we all moved to England, to Saint Hill Manor, the headquarters of scientology at the time. This involved selling the house he had built, taking my siblings out of school and moving across the world. I still don’t know how my mother coped with it all, especially as my paternal grandparents who had always had a large part in our lives threatened to – and did in fact disinherit my dad and all of us for leaving. I lost one set of grandparents at that point and although we did have some small contact again before they passed, it was a loss that affected the rest of my life.
Leaving my home country, my friends and Chris was very hard. He agreed that we would somehow meet up again and that it was the “greatest good”. I was too young to stay behind being a good enough scientologist already I believed that a new life in a new land, saving the world, was exactly what I wanted.
Dad had been promised accommodation for the family when we arrived, however it wasn’t organised at all. So someone rushed around and arranged for us to stay some house that was empty for a few days, until better things were arranged. I remember it was mouldy and damp and bare and there was another family there too. We kids had to hide when someone came close, as we were not supposed to be there. Not a good start to our new life. Apparently the Treasury Sec at the time had rung Dad’s bank and pretended to be him and demanded loudly that his money be available the next day, i.e. the end of the stat week ‘Thursday 2pm’. Dad found out this information at a later time.
Saint Hill at that time was an exciting place to be. So many people of all nationalities, people everywhere! Reception was down by the Chapel with the Canteen opposite, the hang out place for students. It was fascinating and ever-changing. I remember when I saw snow for the first time, and once even rolling all the way down the driveway in the snow, what fun. I have memories of walking down by the lake, even though it was OOB. Walking through trees covered with snow and ice, a magical experience. There were so many lovely people sharing these life experiences there and I felt grateful to be part of it, mostly.
The family had moved into a large house in Oxted that was a sort of boarding house for Scientologists. Mum and Dad ran it even though they also worked on staff. I don’t remember much of this time; I know my siblings had to fend for themselves a lot.
To be continued….