Friday, March 10, 2006

(176) The Gurus

Religion began when the first knave duped the first fool.

"I believe mankind needs religions."The Right Honourable J. Enoch Powell in conversation with myself at the Garrick Club, 1994

"I happen to believe that elevating a human being into a "higher power" who possesses spiritual insight not given to ordinary mortals is dangerous and misguided, but I can envisage circumstances in which I might succumb."
Prof. Anthony Storr, Feet of Clay

"...the charisma of certainty is a snare which entraps the child who is latent in us all"

"I believe that we are at the end of the guru system and that its current abuses disqualify it from the business of serious spiritual transformation. The next five years will see a blizzard of financial and sexual scandals which I am certain will make this point painfully clear even to those who now believe implicitly in the guru system and are prepared to fight dirty to preserve it."Andrew Harvey, The Return of the Mother 1994

"You shouldn´t talk about it: you´ll just make people jealous!"
March 1987

In August of 1980, Jeff Katz of Bedfordshire on Sunday interviewed me and then a week or two later we met up again at a Douglas Baker lecture in the Bedford Corn Exchange.

"It´s interesting, isn´t it?".

"No," he replied.
"There´s no way you´re ever gonna get me to believe in a load of shit like that!
What a character!
The mendacity! The mendacity!".

"Well; audacity," I suggested.

"Mendacity!", he insisted.

Katz then wrote a withering review of Baker for the same paper.

Incidentally, when we had a drink together after the lecture, Katz told me how impressed he was with Peter Seller´s most recent film, Being There.
"That is a great movie!"
Baker was later to tell me that Sellers had consulted him on spiritual matters.

In Being There the inanities of the simpleton, Chance, are misinterpreted as profound.
The film ends with Chance finding himself accidentally walking on water, whilst plutocrats discuss backing him as a Presidential candidate.
Being There was the last film of Sellers´ to be released whilst he was still alive. He died of heart failure in 1980.

Apparently he had put enormous efforts into getting it made and had set his heart on playing the lead role ever since he had read the novel.
Curiously, as the above Wikipedia entry and its links make clear, the author himself was accused of plagiarism in that the novel and screenplay (which he also wrote) bear very strong resemblances to a Polish work of the 1930s.
He was also regarded by some as something of a fraud in the persona he presented to the world.

In the first week of November 2007, whilst adding some addenda to this entry, I was moved through curiosity to enter Katz´s name into a search engine.

The hits surprised me -,,1101356,00.html
... ... ...
In Autumn 1996 I asked directory inquiries for Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch’s telephone number. This was despite my having tried to obtain it in the late 1980s and being told that it was ex-directory.
The operator put me through to his brother by mistake- his identical twin.
The brother then put me through to Jeremy. Thus we became acquainted.
It later emerged that the day before I rang, Jeremy had written in his diary that he wanted nothing more to do with Douglas Baker.
... ... ...
In 2000 I spotted on Baker’s website a list of points by which he claimed the reappeared Christ could be identified. All of these referred to Baker!
So on February 7th 2001 I rang him and when one of his associates answered I asked if I could speak to Jesus.
He told me that I must have the wrong number, but I gave my name and insisted that I wanted to speak to Jesus, a.k.a. Baker.

Baker came on the line, saying something to the guy who had answered the phone such as "Yes, he is a nutter", and asked what I wanted. I said that he had never told me that he was Jesus. He corrected me: "The Christ".
He said that the information had been up at his website for five years, and added, "In my thousands of lectures I have always been open about my attitudes... (etc) ."
I accused him of being a criminal and mentioned the accusations of his having sexually assaulted minors under the guise of Tantric yoga and he muttered something in reply.
After a brief interchange, in which I repeated my astonishment at his brazen attitude towards these amazing allegations, he said "Oh there’s no point in talking to you," and rang off.

Later that evening my wife suggested we watch a recording which I had asked her to make two days earlier of a documentary on Erich von Däniken.
I once asked Baker for his opinion of von Däniken and he had said "He’s a c***. And he knows he’s a c***!"
The cassette was already in and so she asked me to just press ‘Play’. I did, and it began with a sketch which I recognised from the end of an episode of a BBC comedy programme called Goodness Gracious Me.

It had been recorded by my wife at least a year earlier, and was a musical spoof where Maharishi types had formed a pop group called The Gurus.
They were singing of themselves as financially and sexually ripping off their hapless acolytes ( "Free for ladies, if you touch my..." ) and it ended with them all being arrested.
That was the only sketch of that show that she had recorded, and I think that she had done so because I had thought it hilarious and apposite.

There then followed the von Däniken recording. After about ten minutes I decided that it was not for me, and left the room.

At 9 p.m. Fiona called me to see the opening scenes of a programme on Channel 4. It was a social history of the Karma Sutra called Position Impossible.

The presenter was Sanjeev Bhaskar, better known then as one of the cast of Goodness Gracious Me. Mr Bhaskar wrote a lot of the music for the Asian comedy show and indeed he had written the song for, and also been a member of, their band; The Gurus.

It began with a Tantric workshop in Penzance where couples were being shown how to prolong sexual matters for supposed spiritual benefit. Then it cut to Bhaskar doing a stand up routine where he was making mild fun of the workshop to his audience.
... ... ...
Note the surname of the actor playing Mordred in the film The Knights of the Round Table in Part Two: The Narrative, Epilogues and Appendices.
... ... ...
On May 17th 2006, just after I thought of Baker´s false claims, Bart Simpson made some remark on The Simpsons cartoon playing in the background on my TV about his being the real Jesus!
... ... ...
In 1997 I heard that our friend, Pepita de Foote, had a star named in honour of a sick friend of hers. To do this she had used the services of an agency which advertised that, for a fee, they would name a star after someone for you.
Not long afterwards I saw Dr Patrick Moore on a TV programme called Serves You Right saying that this sort of business was invalid, and that only an object such as a crater could have a name conferred on it in that way.
Star names were decided by an official International Astronomical Association, and the people to whom Pepita had paid her money were con men.

Her sick friend’s name - which she attempted to have conferred on the star -was Baker.
... ... ...
Note also this, from Entry 18 -
" At around 5:15 on the evening of December 21st 1998 I alighted from a train that I had boarded at Welwyn Garden City as it arrived at London King’s Cross.
Dr. Jonathan Mestel shot past me at King’s Cross as he hastened to board a train departing from the adjacent platform. (Harry Potter fans, note the location!) I waved at him through the glass. I had been to Welwyn to research data further to pursuit of a criminal guru, and at the afternoon’s end I had, by chance, passed by the offices of The Welwyn and Hatfield Times newspaper. I went in and spoke to Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch’s contact there, and she gave me the phone number of a private investigator whom she recommended.
The next day Jeremy made contact with this man.

Mestel had been someone who, years before, had reacted with horror at my advancing some racist ideas with which, I subsequently realised, I had empathy purely through my association with Baker.

...   ...   ...
On July 5th 2000 I discussed with The Welwyn and Hatfield Times their publishing a piece on Baker.
That morning two Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked at our door and spoke to my wife of the problems our society faced, e.g. declining standards of behaviour amongst the young, and how, for instance, schoolchildren today showed lack of respect towards their teachers.
Fiona responded that that did not bother her at all, and that, indeed, she herself had had little respect for those who taught her.
... ... ...
At 11:a.m. on August 4th 2000 I opened a letter from the newspaper’s editor which outlined their reasons for not running any story about Baker.
As I did so, the same Jehovah’s witnesses called again.
Then at 11:45 a.m. Sacha turned on the TV and he and Fiona found themselves watching Whistle Down The Wind. In this film of the early 1960s a group of schoolchildren mistake an escaped criminal for Jesus.
... ... ...
On the morning of July 10th 2000 I visited my G.P. concerning back problems. I explained that I had incurred them through typing a book on coincidences. He responded that he had encountered a coincidence many years before when he was being shown some psychiatric patients and on the same day he had met two who claimed that they were Jesus.
I then sold Doctor C. Chinnery a copy of my book, Coincidences.
... ... ...
And in 1987 Baker had asked me to report to the Bedford police crazed threats made against him by a schizophrenic living in Bedford.
When I mentioned Baker´s name it galvanised an officer at the front desk. He stared wildly at me for several seconds, until a colleague turned to look at him and he hastily muttered something and returned to attending to the member of the public in front of him.

Only years later did I think on how apposite it should have been that this occurred in a police station.

In 1992 I bumped into Pete Wood in Luton. We had met six years previously via Baker. I invited him to visit me at my flat there and a day or so later he was present when I received a call from The New Statesman about a reference I had made to fugitive paedophile Brian Eley in my chess column for that publication. It was the only time the magazine ever rang me.
... ... ...
On November 10th 2003, Bruce Mitchell, whom I had met just once some 16 years or so earlier, called me from Cape Town on the pretext of obtaining Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch´s number. We discussed Baker at length. Mitchell informed me thathe had bankrupted Baker and that he was now to receive, £7,500 after someone bought the rights to Baker’s works.
Bruce said that it does not matter what sort of access one may have: what matters is whether or not one helps people.
That day I heard for the first time an emotional message left on my ansafone on December 3rd by Charles Ingram´s mother thanking me for my support.
Mitchell also happened to mention that he had known Tommy Milligan and his wife Helen from Edinburgh chess club and had, perhaps twenty years or so before, lent Tommy 50 Pounds, which was never returned.

At 17:20 hrs on May 27th 2010 I had just been musing on Baker´s fraudulent behaviour when my wife came into the house and presented me with something which had been stuck to many car windscreens in the neighbourhood, including ours -

... ... ...
On June 2nd 2010 I received this e mail from Chris Jeans –

Date: 2 June, 2010, 12:56

Hi James,
On Friday I was driving north on the A1 on my way to Bedford when noticed a Kestrel hovering at the side of the road. I then looked at the lorry in front of me and the word Kestrel was written on the back of the lorry. Strange but true.


I immediately responded -

Less than 5 minutes before you sent this I had been looking at a thing on Mary Whitehouse by Joan Bakewell in The Daily Telegraph on line and she mentioned Ken Loach in the 1960s.
I of course thought of "KES" and indeed a notice once put on the school 6th form notice board in 1977 by a Mr Stafford telling us all not to miss it.
I recalled that KES is based on the novel A Kestrel for a Knave.

5 mins later I see your e mail.


And then I wrote to him –
...and you were on your way to Bedford, my town...
what took you there, might one inquire?

He replied –
I was taking a lady to a Ceroc (jive) dance at the Bedford Corn Exchange in St.Paul's Square. She mentioned Kes when I saw the Kestrel . I have been trying to remember someone in the film called Brian something who was a PE teacher.


I replied –

Probably this guy -
Bedford Corn Exchange, eh?
Scene of a huge and seminal development and coincidence of mine in August 1980....

He asked –

What happened at the Corn Exchange then?

And I sent him a link to this Entry -

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