| BRIAN BRANCHE
Jesus said: "a grain of wheat remains a solitary grain unless it falls into the ground and dies; but if it dies, it bears a rich harvest." John 12:24
I suppose it is by taking the risk of making mistakes and looking foolish. By allowing ourselves to be pushed and shoved and yet holding on.Getting to know our selves in the 'doing and being'. That is how it has been for me!
All of us land up at some stage in our life asking the big questions: Who am I? What is truth? And what is the point of living? I came to that point at the age of thirty.
But before that I had to walk, as all of us do, the winding road of self-discovery! Here I am in Bhusawal India aged about two and a half
Here I am in Bhusawal India aged about two and a half
My first recollection of an otherness was as a six year old living in India when I picked up a piece of iron core and saw how rusty and eaten it was; then thinking to myself: If something as hard as this could get so rusty, them something as soft as me can do the same. What I saw in my mind was a picture of events, but by trying to put words to a vision, usually corrupts the image and doesn't convey the 'contents, but only describes the symbol or the carrier of a truth.'
I was always a loner and dreamer and recall a happy life living in D168 Armoury Road, Bhusawal, India and my time at Barnes High Boarding School, from 1945 to 1949 where I was not an outstanding pupil in the three R's. Apart from doing well in the school boxing competition I did not make a great splash in the life of Barnes. On three occasions I was taken and kept in the Infirmary. Once when in the junior block I was bitten between my toes by a scorpion when putting on my shoes. The second time when I got serious sunstroke and the third when I was in Candy House after playing by the duckpond and putting my hand in the long grass and thought a small snake had bitten me. During these three stays in hospital I had very high temperatures and was delirious.
After my parents split up and India got Independence; we came to live in England, in February of 1950.
My mum and I
I had a lot of re-adjustment to do in understanding who am I? At first a lot of misunderstandings had to be cleared up.The notion of Anglo Indian meant something totally different in England to what it meant and represented in British India. And like many AI's, one discovered we were neither fish nor fowl!
I suppose when we lack understanding and a large vocabulary the 'fists' can become a good short cut to settling arguments and debate. I seemed to have a natural ability for boxing having learnt in India and been good at the noble art in Barnes. To be good at something does bring a kind of status and respect from others.
There was nothing outstanding during my time at St. John The Baptist Secondary Modern School in Brighton Sussex where we lived after coming to England.As usual I was good at boxing and won the Brighton schoolboys boxing championships and after the first year at school was accepted by the other kids as one of them,.
I have always been interested in the mind and its functions as far back as I can remember and it came as no surprise when my foster dad bought me a book on teach yourself Psychology for my thirteenth birthday.
Although I did not fully understand at the time I was reading Jung, Freud, Adler and Froum and enjoying it. I used to sit up late at night looking up at the stars and wondering on the enormity of space.
Those formative years of puberty stirred my mind to dwell on other things more exciting than the formal education school offered and my lack of interest showed in my examination results.
What impressed me at the time were the two spiritual dreams I had during that year. They were in Technicolor and both excited me on wakening.
In the first dreamt I was a slave who was witnessing the crucifixion of Christ and called upon by one of the Roman guards to help carry the body of Christ down from the cross. I was left holding the head of Christ in my hands when there was lightning and thunder and as the lightning flashed on the face of Christ I saw the face of love, compassion and suffering and fell in love. The sun was rising above the cross and I was given Christ's robe to look after. I woke up feeling excited and full of life.
A month or so after I dreamt the world was on fire and I was running and seeing people dying around me through fear, but the fire was not consuming the surrounds. Then it started raining blood and I was trying to wipe it from me when I saw coming from a distance a carriage moving towards me but there were no horses pulling it along. When it pulled up besides me I saw a lady dressed in black and her face was veiled. But the same light that I saw in the face of Christ shone from her.
The lady spoke to me and said do not be afraid, for all will be well.
Those dreams lived within my subconscious till they were rekindled in an outer body experience I had when I was thirty leading to self-discovery.
Leaving school at fifteen without any formal education qualifications did not leave me many options as to choice of a career, and I was encouraged to join up in the RAF as a boy entrant in the trade of aircraft engineer.
Above: RAF 1954. Walking along Blackpool sea front (I am the second from right)
One of the highlights of 1953 was winning the ATC all England boxing championships at Claxton Hall Birmingham. The RAF encouraged sports and as I was good at boxing and hockey I was made a senior boy entrant, and was put in charge of a dormitory of about fifteen plus boy entrants.
It was like going back to boarding school because we had to go back to the classroom to study for our particular trade and the curriculum, which included maths, English, science, geography, and other subjects. It was the first time I had been given an aptitude test and was surprised to find I was rated as having above average intelligence. Mixing with lads from all over the British Isles and oversees and being in a totally male environment was an eye opening experience, discovering the odd characteristics we have as human beings and the wild side of imagination and erotica. Young lads would parade and boast about the size of their penis and masturbate in front of other lads to prove their masculinity. There were experiments by others who would drop their trousers and bend down when they were about to fart, while another would strike a match to see if they could set a light to the expelled gas! It was also a time of growing up and learning the responsibility of servicing aircraft engines and having other peoples lives in our hands.
Boxing was still my main sport and when a fair ground came near our camp I earned a bit of money on the side by taking on all comers in the boxing booth.
Above:Here I am with the RAF boxing team in 1955. I am sitting down in the middle with Dick Mctagett on my right. Dick won the Gold medal in the Melbourne Olympics. I was boxing at bantamweight. Bruce wells who is standing in the back row on my right was the ABA and Golden Gloves champion. Next to him is Len Mullen ABA Champion .
Above:Me in the dog collor with a group of guys called 'Tough Talk'. Tough guys who have turned to Christianity.