I dedicate my song today to my sister-in-law Elaine who is married to my brother, Patrick. Elaine celebrates her birthday today. Have a nice day, Elaine.
My song today is ‘Mull of Kintyre’. This a song by the British–American rock band ‘Wings’. It was written by Paul McCartney and Denny Laine. The song was written in tribute to the ‘Kintyre Peninsula’ in Scotland and its headland, the ‘Mull of Kintyre. This is a place where McCartney has owned ‘High Park Farm’ since 1966. The song was Wings' biggest hit in Britain and is one of the best-selling singles of all time in the United Kingdom, where it became the 1977 Christmas Number 1 and was the first single to sell over two million copies nationwide.
The lyrics of the first verse, also used as the repeating chorus, are an ode to the area's natural beauty and sense of home:
‘Mull of Kintyre
Oh mist rolling in from the sea,
Is always to be here
Oh Mull of Kintyre’
It also became an international hit on the back of maximising its Christmas appeal with the listener, charting high in Australia and many other countries over the holiday period. It went on to become the first single to sell over two million copies in the UK and became the UK's best-selling single of all-time (eclipsing the Beatle’s own ‘She Loves You’), until overtaken by Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ in 1984 (which also featured McCartney on the B-side). The song remains the UK's best-selling completely non-charity single, having sold 2.09 million copies (Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody’ sold more in its two releases, but the profits of the 1991 release were donated to charity).
Despite its international appeal, the song was not a major hit in North America. ‘Mull of Kintyre’ was not a pop hit at all in the USA but did manage to reach Number 45 on the ‘Easy Listening;’ chart.
When this song became a Christmas hit in the United Kingdom in 1977, I was 35 years old and was immersed in my work as a Probation Officer and the founder of ‘Anger Management’ as I introduced my Relaxation Training programmes all over West Yorkshire.
Over a two-year period, my credentials as being one of the country’s foremost authorities and practitioner of Relaxation Training ( I had practised Relaxation Training and Transcendental Meditation since the age of 12 years and started to instruct it from the age of 30 years) enabled me to introduce my relaxation methods and courses into numerous areas of society.
Over a twenty-five-year period, I would operate my Relaxation Training Groups in the following venues: Probation Offices: Hostels: General Hospitals: Psychiatric Hospitals: the Mental Institution of ‘Storthes Hall’ in Kirkheaton, Huddersfield: Community Halls: Churches: Educational Establishments of Primary Schools, Secondary Schools, Grammar Schools, two Private Schools, Technical Colleges, University, and Night School Classes. I had also managed Relaxation Training courses with training probation officers, police officers, fire officers, teachers, social workers, general nurses, psychiatric nurses, psychologists, and psychiatric patients.
Around 1977, I had the unique opportunity to introduce my Relaxation Training Courses into a female prison in Wakefield. The course comprised of two-hour weekly sessions spread over six months and involved over thirty women prison, some lifers, many serving sentences of over five years, with the shortest sentence being two years imprisonment.
The group of women prisoners with whom I worked was the group of inmates who the prison guards regularly referred to as being ‘the scum of the earth’ because of the nature of the crimes they had been imprisoned for. They were also segregated from the bulk of other women prisoners because of the severity of their crimes and the unacceptable nature of them even among the prison population.
Some group members were women who had killed children, sexually molested children, physically assaulted and tortured children, killed and seriously maimed men in their lives, burned down houses with people inside them (who fortunately got out in time to avoid serious injury), trafficked drugs, and attacked and assaulted old people during the course of robbing their houses in the dark of night. One woman had killed her older brother (aged 19n years) who had raped her for three years between the ages of 12-15 years of age. There were many women who had committed less-grave offences, but who were serial and repeat offenders, and had been given longer than usual sentences for the number of crimes they had committed.
All our Relaxation Training sessions were held inside the Prison Chapel. The prison officers were often deliberately unhelpful as they believed that most women inmates on the course deserved to be given the electric chair or the birch for the severity of the crimes they had committed instead of induction onto a Relaxation Training course designed to make them acknowledge their worth as a person again and to bring self-respect back into their daily lives, and love back into their hearts. Had the prison officers been given their way with the women on my relaxation course, my aim of restoring moments of peace back into their lives would have been replaced with their aim of devising ways to make their prison sentences more unbearable to endure than they were!
It takes around twenty minutes before a deep state of relaxation can be induced in trainees, and it is highly disruptive to the trainees to be heaved to their feet from a prostrated position of peaceful repose by two burly prison guards yelling, “Get up……(a prisoner’s surname only). The Prison Governor wants to see you, now!” Despite the clearly visible request of ‘QUIET PLEASE.RELAXATION TRAINING SESSION IN PROGRESS’ having been posted on the closed Chapel door, the prison guards would deliberately enter in the noisiest and most disruptive manner possible.
I will never forget my first research survey I did on thirty of the women prisoners who had negotiated my first prison ‘Relaxation Training Group’ ( I was given permission by the prison governor to run two groups over a fifteen-month period in time). The most salient details which that survey revealed included:
(1) All the women found that being able to relax to have been highly helpful in the serving of their sentences, although most reported that they now experienced an unexpected and unwelcome consequence. It would appear that their offences and the victims of their offences (which they had tried not to focus on) kept coming back to them more often during the day and especially when they settled down to go to sleep at night. This finding closely corresponded with the general view held by psychologists and psychiatrists that the mind is more easily likely to recall repressed events when it is relaxed or in one’s sleep.
(2) Almost all the women prisoners had experienced physical, emotional and sexual abuse in their childhood by fathers, brothers and other family members. Most of them had gravitated into abusive relationships as adults and were invariable physical beaten and sexually abused by the aggressive and controlling men in their lives.
(3) Most had given birth to unplanned and unwanted children whom they had never been able to establish a healthy mother/child relationship with. Some of their children had been badly hurt (one child killed) or neglected by them, and had been placed on the ‘At Risk Register’ of Social Services Departments or removed from their care and custody due to their criminal behaviour. Most of the female prisoners described themselves as being ‘bad mothers who had been born to bad mothers. Another common description of themselves was that ‘they did not deserve to be happy’. Unless the questionnaire specifically referred to the word ‘love’, this was an emotion that was not referred to by any of them.
(4) While few had never heard or had ever voiced the words ‘I am Sorry’, none of them had ever heard as a child the words of a parent say, ‘I love you’. In later life within adult relationships, the word ‘love’ was never part of their spoken vocabulary.
(5) The most difficult exercise that we performed was to stand in a circle holding hands, and upon the instruction of myself, have each group member turn to the one at each side of them and say, ‘I love you’.
These two Relaxation Training courses in the Wakefield woman’s prison are the ones from the many hundreds of groups I conducted and led over thirty years between the ages of 30-60 years, which were the most satisfying to be involved in and the most memorable of my working career.
I will never forget one Christmas towards the end of the 70s. This was after the completion of my first six-month groups with female inmates of the Wakefield Prison. I received at the ‘Huddersfield Probation Office’ around thirty Christmas cards that the women in my first prison relaxation group in the Wakefield Prison had personally made and had posted to me.
Each card had included within the brief written (often printed, unpunctuated and mispelt) message written inside that communicated the words, “Happy Christmas, Mr Forde, I love you” and “Mr Forde, thank you.” These Christmas cards represented the best Christmas presents I have ever received from any source as they told me that from all the things one can give another, none is more powerful and rewarding than ‘love’ itself.
Despite the rousing sound of the background bagpipes in this morning’s song, I still find the song relaxing as well as being morally uplifting.
Love and peace Bill xxx