Friday, 6 January 2017

Pressing the pause button

A weekend retreat with William West

 Dates: 17th – 19th March 2017

Venue & Cost: Whaley Hall, Whaley Bridge  £290

Life is busy with little time to stop and stare; and time marches on. We need more than ever to listen to the quiet voice inside us. Maybe you have heard this voice within a religious setting or in your own moments of contemplation. Or maybe you haven’t but really want to.

On this residential event we will take time to listen to our inner voice and also take time to share this. To help this process we will use simple writing exercises; consider some spiritual writings; times of silence and, above all, listening to, and being with, one another.

People are expected to refrain from using personal computers and mobile phones. We expect these to remain switched off apart a brief period before the evening meal unless there is a real crisis occurring.


The retreat will consist of:

                  times for brief sharing and reflection in pairs
                  some simple writing and drawing exercises  to help access our inner
                  times of silence to listen to the inner voice stimulated by short 
                    readings which could occur outdoors, weather permitting
                  some brief sessions sharing within the whole group.

The workshop is open to everyone. However, we wish to ensure that participants can make the best use of the opportunities offered by the workshop. In rare circumstances we may decide to recommend attendance at an event in the future.

About William
William is an experienced counsellor, trainer, workshop and retreat leader. He is a Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Manchester where much of his research reflected his interest in spirituality. He is also currently a Visiting Professor in Counselling at the University of Chester. William has written extensively about spirituality and counselling and has also edited a number of books bringing together his own writings with those of like minded contributors including Integrating Traditional Healing Practices into Counselling and Psychotherapy (Sage, 2005, with Roy Moodley), Exploring Therapy, Spirituality and Healing (Palgrave 2011) and Therapy, Culture and Spirituality: Developing Therapeutic Practice (Palgrave, 2014; with Greg Nolan).  William is a keen cyclist, amateur poet and sings in the Manchester Community Choir.

To book your place, or for more information, contact Sarah Talbot;   tel: 0777 202 4653



Thursday, 22 December 2016

The Boss consults Q his spiritual director once more

The Boss consults Q his spiritual director once more

- Hi Boss.
- Hi Q.
They both settle down into Q’s comfortable chairs, not quite facing one another. There is a tense silence as Q waits.
- I’m finding Christmas very difficult.
- Hmm, Q nods.
- Yes, it is the lack of compassion, the lack of common sense, the lack of wit and wisdom, the whole mess of things…
Q waits.
- How can you take it? .... How can you be silent?
Q smiles enigmatically.
- Don’t smile at me!
Q laughs.
- That’s not helpful!
- I know but you either curse the darkness or light a candle.
- Is that so (sarcastically) … Is that enough?
- No, but it is important to act in as many ways as possible and lighting a candle and saying a prayer is a start and may lead one to more considered, possibly more successful actions.
- Hmm, said the Boss, but I want a better world and I want it now!
- Me too!
- Oh ….
- Why ever not? …The question is how?
The Boss nods - I know my actions are not enough but sometimes I get so frustrated!
- Me too!
- Oh.
- Yes.
- What does God want?
- Do you really want my answer to that?
- Please!
- Love.
- Love?
- Love of self, love of others, love of the planet.
- How?
- Try it out with the next person you meet, but gently!

Gibbs is too mch for me - poem

Gibbs is too much for me

I’m walking down the street
In my long black coat
And I become Neil Tennant

But I’m not singing West End Girls
Like in the video
Instead Can’t Take My Eyes Off You

And I never become Gibbs from NCIS
Even though this who I am
For my daughter, in this coat

Gibbs is too much for me
I wouldn’t mind becoming Gibbs
But I am not there … yet.

Sunday, 11 December 2016


For the last 20 or so years until recently I was working full-time some of it evenings and weekends (and never quite got the time back) pre-occupied with my work and the parts of it that I really enjoyed - all those academic papers and books wot I wrote that a few hundred people read.

Actually the best bit was my students and being able to work with them for several years on projects that mattered to them and to me. God I was and am thankful for that opportunity!

Now I have time to stop and stare and I notice so much. I was walking back from the Coop today thinking about my choir outflit and whether black cords would work (heaven forbid!) and for a few minutes picked up on the attire of the people passing me by, really individual, different 'tribes'! It can of had a language, an expression.

Some times, some days I notice the strain in people's faces, very poignant when it is a young mum. I can become aware of those who need a good shoulder to cry on. My life changed when I suddenly could see beneath people's masks back in 1973 - but that is another story!

Sunday, 27 November 2016


Last Thursday went to a great writing group at Gaskell House. The encourage you to write between classes. This a recent piece, no surprises in it for my friends but for me its the voicing of it that matters:


I don’t know what I was meant to do. All I knew was that I had to escape my family and the small town I grew up in. I needed a job and computing seemed to be the coming thing in the late 60s.

Looking back I realised that I found out who I was retrospectively by looking back at what I did. But I never knew what I would stick at. I always wanted to be able to say ‘I am a whatever – medic, teacher, carpenter, builder, father, grandfather, husband’.

So I guess that I have gifts but I was never brought up or taught how to recognise them. First one in the family to go to university – it’s a cliché but no-one told me you can never go back.

So I moved on losing friends with no care in the world. Every new step forward was the loss of the old life, like shedding a skin or sometimes becoming a butterfly.

And now another transformation is in progress. It is simple to say ‘I am retired’ but it is not a state it’s a process and I am not sure what is merging from the chrysalis.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

And I walk on - poem

And I walk on

It rained
And rained
I tried to dodge it
It caught me.

The sun came out
And so did a rainbow
My heart lit up
And I thought of you.

It rained
And rained
I took shelter
And a cappuccino
And thought of you.

You are so close to me now
If I reach out
I could touch you
I believe
But I know this is not true

It rained
And rained
And my cheeks are wet
With rain and tears
I shake myself dry
And I walk on.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Whitby poem


1.The first time I saw you
The light took me by surprise
And the smell of fish
It’s fresh crisp taste.

2.You took me to Whitby
A rite of passage
And I fell in love
Though we were never sure.

3.I took you to Whitby
We were in love
And it was part of our web.

4.And the time of the car chase
That ended in wingless flight
You forced open the car door
As the policeman looked on
God you were gone too soon!

5.I clamber up to the ruined Abbey
And feel the history
The fever and the pain
And it’s all past now

But I still have the photos
On my wall
And I wonder
Where are you now?