Very happy to share the following addition to our informal Saint Hill history. It comes from a person of distinguished record at Saint Hill who was intimately connected with the Manor for some years after the Hubbards left. I am grateful for the contribution and welcome more. Many thanks to “Dr. Buzzard” for these fascinating recollections.
More Tales from the Manor House
Over the years, Ken and I occupied some of the same posts, and I later worked under him (he was a great boss!!!). Not too long after Ron and the family left to sea, I took over a post whose duties included management of the Manor house and Ron’s personal staff.
Ken’s Mrs. and Mr. “Smith” were named Gladys and Denny. Denny only showed up a few hours a week and did odd jobs around the place. His accent was indecipherable. Gradually he came in less and less and then eventually not at all. Sometime later, Gladys also faded into the mist and they both retired. Gladys was extremely grateful to Ron for keeping Denny on at full pay even for the few hours he worked. When they retired, they continued to be paid at full pay.
Ken remarked to me that Gladys must have been lonely after the Hubbard family had gone. There was in fact quite a bit of activity in the Manor over the years. Every year, a troop of gypsies used to arrive and clean the windows inside and out. Gladys would keep everything under lock and key except the room they were working in, keeping an eagle eye out for light fingers.
We had a love-hate relationship with the local district fire department. They knew that portions of the Manor house were being used for “business” but turned a bit of a blind eye. However, once a year they wanted to “exercise” in the building. Gladys would lay out runners on the stair carpets to protect it from the firemen’s boots as they charged up the stairs to the roof.
On the roof, the Manor had a large water tank (the object of the firemen’s interest) and there was another one in the kitchen ceiling. The water pressure was so low in that part of the country that the tanks filled as they could at any hours they could and then the house supply was fed from them. The supply pressure was really bad in the summertime and must have been terrible during the later English droughts.
For congresses and open days, I used to conduct guided tours of the entrance hall, Ron’s office, the Winter Garden and a couple of upstairs rooms. Gladys always watching from the wings.
There were also visitors to the Manor for the house staff to manage. Mary Sue made at least two visits that I knew of. Sea Org missions, starting from the very first one that treated Reg Sharpe (one of most prominent figures in Scientology at the time) in such an abominable manner and alienated possibly Ron’s only real, personal friend. Story aside: At the time I first arrived in Saint Hill, there was only one telex machine, and it was situated in, of all places, the reception area. Telexes were left lying around on a desk on the presumption that people couldn’t read upside down. I thought for years everyone could do that…and there was a telex from Mary Sue begging Reg to come back to the fold.
Gladys and Irene, Ron’s personal secretary, provided a kindness to my wife (of 50 years next year!) when she was pregnant. Due to complications, she couldn’t be left alone at home and ended up spending the last 8 weeks of her term flat on her back in bed in the hospital. Prior to that, she had to come in to work with me. She was not on staff but worked in the solarium sorting out the mess with the mimeo files that Pubs Org had left when they fled England for Scotland. (The laws of England do not automatically apply in Scotland and there was a real threat that we would be banned. Same reason for the first AO being located in Scotland.) The staff ladies took my wife under their wing and arranged for her to have her afternoon nap up in one of the empty bedrooms.
When the OT Liaison (OTL) office to interface Saint Hill with the Sea Org operations was established, they were housed in the Manor as well. This required a cook and some additional staff. Ron’s cook John Henry (who has been mentioned by Ken) came back to the Manor for a while after he left the ship. But he became famous for getting drunk on the cooking brandy and chasing someone out of the kitchen waving a meat cleaver. There were a couple of other cooks that I recall, an elderly lady whose name escapes me and a wonderful New Zealand girl, Margaret.
Stories from Ron’s secretary Irene:
The chair in Ron’s office was tied by rope to the desk so that no one could sit in it. Ron didn’t like anyone sitting at his desk and could tell instantly if this had occurred. He also complained that he could never get a hot bath because the pipes in the house were so rusty. In the bathroom off the main stairs (the ‘secret door’), there were bottles of Vichy water. The high iron content in the local tap water made Ron nauseous.
When Ron first moved to East Grinstead, he bought the big petrol station/garage that was in the centre of town. It was supposed to pay for the running of Saint Hill. Irene says she doesn’t know what the problem was but he sold it because it was not making a profit. He also bought another manor house in the area that had had a fire and was derelict. That was eventually sold off as well.
Other stories from around the Manor:
There was a horse and stable on the grounds (not to be confused with The Stables, which was housing for some of the Saint Hill staff). Diana had a pony that got left behind when the Hubbards went on board the first Sea Org ship at Southampton. A local girl looked after it for years at no pay, just for the pleasure of it. Diana eventually gave her the horse.
Fishermen used to come and ask to fish in the lake. They thought there must be some pretty big fish in there because it hadn’t been fished for years. The Org used to refuse them until I had the idea to charge them a pound and issue them with a Saint Hill fishing certificate.
There was a sewage plant on the estate, and the final destination for the effluent after-treatment was the lake. It then flowed into a local stream. The stream would sometimes fail sanitation tests until additional work on the outlet had been done. Ron used to receive nasty letters from the surrounding farmers about the fact that he didn’t participate in the regional drainage plan committee. Regarding Ken’s story of the next-door farmer’s access through a gate by the lake, I saw all the correspondence. LRH’s strategy (of a type often repeated elsewhere) was to deny that any access agreement existed (it obviously did).
One time, a horse was witnessed running into the lake, putting its head underwater, and drowning. The vet’s thought was that it got a wasp up its nose. One of the OTL ‘seamen’ had access to some scuba gear and pulled it out.
The electrical wiring in the place was a mess. If a fuse ever blew, it could take weeks to find it. A staff member with electrical experience was employed to sort it out. As I recall it took him nine months to trace and label all the wiring and fuses. He got a commendation from Ron.
Up in the back corner of the estate was a small house hidden behind hedges that the local council didn’t know about. The OTL took over the building without asking anyone (as was generally the case with the SO) and used it for training. The Saint Hill Choir then also took to using it. Between them, they decided it was too dark inside, so they cut down all the rhododendrons that hid the building. Big fight with me! Luckily, the local council didn’t notice.
The Manor staff and LRH’s personal secretary and librarian (Anne) were notionally part of and paid by the Worldwide Org. That was fine until students were blocked from entering the UK and gross income fell out the bottom. Then staff wages dropped via the conditions policies. All the Manor staff were about to depart due to lack of pay. I sent an urgent request and Ron hived them off as being his personal staff (Herbie was not amused!)
In the basement were two large safes that were under my care. They mainly held the corporate seals for all the orgs. However, one locked drawer always intrigued me. With the help of a large screwdriver I got it open. Inside were 16 hallmarked, sterling-silver ear bracelets. I wrote and asked about them, and Ron said to sell them (???). From what I was able to find out, the best I could determine was that they had been intended for the first Clearing Course (which wasn’t successful).
Then there was the time the Intelligence Office at Worldwide got told there were hidden passages in the Manor house. I had to take Mo Budlong over every inch of the place, including donning overalls and crawling under the house. In the rear courtyard, there was a set of steps leading down into a small room that would have been used as the “cool room” for meat, milk, etc. In the back of the room was an access hole to the area under the house floorboards. We had a great time – “boys own.”
There are some other stories worth recording, about other subjects from those times, but for now I hope these bits may add to Ken’s memories of his very much more personal relationships.
© Dr. Buzzard, 2018
[A little more information about “The Stables”: This was a collection of farm buildings including the farmhouse. It must have been the ‘home farm’ of the original Saint Hill estate, as well as providing stabling for the Maharaja’s polo ponies. It’s the farm that LRH was prevented from buying. Some time after LRH left Saint Hill, Reg Sharpe, whom Dr. Buzzard refers to, who still lived near the Manor (and just across the road from the farm) and whom LRH had treated badly, as Dr. B. recounts, shrewdly bought the farm. Knowing Reg, I’m sure he bought it partly because it put him one up on LRH and the SO (not that Reg was bitter, he just liked to be smart in taking opportunities he fancied). At any rate, later on again, the SO desperately needed property close to SH and of course Reg was happy to sell the farm to them for a good return on his investment. The farm was used for staff accommodation and, I believe, for staff catering. – ku]POSTED ON
Here, for possible interest, are photos of the report I sent LRH on the withhold-pulling along with the “session report.” Below the images is some discussion of discrepancies between what I’ve written and what the images show.
This record shows up discrepancies, such as:
- I wrote in the last post that Mrs. Smith and I were not in session. If I formally started a session, I’ve forgotten it. The dominating memory is that it was a rather breathless affair–the sooner got through the better–and not a formal session.
- I wrote that I used the Murder Routine. It isn’t mentioned in the documents here. I am sure I used it, if briefly, as I remember Mrs. Smith’s face when I suggested some crime to her, and wondering if I’d clumsily overdone it. I don’t recall having any reason at all to exclude the fact from the report to LRH.
- I started off with a different process than the cleaning of withholds since, as a matter of fact, I wasn’t trained yet to take up withholds.
- I should have asked LRH for written instructions suitable for my level of training. I didn’t. One tended to do things off-the-cuff in those days. Later on, he would have reprimanded me for not having the written instructions.
- In an earlier post, I said that soon after I went to SH in 1963, he promoted me to Household Officer. Yet in this memo to him dated April 1964, I’m writing him from the Butler position. I must have misremembered when the promotion took place.
- In another earlier post, I told how LRH had invited me to call him “Ron” soon after my arrival at SH, but again, here I am in April 1964, still addressing him as “Dr. Hubbard.” My memory isn’t trustworthy as regards times, date, and figures.
- In the second part of this Episode, I wrote that Mrs. Smith made off as soon as we had finished, but the report I made at the time says that she hung around and was chatty! The report has to take precedence.
- I’ve said that Mrs. Smith pronounced it “Sinee-ology”. The 1965 report says it was “Sinology” that she said. Better take the report as the accurate account.
- The biggest discrepancy of all is that neither LRH nor I followed up on the action; as long as I was in the Household, Mrs. Smith had no other auditing, and no briefing on what “Sinology” was all about. This is bad and sad.
Apologies for textual discrepancies. Will be mindful of the tendency in future.
[How I come to still possess these and some other items that passed between LRH and me is in itself an interesting little story about LRH and the Sea Org and me, for future telling.]
[Chapter Seven, Episode One, (II)]
The Bed-Making Situation: E-Meter Required!
Part Two of Two
The story told here begins with LRH’s mysterious decision that he needed another place to sleep. In the crush of activity nearly always present around him, the reason for this change whizzed by me. A single bed (U.S.: twin bed) was set up for him on the top floor of the Manor. However, he continued to use his bedroom for his morning ritual of chocolate, Kools, conversation, and toilet.
He was not happy with the way Mrs. Smith was making up his new bed. He had told her, he said to me after a few days of the new arrangement, how he wanted it. The next day, he told me she was still getting it wrong. But he didn’t say any more about it and he changed the subject, thus not putting me directly on to the matter. So I left him to it. One more day, and he was getting cross with Mrs. Smith. It was something to do with how she tucked in the bedclothes or didn’t tuck them in; LRH wasn’t making it easy for me to follow what was going on. If he wanted to deal with Mrs. Smith himself, fine with me. If he wanted me to deal with Mrs. Smith on the question, he had only to tell me, fair and square.
In characteristically masterful fashion, he took action to end his dilemma. He told me, fair and square, and what he told me took me by surprise. One would have expected him to show me what he wanted on his bed and require me to pass this on to Mrs. Smith and make sure that she got it. No. L. Ron Hubbard, in this instance, wasn’t doing anything fair and square. “She has withholds”, he pronounced. “You are doing your auditor training. Get your meter and pull them.” I had no answer for this and went off in some dread of how this caper could turn out, but not thinking of shirking the task, much as I’d have liked to.
I knew Mrs. Smith would not like it one bit, and I was right. She saw me coming with my meter and the cans, and she set off in the opposite direction. I followed her and in due course trapped her in a bathroom, I nearest its door. I made her take the cans and I started in on her. She had no faintest idea of what I wanted but was thoroughly scared, cheerfulness obviously ineffective. I insisted on knowing what it was that she was not telling Dr. Hubbard. She, understanding at last what we were after, insisted she had no secrets from him whatever.
All trained auditors and some people who’ve received auditing know about the Murder Routine. This routine is Plan B when the person subjected to questioning declines to cooperate with the auditor who is asking for things not being talked about. When required by the rules governing auditing to get whatever the recipient of the auditing is withholding, the auditor is under orders to persuade the recipient to divulge the information (for the recipient’s own sake), but in a manner that preserves the recipient’s self-respect. [When the auditor does the work of helping the recipient clean up withholds well, the recipient experiences much relief. In fact, it is work of high mercy.]
Having asked our recipient to reveal a secret, and not getting the truth, the auditor uses the Murder Routine to get around the recipient’s reluctance to speak out. In this routine, the auditor suggests to the person that he or she is actually hiding a terrible crime (such as murder—hence the routine’s name). The “victim” is thoroughly relieved to be able to deny any such dreadful thing, and in a little while begins to see that rather than be suspected of felonies, he or she had better spit out whatever petty thing which sits there not being talked about.
So it was with Mrs. Smith. She was utterly astonished by the awful deeds I was suggesting she might be hiding. The routine did its job, and she spat it out. Since she and I were not “in session” (had we been, I’d be bound by the Auditor’s Code not to reveal what she told me), and since she is long gone, and since it is hardly a historical turning point, I will report her Big Secret.
“I don’t know what this Sinee-ology is all about,” she wailed in her country-woman accent, her fearful false teeth flashing pitifully. Along with that little speech came a movement downwards on the meter’s controls and a needle response which told me I had got all I would get for the moment. Satisfied, I allowed Mrs. Smith to make her escape.
Also relieved that I had a little substance with which to respond to my orders, I sent a report to LRH at once, describing how the action had gone. He returned this report to me with the notation: “You’re an auditor!” That was good of him in a way, but it didn’t have much impact on me or my assessment of myself as an auditor. The whole thing was surreal, and I felt I’d actually done Mrs. Smith a real disservice by suddenly yanking her into the Scientology world without warning in the face of her long-established and hitherto agreed-upon position on the other side of the room from us Scientologists.
Whether Mrs. Smith was now able to make her master’s bed as he wished, I never knew. I heard not one word more on the matter. Whether Mrs. Smith’s not knowing what this Sinee-ology was all about prevented her from making LRH’s bed to his satisfaction is, I take it, a moot point. My personal opinion is that in their conversations about the bed, she was so busy not pissing her pants in nervousness he could well have taken her confusion and corresponding fumbling of her sentences under his irritated gaze as some kind of obstinate obstruction due to “withholds.” Not able to look him directly in the face, she could appear to not want to face him at all. What she didn’t want to face was a big man bullying her.
Not long after, LRH went back to sleeping in his regular bedroom.
LRH was never slow to believe that a subordinate had hidden intentions to thwart or prevent his great work, and he could blind himself to the subordinate’s actual feelings, both in his initial evaluation of the perceived “opposition” and in the consequent treatment of the supposedly erring staff member.
It’s a regret, as I look back, that I didn’t intervene earlier to help Mrs. Smith sort out what our boss really wanted so she could provide it without further fuss. I was at fault in keeping my distance, and to that degree I let her down when she deserved better. It wouldn’t be the last time I forewent the opportunity to stand up to LRH on behalf of an associate, although there were times that I did take that stand.
It’s part of the unhappy history of L. Ron Hubbard and of his Church that so few of us around him had the good sense to speak out to him when he needed it most. We didn’t speak out to him about the culture he nurtured silently in his group as he aged–‘silently’ because he had directed us otherwise in his published materials.
In the culture he came to prefer around him in the Sea Organization [SO] and which we in the SO came to accept out of admiration for his so-evident brilliance, we came to agree that we should be wary of speaking out to him of all people. Brave was the executive that spilled his or her heart to contradict L. Ron Hubbard.
We silenced our hearts and our consciences in buying into his SO culture; how easily we could have changed things had we simply asked him to explain why never questioning his judgement was so smart. Being able to ask such questions is one of the desirable results of Scientology auditing and training. Had we questioned his judgement we might have had less Sea Organization but we would have had more Scientology: we’d have been focusing on what was kind, true, and necessary to Life rather than to what LRH had become.
Saint Hill Episodes: The Bed-Making Situation
Part One of Two
A local woman acted as the Hubbard’s housekeeper. She had been with them for years, since long before I joined them, well established in her position in the household and in her close relationship with Mary Sue. I believe she was in considerable awe of “Dr. Hubbard”, as he was then formally known. Anybody might be in awe of such a formidable mountain of a personality around whom the winds could roar and the storms would blow.
I’ll call her “Mrs. Smith”, which is not her real name, because I don’t want to feel that I’m invading her privacy. She is long gone and although anyone is free to write about another, I don’t have a good reason to glue the memory of her to the notoriety assigned by many to her employers. She deserves to be left in peace. At the same time, she is part of a story showing how her employer dealt with an episode that reveals more about him than about her.
The duties of this housekeeper, Mrs. Smith, consisted mostly of doing the daily maid-work in the house; she also did the shopping for the kitchen and for anything Mary Sue might need her to get locally. She handled her accounts directly with Mary Sue. Another local woman came to the Manor a couple of days a week to see to the laundry; this woman reported to Mrs. Smith, and together they managed the Hubbards’ laundry needs.
Mrs. Smith was definitely a local person. She looked to me to have been a farmer’s daughter, brought up in the farmhouse. She might have been a farm labourer’s daughter, for all I know, but she carried herself with an assertiveness and alertness that showed she had no reservations about where she had come from and felt unquestionably entitled to her fair share of respect within her circle. I had no idea of her history and didn’t ask her about it, but I never questioned my assumption that she was altogether a countrywoman, quite distinct from a townswoman.
Mrs. Smith was small of stature, not thin, but solid and tending to wiriness. She strode purposefully, always. On duty, she wore a dark-blue polyester or nylon house coat, sensible shoes, stockings, and a remarkably—even aggressively—plain white blouse buttoned to the neck. Her hair was of an ordinary, dull-grey colour, clean and tidy, combed but never seen attentively dressed. One didn’t come across her with a hat except for the practical needs of rain or cold. For rain she wore a plain plastic pleated hood tied under her chin, and for the cold, a woollen cap.
Her face was round. Its striking feature, to my eyes, was the jutting lower jaw with its masterful chin and decidedly firm set of mouth. So straight was the mouth that it’s hard to recall her lips. They tightly and tautly shut out any sign of softness or tenderness, although, aside from her fond friendship with Mary Sue and her cheery relations with the children (and with most people around her), I was never in a position to see her in intimate moments.
I think most people, knowing her and her quiet, gentle old husband, a slow, stooping, elderly fellow, a labourer in the Saint Hill estate department, would take it that in their domesticity the wife wore the trousers with iron fists, and that any tenderness he might get he would have to earn and would win only after hard work. Neither of them looked as though he did that work too often. One could believe, though, that once she had established her tyranny and was allowed to maintain it, she would generally exercise it in kindly fashion.
She did not give the impression of being a bully, just of being a naturally dominating woman wise enough to pick boundaries according to her resources and her aims. Her aims seem to prefer a minimum of avoidable friction. At work in the Manor and, I would certainly suppose, in association with the other women in her life, she would cooperate cheerfully enough; once she had grasped what was needed from her she would set about producing it, needing no prodding. She would assuredly have definite opinions about what might be going on amongst her outside women associates, but Mrs. Smith would keep her considerations to herself whilst in their friendly company, perhaps having plenty to say to a confidante, later. I always assumed she had plenty to say away from the Manor about me and about my performance as her immediate superior but didn’t bother myself too much about it. She was not a gossip.
The other striking feature in her face was its look of constant alertness. She was seemingly very careful to evaluate her position in the interchange of the moment. It was important to her to see what was coming and to know whether what was coming was to be good or bad for her. This in itself can be important to all of us from time to time; constant alertness to possibilities and consequences are part of life. For Mrs. Smith, it was as though a large and heavy hand was permanently raised in front of her, a hand that had been hitting her too hard until she’d learned how to put on the act that pacified its owner. And in the script I’m writing for her (with no basis but my own subjective impressions), that act consisted of adopting some suitable immediate cheeriness for the purpose of transforming the gathering storm into something sunnier—so the hand would relax. But Mrs. Smith lived forever in the shadow of that hand.
Thus, behind her cheery alertness was a vulnerability to which, for some reason, I found myself sensitive. I wanted not to invade it. I respected the courage with which this human being had found her way to keep a threat at bay, a process that fulfilled and affirmed her self-respect. Further, it succeeded in limiting the damage threatened by the older person to herself and to himself (it felt like a heavy male hand) and to the family. She had learned to face a demon and had borne the cost to her peace of mind.
One of the saddest aspects of human existence can be the ignorance of the abusive adult as to the depth and range of disturbance brought to the totality of the life of the abused child. And one of the most serious aspects, too:
BUT WHOSO SHALL OFFEND ONE OF THESE LITTLE ONES WHICH BELIEVE IN ME, IT WERE BETTER FOR HIM THAT A MILLSTONE WERE HANGED ABOUT HIS NECK, AND THAT HE WERE DROWNED IN THE DEPTH OF THE SEA.
[THE NEW TESTAMENT, MATTHEW 18:2-6KING JAMES VERSION]
All of this detail about Mrs. Smith is partly a tribute to her and partly to introduce the episode of the Situation involving her good self and the bed and the e-meter (the last wielded by me). Before proceeding with this episode I need to add to the detail some particulars of how she and I related personally.
I had come to the Manor already a committed Scientologist to whom L. Ron Hubbard was Supreme Leader in every way. As a Scientologist I was extremely privileged by my closeness to Ron (as he was universally known in those days within the group), and conscious of my privilege. Mrs. Smith was in the Manor entirely as a non-Scientologist; her presence and her work in the Manor had nothing to do with Scientology at all. As far as she was concerned, her employers’ involvement with that group was incidental. She was in awe of Dr. Hubbard and devoted to Mrs. Hubbard as people, not as Scientologists, let alone as the two seniormost Scientologists of all.
The work for herself and for her husband must have been a boon to her at their ages. It provided good money, perhaps to supplement their state pensions (she looked quite old enough to be getting one, and he certainly was) and to add to whatever nest-egg Mrs. Smith was sitting on. She was not about to throw away such a great blessing.
The difference between us, I have to confess, encouraged me to put myself on one level in the household, relative to the Hubbards, and Mrs Smith on quite a lower level. To tell the awful truth, I allowed myself to tolerate Mrs. Smith. I tolerated her because she did her best to do a good job and in doing so she satisfied our employers. There was no need for me to intervene in any aspect of her performance. Could I have been more grateful and acknowledging of her than I was? Most certainly. Could I have gone out of my way to be constantly socially pleasant, as Mary Sue could do? Yes, but I didn’t, although I was never unpleasant to her that I can recall. All the same, I did stoutly maintain a distance that could not have been pleasing to her. She must have seen that I did not relish personal closeness, even though I felt I was as supportive to her in her job as she herself called on me to be.
I held a distance from Mrs. Smith partly because she was so far away from me in terms of Scientology. She was a non-believer, deliberately ignoring the subject and purpose of her employers’ existence. I didn’t look down on her for this but she put herself on the other side of the room, so to speak. It wasn’t my place to persuade her over to our side of the room; if she made no move, neither would I.
There were other dissonances between us. Mrs. Smith had a rather shrill voice which she could throw at one with a fair bit of energy, as though enforcing the cheerfulness she considered a necessary part of living. Unfortunately, the shrillness, the volume, and the “cheerful” energy hit over-sensitive nerves in my ears that were uncomfortable with the impact. I could usually manage a polite face but I could not encourage conversation past a certain point. I just didn’t have it in me.
There was a certain aesthetic about the Hubbards themselves and about their lovely home. It appealed to me greatly. Had Mrs. Smith gone about her duties without talking to me, and talking quietly to others in my hearing, she would not have interfered with what I valued about the aesthetics. Alas, she pointed up that the Hubbards’ giving her an important place in their home had encouraged her in her belief in noisy and insistent good cheer. She made herself look and sound a bit vulgar. Well, quite vulgar. I was snobbish enough to notice it, and to notice it much too often. After a while, I began to blanket out Mrs. Smith’s cheerful but grating noise.
And so, to some degree, I blanketed out my responsibility to offer Mrs. Smith help with any difficulty she might have in serving our master to the best of her ability, and for her own peace of mind and satisfaction as well as for his. I’ll show in the next post, in which Mrs. Smith gets on the wrong side of The Boss, how in the end he got me involved with her—not with any good sense I might have, but with my e-meter.
The Boss: Depths and Perspectives
Part Four — Adult Reality, Childish Hardball
The cook that came to work for the Hubbards at Saint Hill one week after I arrived there had to leave within a couple of months because her mother’s health had deteriorated. This quiet, modest, reliable young woman, no stranger to consistent work, had proved herself a decided asset in the household and a major pillar of support for me as I went about establishing myself in my new position as butler to L. Ron Hubbard, once able to leave the kitchen entirely to her. Mary Sue had appreciated her warmly. We knew we would miss her, but thoroughly supported her as a daughter. I don’t know that she was outstanding as a cook, or highly trained as one, but she was obviously equal to all the ordinary demands that were made on her by a family that did not look for more than rather ordinary meals. The cleanliness and tidiness of her kitchen were exemplary. There were no complaints against her. That Mary Sue was personally happy with her showed that her work was well received.
We had a succession of cooks over the next several months, none of whom lasted very long, and I believe (memory not being too clear) that most of them left of their own accord. A couple were temporary, in any case. After our third or so replacement, I was about to look for another when LRH gave me an interesting instruction: “Ask them if they like eating.” I supposed he’d had some food on his plate that made him wonder what the provider’s intention might be.
Most of the applicants came to us through a London agency. I used the agency because I didn’t have time to go looking or advertising, since the cooking for the household devolved back on to me if there was no cook in the kitchen. I had, or felt I had, to keep all of my other duties going as well as I could despite being tied to the stove and the meal schedule, so a day off to go cook-hunting on my own was not feasible.
The house was not over-generous in its wages. Whoever had got hold of that first cook had struck gold. It took us just more than a year to find as good a cook, as hard-working, and one as able to fit in with the working environment in that kitchen.
Thus, being in between cooks was not a happy time for me. Each new one seemed to be nervous about coming, nervous about staying, and soon eager to go. I had to hire the least-unlikely of the lot so as not to let backlogs in my own work build up. I’d start the new cook and get back to my own duties feeling that here was another one not going to last very long. In the end, John Henry came to us and came to my rescue. An older man from St. Helena, he managed his situation in the Saint Hill kitchen with great aplomb, and soon fell under MSH’s potent spell, she being by nature a thoroughly charming woman when relaxed. If encouraged by a welcoming response she would throw over the new acquaintance a happy cloak of cheery bonhomie. John Henry came to adore her and later followed the Hubbards to the big Scientology ship where he continued to serve them for at least a couple of years until he retired to sail back to his remote island home.
At the Manor, John Henry would spend his weekly day off in London, as I had when I first went to Saint Hill. One day, I happened to read the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph (not a regular habit of mine) and my eye fell on a small paragraph. In those days, in the sixties, the practice of homosexuality was still a crime. Men who cruised public places looking for male partners were arrested when caught by the police. The papers would report such arrests briefly and refer to the ‘crime’ as “soliciting” or “importuning.” This particular paragraph reported that a John Henry had been arrested for soliciting in a public lavatory and it happened on our John Henry’s day off.
There was no mention of Saint Hill in the paper, much to my relief. I couldn’t know if it was in fact our John Henry but was quite prepared to ask him about the report, should LRH advise or require it. John Henry had already given me an idea that he had some sort of connection with that orientation by virtue of some (harmless) stories that he had told me and the manner in which he had told them. These were stories of others he had known, and he spoke of them in homosexual relationships. The subject had some fascination for him but I couldn’t say that he’d ever gone farther than fascination. The report said not a word about what had actually happened to bring about the arrest. [There had been another recent story about an elderly senior cleric in the Church of England who’d been arrested on the same charge. The poor unsuspecting and innocent old fellow had a nervous tic that the zealous undercover policeman had completely misunderstood as he prowled that public lavatory.]
Of course, I reported this “John Henry” development to LRH at once, who appeared not concerned. He gave me no startling instructions, a little to my surprise, given how unsympathetic towards homosexuality he’d shown himself to be in one of his books [Science of Survival]. As John Henry had settled down in our kitchen, was performing very well, and had become one of the household, I was very all right with not losing him. There seemed to be no need to induce great concern over the two young boys in the family, Quentin and Arthur. Neither of them spent any time in the kitchen nor had made friends with John Henry, nor had he shown signs of wanting to closely befriend them (or anyone else, for that matter; his happiness in MSH was a given). This state of affairs between him and the two boys continued as before. Moreover, John Henry’s demeanour in the house had never given any indication of hidden intentions towards any part of the family.
[And that’s as far as that story goes. This little detour into cookery-procurement and into John Henry (with which I’ve entertained myself), has taken me well ahead of the tale I’m about to relate. It’s by way of explaining why I was so disappointed in LRH’s telling me, long before John Henry, to give the then-current cook a month’s wages in lieu of letting the man, newly employed, work out the notice he had given me the day before. This little scene, in which Hubbard tore off one of his veils, follows now. ]
Several weeks after the unhappy brush over the unlocked back door of the Manor and my supposedly bad thoughts about a possible invasion of the children’s quarters, I had again to quickly replace a cook. The cook in question was an older man who had come to us for a month’s trial from the London agency only a week before. His bona fides were fine. One could easily be taken aback by the way he presented himself. He was slightly swarthy, stocky and powerfully built, with a slight stoop. The abundant hair on his head and his bushy eyebrows were almost demonically black (but you wouldn’t think to look at him that he was a man who would think of dyeing his hair). He had a heavy black beard but did not shave closely. Unhappinesses had taken over his eyes and mouth, brooding there as though ready to erupt in sudden violent protest. The master of the house did not come into the kitchen to meet him but he may well have seen him or heard the children’s or their mother’s impressions of him.
But the reality I found in working with this new cook was that he was a sweet, gentle, dignified old man regardless of his unusually ruffian, pirate-like appearance. His work was all right but he, not being happy at the Manor, soon gave notice. I immediately informed LRH and told him I would get a new person in. The following day, LRH told me it would be better to give the man his month’s wages and to let him go at once. I reeled, not happy to have the cooking to do again, and so soon, along with the stress of recruiting yet another new cook.
LRH noticed my reservation, of course, and he proceeded to enlighten me as to his reasons—in his own way of enlightening. He said he had his concerns about the man, remarking that said concerns entailed something difficult for most people to confront. I took that to mean that since I didn’t know what he was talking about, I was the “most people” having difficulty in confronting whatever it was that LRH hadn’t yet made clear, for the reasons that he was not only so brilliantly clever to think about it but also so good in confronting such dreadful possibilities. Also understood was that dumb me didn’t know what was going on. Dumb me could see, nonetheless, that he wanted to get on with the enlightenment: his vastly superior understanding of the state of affairs demanded that he make himself, at last, understandable, no matter the cost to me.
“It’s the children”, he explained heavily, and with just a suspicion of quiet triumph.
Again, he shocked me to my core, and for the second time over this same subject, but this time completely reversing the reality of our previous roles. In the prior instance, I’d brought something to his attention he was not minded to take seriously in that moment. Evidently, though, the question had buzzed about in his mind; he’d recognized that a point had been made (the possibility of an attack on his children), the making of which had put him on the back foot.
His solution to this unwelcome stance, I assumed, was to take over the whole thing as being of his own initiation rather than admit that another (me) had prompted him into self-examination and adjustment of view. Yet I was that other and I’d forgotten nothing, particularly that accusation to the executives that I’d somehow willed harm on the children. The unwillingness of the new and nasty-looking cook to stay, and the chance that he was harbouring some resentment about the family, gave the master the perfect chance to put me on my back foot with a bit of my own medicine. He could imply that since I hadn’t thought the nice old man capable of horrible crime, the possibility was something I was not able to confront.
But in actual fact, what was not easy to confront here was the perceived petty sleight of mind with which the Boss, a man highly respected by Scientologists all over the world for personal integrity and empathic acumen, had persuaded himself that he could now turn the tables on me to his own imagined advantage. At the same time, he blanked out from his awareness (normally so keen) that since I was party to the first encounter on the matter I could easily figure out what he was doing. I understood clearly. I was speechless. And very angry with him.
I bowed my head slightly to acknowledge my understanding of his instructions and went my way, accepting what would be of no use to resist, and to reflect on how I would deal with this insight into one of L. Ron Hubbard’s trouble-making thought patterns. I gave the cook his wages and off he went. Back to the stove went I.
The volte-face on my boss’s part of delivering a slap in my face when he might have given the slap to himself, was my first clear indication of how dangerous association with L. Ron Hubbard could be and of how thin the ice around him. Accordingly, I developed a thought process of my own that helped me navigate my relationship with him…
Take care; take nothing for granted; watch both his steps and your own; by no means ever give him reason to suppose you’re trying to trip him up—not that you’d want to but if he got that idea into his head, no knowing what he’d do; he is evidently familiar with that mode of behaviour. When he’s operating on vanity, reason is absent. [There, but for the grace of God, go we all.]
For sure an unpleasant development, it didn’t push me to consider either having a go at challenging his vanity (a non-starter, really, always) or leaving him. Although I was more watchful around him, my respect for the better side of him and for his work remained. If he as demi-god had a human side, well, he had a human side. No surprise there; the unpleasant surprises were firstly in how low, relatively, he allowed himself to stoop in human-ness, and, secondly, in how easily he persuaded himself that I wouldn’t have eyes with which to see what he was doing so openly to me and to himself.
At school, I’d read about the Earl of Strafford, a man of high principle (but, like so many men of that kind, also heavy-handed and partisan, making powerful enemies for himself), who had supported Charles I in the latter’s deadly struggles with the English Parliament (for domination and money) prior to the English Civil War in the mid-1600s. Strafford was executed at the insistence of his enemies in Parliament in one of their moves against the King. The warrant for his execution had to be signed by Charles, and Charles signed it; he’s said to have stated, as he reluctantly did so (having personally promised the Earl that he would come to no harm), that the Earl’s fate was happier than his own. In his turn, Strafford is said to have grimly declared, on receiving the news that the King had signed the warrant, “Put not your trust in Princes.” For some reason, that injunction struck a chord within me when I first read it as a boy. I felt I knew what it meant. Twelve years later, as a young man, I suddenly had a deeper and clearer understanding of the adult reality of the position: Around L. Ron Hubbard, my head, figuratively speaking, would be no safer than Strafford’s.
It was a lesson I never forgot throughout my years close to Hubbard, even though, as the months went by, his treatment of me at Saint Hill was, on the whole, without question remarkably friendly, cheerful, and kind. He looked after me, in fact, so generously, as one human to another, that to this day, I remember his Saint Hill persona fondly and with great gratitude. This, I believe, was part of his basic and true nature.
End of Chapter Six, Part Four, The Rending of a Veil
The Boss: Depths and Perspectives
Part Three — Knockings of Elbow
We had a few other moments of subdued asperity, the Boss and I. He mentioned one afternoon (his morning, that is) that he wasn’t sure why a point he’d been trying to make in a lecture was not easily understood by the public who went into the organizations to listen to his lectures. I made the big mistake of cleverly and helpfully telling him that I’d found some of the lectures hard to follow because of the big words or technical terms, and sometimes because of his pronunciation. On one taped lecture, for example, I’d had to listen to it several times before I became aware he wasn’t referring to an unidentified Major Somebody; he was saying the word ‘measure’ as though it were ‘mayzhure.’
Boy, did he bristle. “I don’t need anyone telling me I don’t know how to communicate“, he growled aggressively. I backed down, apologizing. Mary Sue came into the room and I was pretty sure she was about to get an earful about how clumsy I’d been. Was I worried about what he might say to my detriment to his wife? Not a bit. I did worry about a lot of things, but not about what was completely beyond my control.
One afternoon breakfast, during the time LRH was busying himself with producing a brochure to impress possible students from around the world with how wonderful things were in and about SH and the locality, he told me that he was going to photograph my bedroom as a sample of the accommodations available in houses in and around East Grinstead (the neighbouring town) for people travelling to Saint Hill to study. So I made sure my room was at least tidy and clean, bed made. The following day, the first thing I heard from him as I handed him his hot chocolate was, “Man, all those wrinkles in your bed that I had to straighten out!” I said nothing, waiting to see how serious he was; as he didn’t follow up on the complaining, I wasn’t caring about wrinkles on my bed. If he wanted to play maid in his butler’s room, he could go ahead.
A while after that, he came down with bronchitis. After having his hot chocolate (and smoking, despite the bronchitis) he’d go back to bed. I had to make up his bed while he drank his chocolate as he didn’t usually have breakfast during any of his infrequent bouts of illness, and he’d get back into his bed after the chocolate. He was not at all chatty.
On these sick days, since I was making his bed, I made very, very sure there was not one single wrinkle anywhere near that bed, and I made bed at high speed. One time, he became impatient while I worked at it. I was smoothing out those sheets and those blankets like anything, regardless. “You are not making me wrong, are you?” he asked in querulous tone, looking vaguely over his shoulder. We both understood he was referring to his having had a jab at me over the wrinkles in my own bed.
Happening to have completed the job at just that precise moment, I could cheerfully assure him that his bed was ready, leaving it to him to press his question if he wanted to. He seemed pacified by the news. Having thus shaken off the new jab, I made my exit, not being further needed in the room at the moment. [Had he faced me as he asked the question, I would have taken it seriously and faced him as I answered. The answer would have been “No, Sir.”]
Another day he really blew up at me, and quite rightly, after he’d told me that he wanted the barber in from East Grinstead the next afternoon. I was to phone the barber and make the appointment. He didn’t tell me that there was any importance attached to the task, and I forgot all about it until late the next morning. I went running around to try to find the chauffeur to see if I could bribe him to drive into East Grinstead and kidnap the barber. I could not find the man and swore at him enough to put his ears on fire. When LRH called—early—for his hot chocolate I took it up and waited, in some dread, for the terrible question. I did not want to say I’d let him down. He asked. I chattered and stammered about not being able to find the chauffeur in time. LRH accepted this in silence. He’d wanted the haircut because he needed one, for that day he was planning to make a film about his recent research. He went ahead and made the film. It was the first of the films he made for the Clearing Course training.
After he was finished with the filming, he called for me and blasted me angrily, not for forgetting but for trying to put the blame onto the chauffeur. I could only accept. Later, he came and apologized for blowing up at me, and he spoke with a friendly smile so I knew I was all right with him. But I didn’t have the courage or the integrity to apologize to him for failing to carry out the assigned task and then for not owning up to my failure.
On one evening, at dinner, he was unhappy with something or other about the food. I tried to deal with it as best I could but he would not cheer up. I was at a loss. I cleared the table and took it out of the room on the way back to the kitchen. A little distracted, I mismanaged the manoeuvre through the door. It was a French door, and one opened one half of the door. Holding a tray loaded with dishes, one had to open the narrow door, balancing the tray on one hand, put the right foot through the doorway, slide through and pull the door with the left foot, turn around, catch the closing door with the free hand and pull it quietly to. It had never been a problem.
This particular time,I lost my rhythm and missed the handle of the closing door causing it to shut with a loud bang. I turned around in horror at the impression of inexcusable bad temper I must surely have caused. As I turned, I saw that both LRH and Mary Sue jumped a bit in their seats. I looked him in the face. I knew that if I went back into the room, even if to apologize, he would most likely blow up at me, so I tried to make my face say “I did not mean to do that”, and went my way. Nobody said anything about it. I thought he must have seen that it was an accident on my part and reassured Mary Sue about it. I hoped so. You never knew.
We had an interesting and revealing exchange, after I’d been at the Manor a few months. Part of my duty was to go outside the Manor to lock the doors to some of the offices and classrooms LRH had built on the Manor grounds—this would be at ten in the evening, when staff had gone home. Why this duty was mine to do I didn’t know, but he told me to, so I did it. I hated doing it when the evenings drew dark. At least two desperately unhappy people lay buried deep in the ground at the farthest and darkest end of my little evening route. Their misery was overwhelming and scaringly real; it seemed as though they’d died in cruel circumstances and been buried without proper ceremony. There was nothing I could do for them. I’d come back to the Manor, carefully not running, and lock its back door. This ended my day.
One evening, when I locked the back door, after ten at night, it occurred to me that the door, left open during the evening for staff to come in and out if they wanted to work late in the Manor offices, was unsupervised from the time the kitchen closed after the evening meal until I locked it at about ten p.m. What I saw as darkly strange about this was that just inside that door was the staircase running up to the first floor (U.S. second floor) rooms where the children slept. Between their rooms and the nearest adult (their mother in her office) were a door, a short staircase, another door, and a short corridor. Any staff working in the Manor in the evening would be in the basement or in rooms a distance away on the ground floor. I couldn’t help being aware that if some nut were to wander into the grounds, try the door, get in, decide to explore that staircase, he could do unimaginable damage before help would arrive. I didn’t want to live with this unlikely but open possibility, or to have anything of the sort happen to the children, or to have such a terrible thing on my conscience.
The next day, I mentioned this to LRH, the father. He dismissed it as not important, and didn’t seem too pleased that I’d considered the possibility that harm might come to the children. That evening, he was not in his office at dinner time. I went looking, and found him in one of the ground-floor offices, holding forth to the staff who had gathered about him.
I heard his voice from the corridor and pushed open the door. As I entered, I heard the end of what he was saying: “Now, who would have a postulate like that?” [In Scientology jargon, a ‘postulate’ is a concept, an idea, of something one wants to have or make happen in real life; one might ‘postulate’ [the verb] a parking space in a busy street; one might have a ‘postulate’ to achieve this or that accomplishment in life’’] The accusing complaint in his voice, heard so often over the hot chocolate, sounded ominous.
From the way his audience turned in unison and looked down their noses at me, I knew that he’d been complaining about my concern for the children’s security in their beds. His implication was clear: only a degraded person could entertain the idea that terrible harm could come to his innocent children by way of the staircase to their bedrooms near the open back door. Taken aback but holding myself together despite the disgust of the corporate bigwigs paying court to the Boss, I calmly told him his dinner was ready, turned, and left the room and the noble noses. Nothing more was said about it. I felt sad that he would think it all right to behave that way towards anyone, but also aware that I was a long way farther from perfect than he. He had been so good to all of us; I, and the world, owed him a lot of leeway.
I was still unhappy about the security arrangement. Being calmly assured as a parent that nothing bad would happen is one thing; tempting Fate another. I tried locking the door early but it enraged the staff who wanted to come in, and those leaving would not bother to lock the door behind them. Without LRH’s authority behind me, I had no power over the office staff.
In any case, better to keep the thought to myself rather than let it loose around the neighbourhood. Who knew what kind of roaming character the roaming idea might attach itself to. As things turned out, no harm of that sort ever came to the children. One could say that the postulates in LRH’s and MSH’s fond and alert parenting kept them safe.
I gradually stopped concerning myself about that back door, cooperating, as you might say, with the parents’ protective postulates. Yet, I’d have been happier to have locked it after dinner or to have someone watching it until it was locked for the night.
We shouldn’t judge the Hubbards as parents too harshly in this circumstance. Things were quite different in those days: we didn’t normally consider protecting children around the clock. In fact, not many years before that, the whole time I lived with my grandparents in a village in Scotland, the outer door to the house was left open day and night. It was once shut but not locked, for a few days, while my aunt’s dog was in heat. [The dog serenading her made a perfect pest of himself to me because I carried her scent. I wasn’t much bigger than he was and I had to keep fighting him off. He even came to school with me, to my enormous embarrassment.]
We children ran about the village, the hills, and rowed about on the water perfectly freely, and nobody bothered about anyone doing us harm. Later, in my early teens, in suburban South Wales, I heard of a nearby adult misbehaving with youngsters; the man was sent to jail and the matter was handled very quietly, no warnings issued to me. We neighbourhood children, always happy to gossip, ignored the business as not relevant to us, the abused boys being from other parts. We didn’t know what had happened to them and hearing no news of them had no reason to believe they’d come to serious harm. We shrugged, and we went on with lives from which the idea of shocking abuse at the hands of adults was totally absent. Well, “absent” aside from the abuse we might be subject to within the family—sometimes so familiar as to be considered normal.
Ron and Mary Sue came out of a similar culture. They assumed that their home was completely safe because it was theirs just as we in the village saw no reason to lock our outer doors. Today, we put a lot of energy into safeguarding our children from abuse by disturbed people and we can be sure that were Ron and Mary Sue to be parenting today, access through that back door would be strictly monitored.
End of Chapter Six, Part Three, Knockings of Elbow
The Boss: Depths and Perspectives
Part Two — Conversations, Important and Otherwise
No details come to mind of the one-sided conversations we had in those early days. They included: his views on current English politics (Harold Wilson was the Labour Prime Minister) about which LRH was not overly impressed; stories from his younger years; stories from what he said were his past lives, mostly in ‘space opera’ context; new technology he was developing; affairs in and around SH to do with the organization or with the estate and the neighbours. He did not speak too much about my job or about the household, although he would suggest that I do this or that; frequently his suggestions were to do things that I’d already decided to do that day but hadn’t started yet and so his suggestions would irritate me slightly. I could let him know I was on to it already, once or twice, but to repeatedly tell him “Yes, this action is in hand,” though true and perhaps commendable, would be hard to bring off. Constant prompts for approbation can only irritate.
Politics not being of great interest to me, his opinions on the subject, not too frequently expressed, went in one ear and out the other. I noticed that his stories of his youth, not numerous, had to do with how impressed with him were the matrons who gave parties at which his good manners shone. I was neither impressed nor unimpressed, although he did demonstrate impeccable manners, always.
The tales from his energetic activities in space ships, in which he seemed to enjoy being something of a buccaneer, likewise left me indifferent. Space opera didn’t excite me, and I didn’t relate with his stories, which seemed to me to belong in a comic. It became evident after a while, though, that a repeated element of his space stories was that he was constantly frustrated from going back, after a death, to pick up the treasure he had gathered and hidden away in that former life with the intention of using the money in the next life. He did not dwell on the matter but repeated it often enough for it to stand out as a pattern in his stories and therefore an indicator of something important to him.
Early on, I could see that he was very ready to criticize members of the Saint Hill staff. Exasperated with one particular man, he ranted each morning for several days in a row how much trouble the man was causing. I wondered why the big boss was so busy complaining to me, who could do nothing, but not telling me how busy he was in getting the alleged troublemaker turned around, fixed, and with the program. If not upset with one person, he might grumble about this one’s mistake or that fellow’s idiocy. He moaned more about the men than the women. He had all the tools and authority he needed to put things right so he didn’t have to complain, but I did not dare say so.
He did not think too much of the man who bought the farm that had been part of the Saint Hill estate when the latter was put on the market and then broken up. I gathered that when LRH bought the Manor he tried to buy the whole estate but was outbid or out-manoeuvred. The farmer had a right of way to drive his cattle across the park in front of the Manor (that is, on the lake side). LRH did not enjoy this. He found out, or imagined, that he had a right of way through the farmer’s yard. One day, he dressed himself up as a sort of outdoorsy fellow, including a large black floppy hat, and drove his tractor (used for mowing the lawns) through the farmyard. What good this did him I didn’t know, but he had a lot less to say about the farmer after that.
He told me quite a lot about what he was discovering in the research he was performing on himself, with regard to what he called the Reactive Mind and how it is made up at its roots. This research culminated in the Clearing Course, an outstandingly important development in its day. These exchanges about the basic Reactive Mind I found really interesting and I felt it a huge privilege to be listening to what he shared with me confidentially about such an advanced part of the technology.
Now, material from his earlier steps on this same road towards the roots of the Reactive Mind had been published and was taught in its own class on the Saint Hill Briefing Course. I’d become friendly with the woman who supervised this class. I made myself rather obtrusively and officiously important to her by doing her the great favour of passing on to her LRH’s latest developments as he gave them to me in confidence. She, as a result, became confused and I supposed she queried LRH in some distress as to what she was supposed to be teaching or not teaching in her class.
LRH said nothing to me, but of course he had to act. He was never slow to act when he had to, and his action usually nailed whatever was going on that he wanted started, stopped or changed. One morning an internal office issue LRH had put out overnight came to my in-basket. It was titled “The Hidden Data Line.” I knew at once that I was the one being nailed, and why. The issue emphasized that the only way he made known to technical staff new material that they were to use and apply were the familiar ones of lectures, books, films, or published bulletins with his by-line issued through a secretarial office under his sole control. Instant was my decision to zip my lips from there on out. I said nothing to the woman I’d confused, nor to the boss I’d bothered (and I figured he’d probably been complaining about me to somebody or other for a good while).
Some months later, he was mystified because somebody on staff had been talking about something he (LRH) had mentioned to another in confidence. It may have been something he’d also mentioned to me briefly in his bedroom. He told me one morning that this matter had been spoken about in the offices downstairs. I saw the question coming and dealt with it immediately. “I’m very careful about what I say downstairs,” I asserted with some faint asperity, as though I didn’t need to be told twice on this particular sin. “I know you are,” came the answer. I understood that he had watched out for how I would respond to the “Hidden Data Line” issue, and had confirmed for himself that I’d toed that line. He said no more about the confidentiality breach of the moment.
The Boss: Depths and Perspectives
Part One — The Bathroom
In terms of time and sequence of events, I’ve got ahead of my LRH story in giving a picture of Mary Sue and how she and I developed our relationship. As I didn’t interact with her nearly as much as with LRH, the depth of my relationship with her of course didn’t go as far as it did with him—not that he and I went any further than easy friendship cultivated through private and personal daily intercourse. But Mary Sue was a highly important part of my daily life in the Manor and although she and I hardly ever had a serious conversation, I think I saw enough of her to justify painting a portrait of some little depth, such as it is and as far as it goes. Mary Sue Hubbard stands without question as a heavyweight player in her own right. Accordingly, I’ve devoted a couple of chapters to her and in doing so said most of what I want to say about her as part of the Saint Hill scene I was in.
Paying this respect to Mary Sue also serves to set the scene for what I’m about to attempt regarding how LRH and I developed our relationship; earlier, in leading up to this, my general story, I made a point of Mary Sue’s initial apparent antagonism to my presence in the Manor. I think the question raised by that circumstance deserves an answer which I hope the chapters about Mary Sue have provided. Another advantage of placing these chapters where they are is that they establish for the reader clarity in a crucial background factor in the composition of my place in the household and in LRH’s life: she, with her devotion to her husband, was happy enough with my performance that she never (to my knowledge and best recall) seriously interfered with it. No rebuke or reprimand from her came my way.
What I’ve related about Mary Sue spanned many months. Now I’ll continue my portrait of L. Ron Hubbard as I knew him at Saint Hill—again a portrait such as it is and as far as it goes. In order to start it properly, according to my own ideas, I’ll go back in time to my beginnings at Saint Hill and to my first day at work after the introductory week of being mostly the cook and little else.
The new cook’s arrival at the end of my first week at Saint Hill completely changed my daily routine with L. Ron Hubbard. Going up to his bedroom with his ‘morning’ cup of hot chocolate in the afternoon of that first day of the new cook’s presence, I expected to put it on his table and to leave the room as I had each day so far. The boss had another idea. As soon as I entered the room he, in his white button-up nightshirt with bright orange piping, sat down at the little table between foot of four-poster bed and fireplace and started to talk to me, and to smoke his Kools. Thus began a daily ritual that enriched me enormously because of how he treated me.
A little surprised at the unexpected chattiness, I paid attention. As his servant, I couldn’t have done anything else, of course, but he wasn’t addressing me as a servant. He was talking to me as to another and entirely equal human being and with personal interest and acute attention. I recall not one word of that exchange but clearly remember the respect that he good-naturedly showed me, the cheerful interest in me and my responses, the absence of any boastful or pretentious manner, of affectation or ostentation, of snobbery or pomp. I had never imagined a male leadership person so brimming with confident, energetic, cheerful life—and so relaxed with who and what he was as a leader.
He was taking steps to make a friendly person-to-person relationship possible; I could not but happily respond, waiting to see where his initiative would take us and how I would view that. In fact, his relaxed openness was a revelation and a delight. Within fifteen minutes or so it took us to a place that I could have anticipated but had entirely omitted in my expectations about my duties. I understood and accepted that I was to be his valet—in connection with his clothes. Had I thought much about it, I might have remembered that a valet is a close body-servant and as such has duties in the bathroom. Having left myself unprepared, then, for what we were to do after his hot chocolate, his Kools and his chat with me, he surprised me again by making no break at all in the flow of his monologue (for such it mostly was) as he got up from the table and moved to the bathroom, still talking pleasantly.
Unsure of myself, unable to leave because he was speaking, definitely not thinking of following him, but definitely bound to stay with his kindly address, having to figure out what I should do…Deciding to let him take the lead, walking over to where I could see him in the long narrow bathroom, simply to let him know I was listening and otherwise attentive (though feeling rather out of my depth)…I stood, motionless.
My hesitation in following him into his bathroom made clear to the master that his new valet was unsure of his position, not being used to it. So the master ran his bath for himself while continuing to speak. The supposed valet stood respectfully by at a distance while the master did bathing duties for himself. This faux valet, standing by, kindly allowed the boss to see to his own valeting needs and to carry on his monologue until he was ready to stop.
Finished with his bath, Dr. Hubbard turned to shave at the sink, concluding his remarks with a smile, releasing me to go back downstairs to bring up the breakfast to this same bedroom, where he and Mary Sue would take the meal. I left the room and went to the kitchen, still a bit dazed by the vision of the large pink body soaping and splashing itself intimately in front of me as though it was the most natural accompaniment in the world to one’s words.
Maybe LRH had perceived that an invisible door kept me from moving into his bathroom while he went through his morning operations; he knew that one word would require me to enter and to do the usual things like run the bath, perhaps scrub his back, hold his towel and whatever else a valet would do. Instead, he never once mentioned the possibility that I might shift my feet from the floor by his bathroom door into the bathroom itself. Throughout the days in the eighteen months I was in attendance on him in his bedroom on his awakening, he not once, as I recall, changed the routine: chocolate and chat, chat continuing while he bathed himself, I standing by in interested and attentive idleness. Had this last bothered him he would have changed it in an instant, and I would have followed his wishes, consulting then with myself as to what it would have meant to me to do those bathroom duties, and then perhaps deciding that I didn’t want to do them. The question didn’t arise.
Over these eighteen months he was only on a couple of occasions anything less than completely friendly when we were together in his bedroom as he prepared to begin his day, I always attentive in his presence, but otherwise always idle—as if it had become the most natural thing in the world.
End of Part One of
Chapter Six, The Boss: Depths and Perspectives
STATEMENT : STONES IN GLASS HOUSES
In these Memories, I am recounting incidents experienced in L. Ron Hubbard’s proximity, as well as some perceptions, observations, and reflections. Inevitably, something of what I say will seem perhaps unkind towards the people I talk about. Inevitably, some will ask the relevant question, “Were you so perfect and blameless?” Of course, the answer is Not at all.
With regard to my own weaknesses and failures, which I admit are no fewer and no less gross than others’, I will portray a few when they are relevant to my purpose—which is to show that L. Ron Hubbard had his better and best sides as well as his less creditable characteristics, in the [probably forlorn] hope that a fairly rounded picture will enable some readers unfamiliar with his best work to grant firstly that he was human and secondly that he had extraordinary gifts worth exploring and their products worth using. For example, I’ll relate how I messed up something and how LRH handled it, to show how he handled it and thereby add another detail to my picture of who and what he was.
I try to follow the example of Anthony Trollope, the English novelist of the 19th Century, contemporaneous with Dickens (my taste preferring the former’s work). Trollope’s auto-biography is noteworthy both in its brevity and in its reticence about the author’s inner life, either positive or negative. The moral and ethical struggles he must have suffered through are not even hinted at. But this last is not the example I want to follow: it is more a matter of what Trollope acknowledges about putting one’s personal recollections before the public that I agree with. In the very first paragraph of his “An Autobiography” he writes:
That I, or any man, should tell everything of himself, I hold to be impossible. Who could endure to own the doing of a mean thing? Who is there that has done none? But this I protest:—that nothing that I say shall be untrue. I will set down naught in malice; nor will I give to myself, or others, honour which I do not believe to have been fairly won.
Now, I am aware that over the course of my years in Scientology (not to mention all my other years) I have at times exercised stupidly bad judgment in my actions and inactions. Some of these things I recall and cringe from, painfully. As I say, I will state these things plainly when doing so helps my purpose here. That I don’t mention a misdeed or failure of mine does not mean that I am hiding it. However, should these Memories come to the attention of a certain public, I expect that there will be many quick to point out that Urquhart did this and Urquhart didn’t do that. Some of it will be true and some of it untrue and also either important or unimportant. That’s to say, important or unimportant in the grander scheme of things: although injuries can be hugely significant to us in our own hearts and minds, who would want to deny the truth of any accusation honestly made?
Some years have passed since I left off tending to feel regret or shame for having adversely affected others, particularly LRH, MSH, other Scientologists, my father, my family, some non- Scientology close friends, and others. Without discounting any damage I’ve done I’ve mellowed into being easier on self. A mature viewpoint is that we all make mistakes on each other; we all learn from both being jostled by others and from our barging into others’ spaces and lives. I believe that Life is above all a learning and growing experience and not a lot else. So, whatever happens to us and by us is what we need to experience in order to learn what we need to learn and mature. We learn at each other’s expense. Life sets you up to hurtle me out of my comfortable misconceptions. She lines me up to shake you out of yours. Neither of us have any notion of her purposes. The important thing is that we learn. Refusing to learn is a great sin, in my view. If it is a sin, failing to learn from one’s own misdeeds against Life must be the greatest sin of all. Regardless, in these Memories what I have learnt from my misdeeds is secondary to the major purpose of portraying LRH as I knew him and as truthfully and as kindly as I can.
Yes, I can complain that that Hubbard did or didn’t do this or that to or for me. My life contains some of the wreckage he left behind him. He ended our relationship with a disgusting gesture that invites me to hate him. I don’t because I can’t. What he did regarding me that was not right (that is, was not necessary, truthful, or kind) doesn’t matter a bit. What matters is what he did right for all, and there’s so much rightness in what he gave us that I will be eternally grateful to him for it and will honour him for it forever.
Additional to the voices of those who have history that can point to this deficiency or that on my part might be the wrath of those who know nothing of LRH but allow themselves the certainty that he was the Devil’s eldest son. They stand ready to vomit their venom on anyone giving LRH credit or honour. Yet further, should the Church of Scientology or any of the associated corporate forms conceive that what I have to say represents some kind of threat to their so-perfect version of L. Ron Hubbard, their Founder, I would expect these masters of Communication and of Public Relations to enthusiastically bury themselves in their own brain diarrhoea. Let it be.
I can’t hope that those who would choose to criticise me would say and do that which is always necessary, true, and kind. But so what? How I sleep at night is entirely up to me; if how I respond to untruth and unkindness from others during the day is not kind, true, and necessary, I lie awake… And right then I have to get busy at what is necessary, true, and kind for me so I can sleep better in one sense and be more awake in another.
To sum up: I am not speaking out in order to make me look “good” at others’ expense nor to make anyone look all “bad”. I am not hiding how “bad” I have been, but there is a limit to how much I put myself down. Regardless of what I intend to convey and think I’m conveying, the poet T. S. Eliot truthfully wrote: “More is said than is spoken” in that what we say and how we say it tell things about us that we’re unaware of and don’t know that we’re revealing. Let it be so, always, and may we always have ears to hear with, eyes to see with, and the sense to be asking questions about the human—and therefore imperfect—processes of hearing, seeing, and understanding. They who want to improve these processes can find an abundance of effective tools in the basics of Scientology.
In putting together the theory and practice of Scientology (as distinct from his behaviour and the behaviour of the Church of Scientology), L. Ron Hubbard revealed great truths about himself: the depth of his understanding of Life and the strength of his desire to help us all live as productively, happily, and cooperatively as we could want to.
In his own living, LRH made the mistake of misestimating what it would take from him and his organization to persuade mankind to recognize and accept the help he had to offer. This led him into making a fool of himself publicly. In making that mistake and in misbehaving, he tells a lot about himself. We could learn from what his misbehaviour tells us about him, about his work, and about Life. I can tell what my eyes saw and what my ears heard, my eyes and ears capable of only so much and no more, and out of my individual and therefore limited understanding. Please bear in mind that my perceptions and understandings are as liable to error and omission as anyone’s and my mental equipment just as open to the usual biases.
And, I, inevitably, as open to the usual consequences:
We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the car.
We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unshakable.
–The opening lines of
The Dhammapada, The Sayings of The Buddha,
As rendered by Thomas Byrom, Shambala Press
The Pillar of Strength
Part Four of four
LRH would regularly chat with me over his morning hot chocolate. He didn’t talk too much about the family but now and again he would say something about what Mary Sue had done, recently or in the past. Every time he said something of this nature he spoke with affection and obvious respect for her abilities. Although he didn’t specifically acknowledge a debt to her it was obvious that he admired her, was proud of her, and appreciated her greatly as his partner and closest supporter.
A clear instance of his admiration occurred when one of the senior executives at the Saint Hill organization (which helped LRH manage the international network) went away on his annual vacation. While he was away, Mary Sue, who was covering his duties, found quite the skeleton in his files. LRH, telling me one morning about this discovery on her part, explained that a few years before, he (LRH) had bought a local garage as a corporate investment. The absent executive was responsible for the performance of the garage’s manager. During the period of this extra duty for Mary Sue, I’d had occasion for once to go looking for her to let her know that her dinner was ready, and I found her in the office of the man who was on vacation. She was kneeling on the floor, in the middle, contemplating a series of what looked like invoices spread around her in orderly lines and rows. She was obviously deep in thought, but I had to call her attention to the time. She answered quietly, and rose slowly.
The rest of the story LRH was telling me that morning over his chocolate, was that Mary Sue had noticed a discrepancy in some figures in the garage reports and had tracked it down. He said or implied that this kind of work had been her forte in the oil business before she came into Scientology and before they married, and that she had been outstanding at investigating fraud—although he didn’t say that the executive whose figures she was examining was guilty of fraud. However, he did say that she had found out that the garage manager, supposedly under the supervision of the vacationing executive, had defrauded its customers. The manager had been buying cheap grade petrol or gas and selling it as an expensive grade. “What do you think that did to his profits?” he quizzed me. “It doubled them,” I quickly and probably incorrectly replied. LRH didn’t pull me up on that but went on to tell me that they were getting out of the garage business. The executive came back from his vacation to resume his duties and caring for his family, only to find that he was found guilty of failing at his job by not noticing the manager’s dishonesty and letting it continue to the possible detriment of LRH’s good name in business. They fired the executive.
The implication with each mention of MSH over the months was that LRH knew he could not have got as far as he did without her. Indeed, he had shown his feelings about her publicly over several years in materials he had put out to the membership. What she produced during her workdays I didn’t see. What I did see of the way they related with each other personally, and of the way she applied herself to her work and dedicated herself to his, told me that their closeness was genuine and that the respect she was held in by her husband and by the general Scientology community was well earned. Yet I never saw her seem to use that respect for her personal advantage. She did it all for Ron and for her children and for Scientology.
Mary Sue had an engaging lopsided grin, with attractively irregular teeth, and really twinkly eyes when having fun. She was open to light-hearted exchanges unless burdened at the moment by job worries; at these times she could be ferocious in word and speech whether in demanding action or in excoriating error. She would be particularly upset by staff failures that seriously troubled her husband in his work.
In conversation about business, she’d listen intently and seriously when the context called for it, but when she responded her face would wear a purposeful look of wanting to make her point by sticking to the facts and stating them as simply as possible. She had two habits in conversation, one verbal, one physical. The verbal habit was to introduce her remarks with “The thing is, is that…” She had this habit for as long as I was close enough to her to hear her speak. The physical habit was to put her hands up to the ball of hair above her forehead, cup it in her hands, and shift it slightly in one direction or another as though it made an important bit of difference. As with all her motions, it was clean, graceful, unselfconscious. It contrasted a little curiously with the heavy responsibilities of her position in the hierarchy and with the respect she was given by its members.
The two gestures, verbal and physical, were Mary Sue’s signals—as much to herself as to the others—that she was about to speak; speaking from her position required her to be clear, precise, and accurate, a responsibility she never took lightly. If she needed time to gather her thoughts, the two gestures gave her more than enough. Nobody around LRH was more on the ball for his sake than she: very few could catch her napping, she gathered no moss, and was too sharp to fall for the occasional rash attempt to pull the wool.
Her husband knew it, having had her support by his side over many years. We all knew it, and we, like him, respected and cherished her for it.
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