Before I was born they had learnt Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation (TM) Siddhi programme, a form of mediation which involves doing some yoga, sitting very still for about two hours, then finally ‘flying’ (well hopping around on a bed for a bit). I must have been about three or four when I first watched them do this, and I soon found I could replicate the hoping around on the bed without needing to do any of the tedious meditation and yoga stuff.
We lived in the TM community in Skelmersdale, Lancashire, with about 300 other people who all did the TM programme together in the morning and evening. The children did a shortened version at the school, but otherwise life was quite normal and dull. In a way it was a nice close community, the children all knew each other, and spent the holidays in and out of each others houses, we mostly all lived on the same housing estate or nearby.
In March 1992, when I was 10 years old, things began to get seriously weird.
A few days after the election was called my Mum came home from the The Goldern Dome, the community centre where they did Yogi Flying, and came to tuck me into bed ‘Today they announced they’re going to start a political party’ 20 years later I can still remember my response: ‘But the election’s next month?, that’s stupid’, she paused, ‘Mmm, it is isn’t it? Maybe they mean they’ll get one for the next election in 5 years time’.
Over the next few days it became apparent that we were wrong, they were indeed going to attempt to get a political party together for the election in a few weeks time. The housing estate around The Dome, (know as The Dome Site) was a hive of activity as people gossiped about how they were going to do it.
Money turned out not to be a problem – as George Harrison did a fund raising concert at the Royal Albert Hall. Two girls from our school got to present him with flowers afterwards.
The biggest challenge was to try and get candidates to stand in all the seats in the UK. Some of the BigWigs from the Transcendental Meditation Movement were flown in from overseas. One of these was Bevan Morris the president of Maharishi University in Iowa. He was going to stand in our constituency so one of my friends and her family moved out of her house for a few weeks, so he could stay there. The majority of candidates were just ordinary Siddhas who had been persuaded to put their name forward and stand for parliament.
Nearly all of my teachers, and most of my friends parents, stood for Parliament. At school my class of 8 or 10 children sat in a circle on a mat and called out where their parents were standing ‘My Dad’s Standing in Oxford’ , ‘My mum’s standing in Herefordshire’.. and so on. I am fairly sure I am the only child in the history of the world who has ever been embarrassed at school because their parents were NOT standing for Parliament.
Candidates had all to pay their own deposit, but they were assured that they would get it back.
At first I was embarrassed and thought that everyone would laugh at us. Then gradually, as all my friends parents decided to stand, I got drawn in, it was exciting. Blue posters with Rainbows appeared everywhere. We put them up in our windows, in our desks at school, on peoples cars. I began to get drawn in. I sat at the back of press conferences.
I don’t remember what they were about exactly or the details of policies though but basically they suggested that all problems could be solved by meditation.
At one press conference I noticed that whatever the question the answer seemed pretty much the same. Some mumbo jumbo about TM being the answer. I assumed that it was because, as a child, I didn’t understand the important grown up stuff.
But it wasn’t just press conferences and posters, we had an extra week off school due to a staffing shortage caused by all our teachers standing for Parliament, putting this time to good use to further myself I spent a lot of time playing on a rope swing in the woods.
One day my mum said ‘It’s very exciting, we’ve got enough candidates to have a party political broadcast’ I had never heard of a party political broadcast, but it was indeed very exciting. A camera crew came down and filmed some flyers in front of The Dome, and we watched a video of it at school. I thought it looked very professional but looking at the Party Political Broadcast now it’s obvious how silly it really was, but I just didn’t notice at the time.
I remember the odd murmur in the community. I remember adults whispering to each other about how silly it really all was ‘Of course we’re not going to win, and Roger would never manage to be Home Secretary’. Dad never brought into it, but Mum was a big believer, and she would cry if he dared to mention anything negative at home. He still did, and I seem to remember some horrible rows around the dinner table. Sometimes we would joke about it ‘You’d better go and play with Derek now, he might be living in 10 Downing St next week!’ The doubts never got beyond whispers, and generally the ‘official line’ was that we would win. Some people genuinely believed we would win. We trusted the movement to tell us the truth, and they told us we would win.
The election day was bright and sunny. We played on the rope swing, helped take some rainbow posters down.
Later we walked to the polling station and I watched Dad post his vote in the black box. Despite all his cynicism he still voted for the Natural Law Party in the end.
That night I was allowed to stay up and listen to the results come in on the radio. I had never heard an election results come in before, but I soon got the hang of it. There was a lot of boring chat, and every so often a Dimbleby would announce that they were going to a declaration.
There was no Natural Law Candidate in the general election at the first few declarations. But finally we went over to a school sports hall somewhere in middle England, and there was a Natural Law candidate: They read the names out of the Labour and Conservative candidates who each got 1,000’s of votes and then they read the name of our candidate.
How many votes had a policy of yogic flying to solve all ills won us? Just over a hundred.
As the night wore on it was clear that things were going very badly, we weren’t going to get any seats, and we weren’t going to get any deposits back.
I’ll never know how the adults took it, apparently some of them were stunned, and genuinely thought they would win. For many it confirmed what they secretly thought. But for me it was the beginning of leaving TM.
After-all if they had said they would win, and been wrong, then what else about the whole thing was wrong?