WHERE TO BEGIN
Totally unexpected, an old colleague dropped in. I had rarely seen Tom since we worked
on the newspaper all those years ago. A hacks’ lunch was a must. After beer and a bite
remembered personalities and colleagues made for plenty of mirth. We laughed
ourselves to a standstill, after pausing for breath he asked:
‘Did anyone you meet through work change your outlook on life?’
Put simply: yes, not one but two people, a couple who were in the news for a while.
Then, as most do, they faded into obscurity. He remembered them well.
“They were very special at the time.” He said, “Working with them would change anyone.”
Nodding I began to explain their full and untold story. He became increasingly serious
and thoughtful. Afterwards, looking up from his beer:
“Those were hard times, but I had no idea there was so much involved.”
“Not many did. Even now all these decades later only a precious few have all the facts.”
Tom was fully engaged now.
“You were their ghost writer. Why not write your side of knowing them?” Let the world
know what was really happening back then. The noughties and twentyteens were hard
times, very different times compared with today!”
“Writing with any style we had is going to be outdated for today’s readers”
“Mike Bowen-Harris. The man who taught me language is always evolving, a living form
“Exactly, we wrote in language we grew up with. Cool meant more than a temperature.”
“Yes and you would find some excuse for writing just about anything. You’re not like me
just a newspaper hack, you always loved the craft. If the content is right the style won’t
matter. The mind follows content. As you told me ‘Master’”
Tom’s eyes searched my face for answers “What’s making you unhappy and reluctant?”
I looked at him as the good friend he always had been, but could not answer him. Tom
continued trying to convince me.
Mellow and promising a repeat lunch very soon we parted. I thought about that couple a
lot, thought more about what life was like back then; once again preoccupied with them
and their story. Remembering all the time spent with them. Wondering if they were still
alive? If they were together, where they might be now?
Days later my long-suffering wife had suffered me and my rememberings for long
“Get out the ‘old kit’, as she called it, “and write! Write about them, write about the whole
thing! All of it!” The ‘old kit’ was Kate’s name for my once cutting edge, now ancient
From the little I knew of the couple before we met: both had suffered at the hands of
past partners. Each had also been beset with problems, not of their own making. Their
own actions did not warrant what they had endured.
My dear wife may have ordered this job, but even her patience would not tolerate much
more from the old kit. (Their individual stories are worth a book in their own right.)
Our first meeting was a golden opportunity for them to talk …
What about their home lives, childhood and growing up.
Hardly a word
What about their lives before they met?
They chose silence
Would they explain how they met?
That broke the ice!
Previously tense and sombre, the question transformed them. Now they were excited
children retelling their holidays back at school. Recounting their meeting well enough for
me to feel I was there. I hope I can do the same for you.
Picture, if you will, a packed shopping precinct, nearby: offices, banks and cafes. The
aromas of food and hot coffee filling the air: it’s a sunny warm Friday lunch time.
HOW THEY MET
In the midday bustle of ‘The Precinct’ some dawdled, just window-shopping, others
walking briskly, were pressed for time. Their minds fixed on lunch or a trip to the bank.
Two striding out purposefully failed to see each other until it was too late.
Recoiling, both stepped back, she dropped her carrier: Braeburns and Satsuma’s escaped
bouncing and rolling among busy feet. They stooped to gather the shopping, she headed
his shoulder. Rebounding they staggered backwards to land unceremoniously on gluteus
maximi: face to face just yards apart. Amongst the crowd some smiled; others tottered,
stalling, some sidestepping rolling fruit and the seated couple. Oblivious to the mayhem
they caused they laughed after a pause for shock. Their eyes fixed each other, then
scrambling to all fours the pair darted after her shopping.
Realising the futility of the chase, she stood, adjusting and dusting off her suit. Trying to
regain some composure and dignity over injured pride, sometimes known as a sore
backside. Now standing with the all but empty carrier, she watched him weaving through
pedestrian traffic, apologising as he went, he doggedly chased apples this way, oranges
that. She was laughing now as pedestrians swerved and lurched, to avoid him and the
fruit. Hearing her laughter the red-faced man slowly straightened up, fumbling with the
fruit. Resembling a demented juggler he trudged towards her through the pedestrian
scrum. Sheepishly he offered the results of his labour.
Giggling she held out the carrier. “Do you often chase lost causes?”
“Sorry, I should have looked where I was going. Are you hurt?”
“No, I’m ok, thanks. Sorry I head-butted you. How are you?”
“Fine, thanks. I think I got most of it.” Carefully he emptied his arms then his pockets
into the carrier. “Some may be a bit bruised.”
“Some.” She laughed.
“Please let me pay for them at least.”
“Thanks for the offer; I always buy too much anyway.”
After exchanging interested smiles and more apologies, they went their separate ways.
A quick look back and they waved to eachother. That afternoon brought smiles and
banter when each related the incident to friends and colleagues. He thought she had a
mischievous sense of humour, apart from that smile and everything else. She thought: he
is not that tall, not short either, nice eyes.
WHERE DID THIS GO…
Weeks later, they stood in a café queuing for the lunch munch. Eyes met with a nod of
recognition. Minutes later they sat smiling then laughing, their eyes fixed: each on the
other intoxicated by a highly charged chemistry. There would be no walking away this
Over our time together Will and Sam began to open up. They both carried baggage from
the past. All dealt with, some not so securely stowed. Even so, throwing caution to the
wind they believed their meeting could be a real chance for happiness, bringing two
people close together.
The couple were so easy together, totally chilled from the start. Anyone might think Will
and Sam had spent all their lives together. Within weeks they started designing a low-key
wedding. Family and friends were surprised they announced their plans so quickly. They
were right for each other: everyone said so. Were they ready for one another? Only time
The guest list was shorter than many expected.
The uninvited were none too charitable: thinking them skinflints and worse, perhaps
through ignorance, maybe for selfish reasons. Others barely concealed pangs of
jealousy, or dented pride, all but hissing cutting words behind their backs. Regrettably,
distant relatives felt done out of a new outfit.
Whatever their reasons the dissenters failed to grasp the sense of what Will and Sam had
explained. This would be a simple event to celebrate their love and commitment to
eachother. Not the big show wedding both had endured first time round. They would
make their vows in front of those who’d been there when needed the most: their real
friends and family.
Sam glowed with pride when she showed me their wedding pictures. Not just the final
prints, but the battered proofs aswell. The state of the proofs bore witness to an
adventure they had; probably better described as close to a misadventure.
Their day came and there she was: the bride, stylish, good looking and brains to match.
No veil hid her elfin beauty from the camera. Her face filled with warmth and love
glowing in those deep blue eyes. A discreet tiara peeped through the chocolate
highlights in her shoulder length honey-blonde curls. Typically, Sam’s dress was the
essence of simple elegance.
The ivory ‘off the shoulder number’ hugged and caressed all her petite curves; (Sam
refused to think of herself as attractive) a vibrant five foot two bundle of life. She
radiated all the wonderful feelings they shared. Will, at five nine, was modestly good
looking, no heartthrob. He was lean, but no weakling. He had a winning smile and a
wicked grin; a gentle placid man with the patience of Job. He would need all his patience
and big heart. Sam was full of life and more.
Their day went well. All the names remembered and no slip-ups with the vows. The
speeches were light and amusing, no bad jokes and free from clichés like ‘Unaccustomed
as I am.’ The photographers work reflected a very happy couple, full of smiles and deeply
affectionate expressions. An atmosphere of joy and love purveyed the pictures.
(Moreover, for the small gathered throng, loads of relief the day went without a hitch.)
Arm in arm on honeymoon, they watched sunsets over the Nile and craning necks up at
the huge temples. They saw the pyramids at Giza and rode camels through Sinai.
Enjoying simple, very precious evenings snuggled together in a Bedouin tent beneath the
star filled desert sky. Then onward: to marvel at the city of Petra; before lazy days
relaxing by the Red Sea.
…HAPPY EVER AFTER?
After the honeymoon, gently bronzed, Mr and Mrs Spears settled into the routines of
their new life. Outwardly, they appeared the perfect couple. What appeared to Will as
tantrums were in fact Sam’s defence against panic attacks. He struggled to recognise the
signs to begin with.
There were ‘Living with you!’ rows and a few ‘misunderstandings’, often reducing both to
tears. Neither caused the others tears, they cried together. Theirs was a passionate love,
a love holding great depth and intensity. Perhaps they loved each other too much.
The fireworks aside, if true soulmates exist then Will and Sam Spears would define the
From the start, they had an uncanny understanding and a heightened sense of
communication. Like a couple who have been together many years. The Spears seemed
to know eachother’s thoughts. A romantic couple with a good grounding of common
sense, for most of the time, while neither was reckless they did revel in spontaneity.
Will finished work early on the Friday of that second week in August. He suggested a
weekend away. Sam grinned, closing down the laptop. She often worked from home.
In less than two hours, hotel booked, they were on the road to favourite places in Wales.
They enjoyed the sun, good food, midnight strolls and eachother.
In the early hours of Sunday morning both woke with a start. Sitting bolt upright looking
at one another: they had been dreaming. Both had dreamt the same dream, a peculiar,
but not a frightening dream. They talked, cuddled, tossed and turned, but there was no
sleep after that. Unlike many dreams, the details did not fade. They talked and thought
of little else until they sat down for breakfast.
At the table they planned their day. After a ‘Full English’ they took a stroll along the
front. The kind of cosy stroll only lovers know. They laughed their way through a game
of crazy golf, before ambling back to the hotel. Sunday promised more bright sunny
weather: ten days had passed without a drop of rain.
Sam was always sad to go home. Nevertheless, once at home she was so pleased to be
there. The car packed and the bill settled they were away for a leisurely drive. She
watched the countryside go by, the car filled with favourite music, he enjoyed the
winding A and B-roads affording plenty of drivability. Speed where there was road and a
gentle pace when the scenery suggested.
A short walk was the aperitif to spur them onto a lunch in a quiet pub, then down to
A quiet place, out of the way but not forgotten, not deserted, but away from the crowds,
the buckets, spades and all the usual holiday hubbub.
After waterborne frolics and a swim husband and wife nestled together in the dunes.
Warmed and soothed by the sun: pipe dreaming a design for rest of their lives. Two
seriously chilled people very much in love. One second there was blue sky, the next: a
sharp shower sent them running for cover. Lightening foretold of thunder from storms in
the hills, between them and home. Drying off in the car Will and Sam noticed their
wedding proofs on the back seat. Finally, with relatives and photographer’s patience
wearing thin, they decided to hang the cost and have the lot.
The usual mock ‘who drives home’ debate was decided by the toss of a coin, For once
Will would drive. Slowly the afternoon storms subsided.
A while later the journey homeward was happy. Winding roads dried by the evening
sunshine. They laughed about a tabby, which had followed them on their morning stroll.
Cats had an affinity for Sam. Their thoughts returned to the shared dream. How could
they both have had the same dream and at the same time?
The road climbed its way towards the wooded hillsides en route to Welshpool. Sam
looked longingly over her husband’s shoulder to the valley. No bigger than matchboxes,
farm buildings lay enclosed by dry-stone walls, sheep grazing, nothing larger than off-
white specs in the vibrant green pastures. The gently curving valley floor stretched out
then upwards to steep crags.
All were lost to view as the Audi swept round a gentle left-hander. Shafts of evening
sunlight glinted through the trees: spangling the tarmac and verges with shimmering
reflections. Beneath the leafy canopy the roads were still wet after the storms, greasy
with traffic film. The A3 effortlessly climbed the long ‘straight’ before a tight bend. Its
apex, a narrow stone bridge, crossed a deep ravine. Among the greenery below stream
water rushed and weaved its way over rocks. Will began easing the A3 down the gears.
The bridge was some hundred yards ahead when, as usual, Sam gazed into the ravine.
“It’s so lovely in here under the trees.” Her hand rested on his shoulder. “Every time we
come this way home I want to walk by that stream.”
“One day we will.” His thoughts with her he smiled. “That is a promise.”
The bridge approaching, all eyes returned to the road.
What follows are the best recollections of everyone involved.
A haulier drove the 7.5-ton box Scania along the road carved out of the hillside. On his
way home to Dolgellau. His one-man business dictated when he worked, not the days of
the week. He knew the roads well, slowing early especially for the downhill bends.
At night, even through the trees, headlights gave drivers ample warning of oncoming
traffic. Before dusk, there was no such luxury The Scania rounded the bend on the far
side of the bridge. Sam gasped when it came into view.
The A3 was well into the acute right-hander leading onto the bridge, Will overruled his
instinct to brake. Instead, slamming into first and easing his foot off the gas.
On that stone bridge two cars would struggle to pass.
Will had nowhere to go. The car was now on the bridge. The Scania, just yards away,
closed fast with greater momentum. If the driver had not turned the wheel the rock face
would forced the truck’s course onto the bridge. He had nowhere to go.
The Scania’s rear wheels lost grip, the back-end slewing right, sliding across the bridge
towards Will and Sam. The driver desperately wrestled the wheel, but to no avail; Will
turned the wheel to the nearside, like a boxer rolling to take a punch he cannot avoid. It
was coming and no escaping it.
The sensation of slow motion began …
For a split second they saw each other. Will saw the apology and fear in the haulier’s
eyes: he saw resignation in Will’s, and a prayer. Sam saw neither, only 7.5 tons of heavy
goods looming larger, blocking the bridge, then the light. The Scania took out the wall
the Audi’s side of the bridge. Crushed masonry exploded into the air flying past the car
into the ravine. Rebounding, straightening on the road, just feet from the couple. Bracing
themselves for the inevitable collision. Sounds, sights and fears etching indelibly on the
She feared for Will not herself. The lorry slammed into the offside wing, twisting the Audi
into the side of the truck for further punishment. Then into the bridge, the boom and
screeching, echoed through the empty lorry’s coachwork. As it ground and gouged its
way along the side of the A3. Metalwork crumpled and tore like paper; Will took the
brunt of the blow.
Windows shattered, the windscreen burst. Despite their seatbelts the couple were hurled
around their seats. The Audi crunched through the low bridge wall, forced over the edge.
Tumbling hatchback over bonnet, the car somersaulted into the ravine flinging the
Spears’ around like rag dolls. The fall took barely a second. For the passengers the slow
motion nightmare continued:
They saw sky then leaves and branches, one branch with contorted twigs full of leaves
fanned across the space where the windscreen used to be.
The differing green shades of leaves contrasted with the darkness of fine twigs; another
roll to see water then rocks and bright lush tufts of greenery; a glimpse through the
inverted arc of the bridge to the valley beyond and falling Welsh stone. All flitted,
flashing crystal clear through the space where glass once protected from cold and rain.
The engine raced, whining with no road to hold back the power.
A sickening, bone-breaking jolt mangled the Audi, landing bonnet first, the engine cut
dead, as plastic splintered, metal ripped and moulded to the shape of rocks. More pain,
more injuries for the already maimed Audi prisoners. Time froze for an instant while the
car stood balanced on its bonnet, then gravity took control of destiny.
The A3 toppled and twisted, falling to rest full length on the passenger side, buckled
metal and shards of glass all around them. Will and Sam now lay still. Smells of hot oil
and engine fumes laced with steam wafted into the saloon.
Disorientated, she was aware of a warm trickling through her hair. Her left side wracked
with pain from her shoulder to her ankle. Through the driver’s window space Sam could
make out the tops of trees on the far side of the ravine. The car lay on the stream bank.
Looking at Will, tears flooded her pain filled eyes. He lay slumped over her knees. Dazed
and barely conscious his head covered in blood, he felt so heavy:
[You cannot die! I’ve only just found you. There’s too much life for us to live. You must
not die, not now.]
Will felt her gentle hand caressing his face [She was alive!]
Ominous sounds, distant at first, grew louder: a rocking and creaking; metal was
crunching masonry somewhere above. Louder now, the noise changed to scraping and
grinding. Helpless and immobile they lay overloading on adrenalin. The Scania was
slipping; then no sound.
Only imagining what might be next, her left arm pinned and useless, Sam wrapped the
other around Will; resigned to their fate. The lorry had overbalanced. Sam could hear
nothing but babbling water in the stream. A cool rush of air flushed through the saloon.
Replacing engine smells with the scent of freshly crushed grass.
Then darkness accompanied an ear-piercing clash of metal against metal and rock;
overwhelming the couple in another bout of injury.
The Scania landed on its roof. Straddling the stream and the Audi, righting the Audi on
its wheels and pinning it side-on to the bank. The A3 had fallen in line and facing
upstream, nearly under the bridge. The bedrock absorbed most of the Scania impact.
Tyres accustomed to the road pointed skyward, spinning ever more slowly, inexorably to
With the last of its momentum the lorry keeled over on its side away from the Spears.
Away from the car they bought together because “The colour pulled”
More steam hissed free.
As if denying witness to the carnage, the stream continued to trickle and bubble its way
between the rocks and down the ravine.
For the Scania driver, Will and Sam there was no noise, no fears or feelings, no pain.
- 10 -
From the road, there was little evidence of the wreckage below: no fire, no smoke and
the wisps of escaping steam disappeared before reaching road level. Darkness fell before
a van’s main beam highlighted the stone debris on the bridge approaches. The driver
stopped short of the bridge to take in the scene.
Fearing the worst he reversed with some urgency, stopping a good distance between the
bridge and the long bend the A3 had rounded earlier. Hazard lights on he set out on foot
to investigate. Lights through the trees announced another traveller. As he reached the
bridge a Renault negotiated the downhill corner as the Scania had done. He waved it
down, the Meganne came to a halt, feet from where the lorry fell into the ravine.
Inside sat a shocked family: dad, mom and two teenage girls.
The van driver motioned dad to open his window:
“Some kind a crash I think. Can you take this-” He tapped the car roof. “-back up the
road and stay with it.”
“Any of you got a mobile?”
“I’m a nurse.” Mom said. “Out you get girls and keep clear of the road. Terry, pass me the
first aid kit please.”
Obediently the teenagers were standing on the gravel verge in seconds; Terry cautiously
turned the Meganne and was on his way.
Kit in hand “What’s happened?” Mom asked donning her coat.
“Don’t know,” the van driver shrugged. “I’m going for a look in the ravine.”
“I’m coming with you.”
He took in her persona and decided against discouraging her.
Carefully they slithered through all manner of mangled vegetation, wet rocks and
grasses to get to the vehicles. The nurse found all three had a pulse, none of them was
conscious. She rang 999 then with the driver did what they could for the injured.
All the victims needed cutting free, then hospital, if they survived long enough. There
were was, amazingly, no smell of fuel. The engines had died when the vehicles landed.
While checking over the couple, amid flecks of crash-dislodged confetti, mom saw the
wedding proofs scattered in grass between the A3 and the Scania.
She gathered the photos, they looked new, but now they were crumpled and dew
damaged. Feelings welled up from deep inside her, remembering her own wedding as
she gathered them. Her great and happy day now seemed so long ago. Fighting back her
feelings for the newly-weds, she wiped her filling eyes before tears could trickle down
- 11 -
Mom talked to her family on the mobile, telling them just enough to satisfy their
curiosity. She did not want them in the ravine. As an experienced A & E nurse she was
finding it tough enough.
The emergency services arrived, relieving them of their vigil. They rejoined her family by
How had this happened? Would the victims survive? The group agreed to visit the victims
if they did. All three were still alive when the ambulance left. Van man and family parted
going their own ways homeward. After a few miles the nurse remembered the proofs.
The Meganne turned about for another rescue.
Will and Sam were special; I hope they still are, wherever they are. They had many good
qualities. Most invested in them by their parents. I had the privilege to meet and get to
know Ivor Sam’s dad and Will’s mom Mary. They told me many stories about their
youngsters, from the cradle to life as young adults. Little was said about the bad and sad
times their kids endured.
Mary and Ivor were modest people, endowed with a calm nature. They had a very gentle
way with about them. That said emotion punctuated their account of what happened
What followed the crash is more than Will and Sam’s story. It was perhaps one of the
toughest times for all involved.
- 12 -
NEXT OF KIN
The old brass doorknocker clunked startling Mary. She put her book facedown on the
table, looking back at the cover. Thinking of the few pages left to read. Wondering who
was calling so late on a Sunday night, she made her way to the front door. Her friends
would not be calling, they new this was her quiet time, anyway she opened the door on
“I’m PC Cally Morgan.” She motioned to her partner.
“This is PC David Hines. I am sorry to trouble you this evening.”
Their ID’s in full view Mary slipped the chain off the door.
This part of Cally’s job never got easier. “May I confirm you have a son William, John?”
Any mother’s worst nightmare rocked Mary: waves of fear tore through her, she started
her heart filled with dread.
“Oh, God! Yes, what’s happened?”
Cally started: “Perhaps we could…”
The strength went from Mary’s legs; she tottered backwards, despite the rules the
officers came forward to help, she reached the seat at the telephone table before her
legs gave out completely.
The officers quickly allayed her worst fears and comforted her. Not the patronising and
hollow: ‘We’re sorry for the bad news’ routine. The officers were gentle and sensitive.
When Will’s mom was able, they went into the back kitchen. PC Hines made a pot of tea
while Cally explained about the accident. After a cuppa, they offered to take Mary to the
She rang Sam’s father and wept afterwards, she new how this would devastate Ivor
Wellings. The officers gently helped Mary to the car. Not knowing what injuries the
couple may have suffered.
The journey took its toll. Is anything worse than the dread of the unknown?
Ivor was leaving for the hospital when Mary rang. The police had been minutes earlier.
He was remembering another crash. John, Mary’s husband, had died from liver cancer
three years earlier. Will and Sam were all she had. Almost overnight Sam became the
daughter Mary could never have.
For Ivor it was ten years to the weekend since Sam’s mom died. His mind was reeling,
awash with emotions. Love and agony mixed with the memories and pain of that fatal
crash: ten years always feeling that ache, deep feelings always dwelling just beneath the
- 13 -
Ivor had been so pleased for Sam. He had never seen her happier than when she married
Will. Now at last: she had found her man, the right man, a good man.
He now had a son-in-law with whom he felt comfortable. As a man met under different
circumstances, he would naturally have liked Will, most people did. Nevertheless, Ivor’s
was a suspicious father’s perspective, especially after the antics of Sam’s first husband:
Ivor respected Will he had really warmed to him.
Ivor gathered himself. A seriously independent man he had refused the authorities offer
of transport. He had to drive to see his only daughter and her husband. They had been
married less than two months. Mary, how was Mary coping. In the short time Ivor had
known her a friendship had blossomed. Platonically, they shared in much more than their
When they found each other at the hospital Mary and Ivor hugged and shed some tears.
They introduced themselves to a nurse who showed them a room for relatives awaiting
They waited, a nurse brought drinks and they waited some more. The parents stood as
the doctor entered the room. She explained Will and Sam were in theatre. After
expressing genuine sympathy, she began the hard work:
“Both have suffered serious injuries, their condition is critical.” she looked severe but her
face did not express despair. Looking at Mary:
“Will has multiple fractures on his right side, collarbone, all the arm bones, ribs pelvis,
fibula and tibia. He has also suffered a serious skull fracture.”
Mary’s legs went: the other two helped her to a chair. The doctor looked after her and
both sat beside her. Doctor summoned an orderly to get a drink of water. After Mary was
settled the doctor resumed:
“His skeletal injuries are serious, but he has been very lucky, the breaks are all clean.
With all the bruising we were expecting internal injuries but all his organs appear intact.
There was internal bleeding and that’s being sorted out.”
“Sam, what about Sam?”
Mary had got in first. The doctor looked at Ivor:
“Your daughter has skull fractures and deep head wounds,” She raised her hands to calm
“No facial injuries. If, and I stress If, there’s any scarring it will be in the scalp.”
The relief they felt was short lived ….
“Apart from her head injuries, she has similar injuries to her husband, but on her left
side, however her femur has a nasty compound fracture. She will not lose her leg. But
she may be left with a limp.”
- 14 -
Ivor’s face fell, Mary squeezed his hand. The doctor said they could see their children as
soon as they were out of recovery.
They asked after Scania driver. His injuries were serious, but not as severe. He would
have a long road; they were all expected to make a full recovery.
More emotional turmoil awaited Mary and Ivor. Will and Sam did not come round after
surgery. The sun rose in a clear sky and still they had not come round. Staff brought
Mary and Ivor drinks, as they needed them. Declining the offer of breakfast. They could
not eat a thing. Hour after fretful hour went by, each slower than the last.
Will and Sam had lapsed into coma.
- 15 -
THE COMA BEGINS
Consultants discussed the complexities of comas and the vegetative state with Mary and
Ivor, explaining the difficulties of diagnosis and determining the prospects for recovery.
Initial tests indicated a good prognosis for a return to consciousness. The question was
when rather than if they would ‘wake up’.
Their physical injuries would take time, but soon showed evidence they were healing
well. If anything their state was an advantage for their broken bones.
Mary and Ivor visited every day. First Mary would sit with her son Ivor with his daughter,
in their separate rooms, then they would switch. Sometimes both would sit with one
patient then the other. They talked and read to them. Held hands with them, played their
favourite music, smoothed a brow and stroked their hair. Both mom and dad were with
them all the time they could be.
Will and Sam’s friends called in from time to time, keeping in touch with Mary or Ivor
regularly. The van driver and nurse’s family visited them, talking with Mary and Ivor.
When mom handed the wedding proofs to Mary there were some tears and hugs.
The authorities viewed the incident as a tragic accident brought about by the road
conditions. No blame was apportioned. Still it was difficult. The Scania driver called the
parents asking whether they would talk with him. They did.
Fighting back his emotions, he diplomatically broached the subject of seeing Will and
Sam. The three agreed to go together on the driver’s first visit.
Frequently Ivor and Mary reflected on memories of the children, as they, as friends, grew
closer together. After one visit to “The Kids” Ivor was driving Mary home when he
remembered part of a groom’s speech. A man marrying for the first time his bride was a
mother of two. They had lived together for years before tying the knot. The remembered
extract went something like this:-
‘When we are young any words we don’t know we look up in a dictionary, online or
hardcopy. We learn what the word means. So, for the young words like love and sacrifice
are easy to define. The answer is there in any dictionary. Perhaps this is why the young
know everything! The older we get the more we know and yet the less we understand.
Some are lucky enough to fall in love finding that special someone first time. Sadly some
never do. Through relationships we learn about heartache and other people’s feelings.
Understanding what love is only comes through being in love. Love is not about putting
someone first. To love someone means they automatically come first, second and last!
Looking after their needs is natural. For those in love doing the little things that bring a
smile or a kiss is normal!”
- 16 -
Ivor remembered finding his wife’s hand creep into his beneath the tablecloth. Many
guests exchanged glances. Theirs were not the only hands that met.
“So two people meet, they fall in love, they may choose to marry or just start a life
together. Their hearts and minds may turn towards a family, if they are lucky children
Two people loving eachother put their child before everything, even before eachother.
The sleepless nights; the fears and worries with illnesses; making certain the children are
safe and happy. Moms and dads always remember the first giggle and smile, first crawl,
those first tottering steps and a grazed knee. The first words and later wishing the child
had never started talking. Aaah: the blissful end of nappies and the first day at school;
foregoing many nights out. Aaah yes, memories of something called a social life. Not
taking the holiday abroad in favour of new school uniforms. The list goes on.
Parents are the people best qualified to talk of love and sacrifice: not just knowing the
words from a dictionary, but understanding their meaning by living them in every day
life. The sacrifices my mom and dad have made for me over many years, and their love
are what has brought me here today. Now it is time for me to thank my mom and dad.
His eyes found them:
“Thank you with all my heart and soul.”
Ivor described how Adams apples wobbled and a warming full-up hush engulfed the
reception. The groom described the home and parents he had been so lucky to have.
Again, with heart filled thanks to his mom and dad.
- 17 -
Weeks turned into a month, then two and three. No change. Consultants recommended
transferring the couple. They knew a specialist unit for treating coma and PVS patients.
(PVS = permanent vegetative state: the state of extended, long-term unconsciousness,
After Will and Sam were transferred to the CCU (Coma Care Unit) their parents prepared
themselves for ‘the long haul’: Living solely for their children’s return to the wakeful
world. Mary and Ivor often shared emotions, experiences and tears with other patient’s
relatives. They all supported eachother. They talked and listened, hearing so many
similar feelings, frustrations, and that empty helplessness; about the fear all held of a
terrible time and would that time come? A time to make that decision: a time for that
irreversible and final action. How would Mary and Ivor cope if one recovered but the
other still lay comatose, or worse? As parents, in their later years, what would happen if
they were not around for their children’s recovery?
Mary and Ivor thought deeply about everything. After all they had thought talked and
discussed together they cringed. There was another reality to consider: those matters
practical and material. So far the bank was showing understanding, who knew how long
that might last? How could they preserve what Will and Sam had already built for
themselves: their home and everything in it?
Mary brought pictures from the Spears’ home. Each had a favourite picture of the other
on their bedside table. Whichever side they woke the first person they saw was the love
of their life. Now they had them at the CCU. She thought if either woke seeing the picture
they would know the other was alive.
Day after day, they hoped for some sign. Something to show Will and Sam were still
there. When they saw a glimmer of a response hope would rise. Hope quickly dashed by
the units' experienced doctors, who knew what they had seen, were regrettably, only
normal comatose reactions. There was little to lift Mary and Ivor’s spirits. Throughout all
the lowest of the low times, they never wavered they would never give up.
Surely, modern medicine could offer more, more than just regular tests, physio and
passive medical procedures. Everyone involved wished there was more available for the
patients. Wondered if technology could ever catch up with the complexity of the brain?
One consultant frustrated by these inadequacies observed:
“Nature has used Velcro to disperse seeds for millennia. Yet, we have only ‘discovered’
its uses in recent decades! Never mind contemplating the overall intricacy of the human
condition…. What else have we overlooked?”
- 18 -
Mary and Ivor searched through masses of information. They felt an absolute need to
understand the complexity of comas and the Persistent Vegetative State (PVS). Before the
accident, neither could use a computer. That changed. They quickly found the value of
the internet, becoming quite expert in a short time.
Christmas came tormenting the emotions. Will and Sam lay unconscious, oblivious to the
occasion. Mary and Ivor spent their waking hours with them. The staff joined in with all
the relatives, attempting to make some kind of Christmas for everyone.
Would they have a Happy New Year?
- 19 -
There is nothing new in the concept of rationalisation. Dress it up, find smart words or
cool descriptions for it, whatever! It’s a cost cutting exercise, frequently costing jobs.
Falling demand for goods and services generates overcapacity. Manufacturers reduce
direct personnel removing that overcapacity. Service industries follow a similar principle.
The infrastructure of such companies is usually lean, leaving less scope to cut
administration. Private sector businesses need profit to survive: keeping admin to a
minimum is an essential prerequisite. This is nothing new. It was known before the first
shareholders expected dividends. And yes! it is sad when a minority suffer redundancy to
save the majority their jobs.
What happens in the public sector?
Everyone knows the story: government calls for spending cuts that means fewer police,
fire fighters, nurses, doctors it’s a long list. Demand for the services has remained
constant, yet public sector management does the illogical: it reduces the frontline
personnel who deliver the services!
Public services are renowned for being overly complex and bureaucratic. Surely the right
path is to simplify and streamline systems and procedures. Why not cut the fat from
admin before cutting direct personnel?
Because this sector cannot allow such salient facts to influence where the financial axe
will fall, cutting down a public service ‘administrative burden’ WHAT!?! That would never
do! It’s simply not on! Cannot be done: paper barons’ reducing their own empire? Totally
out of the question old boy, make the chavs and plebs suffer first!! ‘good show’
Whitehall what a result!
The public are forced to accept reduced services to keep paper pushers in the warmth of
their very comfortable homes. Their work consumes trees, causes unnecessary delays,
while generating confusion and procrastination. Costing a fortune and producing
nothing, except a lot of hot air and not just in Whitehall.
Is that our morally responsible, ethical, caring public sector? ‘The men from the Ministry’
would say “yes minister, yes prime minister”.
- 20 -
THE NEW YEAR
On the first Monday in January the CCU Manager had called a press conference. He read a
meticulously prepared, longwinded, statement, It was all about the state of the local
health service and primary care trust policy. Finally, he got to the crux of the matter…
“Accordingly and inline with new government spending requirements: the PCT
plans to combine the Coma Care Unit with our local General Hospital. It’s
anticipated the proposed facilities merger will be effected within18 months.”
The impatient media hardly let him finish his summary before shouting a barrage of
questions at him.
The coma patients’ families were outraged at the prospect of another service being
sacrificed. At the same time hoping, praying their loved ones would recover before “The
Merger”. They all knew only too well the reality would be the total CCU closure. While
equipment might get to the General, even the most experienced staff would be lucky if
they were relocated.
Losing key staff meant losing key carer-patient and carer-family relationships! Who
knows how that could affect the patients themselves! Even comatose, patients may have
some awareness of their surroundings.
The only way to keep the CCU open appeared to be privatisation. However, securing the
necessary investment seemed impossible. Patients’ families would all sell everything to
help their loved ones. But they did not have the collective wealth to fund a privatisation
or sustain the unit.
Groups of families campaigned hard, opposing the plans at every opportunity, assisted
quietly and advised discretely by many CCU staff. All their appeals fell on the deaf ears of
those holding the purse strings. Their efforts came to nothing: the patients had no
official voice, no voice the authorities or media would recognise.
July and August came and went. The summer storms had been more intense than
previous years. Spring and early summer crops produced bumper harvests. Then
monsoon like rains flattened many cornfields: the later crops suffering badly. So did the
now usual flood victims, despite the “improved defences”
- 21 -
TIME FOR ACTION
Whenever time is at a premium it passes all too quickly. With autumn waiting in the
wings nothing had been achieved since January. Two highly motivated, very determined,
people set out on a long road: Mary and Ivor would face many obstacles: only to
overcome them after many tears, bureaucracy, frustration and plenty more heartache.
Nothing, but nothing was going to stop their quest to keep the CCU open.
Like all the other patients families they could not contemplate the idea of failure. Getting
the patients and families a collective, recognised voice was the priority. Mary and Ivor
canvassed all the coma families: all agreed with starting a support group. A solicitor
whose daughter was comatose agreed to take care of all the legal and administrative
matters pro bono.
Late September saw the inaugural meeting of Respite for Coma Patients Association. First
it set out the principle objective: to save the CCU, then the group elected its officers. The
van driver, the nurse’s family and the fully recovered Scania driver attended, along with
all the patients’ families and friends.
The original workers, all volunteers, were related in some way to a patient or their family.
Full of energy and time, they worked tirelessly for the RCPA. Still they made enough time
to visit their loved ones. The RCPA profile and reputation grew, volunteer numbers
swelled from all walks of life. Newcomers felt a warm and gentle atmosphere when they
joined. A calm professionalism at the core of the growing, caring family called: RCPA.
Telling its story would take book of its own. Deserve another book to explain all the hard
work, the trials and tribulations suffered by these dogged determined people. Striving to
gain new skills; battling to overcome bureaucracy; while enduring frustration and
sleepless nights. Some of the worst times came with the arrival of a funder’s reply.
Hopes raised were as quickly dashed by words like “It is with regret …” Tears were often
shed. Only those who’ve worked on such a project can relate to the emotional
rollercoaster and fatigue felt with each setback.
After every disappointment, every setback they picked themselves up with greater steel
and more determination than before! They would not to be beaten; they would not be
ground down. Their faith was unswerving: they would succeed. People lay unconscious
needing their help. Their loved ones could not speak, could not help themselves! The
RCPA had to succeed!
- 22 -
Ivor’s thirst for acquiring skills had sparked the idea for a new project. His ceaseless
quest for knowledge trawling websites also paid off. He found a new paper written by
two doctors on groundbreaking, but as yet unproven technology.
Doctors Catherine Hallam and Daniel Oscar Quigley were at the top of their field. They
headed a team researching new monitoring techniques for coma and PVS patients.
Their research was inspired by a seemingly unrelated breakthrough in prosthetic limbs. A
university team had successfully developed a bionic arm; the arm was controlled by the
amputee’s normal brain activity, as if it was their own! The technology showed
considerable potential for monitoring and understanding mental activity in unconscious
patients. There was a significant opportunity for developing a set of diagnostic tools for
numerous conditions not only coma and PVS.
The Hallam-Quigley team, under licence, had adapted the technology to read the four
categories of brain-wave activity. Criteria used when determining the most delicate of
coma related issues: the patient’s quality of life.
Tele-Monitoring: The Theory
EEG (Electro-Encephalography) is a non-invasive technique for measuring brainwave
activity. TM operates on broadly the same principles: taking the process much further.
Enabling the signal content to be analysed and interpreted after conversion to a digital
format. Thoughts, motive action, sensory recognition, everything, even dreams could be
converted into audio and visual signals. Connected to a monitor, the result’s a patient’s
own live thought and action DVD!
The Trials to Date
Initial testing with prototype kit involved conscious volunteers only. The results thus far
proved a qualified success. Hard and software refinements were needed. Once sorted the
team would be confident to go for formal trials!
Excited by their work the RCPA approached the doctors, who initially had very serious
doubts about the initiative. That is, until they met the management team which naturally
included Mary and Ivor. They quickly realised the team would move mountains for its
cause. Despite the threatened ‘merger’ and lack of funding, Hallam and Quigley agreed
to work with the RCPA.
An extraordinary RCPA meeting was necessary to ratify the agreement.
- 23 -
After the pleasantries and introductions Cathy Hallam addressed the meeting. She
explained what the kit looked like and what relatives would see. Together with Dr
Quigley they gave a candid presentation of Telemonitoring: its capabilities, limitations
and future potential. If TM could identify conditions responsible for continuing coma. It
may even be possible to devise treatment capable of inducing a return to consciousness,
in the right cases.
After numerous questions the meeting voted overwhelmingly to bring the TM team on
board. The cue for even more hard work: getting to know new people, learning how they
worked. The TM refinements were effected and tested: they improved results
dramatically. The way was clear for formal trials.
On Tuesday of the week before Christmas: all the management team had gathered for a
planned unveiling. A group of volunteers added to the crush in the office…. unveiling
The RCPA website!
Produced by none other than that well-known former computer illiterate turned
Webmaster: Ivor Wellings!
Volunteers and management alike became suitably impressed as Ivor demonstrated the
site features and its interactive aswell as static content. That is, until he was interrupted
by a post sorting volunteer shouting:
It’s arrived! It’s arrived!”
The postie waved an envelope in the air then held it out towards the doctors. Everyone
watched them for a sign. They looked nervously at one another as they opened the
letter…. They read it.
Daniel Quigley, with tears in his eyes watched Cathy Hallam sobbing. They hugged
Everyone around wanted to ask what the letter said, but nobody could speak.
The doctors could only look eachother in the eyes: tears running down their faces. Then,
still hugging they saw everyone watching them.
- 24 -
It’s YEESSSSSSS!!” Daniel punched the air. Cathy jumped up and down waving the letter
high. The room erupted with cheers. Hugs and handshakes were ten a penny. The air
was seriously punched out! Loud applause and echoing: “Yessss! Yessss! Yessss!”
They told me the celebrations went on for ages.
The first part of the solution was now in place; the first tangible achievement after so
much hard work and many, many disappointments. Mobile cameras flashed. Texts were
sent and calls made to …. well, just about everyone. What a day to launch the site. The
News and Forum pages would now be graced with a grand announcement. Ivor’s first
piece of site-keeping would be no chore. It would have the much awaited title:
TM Trials Approved!!
Euphoria subsided and reality kicked in. Everyone got back to their duties’. After work a
good night was had by all! They’d more than earned the right to let their hair down.
With renewed hope and energy another round of funding bids were written up and sent
out: accompanied by the last round of Christmas cards. No prizes for guessing what
everyone wanted for Christmas.
Over the holiday period those who could, enjoyed the festivities. Family and friends
accompanied the unconscious. As usual the staff made it a special kind of CCU
Some were a little curious about the new rotund Santa. Was there something slightly
feminine in that Yo Ho Ho? They say that good things come in small packages. This Santa
looked so happy watching the smiling faces as they opened ‘his’ special gifts. More of
Unseen amid all the turkey and plum pud, the presents and parties a very interesting
email arrived for the RCP.
- 25 -
ANOTHER NEW YEAR
For the RCPA webmaster this was indeed a new year filled with extra responsibilities. Ivor
clicked on the inbox. Replying to all the New Year wishes hardly dented the unread. New
site, new email addresses, new spam settings getting established. He found enough
spam, some were disgusting. The first few $47 or $97 money making strategies were
laughable! Then they became tedious, more ridiculous.
He read, sorted and answered email after email then lunch beckoned. He was ready for a
break and hungry: turkey with stuffing sandwiches and cold pigs in blankets. Then a
stroll around his flat eating cream filled brandy snaps. Ivor loved them once they got
At the lounge window he watched children playing in the park over the road. His mind
leapt back to when he and his wife played in a park with a very young Sam. Twelve years
had passed since his wife’s death in that other accident, the emotions were still raw.
A moist eyed sharp intake of breath, black coffee and back to the inbox: 52 unread. Most
of it was done. Clicking next he found something very different. The email was
addressed to the RCPA Management, its essence read:-
We have been made aware of a consortium prepared to assist with
funding for the privatisation and maintenance of the Coma Care Unit. The
group wishes, at this stage, to remain anonymous. Their representatives
would be very pleased to discuss all the aspects initial funding and
continuous financing. Should this be of interest, please respond in the
affirmative to the address below.
Was it genuine? He sat back, flagged it and forwarded it to the rest of the management
team, including the doctors, now an integral part of RCPA.
Management met to discuss the offer. The meeting agreed to test the water: Ivor sent the
email drafted by the meeting. The detailed vetting and approval are not important here.
Suffice to say the offer was accepted and the investors remained anonymous. The money
was on board.
The CCU was saved! Shortly to be refurbished and re-opened as a private clinic. A self
financing clinic with a trust fund to ensure it would be furnished with the latest and best
Even so private donations would always be very welcome.
- 26 -
The overriding principle and modus operandi would always be to maintain the highest
standard of free care! A philosophy not unlike the NHS when it was set up!
That once greatly revered institution had lost its way! Sadly, medical personnel and beds
were lost, exchanged for high paid bean counters and paper pushers. The NHS took to
charging the very people it was created to serve, charging for an increasing number of its
services. The public now paid twice for the NHS: through statutory pay deductions and
out of their take home pay.
Those behind the decisions knew there would be initial outrage. They also knew this
outrage would pass. Each new generation of young adults would accept the charges
because they had no experience of a truly free health service. (Unless they lived beyond
The unit medical staff all resigned from the NHS. To an individual they all stated their
reason was a matter of conscience and principle. The next day they were employed in the
private medical sector at a “Yet to be unveiled clinic. They were all content to have the
same pay package as the previous day.
What was most amazing? The speed and efficiency of the privatisation, hardly a hiccup in
the handover of the unit! Everything went ahead without a hitch. The Health Service could
not have been more helpful. Completing the process 3 months ahead of the PCT’s own
deadline! An achievement previously unheard of in the history of the organisation!
Everyone in the RCPA had put in a great deal of themselves to achieve this result! Never
mind the tears and sleepless nights. Now there was a positive and fulfilling sense of
achievement! The RCPA had realised its primary objective!
A success borne from hope, determination and the indomitable human spirit!
Cruelly the patients still lay unconscious: oblivious to everyone’s efforts on their behalf.
Was it ironic their families and friends all wished they could be conscious to share the
- 27 -
May arrived and with it the contractors to modify the CCU. Musical-beds became the
byword for relocating patients, keeping them away from dust and clatter. New energy
conscious electrics, phones, computers and heating: everything newly installed had a
minimal carbon footprint. The medical equipment rivalled anything in the NHS or private
healthcare! The staff gleefully tested all the new gear. When the contractors finished the
techies got their hands dirty: readying the latest delivery of TM kit for trials, the final part
of re-commissioning the CCU. TM units were highly sensitive and sophisticated; they did
not roll off a production line like a PC. The manufacturers compared the pre and post
delivery tests with a techie’s pre-flight check on the old space shuttle.
It took great care and time consuming precision grounding and calibrating each unit.
Initial trials proved difficult, with many teething troubles. Debugging took a while before
full monitoring could begin. Otherwise everything was set for the official opening of “The
Opening day arrived: the culmination of years of hard work. All the RCPA and its
supporters were there. This was a triumph for hard work and love over self-serving
Care versus costs and care won!
Opening day started positively with an air of hope. Sadly the media circus had no interest
in the RCPA, or the work of the clinic. Their interest was the possibility that TM may
infringe patients’ rights, unreasonably intruding on a patient’s privacy. Perhaps it could
damage their health aswell.
The day ended in sadness and disgust. The media moguls wanted a slant to improve
ratings and sell papers: sensationalising and demonising TM. Using language calculated
to stir up extreme views and controversy. The media justified itself by sneering “It’s in
the public interest”
The RCPA expected a news frenzy of the scale generated by cloning issues. A media
stoked furore could extinguish TM work for years, or at least cause interminable debates
and delays. The story ran hot for two days then, to everyone’s amazement, it
disappeared without a whimper.
Perhaps the doctors and the new clinic would be a lucky combination.
- 28 -
GETTING TM WORKING
The months of testing with conscious volunteers proved TM gave results consistent with
EEG. Successes with the conscious now lead to trials with the sleeping. Men and women
of all ages, from all walks of life volunteered to be assessed in the land of Nod. TM and
EEG results still remained consistent. TM recordings involved different attributes: nobody
remembers all their dreams and memory fades fast after waking. Not surprisingly,
comparisons between recordings and subjects’ dream recollections initially weren’t very
consistent. However, the two became closer the further into the subject’s three month
trial period. The last sets of tests being impressively close.
The RCPA progress meeting welcomed the results. Was it now time to begin monitoring
the patients? The meeting unanimously voted to go-ahead! (The relevant authority
followed without objection!) After the vote Cathy decided it was time to touch on that
worst case. To talk about a day that might dawn when there would be no more hope. A
time when contemplating that terrible, irreversible, decision could become reality: the
time to lay someone to their rest. Nobody, not even fleetingly, thought Doctor Hallam
meant their loved one. That would be too awful to contemplate. Someone else would
have to make that grievous decision. Nobody in the meeting wished for others to suffer,
it was just a human reaction:
“These things happen to somebody else.”
The trials showed TM units needed ‘tweaking’ for each patient. Discovering an
individual’s optimum settings took time, repeatedly adjusting and monitoring. There was
little meaningful correlation between settings and a patient’s age, gender, state of health
or the length of their coma. There were no clues to speed the process, just simple trial
and error. Who would be the exceptions to prove the rule: Will and Sam had virtually
Using patient optimised TM provided cleaner data: helping to build the most accurate
picture representing their quality of life: highly significant in any review of patients’
potential for recovery. It had to be right!!
Techies, analysts and nurses all settled into assessing patients’ brain activity, alongside
normal patient care. Parallel TM and EEG recordings generated cross-verified data. Inside
a month the patients’ levels of activity became apparent. Another month would see the
assessments complete. Autumn dragged its feet into winter. A time when Cathy Hallam’s
worst case could become reality.
- 29 -
PROGNOSIS AND PAIN
Clinic RCPA staff related to their unconscious patients as people, not bodies. Knowing
their patients’ loved ones was not just part of the job. The families weren’t exactly
friends, but much more, far closer than any visiting relatives on a hospital ward. They
were an unofficial extension to patient care: simply by being with their loved ones at
every opportunity. Everyone was part of the RCPA family.
Not only providing patient care, but caring for every aspect of their welfare!
So it was Inevitable, during those two months of assessment that clinic personnel
became aware of their patients’ activity levels. Unofficial though the information was it
filled them with mixed emotions. There was joy and renewed hope for patients likely to
recover, contrasted with a dark feeling of desolation for the less fortunate. The
desolation was even more acutely felt for their families and friends; the faithful who had
been there, hoping, caring and praying through the years of waiting.
Keeping quiet wasn’t easy. But that wasn’t the worst. The everyday hard work was
keeping their knowledge and feelings away from others, especially those faithful to the
less fortunate. That took some steel.
Only a few more weeks and the assessments should be finished. Sooner or later they all
had to be told.
Some things are easy to talk or read about, not so easy to do do.
Everyone searched their feelings for their own perspective. There were some strong
views about telling the families. Everyone knew who would have to say the tough words.
The only debate was when the words should be said.
Ethics inferred that everyone should be told immediately the assessments were
confirmed, thus eliminating the risk of accidental leaks. The time of year affected the
other lobby who opposed this view.
December and another Christmas loomed polarising emotions. The conflict of opinion
tormented the collective conscience: there is never a good time for bad news. And the
season of goodwill would be hard enough for all the families.
At last all activity was checked, rechecked, validated and confirmed. The assessments
The doctors set up an anonymous ballot. Every Clinic-RCPA employee voted.
- 30 -
A significant majority polled to inform the relatives in the New Year. Dissenters agreed to
‘A continued professional discretion.’
Was this the lesser of two evils? The better part of human nature resides in both points
Let those who wish to judge decide which was right.
The doctors were all too painfully aware that informing the nearest and dearest rested on
their shoulders and theirs alone. Working daily with the families and friends, holding
back thoughts and feelings took the festivity out of the season. Despite commercialism
Christmas is a celebration of new life; swiftly followed by the celebration of a new year:
the time for good intentions and new beginnings. What a time to deliver such news.
When is there ever a good time for bad news?
Like all the other families Mary and Ivor spent most of their Christmas with their loved
ones. Unaware of what news was to come, for them, for anyone. Some would have good
news and some sadly not so good.
How did Will and Sam fair in this situation? What were their chances of making a full
recovery and leading normal lives?
The New Year had come and gone, its good wishes sent and received. The time for that
awful job had arrived. How does anyone deliver such terrible news: then attempt to
comfort those receiving it. Seeing the pain in their eyes, knowing your words have just
inflicted that pain, because you had told them there was very little hope!
Telling a person their loved one had died would difficult enough! How much harder
to put the power of life or death into the hands of another? Putting the decision to
end a life in the hands of those who love and cherish that life the most!
The families were given the facts as gently as possible, softening the news by discussing
the possibilities of the sleeping pill treatment. It was controversial and didn’t have
universal medical backing. Ironic as it may be, the sleeping pill could bring about
- 31 -
sustained consciousness. The treatment had considerable success for patients with
virtually no perceptible brain activity: more than 50% regained and remained conscious.
The good news was played down, but not overlooked. The greater proportion of patients
had at least a fair or better prospect of recovery.
The Spears’ TM recordings were exceptional. Their brainwaves mirrored the types and
level of activity normally found in conscious people leading full lives! Their physical
condition was excellent. Their injuries had healed well. Neither had even suffered a cold.
Never a hint of the dreaded pneumonia! (Many a coma patient has succumbed to that
killer.) No evidence of brain damage. Neither doctor could see any reason why they
shouldn’t ‘wake up’.
Medical science had no explanation why they still lay there. Everything pointed towards
Will and Sam returning to consciousness. Still, the only question was when.
Doctors’ Hallam and Quigley considered the Spears’ could have a full and normal life.
Advising Mary and Ivor that, once awake, their children would need serious
rehabilitation. “Probably psychotherapy alongside weeks, if not months of painful
The assessment process focused TM attention on the level and types of brain activity
exhibited by patients. Now concentration shifted from the quality to the very nature of
their lives, their unconscious existence. Showing exactly what was happening to them
might shed light on the causes of continued coma. Maybe even identify solutions that
could bring coma sufferers back to the waking world.
The audio/visual element of Telemonitoring now came into its own. Beginning the work
it had been adapted to do. This also meant a mountain of work for the doctors and
techies: playing catch up with two months of audio/visual recordings.
Not forgetting the review of every patient’s data for each new day!
- 32 -
THE STUFF DREAMS ARE MADE OF
The patients did dream. Their dreams were often abstract unrealistic sequences, with no
obvious meaning. Very much like the dreams of their normally active conscious
counterparts. Some of the patients’ recordings had poor sound quality or noisy visuals.
Whatever signal quality dream content was now of key importance. There is a strange
thing about dreams, even to professionals interpreting them: What appears to have a
clear or obvious meaning may not be all it seems.
However, the realities of the work became clear very quickly: signal quality reflected a
patient’s mental energy. The higher levels of energy on the day, the clearer the audio-
The Spears’ had proved exceptional in the past. There was no reason for them to be
‘normal’ now. Their TM certainly did not disappoint! The more the team saw, the more
obvious these two were very different patients!
Occasionally they had ‘normal’ independent dreams. But mostly they dreamt the same
dream together. That’s right, that’s what you read: both of them had the same dream!
Dreaming the same events from their own perspective! Their TM data was like twin video
cameras set in different positions recording the same action. Techies ran Will and Sams’
sequences side-by-side on a monitor. They were an exact compliment and the timeline
matched perfectly. It was amazing:
two people sharing dreams!
The phenomenon had been reported before, but never proven. Like the Yeti: some
believed while others did not. Credible evidence had always been illusive. Could this be
considered a basis for valid evidence? The possibility of such a totally unrelated
opportunity had never occurred to the doctors or the team.
Could fame, accolades and a place in history beckon!
Was that what they were really about? Would taking on the project breach funding rules?
Could the funders’ demand the clinic took on the project? Would they then relinquish
anonymity for their own place in history? The integrity of TM and Clinic-RCPA could be at
stake! Should a clinic established to care for coma patients get into such a project?
How long would the opportunity last? What if Will or Sam woke up tomorrow? Exactly
what were they dreaming about?
- 33 -
The doctors talked over dream sharing with Mary and Ivor. Thinking about it the concept
does border on the fantastic. Surely the idea of sharing thoughts, conscious or
otherwise, must need some form of telepathy. What was happening to Will and Sam? Was
TM contributing to the phenomenon? Could TM be affecting any or all of the patients?
The four agreed management needed to discuss it.
The dream sharing ‘discovery’ confronted management with some serious issues. But
whatever their view: ultimately the RCPA membership would determine the clinic’s
pathway. Their first priority would always be healthcare. The clinic Investigated whether
non-invasive receptors might cause ill or even beneficial effects.
They found the potential was infinitesimal. An opinion confirmed by independent
assessors. After the health scare had been laid to rest the remaining debates ran for a
week. Then the team finalised its recommendations.
The reason d’être, of Clinic-RCPA was:- ‘Primary care while vigorously pursuing a
positive end to the patients’ Coma.’
If a greater number of patients were involved, dream sharing would become very
pertinent to the clinic, even more pertinent to coma and PVS. However, proving dream
sharing a reality in isolation was incidental to the clinic’s objectives. But such a golden
opportunity to study a rare phenomenon should not go a begging.
The team believed the work should go ahead in the best interests of medical science. On
the very strictest understanding: the project must not have any detrimental impact on
the clinic’s primary role; any impact on patients must be a positive contribution to their
care. The doctors would devise a new work programme incorporating the dream testing.
Management’s presentation was well received, the RCPA voted in their proposals
Deadlines were rarely an issue. The new regime would be in place as quickly as
practically possible. There would be no unnecessary bureaucratic interference or delays.
Ironically: the two patients most likely to wake were subjects now needed in a continued
coma! At least until study was finished.
The revised work programme brought in more technology. Introducing the, ‘one size fits
all’, head-mask which significantly improved wave detection and signal clarity. It was a
matrix of receptors: like large link chainmail with a protective outward cover. It had a
striking resemblance to a lumpy 1950’s bathing cap! A nickname soon lovingly applied
by nursing staff.
- 34 -
There was more: each patient’s room was fitted with sound and motion sensors.
Anything triggering a sensor activated TM and the new CCTV. This could record audio
and video seeing into every inch of the room. Teething troubles with sensors became a
serious frustration with techies and nursing staff alike.
Smart debugging work and gentle words diffused fraying tempers.
Synchronising TM units with the bathing cap took a while. But it made continuous
recording a reality!
Techies still reviewing the TM backlog showed little enthusiasm for additional work.
These were serious, dedicated people, but they had families and lives outside Clinic-
Subtly engineered new shift rotas and extra techies on the payroll sorted the issues.
Steadily the new recruits learned the ropes and backlogs disappeared.
Now efforts concentrated on the present. With 24–7TM a reality the full pattern of
patients’ activity began emerging. With each new day recordings reinforced the patient
With the new equipment fine-tuned TM and CCTV were activated when the bathing cap
registered activity or a sensor was triggered. The result was a synchronised view of all
the patients’ physical and mental activity.
The new regime became routine.
Dr Hallam frequently asked for equipment checks in patient’s rooms. Cathy regularly
audited the data storage drives herself, much to the irritation of staff. There were
murmurings her work was getting to her. She rarely had a weekend off, never mind a
holiday in over a year.
Work on the dream project was building an impressive record of evidence. Cathy and the
techies cut together some of the sequences for side-by-side viewing; just enough to
whet the appetite. It was the right time to get another opinion. Cathy told me all about
her call to Daniel.
“I think you may want to come and look at this.”
“Look at what?”
“Some really dreamy stuff”
- 35 -
“Hallam I can’t believe you actually said that! Be there in five.”
Reviewing the dream screens side by side: both doctors’ smiles grew wider with every
sequence they watched. The same subject material, different perspective, each clock
totally synchronised with the other.
“How long have you known about this Cathy?”
“It’s built up .. over .. a .. few weeks. There are gigs of it! This is just, well … we put this
together in no time. Right guys?”
The techies nodded.
“Why keep it under wraps so long?”
“A picture of sustained dream sharing would be tougher for those lurrrvely assessors to
rule out. Unrelated one-offs might be easily dismissed as coincidence, fake or a fluke.”
Daniel nodded. The techies nodded.
Everyone sported a great big grin as it dawned on them.
This was all the proof they needed. The assessors would find it very hard to cast doubts
over these results. Dream sharing was an irrefutable fact. The project had succeeded!
Nobody anticipated how little time proving shared dreaming might take, just a matter of
weeks. When would assessors start their audit? What was to be announced, when and to
whom? More issues for management and the RCPA to resolve.
Meanwhile: the techies, doctors and parents all agreed to a professional silence, until the
formalities were sorted.
Mary and Ivor were delighted for Clinic-RCPA and the Docs’. They were proud yet
confused by their increasingly enigmatic children. At the same time they had concerns
for potentially serious implications! What if Will and Sam became laboratory specimens to
be ‘poked and prodded’?
What could that do to them? For such issues they wore only their parental hats: so the
rest was superfluous to the moment. They were all overjoyed: what a result!
To get this result Cathy Hallam had reviewed plenty of Will and Sams TM. She had never
seen or heard of anything like it. She knew there was more to unravel and knowing the
Spears it would be far from superfluous. For Cathy the high after proving dream sharing
began to pale with the prospect of what could be next.
- 36 -
DR HALLAM’S HOURS
Cathy was working longer days, then long into the nights, even sleeping at the clinic. Not
going home for days at a time. Not once did she allow long hours to affect her work or
compromise her responsibilities. But even her totally professional attitude could not stop
Techies began feeling just a little twitchy. As colleagues they worried she might be
obsessing, becoming a workaholic or perhaps worse.
She sat for hours viewing and reviewing patient TM. Not saying a word about her
‘overtime’ or findings to anyone. Initially she’d worked through all the patients TM.
Shortly after the dream project finished she began concentrating on … guess who?
Dr Quigley was concerned; he’d heard whispers about the long hours and the overnight
stays. He would have to talk to her. He knew it was not going to be an easy conversation.
The new regime put more demands on her time as well as the rest of the team. But he
could not dismiss his worries over Cathy’s self-imposed workload. Still, he was confident
she would soon discuss her findings with him. But that did not stop his curiosity.
The docs told me about a Monday morning. Daniel admitting the fact his impatience got
the better of him:
“Good morning Doctor Hallam”.
“Good morning Doctor Quigley. We are formal this morning.”
“How are you Cathy?”
“Are you?” He said with a smile.
“I said I’m fine!” Now there was an edge to her words. “Why do you ask?”
“Forgive me for asking. I just wanted to know if you are okay.”
She guessed techies had been talking. “These TM recordings are the most important part
of our work yet.”
“That’s true, but not as important as your health!”
The affectionate tone and his warm expression showed his feelings.
“Daniel! You really do care.”
“I thought you knew, I’ve always cared.”
“You’ve never s… Daniel Oscar Quigley! You’ll be asking me to go out with you next!”
“And if I did, could you tear yourself away from this place for an evening?”
“You are, you’re asking me out aren’t you?”
“If that’s what it takes to stop you spending all your waking-”
“So that’s it!” Cathy cut in “So you think I’m working too hard. Is that what this is all
“Cathy, have dinner with me.” He implored. “We’ve not caught up for ages.”
- 37 -
‘No answer was the stern reply.’
The question bypassed, they went into the meeting. Cathy began with her usual
efficiency. She rarely wasted words, that morning she was particularly concise. The doc’s
had long been great friends from university days and colleagues for years. So it wasn’t
that surprising when, later in the day, Cathy agreed to dinner. That is once she’d let him
claw back all the morning’s lost ground.
In her early twenties Cathy had married an older man. Whilst charming when it suited,
among his many failings he was a self interested egotist. So wrapped up in himself he
was oblivious to the misery heaped on his young wife. He loved her dearly, but had no
concept of her sensitivities or needs. That is, until it was too late.
Their marriage ended neither peacefully nor acrimoniously, nevertheless affecting both
for a while.
Now in her mid thirties she blossomed in her career. Daniel was career minded though
not ambitious. He was a sceptic: believing mathematics the only true and perfect
language. His story was less fraught: still single, but he had endured loves labours; he
was not a man lucky in love.
Cathy and Daniel had never been “an item.” but they’d come close on more than one
occasion. This is what they told me about later at the restaurant.
They were getting on really well: catching up with the eachother’s lives. Both regaled new
stories and reminisced about old times. Just having fun, they really opened up to one
another for the first time in an age. Cathy now regularly calling Daniel Doq: a college
name taken from his initials, something that was rare since college until the dream
sharing project. Perhaps they were a match.
Inevitably, as workmates, the conversation drifted towards the clinic and Daniel couldn’t
resist the opportunity:
“I hear the techies had another christening. What have they nicknamed this time?”
“Funny you should mention that.” She eyed him with a face full of cynicism. ”And you
“What have they named now?”
*It’s the Spears TM: you know it’s the busiest by far.”
“Cathy?” Inviting her back to the point
“Oh … yes they’ve christened their recordings.”
“What have they called it?”
- 38 -
“Well it’s a soap or serial – like on TV”
“Sorry, coma-show, they’ve called it the coma-show.” She was really excited. “It makes
dream- sharing look very ordinary.”
Cathy: excitable and intense: this was not normal.
“This ‘coma-show’ has tied up a lot of your time.” Daniel smiled. “What are they upto
The disguise was far too thin: virtually transparent.
“I knew it! That’s what this is all about isn’t it!” Cathy was angry she felt used. “This isn’t
to do with our friendship: it’s a dinner meeting! You just want to know about the Spears.”
“Of course I want to know about the Spears. But do you really think that’s why I asked
you to dinner? I’m worried about you, the others are worried aswell. You spend so much
time watching this … what do they call it?”
“Coma-show!” she snarled.
“How long do you think you can keep going, working at this pace?” He pleaded. “You
look tired and your eyes have lost their spark.”
“So?” She’d backed off a little, but only a little.
“What is so special?” Daniel asked.
“You want to know.” Less of a snarl. “You who said we could deal with the patient load
separately. You who said we can confer or operate independently, until reaching a
“And you Dr Hallam said we should always remain objective and communicative.”
“Huh” No snarl, pure snort! “What about your three at the top, what about them? You’ve
not told me a thing about them.”
“There would be little point; you only have eyes for the coma-show”
Other diners looked on: their voices had risen above conversational. Noted they hushed
“You don’t understand. I think I’ve found something incredible. Their dreams, it’s just
amazing what happens.”
“So tell me about it. Please…”
She paused, he sat back, uncrossing his arms, they relaxed and the ‘audience’ lost
interest. Cathy resumed:
“You’ll need an open mind for this. Put your maths head in the cupboard and just listen.
Can you do that?”
“If that’s what it takes.”
“Are you sure you can?” Cathy was intense. Her professional and personal integrity was
on the line. She searched his face scrutinising every feature to understand his
expression. “I’m not sure what I believe or understand yet. So how can I tell you: the man
of logic and self confessed sceptic. A doubting Daniel when it comes to the dubious,
never mind the unheard of!”
“Please tell me and don’t worry about your … err … me … the doubting Daniel.”
- 39 -
“You won’t believe me I know you won’t.”
Daniel’s outstretched hand held Cathy’s “How long have we worked together?”
“Have I ever doubted your beliefs?”
“You have argued a point or two.”
“True, but never doubted you or what you believe.”
Cathy searched for a flaw in his words and expression. Finding none she composed
“Alright: for the assessments we had concentrated on the strength of signal and the type
of wave activity, yes?”
“So we ignored the content. True?”
“Only afterwards did we start to scrutinise it. Actually looking at what was on the TM
“Okay so I looked through all the patients TM and found normal activity, dreaming
activity. We know about the dream sharing that was amazing and a great result. Heaven
knows when we will get that published, or even when the assessors will start an audit-”
“Sorry.” A quick slurp of Burgundy. She was still nervous about this, “The coma-show has
literally blown away, everything I thought I knew about…. And it seems to be
“Cathy.” Daniel was calm personified.
“Please … just relax … start at the beginning.”
Cathy: verbose, excitable, and flustering: definitely not normal.
“Are you sure you will believe me?”
“Gently just tell me what is going on. Please!”
Cathy sipped more wine. Then very deliberately set the glass on the table and smiled.
“The Spears were streets ahead of the other patients’ assessment rating, right?”
“The dream sharing was, is, could be totally unrelated, I just don’t know. They’re miles
ahead with the content of their unconscious world. You know their TM has been
nicknamed, but do you why?”
Daniel shook his head.
“Okay.” A smirk crept across her face. “Do you want the long or the short version?”
“Cathy, you choose”
- 40 -
THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT
She looked hard at Daniel and decided there was only one way: straight in with both feet.
“Separately, Will and Sam dream much like anyone else. There’s not much rhyme or
reason to the dream content.
The SD (Shared Dreaming) is different. It varies in content, but everything has a clear and
literal meaning. What you see is what you get. I bet the techies didn’t tell you the coma-
show has two distinct styles: adventures and a kind of home life.”
“Home life?” He smiled.
“Yes, and before you ask: the techies have christened their adventures the ‘coma-serial’
and the other as ‘coma-soap’.”
*If … well … If anyone else told me this right now I would be calling for the men in white
*You are beginning to see why I kept this quiet!"
Daniel smiled a nod.
“That’s only the tip of the iceberg” Cathy’s turn to smile “they have friends.”
“Friends?” Now Daniel was agog.
“Yes, mostly in SD, but sometimes alone. When either is ’alone with a friend’ the dream
content again has literal meaning.”
“So now SD has four partners?” Daniel was floundering. “Do the friends appear on their
recordings, have you seen these friends?”
“No, that’s the strange part!”
“Only that is strange?”
“In SD Sam sees Will and visa versa, as you’d expect. But neither ever sees either of their
“There’s more than one friend?”
“One friend each”
“If you can’t see them, how do you know they’re there?”
“Their voices, I recognise them. They both have the same strange accent. Once in a while
all four talk together in another language. It’s no language I‘ve ever heard before, but
Will and Sam are as fluent as the other two!”
“Weird. Do you have any idea where the accents come from?”
Cathy shook her head. “Not European, the Middle East perhaps?”
“What about names. Do they have names?”
“Oooh yes, have you ever heard the names like Retca or Faloe?”
“ Err no, male, female?”
“I think Retca’s male, Sam’s friend. Faloe’s female, she talks more with Will. But they’re
all friends together.”
- 41 -
“Where have they come from?”
“I have no idea.” Cathy relaxed growing with confidence in Daniel’s belief. “So what are
your thoughts so far?”
Daniel sat back,
“It’s incredible… and all this is on their TM: on the coma-show?”
“Yes.” Now, she thought, for the icing. “That’s not all.”
Daniel cupped his head in his hands. “There’s more?!” He ran his fingers through his
let’s have it.”
Cathy, smiling in sympathy, held his hands across the table. “Now do you think I have
been working too hard?” Daniel shook his head.
“The coma-soap’s a life at home, even the washing up. Like a rest to recharge batteries
before the next adventure. The adventures are well nicknamed the serial. They are so like
episodes of a TV series, telling a continuing story.”
“A story? What’s the story about?”
“Remember, we have only been using TM a short while compared with their coma.”
“Okay, so what are you saying?”
“The story started well before we began TM. So we have no idea where it was coming
from. Only where it’s going.”
“Okay, understood. Now, please tell me what they’re about?”
“Something in the future: they escape natural disasters, witness mob violence and human
tragedies. Each adventure can take several SD’s sometimes weeks. Each ‘episode’ moves
further ahead. Not by weeks, more like years and decades into the future. It’s a
storybook in dreams. Even the coma-soap is a story.”
“And you have been taking all this on your shoulders, for how long now?”
“You’ll say too long.”
“But Daniel, consider this: two of our patients, the most likely to recover are stuck in an
unconscious world. Each is having a fantastic adventure with the love of their life: would
you want to leave that to return to this world?”
Cathy watched Daniel deep in thought, oblivious to her gaze. They sat without words for
what seemed an age. Daniel eventually broke the silence:
“TM puts us in the patient’s eye right.” Cathy nodded, “Through Will or Sam’s eyes we
can see their partner we see what they see, right?”
“So why can’t we see … what were their names again?”
“Retca and Faloe”
“So why can’t we see Retca or Faloe?”
“That’s had me thinking, but I’ve found no answers.”
“Do you sense Will or Sam can see them?”
- 42 -
“I don’t think they do. Its like is my great uncle’s ways. He was totally blind. Gordon
looked in the direction of a voice, but his eyes did not focus on anything. Will and Sam
tend to do the same.”
They mulled over the revelations presented by the coma-show deciding what to do next.
To save time and simplify Daniel’s catch-up: Cathy and the techies would compile a
highlights version of the soap and serial. Once Daniel got up to speed they would talk
more about plans for the Spears. But, whatever may benefit medical science must never
be put before the patient’s best interests.
That was paramount in the minds of doctors Hallam and Quigley.
Business over: wine flowed and fun followed. Much, much later the very patient and
friendly waiter yawned them a great big hint! They laughed their Cab ride back to
Cathy’s: parting with waves and long goodnight-smiles.
In the not so early hours of Tuesday morning, while the doctors’ slept soundly in their
beds, intriguing events were unfolding at the Clinic-RCPA,
- 43 -
IF IT CAN HAPPEN IT WILL ON TUESDAYS
Nightshift techies Tim and Dean were weary. They’d been hard at it all night: not much
was happening. The usual exceptions, Will and Sam were occasionally activating their
CCTV, but no shared dreams, only brief independent ones on TM.
CCTV kicked in.
“Who twitched this time?” Tim asked.
“Will, but TM’s noised out!” Resetting playback Dean peered at the CCTV screen, “What
the…Nooh way! The picture on Will’s table …”
“What about it?”
“Yeah, right” Dean had a reputation for pranks. This was no prank.
“No joke Tim, I’ll reset it.”
Tim wheeled his chair over to Dean’s work station and watched the replay.
“See: the picture’s there, then it’s gone!”
Tim played the video in slow motion. Then frame by frame a few times. He saw no
inconsistencies between the frames. The ‘Now you see it’ then ‘now you don’t’ were
consecutive frames. The printed timeline confirmed it.
“That’s crazy! CCTV must be on the blink.”
“If its not, this is seriously wild!” Dean tried an explanation, “Could a disrupted signal
miss a few frames?”
“Maybe, that could leave a previous image. Like a lawnmower without a suppressor.”
Neither was convinced: who would mow the lawn in the dark?
“What else could do that? And what happened to …” Before they could move:
They watched the replay.
“The photo’s was back in place”
Tim glanced at the TM: just noised out.
“That’s a new one on me.” Still Dean was not entirely convinced, “Have you seen this
“Not me, but Geoff said he saw it on Sam’s TM aswell.”
“Yeah? why hasn’t he said anything?”
“Maybe he dismissed it as a CCTV blip.”
This shift report would include every detail of the anomaly! The remainder of their shift
passed without event.
- 44 -
The morning alarms sounded all too quickly for the night-howling doctors. They were no
strangers to late nights, just out of practice.
Once at the clinic they managed to smile a good morning to everyone and no yawns.
They met at the coffee machine. Exchanged smiles and greetings before making for their
inboxes. Two matters stood out on both:
1. The assessors were about to descend for their audit.
What facilities would they need; what disruption would they cause; could they interfere
with routines? How long would they take? Do we ask them how high we jump? Advance
warning had been sent some time earlier, with a few scant guidelines. This was just date
confirmation. A few emails later and the assessors’ requirements were sorted.
2. The night-report of the Spears’ disappearing pictures.
Now what were the Spears upto? This certainly was less than good timing! The assessors
would arrive the very next week. Even less helpful: the shift-report generated more
questions than it answered:
What interference could noise-out the audio/visual signal?
Was there any activity in corridor? Where was the picture?
did anyone see what happened? … etc … etc
The kit in the Spears’ rooms was thoroughly tested and reset. Courtesy of the docs’
persistence, new cameras and sensors were rushed in, rigged and tested. Their rooms
and the intervening corridor were now completely covered by multiple sensors and CCTV
That didn’t stop the pictures disappearing. More like the opposite. Now both the Spears
pictures disappeared at the same time! TM still was noised out. But something new was
happening: CCTV noised out as the pictures moved, then the monitor image cleared, the
pictures didn’t move very far, just onto the floor right up against the wall: the wall
closest to their partner’s room. It was the same for both photos. Both sets of CCTV and
TM went out at exactly the same time and cleared at the same instant!
- 45 -
AUDITS AND ASSESSORS
Monday morning soon came around and the assessors arrived on time. Amiable and
efficient they went about their business. First: thoroughly checking all the TM equipment.
They caused a minimum of fuss, even testing the kit on eachother. They were content
with the performance of TM and EEG.
Clinic staff thought they were enjoying their work far too much: particularly for a
Tuesday morning and viewing the Spears’ coma show was next on their agenda, followed
by comparing their recordings. They had a busy week testing and checking everything
related to CCTV and TM. By Friday everything was done except reviewing operating
That took no time.
In conference they considered their findings and asked to meet with management.
The assessors’ findings: Evidence clearly depicts shared dreaming as a fact. A proven
Official written recognition would take a while. The bureaucratic details of ‘why’ would
put most people to sleep.
When the letter did arrive (On a Tuesday) there was a much awaited celebration. The
public announcement could be made.
The clinic wished for a well mannered media conference. They decided on an event the
media would attend: a buffet conference. It was Cathy Hallam’s idea.
After the debacle of the clinic opening day, rsvp invitations specified a strict code of
All the social graces will be honoured. No frenzied questioning, no pushing or mic’s
under the nose. No jostling or rudeness. No shouting. Photographs by invitation only.
No gatecrashers allowed.
No rsvp - No admittance.
- 46 -
Anyone even suspected of breaching the above will be ejected. No reason will be given.
Initially a polite and discrete request will be made. Failure to comply will be followed by a
Failure to comply will be followed by forcible ejection, a seriously
undignified and very obviously forcible ejection.
Photographs of any such ejection are considered perfectly acceptable by the
proprietors and organisers.
Any person accepting the invitation will be deemed to have accepted the
above terms, conditions and code of behaviour.
No person receiving an invitation will be admitted without a confirmed
acceptance in advance.
Yes the buffet was on a Tuesday! The atmosphere was relaxed; the media asked their
questions in a social atmosphere over a bite to eat. The interviews were low key, low
intensity affairs, watched over carefully by ‘appropriately qualified people’. There were
plenty of refreshments.
There was ample time and opportunity to interview or just chat with the Clinic-RCPA
personnel and the assessors. A successful and relaxed occasion was enjoyed by all.
The thought engaging many minds was how two unconscious people can have the same
dream at the same time. What kind of mechanism makes this possible?
Afterwards the assessors agreed to investigate another matter: the moving pictures,
unofficially to start with. Could this be a matter of telekinesis?
The evidence was inconclusive. Nothing on record showed movement. Everyone
understood: this was no hoax, but noised out records were not much to go on. They hid
more evidence than they showed. There was so little to find a way forward. After a long
discussion the assessors came up with the idea of putting them both in the same room.
That would make for easier obbo and monitoring. This would make life easier for
This would not help prove TK but might help the patients and family.
- 47 -
A FEW TUESDAYS LATER
The pictures stopped ‘disappearing’ when Will and Sam were moved into the same room.
Nothing that happened around them came as a surprise anymore, at least not to the
For Mary and Ivor it was different. Their ever increasingly enigmatic offspring were
becoming a great concern:
They had survived a terrible car crash only to lapse into a coma. Their physical injuries
had healed well. In fact they were probably in a better physical shape than any of the
Despite their physical well being and good prognosis they remained comatose. Before
the accident, despite the ‘getting to know and live with you’ fireworks, they had an
uncanny understanding of eachother’s thoughts. Was dream sharing something to do
with this? It must need some form of unspoken communication.
Not forgetting their coma-show that was the talk of the clinic staff since it started. The
RCPA employees were always keen to know what they were upto. It was better than
all the TV adventure series and soaps put together. What could be next?
The parents’ main fear was that they may be subjected to all manner of scientific testing.
Becoming lab rats to be poked and prodded by any and everyone. Comatose or
conscious: what might that do to them?
Mary and Ivor sat talking to the kids. It was great now they were in the same room. It
made visits so much easier being all together. Ivor held Sam’s hand, Mary held Will’s. Not
for the first time they talked of a day all four enjoyed before Will and Sam were married.
Until now neither realised how much that day meant. Never mind how important a
memory it could be.
They joined hands smiling. All four connected by touch: Sam to Ivor, Ivor to Mary, Mary
to Will. They both began experiencing a strange feeling: like an electrical charge flowing
through them, nothing painful, just a continuous tingling. The children began to stir!
Making movements many do waking after a good rest.
Will and Sams’ eyes opened and they looked around. Both of them smiled at their parent
sitting beside them, mouthing a greeting, attempting to sit up. Mary and Ivor were
overjoyed, their spirits soared full of hope! In the excitement they let go to hold their
child’s hand with both of their own. Then despair as the tingling dissipated and the
children sank back into their passive state. Tears were shed as they pressed the
emergency buttons continuously until Cathy and Doq arrived.
- 48 -
In the Admin Centre techies had witnessed activity on TM, but the monitor noised out
and CCTV suffered the same problem. The last images were Mary and Ivor looking at
eachother as the tingling began.
With nothing recorded the docs’ had to piece together what happened from involved
eye-witnesses: an arduous, tough and emotional process.
The normally reserved, even dour Mr Wellings was like a schoolboy excited by owning
autumn’s best conker. Mary was more emotional.
The Docs’ knew a rational discussion was not going to happen in five minutes. Gradually
they helped them peel away layers of emotion until the bare facts were revealed. Ivor sat
through his recollections with Doq.
In another room Mary recounted events with Cathy. Both gave totally consistent accounts
of what happened. The docs could see more hard work on the horizon: perhaps another
phenomenon begging more questions. Can humans transmit a continuous electrical or
similar charge through touch? Not a sharp pain like static discharging to earth. Not like
the painful tingling when hands regain feeling after being numbed by cold. Mary and Ivor
simply described a totally new marginally pleasant experience.
There was more than a suspicion the Spears’ were generating some form of energy which
disrupted both signals. Could they really be causing the noising out? Could this be an
accidental by-product of their action or was it designed to cover up what they were
The techies christened it the “Electric Chain”
While these matters might prove significant, for the moment, they were very much a side
issue. As ever the docs’ first priority was the pursuit of a positive solution to the
patients’ coma. What happened during the electric chain presented a possibility of
bringing Will and Sam back to consciousness.
The question was were they ready. Had their minds and bodies healed enough to rejoin
the conscious world?
Cathy played a hunch and watched the latest batch of coma show recordings. The recent
coma serials were increasingly difficult and dangerous adventures. The new coma serial
was very intense andfraught. The pictures had started moving around that time.
This was a terrifying adventure. But they came through in one piece. Now they talked
with Retca and Faloe in their language.
- 49 -
Cathy watched Will and Sam’s expressions during the chats with their friends. They held
them in a new kind of reverence and a seriousness not seen before. Watching them like
teachers at the end of the course. As if they were summing up and offering suggestions
for the future.
Perhaps Will and Sam were ready to rejoin the rest of the waking world. Cathy told me
quietly one day how she wrangled with her thoughts. How wonderful it would be for the
Spears to come out of the coma: to see their first moments with their parents and
eachother. To help them regain their life in the conscious world. Just to get to know
them, talk with them.
Many people wanted the couple to “wake up” for purely good human reasons. Not to the
detriment or preference over any other patient’s recovery.
However, there were minorities whose motives could only be imagined; least sinister was
simple scientific curiosity. There was more, so much more.
Mary and Ivor could talk of nothing but the prospect of their children waking. Doq was as
excited as anyone about bringing these two, or any patient out of PVS. There was also a
very strange feeling that their coma life was going to be sadly missed. But aside from
that a serious question remained: was attempting a repeat of the electric chain the right
path for the patients?
With all the facts presented it took no time for the professionals to agree the medical
way forward. Now it was down to Mary and Ivor: would they take a chance on their own
and their children’s health by giving their consent?
What do you think?
It was agreed! Everyone cautioned against rushing into the event; attempting to play
down their expectations in favour of planning the work.
No easy thing to do.
When to repeat the chain? So much needed sorting. What equipment should be laid on?
There would be no second chances to record this. From a medical perspective: how to
find the best time for Will and Sam. These were just two of many matters.
The techies wanted some extra cover from traditional sources: cinefilm cameras. They
hoped this might overcome the interference that noised out CCTV and TM.
- 50 -
Everyone was overjoyed when a patient awoke. Those with a relative still in PVS were
genuinely happy for them. There was no resentment. The possibility of Will and Sam
waking in the same day would be amazing, at the same time? The clinic’s celebrity
patients returning to consciousness together would be major!
Most important was the fact that two people could begin the rehabilitation process, their
pathway to resuming as full and normal a life as everyone wished for them. That is, if
Will and Sam’s life could ever return to normal.
No surprises: the second electric chain was arranged for a Tuesday.
At the time nobody gave a thought to which day of the week hosted so many of the
events down the coma years. There was little time for such esoterics back then. Much
more pressing matters held their minds.
The fact only registered with me while preparing the story.
The group ran through the plans for the next chain repeatedly. The docs rehearsed the
parents’ role with Mary and Ivor many times. Hoping this would reduce the task to the
mundane. So it would be second nature, making everything just as natural as any other
Some chance! But they tried.
Mary and Ivor were overwhelmed by the messages of good luck and best wishes. They
flowed from everyone involved with the clinic, deeply touching their hearts.
- 51 -
THE MAIN EVENT
The cinefilm cameras were in place. Everything was tested and running fine. Will and Sam
had a good level of mental energy and the air was full of anticipation. The dress
rehearsal for Mary and Ivor rated as a total success. Tim, Dean and the docs gave them
final reassurances, hugs and handshakes. Both parents took a deep breath, a last look
back and were on their way.
The four in the Admin Centre prayed they didn’t detect any nerves behind the big smiles
they had beamed at the parents. A quick wave then everyone in the AC was glued to their
It was only a short distance to Will and Sams’ room. But it had been a long journey to get
this far. Mary and Ivor needed a little time to compose themselves. They’d set out to help
save the old CCU. So they and others might see their loved ones awake. Their children
were the reason they worked so hard. They insisted they had worked no harder than
anyone else RCPA.
Now here they were on the brink of an event they had so often shed tears hoping for.
Now they might, just might be part of the mechanism returning Will and Sam to the
In their place, would you be nervous? Absolutely no pressure, right?
Yeah right !!
This had been years in the waiting. For Mary and Ivor, purely as parents, this was bigger
than all their other work put together. They were all too mindful that without the clinic
this moment, this opportunity may not have occurred, at any time.
In the AC there was concern: the parents should have arrived by now. Still they waited
patiently eyes fixed to screens. Tim and Dean wondered if the monitors had frozen or
was this some new Spears trick. Dean pointed out the curtains shifting. Sighs of relief
filled the AC: Mary and Ivor walked through the opening door. The parents greeted their
children as so many times before, then sat beside them. All the cameras were recording,
nothing on TM. They talked about usual stuff: what they had both been doing since the
last visit. Two weeks had gone by since the first electric chain.
Till now the subject had not been mentioned to Will and Sam. They continued with a
good general chat for what seemed an age to the watchers, actually taking less time than
many previous visits!
- 52 -
In the AC they watched and waited, stressing like crazy! Wanting Mary and Ivor to
introduce the subject as rehearsed so many times. But when they did it was not on script!
The watchers were not quite prepared for Ivor jumping in with both feet.
Straight in talking about what happened. How good it was to see their eyes, not just
open, but focusing, looking directly at them searching their parent’s eyes and the way
they tried to say hello!
Then he asked
“Would you like us all to hold hands again?”
Eyelids flickered, TM and CCTV kicked in noise free. They all held hands as before. The
tingling began, building to a greater intensity than before. Slightly worried, the parents
held on. In the AC the air was punched out! CCTV and TM noised out. The four prayed
the cine-cameras would record everything, hoping the techies’ idea was working.
If only I could have been there to witness what followed.
- 53 -
THE LONG CHAIN
Will and Sam stirred, waking as before, moving as before. This time the parents held on
tight the tingling intensified, adding to their concerns. Both Will and Sam, eyes wide
open, focussed on their parent and smiled. Mary and Ivor smiled back, then looked at
eachother, again they smiled.
Then both felt a response from their child’s hand: a grip, not as before. Mary and Ivor
wanted so much to simply hug them and put their arms around their children. An instinct
tough to resist: though their effort was well rewarded.
Both children beckoned their parent closer with the free hand. Will hugged his mom, Sam
held her dad. They hugged and held eachother, tears flowed through their laughter. The
chain: still intact.
The atmosphere in the AC was ecstatic. Whoops of joy, tears and laughter, cheers and
loud applause, exchanging handshakes and high fives!
Every minute, every second the couple remained conscious now reduced the risk of any
lapse back to coma. As one, the four rushed to Will and Sam’s room.
Mary and Ivor were struggling with extra pillows to support the patients as the four
arrived. The pillows were soon in place. All eight were smiling and tearful. Words were
harder to come by than emotions. Propped up by the extra pillows the Spears looked
bright, alert, but slightly strained.
Mary and Ivor explained where they were and introduced the strangers were who looked
so elated to see them awake. People found their voices. Aware of their newly regained
state, nobody wished to overload them. Hopefully there would be plenty of time for
explanations and the multitude of questions. This was a time for the simple stuff. The
crash was vividly remembered, precious little afterwards. Neither Sam nor Will seemed at
all surprised when they were told how long they had been comatose.
Conversation diminished, drying up in anticipation.
Everyone knew (Except Sam and Will) a particular moment was approaching. Glances
were exchanged. The patients sensing something scrutinised six faces for an answer,
Will grunted breaking the silence. Mary and Ivor explained the electric chain. The tingling
was still there but barely noticeable compared with when they awoke. Yes, Sam and Will
could feel something. Thinking it was coma related, maybe a strange form of pins and
needles, they had no idea what it was. Neither could remember the first chain, nor Ivor’s
brief explanation this time. Both were astonished by the full story. Now the penny
dropped: this was why their parents would not loose hands when Sam and Will tried to.
- 54 -
Ivor had introduced the subject earlier he did again. Sam and Will looked at eachother
then back to Ivor nodding.
The parents were a little afraid, who wouldn’t be. With their free hands Sam and Will took
hold of their parents joined hands. Mary watched Will as Ivor looked at Sam. Taking the
initiative and responsibility from their parents, should the worst happen, they separated
the hands. The six only had eyes for Sam and Will. When Mary and Ivor’s hands parted all
four closed their eyes, the tingling had stopped. Nobody took a breath.
Being there you could have heard an ant stamping its feet.
Everyone’s aware that waiting seems to slow time: never more so than now for the doc’s
and techies. Watching, waiting to see if the Spears would open their eyes. Hoping Mary
and Ivor would, hoping the chain would not affect them. After a second or two, five
maximum, Mary and Ivor opened their eyes and looked at Sam and Will.
There was nothing.
No slumping back onto the piles of pillows behind them. No movement of any kind. Sam
and Will still held their parents hands. The grip was still there. What was happening with
Mary and Ivor had no perception that they had been “away” at all. That is until they were
told later. What of Sam and Will? Should they talk to them, squeeze their hand, shake
their hands, let go their hand? They asked the doc’s who advised following their
Both parents remembered the way they roused a child pretending to be asleep. Without
any discussion they used the words neither child had heard since leaving primary school.
Behind the eyelids there was movement. Both Sam and Will took a peak from one less
halfopened eye. Mary and Ivor finished the job with their “your eye is open” routines.
Both Sam and Will giggled as they did when children and fully opened both eyes.
Feeling free to break contact Sam and Will hugged, hugged the parents and their newly
introduced care-team. Two beaming smiles became four that became eight. The whoops
and applause heard before were nothing by comparison. The celebration was so loud it
attracted virtually everyone at the clinic. Staff and families of other patients alike
descended on the room, expressing their happiness for the Spears, Mary and Ivor. There
was no jealousy in the RCPA.
- 55 -
The Spears made full sense of the greetings and good wishes received, even managing to
answer some questions, their speech wasn’t brilliant, but they were talking.
Well-wishers understood they shouldn’t overtax the couple and did not overstay their
welcome. Half an hour would have felt a long time for them under the spotlight.
Something Sam, Will, Mary and Ivor would all have to get accustomed to, faster than they
would imagine; but at least not until after some peace. Everyone out of the way the four
were alone. Now it was right for some good old-fashioned family time.
Rehab talks and everything coma related could wait until tomorrow. Now Sam and Will
could see for the first time what others saw nearly three years earlier. Mary had hoped
they would wake and as a token of faith she had all their wedding photos in her bag.
With Ivor they jointly explained how the nurse had gone back to the ravine for the
proofs. That brought tears.
The Docs and RCPA management had a strategy to agree and fast! But the first order of
business was to get everyone together in the clinic.
Cathy and Doq confirmed the news 90% already knew: Sam and Will Spears were awake
and doing well enjoying a quiet time with their parents. The docs passed on the Spears
gratitude for all the good wishes they had received. Then it was to the serious business.
A request and an announcement followed by a second request:
The first request was for discretion until the official media release. Cathy reminded
everyone of the opening day nasties.
A celebration would be organised for Friday evening. Everyone was invited and it would
be free! The second request was for moderation until the party, in the interests of
discretion, patient welfare and the clinic in general. There was no dissent. The
management strategy took no time to agree. The press release was prepared and issued
two patients have regained consciousness at the same time after comas lasting close to
three years. Both are doing well and will be begin rehabilitation in the next few days. For
those of you in the media interested in greater detail a more comprehensive account will
be available here at 12 noon tomorrow.
The reputable press and TV networks would get a copy. The release also requested
discretion and consideration for the clinic’s other patients, their families and the staff.
Sadly, but inevitably unofficial copies circulated other media organisations and the
paparazzi. So much for media responsibility!
- 56 -
READING THE RIOT ACT
The morning came with the paparazzi camped outside the clinic. Reporters badgered
and intimidated everyone who attempted to enter or leave, thrusting microphones and
cameras into their faces. Shouting questions at them; forcing them to run a gauntlet of
shock interrogation. Not even asking if they were staff, visitors, or relatives.
Does The Geneva Convention have some words about this style of treatment? The whole
of the clinic condemned the outrageous behaviour! Calls engaged solicitors, writs and
injunctions sought. The management provided another release for the media, as dictated
by a solicitor with many media clients.
After deep breaths the Doc’s look at eachother and with stern expressions walked into
the media jungle outside the clinic.
Before they could utter a word a barrage of shouted questions met them, flashing
cameras, a jostling mass stood infront of them. The front row pushing back those behind
them who would have caused a crush!
In the face of all this intimidation and stress they stood unmoved and did nothing.
Except look extremely bored! Eventually the fury died down to nothing. They had
achieved an uneasy and expectant silence.
“Good morning, my name is Dr Hallam.”
The fury restarted. Doq was totally passive. Cathy simply yawned and inspected her nails
until they fell silent once more. “I have a statement. There will be no arena for questions
after this statement.” She read from the prepared release.
“The clinic is appalled at the treatment received by everyone who has tried to enter or
leave the premises today. Any repeat of this behaviour is unacceptable and charges will
be brought against those responsible. As you can see, we have very effective and
comprehensive CCTV! Not forgetting your behaviour is attracting an increasing police
presence.” A pause to see if they were listening “Yesterday two of our patients’ regained
consciousness: we are overjoyed for them. Both are doing well, remaining conscious and
lucid. We are also delighted for their relatives and friends. Their long and testing vigil is
TM monitoring has played an integral part in bringing some of our patients back to the
wakeful world. These are two who have benefited from its capabilities.
By your very presence, the clinic realises the media would like more information. For
those of you employed directly by a recognised media company a statement is available.
There is nothing for freelancers or agents.”
- 57 -
“If anyone wishes for a copy please wait in an orderly manner after this meeting is
A voice from the back shouted, “That’s muzzling the media.” This is in the public
“Is it in the public interest to jostle and intimidate staff and patients’ relatives?” Cathy’s
reply was direct, “Is it in the public interest to interrogate people using methods which
may contravene the Geneva Convention?”
You could hear a gnat sneeze. Some heads dropped, perhaps too embarrassed to look
the doctors in the eye.
“To remind all of you: we have had complaints from everyone who has entered or left
here today! There is enough evidence already to commence proceedings against every
one of you! I’m quite certain respected employers’ would find your behaviour at least as
unacceptable as a very interested general public would do!”
She searched their faces for reaction: like a bunch of guilty school kids, they fell silent.
Crossing Cathy Hallam in this mind set might prove a tad less than sensible. “Any further
outbursts will end this meeting. Understood?”
Her mobile buzzed.
“Please excuse me”
She exchanged greetings with the caller, listened and said her farewells.
“Repetition of earlier behaviour will NOT be tolerated! Once the authorised have collected
their paperwork an injunction will become effective. Rendering any media related
personnel within 1000 yards of the clinic in conflict with the High Court! That call
confirmed the injunction is in place. Legal advice recommends you read its terms before
deciding your next actions.”
She paused, hoping the words would sink in.
“Thank you ladies and gentlemen that concludes the clinic’s statement.” Amazingly
nobody tried asking questions. “If you wish to have a copy of the release: please form an
orderly queue here. Have your media passes and ID at the ready.”
Attached to the release a notice explained the terms of the injunction, also telling them
how to get a fully authorised story should they want it. The method was simple: send a
reporter to the clinic with a written offer and a summary of the story they want to tell.
It was a novel experience watching the media mob acting like human beings. Sadly, some
could not control themselves: a couple of freelancers tried to bribe their way to a release.
They very quickly found themselves helping police with their enquiries.
- 58 -
The queue dwindled peacefully as did the whole unofficial media presence. Within an
hour a sole police constable watched over the scene. Now the work of putting together a
rehab programme could get underway, free of media distraction.
The docs sat with Mary and Ivor to discuss the way forward for Sam and Will. A primary
issue was working out what to tell them about their extraordinary coma. So far they
nothing had been said. Telling them what had happened could prove very difficult if one
remembered and the other did not, what if neither had memories of the coma.
A solution lay in that very statement. The four agreed to find out what they did know.
This could have complications but appeared the best option. The job had to be done
quickly, before anyone talked to them about their remarkable coma. Cathy and Doq
would deal with this as part of assessing the patients’ needs for physio, their next job.
Mary and Ivor let everyone know what had been decided.
- 59 -
PASSING THE PEN
Mary and Ivor saw the docs coming down the corridor, porters in close attendance. They
said their goodbyes to ‘the kids’ and left the professionals to their work. Doq explained
what their day was about as the porters trundled Sam and Will to the exercise suites. Will
and Doq went in one room, Sam and Cathy into another. The resident physiotherapist
introduced himself to Will after acknowledging Doq. The exercises began with very
simple reflex and motion tests, branching into dexterity and so on.
Doq indulged in another style of testing at the same time; asking Will questions as he
carried out the tests: essentially cognitive unscripted questions.
These were mixed with enquiries like: “Now you’ve been awake a while have you any
memories of anything after the accident?”
Will had some hazy recollections but they made no sense to him. He asked if they could
remember any parts of dreams. Doq was giving nothing away. He wondered if Will knew
more than he was saying.
Meanwhile Cathy asked if Sam knew the names Retca and Faloe. She did and while quite
shocked she naturally wanted to know how Cathy knew of them.
“It seems you had been talking in her sleep” they both laughed.
Now it was Cathy’s turn:
“How do you know them?”
“They were in a dream we had the night before the accident.”
“A dream you both had?”
“Yes, crazy isn’t it. We couldn’t get our heads around it either.”
“Its not so crazy and you’re not unique. Others have reported sharing dreams. Cathy
smiled “It is recognised but rare. To say you talked in your sleep wasn’t really accurate.
Has anyone told you what the bathing cap was all about?”
“Dad said it was for measuring brain activity.”
“Close enough for now. Do you remember anything after your crash? ”
“Well some odd images but nothing really clear. I’m not sure if they are memories
Cathy steered the conversation for Sam to talk about her interests.
Doq and Will had nearly finished the tests. Will had surpassed all physical expectations.
He had flown through the cognitive tests aswell Now he sat in a chair opposite Doq a
large table between them. The inevitable paperwork needed completing.
“Will pass me that pen please.”
The pen was out of reach so Will simply motioned the pen across the table to Doq by the
wave of his hand.
- 60 -
“Do you realise what you have just done Will?”
“I passed you the pen you asked for.”
“You don’t know do you?”
“You didn’t pick up the pen and hand it to me.”
“Of course I did!”
No, you simply waved your hand towards it and it moved across the table unaided.”
“Doq that’s daft.”
“Okay, please get in that wheelchair and we’ll go and see if it’s daft.”
Game for a lark He got into the chair and Daniel pushed him round to the AC. They
watched the CCTV replay.
Will was amazed.
“You’ve set this up for a practical joke, right?”
The techies and Doq shook their heads.
“Could do it again Will?”
“Only one way to find out” Will smiled
They tried with all kinds of objects but no movement. Positively attempting to move an
object to order wasn’t working. Later, with concentration on other tests Doq asked Will
for a coaster for his mug. Again it was out of reach and the same wave of the arm
despatched the coaster right to Doq’s mug.
They grinned. Will actually saw what he had done this time.
The basic tests showed Sam and Will were in far better physical shape than some of the
staff! They lacked a little strength; which they should regain with ease. Mentally they
were sharp. Their memory was returning and they seemed none the worse for nearly
three years on their backs. They would need physio biased towards strength and stamina
building. Their lungs would need to build up to hard work.
As for the telekinesis, both Sam and Will had the same talent and limitations. It was early
- 61 -
TO SELL OR NOT TO SELL
Offers for the Spears’ story came from companies’ abroad aswell as in the UK. Not many
followed the requested method. They flooded in by email, phone, by post and even by
These were politely rejected, with the reason and the right method explained. It took
more than two weeks for unofficially routed offers to dry up.
The solicitor who did so much setting up RCPA now brought together a team to deal with
all matters story related. During physio, the Spears were brought up to date with what
had happened in the world. More critically they were gently introduced to their coma.
Neither Sam nor Will stressed or got upset by what they learned. Not even when they
watched their TM recordings for the first time. Comatose or conscious Sam and Will were
never boring. The more they learned the more they remembered.
Each day they went to the archives and watched more footage. They quickly learned all
that the conscious, their care team, knew about their coma. What they did not know was
how the media was craving for their story.
The time had come to find out if they would tell their story.
Since ‘waking’ Sam and Will had been on a rollercoaster of discovery. Outwardly they
appeared to take everything in their stride. Inwardly only they knew the answer. Maybe
overcoming adversities in their past was helping them now, helping them cope with all
these revelations. Mary and Ivor had agonised over when and how to explain about the
bank taking their home. It felt so cruel. Even so, they had to know. After the surreal, this
was a serious reality check: there were plenty of tears.
Next was the news they had no jobs. Coupled the realisation there was precious little
chance of a job. At least until they had done three years catch up learning.
Only now did their parents introduce the mounting media interest. The prospect of
becoming public property did not appeal to them. Neither did the idea of the world
reading all the revelations they had yet to come to terms with. Nevertheless, they had
nowhere to live and no income. Talking with the team gave Sam and Will more of a
perspective. More idea of what they might let themselves in for, what they could expect
to earn. Still it felt very unpalatable.They needed time to think. Time to absorb
everything so recently found out. There was an irony about the old maxim of sleeping on
a problem. They hardly slept a wink that night.
- 62 -
When morning arrived, they were still undecided. Could their decision set a precedent?
Would this have an impact on other patients’ and what about their families? After a long
discussion with the docs, Mary and Ivor they all decided to put it to the RCPA. If the
members and management agreed, they would look at the offers.
At an informal meeting, management made it clear this issue was not specific to Will and
Sam. This was a question for all the families to consider. At some point, families may
have to support their loved ones financially.
Members raised ethical and moral questions. Once satisfied with the answers it was time
for the vote.
The motion carried without dissent.
Patients could accept financial reward for telling their story. Now it was up to Sam and
Will. The legal eagles had scrutinised all the deals on offer, short-listing three for the
Spears to look over. Two were samey, particularly after phone calls clarified some
ambiguous detail. (Media ambiguity? How strange!) The third was in a league of its own.
All the offers wanted an exclusive, understandably. However, only The Herald came up
with a practical helpful package while wanting two formats: a serialisation for The
Sunday Herald and a book for the complete life story. The difficult times in their lives
were not a requisite. Nothing needed, unless Sam and Will wished to include them for
balance or relevance. They retained full editorial control, save where matters may have
legal consequences. No editing allowed without their explicit advance approval. A
ghostwriter would work with the Spears, helping them tell their story, as neither had any
commercial writing experience.
The rewards were practical: a free place to live while they worked on the projects. The
place of their choosing from a ‘Herald brochure’ had options to renew tenure afterwards.
There would be cash up front and stage payments all the way to completion. Once
cleared to drive, a car of their choosing. Again, free for the duration of the projects,
theirs to keep afterwards.
Discretion had a significant part in the deal. While working on the projects external
contact would be limited to avoid “Interested parties” locating them. Such parties
otherwise described as story poachers.
The RCPA team thrashed out the terms in fine print with the Herald’s people. Changes
met with weeks of tough bargaining, but no real opposition. They really wanted the deal!
Meanwhile the Spears continued rehab.
- 63 -
NEW HOME FOR NEW PROJECTS
Sam and Wills’ rehab progressed, as expected, much faster than many similar patients’
had done. Near enough complete by the end of negotiations with the Herald.
A matter held very closely within a few at the clinic. However, this was still not fast
enough for the Sunday Editor; he was impatient for the projects to begin.
To get things moving I was to introduce myself, take in the Herald’s property brochures
and help them find a place, quickly!
“Get to know the couple.” He said.
“Find out enough to write something for this Sunday, at least enough to write an intro
You have read about our first meeting, all except leaving them to browse through the
brochures. I had enough for an intro and finished it that night; That pacified the editor
for a while. It was good to meet Mary and Ivor, even if briefly. They arrived as I left.
We all met again the next morning. The Spears knew the Herald wanted to minimise any
risk of discovery, so why no rural properties? Problem solved I had them with me. Sam
was keen to leaf through them. Will looked on, his chin on her shoulder. The five of us
sat browsing through brochures. A little later:
“Wooooww! Will what about this?”
Sam’s eyes fairly lit up, smiling as she tugged at Will’s arm. He began smiling as they
read the agents patter for Rose Cottage: aptly named the photo showed roses trailed
around its doors and windows, Seemingly, not named after the slightly pinkish tinge to
the ‘white-washed’ brickwork!
They thought it was ideal.
Encouraged by their conversation with the letting agent they wanted to view. This
presented problems. Could they manage a journey? If so, how would they get there and
back without attracting a media tail? Quite deliberately, the literature did not say where
any properties were located. To simplify matters the agent agreed to take a video of the
immediate location and the cottage, inside and out. After uploading, he would send a
web address for viewing: an address unknown to search engines. Another skim through
the brochures but nothing else caught the eye.
With home hunting over for the morning, we talked a little of life in general. We gently
felt our way around the beginnings of knowing eachother. When the web address came
through there was a real sense of excitement and anticipation.
Will was concerned Sam may have some preconceived ideas over romanticising about the
place. He knew well enough she was not always at her best coping with disappointments.
- 64 -
They watched the video and listened to the agent. For once, an agent’s word accurately
reflected what was on offer. For Will the best of it was watching Sam.
Her eyes widening as the video took her from room to room. Her face was a picture of
surprise and pleasure. At one point clasping her hands together beneath her chin, the
agent’s words and evidence of their eyes answered most of the issues. Will liked what he
Even when asked, Mary and Ivor said little, leaving the kids to make their own decisions.
Any parent knows how hard that can be. Whatever they might have thought to say, it
looked pretty much a certainty:
Sam’s face spoke volumes.
When could they move in?
Enthusiastic calls to the Herald accepted Rose Cottage. After Sam and Wills’ sincere
thanks, the editor sorted out everything with the agent.
Their rehab was all but over. Questions about telekinesis remained unanswed, but this
was incidental to the overall picture of Sam and Wills’ recovery. Conclusive testing would
keep until their lives were fully back on track. Physically they were in good shape. Their
appalling injuries from the accident had healed well. Sam did not even have a limp. They
were mentally strong and surprisingly resilient. Throughout their rehab, they did not
experience any flashbacks to the accident at all. The clinic’s star patients were as ready
to resume something like normal life as they could ever be.
Now, after all their ordeals, the glare of the media spotlight focussed on them.
Paradoxically, a part of the self same media machine was helping get their lives back into
some form of order. Surreptitiously the Herald’s editor, with Ivor’s help, hatched a plan
to move the couple safely and anonymously into their new home. A plan set in motion
even before the Spears’ saw a brochure.
Not even Mary knew about the plot. In due course Ivor would get his ears burned for
that. On the evening the Spears had accepted their new home, a woman and two men
moved into Rose Cottage. The couple arrived in a classic sports car, the man, an
American-style camper. The couple hardly stepped outdoors except on a daytrips the
trio took together. The single man came and went regularly.
- 65 -
The media and its associated industries have always had opportunists, conscience free
chancers and other forms of lowlife in their employ. ‘People’ prepared to do “whatever”
for their own glory. For whom the only god is the big story or an award-winning picture.
Not one speck of humanity, nor a hint of conscience features in the imagery conjured by
the words and pictures of these: the media’s scavengers and bottom feeders.
I doubt anyone would include Kevin Carter in those lowly ranks. He photographed a
vulture stalking an injured African child. A perfectly natural act for the vulture, the
human’s action was not so natural.
The image won the Pulitzer Prize and much criticism for Carter. He took 15 minutes
setting up the photograph while the child lay there: helpless! It is well documented that
three months later the man, who so briefly and infamously, allowed his ‘art’ to come
before humanity took his own life.
What became of the child?
Contrast that, if you will, with Jeff Wiener’s famous image. A loan protestor stands before
a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square. Truly evocative and unforgettable: an iconic
image of individual raw courage!
Especially considering what followed swiftly and fatally for that protestor on 5th June
The death of a friend’s son reached Churchill during a meeting with Stalin. The news
visibly upset Winston. He apologised to Stalin for his emotion over the death of one
person, considering the millions of Russians who’d fallen. I don’t remember his exact
words, but paraphrased, Stalin replied:
‘The death of one man is always a tragedy. The death of thousands is a mere statistic.’
No justifications or judgements, no excuses, no reasons or explanations.
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MOVING OUT, MOVING IN
Now came an early post-coma reality check: dealing with the yawning tedium of re-
establishing the everyday stuff: updating photos on passports, driving licences and such
like, not forgetting the impending move into a new home. Never mind the usual concerns
and all the stresses that go with the job. Sam and Will had additional, quite unusual
How to avoid the inquisitive eyes of story poachers’ and everyone else? Why was it
necessary to move home in total secrecy?
If unscrupulous members of the media are prepared to hack a kidnap victim’s mobile.
Read and delete messages, then what else could such low life be capable of doing?
Rose Cottage came fully furnished; perhaps the only favour in the move, an advantage,
but only for the move, their furniture would remain where their parents had secured it in
storage. Mary and Ivor thought this a small price to pay for everything the paper was
doing for them. The Spears’ readily agreed.
The Herald had organised aliases for them for the duration, just part of the joint plan
devised by the editor and Ivor. The scheme began to prove its worth. Sam and Will were
ready to leave the clinic with the full blessing and good wishes of those in the know,
namely: Mary, Ivor, their techies and the docs.
Now, of all times, they had to go and catch a virus, just when everything was ready for
their new lives to start.
Cathy now delivered a very different press release from the one intended: not
announcing the Spears imminent departure. Instead, sadly explaining how an infection
now held them both in its grip. Their deteriorating health forced a new regime of severe
and strict hygiene procedures. The Spears’ room and immediate corridors became an
isolation unit. This was for everyone’s protection, most especially the other patients.
She paused as noisy linen vans came and went.
She explained how visiting was now restricted to the point of non-existence. How even
bed linen and towels had to be changed: masked laundry personnel wore hygienic suits
to minimise the risk of incoming or outgoing infection. Two weeks elapsed before a
press release had better news.
- 67 -
The couple had responded well to treatment and could take solids again. A positive
improvement, for the first week, they could only keep sips of water down.”
The statement met with smiles and cheers from the media. Another week saw all
restrictions lifted at the clinic. As normality returned came the much-awaited
announcement of the Spears imminent departure. Cathy made her usual requests for
media restraint. The couple would leave quietly without giving an interview. A statement
from them would be available in the usual way.
A couple of impatient newcomers to the media circus shouted out, asking when they
This met with groans from old hands followed by very different sounding muffled grunts
from the newcomers. It seemed the media had meted out its own form of ‘natural
Cathy thought this a very refreshing development. As did everyone!
The next day everything was ready for the last element of the plan to be set in motion.
The Spears statement and press release went out by email, not read out. The usual
members of the media vigil, still over 1000 yards away, prepared for the event. Cameras
were set and hoisted on tripods, settings checked and, inevitably a little jostling around
the positions offering the best photo opportunities. More arrived after the emails.
Traffic had been heavier than usual that morning.
More laundry vans came in that morning than in a normal week. Something was going
on. The media circus bursting with curiosity just had to wait. Many wondered what the
resourceful Cathy Hallam might have for them this time.
Shutters clicked furiously at every passing vehicle. Cameras pointed particular attention
to the tinted windows of a black limousine.
The limo stopped briefly at the main doors of the clinic. Quickly redirected, moving away
smoothly towards the delivery area. Where it would be out of sight, where media eyes
and cameras could not pry.
The main clinic doors opened: a large force of uniformed men poured out. At a brisk
march they lined the media-forbidden 1000 yards, quite an impressive bunch of very fit
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When the limo re-appeared six passengers sat in the back and two alongside the driver.
From the outside their silhouettes were indistinct. Four of the passengers waving at the
crowd of well-wishers gathered around the main entrance.
Moving at a sedate pace passed the guards the limo gathered speed as it closed on the
1000-yard line. Inside the Limo Ivor was holding Mary’s hand and smiling, so far so
good! He looked reassuringly at the couple opposite him. Their joy tinged with a little
sadness leaving the clinic. They could now look forward to so much!
Like crowds leaving a football match, the media rushed for their cars.
Those on foot looked forlorn. Regretting a certain lack of planning, expressions of
hindsight in abundance.
The Limo sped away with a convoy gathering behind.
Some two hours later the convoy had shortened. The dropouts may had lost interest or
run low on fuel, the destination: still not obvious to the remaining convoy. Their
smartphones had been red-hot craving help to find a likely journeys end. Watching the
signposts gradually it dawned on them:
Bounded by high hedges of privet, hawthorn and holly, this was a private field where a
chartered jet awaited the limousine. At the gates, four passengers leapt out of the limo
to block the entrance.
It was too late to close the gates; the convoy leaders already confronted the four.
Minutes earlier a call advised their eta. The tower had immediately ordered the area
clear, allowing the limo through the car park. Straight past the admin buildings and
workshops and along the tarmac taxiway: straight into the pre-arranged hangar. The
door rolled shut behind it.
The four, more of the impressively uniformed lads, blocked the convoy long enough for
the driver to deposit his passengers inside the hangar. Leaving by the far doors, the limo
returned to the gates reinforcing the blockade.
With the travelling and passport formalities completed, it was time for the goodbyes: no
kisses or tears only hugs and handshakes. Arm in arm the couple boarded the jet.
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Mary and Ivor now waited outside. It seemed an age before the jet appeared. Two faces
appeared at the round portals smiling, hands waving.
They were away.
Literally taking off to a new life! Ivor sent the limo-driver a text: they were ready. Mary
and Ivor waved back until they could no longer see their faces. The limo left the blockade
for two waving on the tarmac.
Flesh and bone don’t resist vehicles too well. Particularly when driven by a media circus
panting to feast on breaking news. A minute was the most the four could hold back the
convoy, but it was enough. Then the cars were through. Conceding defeat, the four now
sprinted to the far end of the car park. Where, out of sight of the media, the limo arrived
on cue, after picking up Mary and Ivor. The driver watched the convoy until what was
now an unruly rabble raced off behind the workshops.
The charter jet rose from the runway leaving the media aghast. Now the limousine was
away before the convoy even realised it was gone. Everything had gone without a hitch!
Ivor grinned with contentment, but not for long.
Mary’s sideways glare proved he was the source of her displeasure!
While attention focussed on the clinic and the virus, the three of us were working out the
weekly supplements for the Herald at Rose Cottage.
- 70 -
SAM, WILL AND ME - A HOME-RUN
Okay its explanation time. I was the single man who moved into the granny flat. The
couple in the sports car were actors, brought in by the editor to double for Sam and Will.
Probably the best paid job they’d ever have. After doubling a world cruise would keep
them away from the media until any fuss died down. Then their story would follow the
Spears projects in the Herald. Only their continued silence would yield the promised life-
changing sum when the job was finished.
Inspiration for the plot came from interests Ivor shared with the editor. Despite their age
difference, the skills and ingenuity of POWs at Colditz Castle fascinated them. Together
they hatched a plan involving illness and moving people in ‘laundry bags’. Elements
similar to escape methods attempted at Oflag IV-C in WWII. The latter day escapees had
two advantages: no Nazi guards and the clinic was neither a castle nor a prison camp.
On the day of the switch, locals thought we were out for a daytrip when I drove the
doubles away. I dropped them at the hairdressers and left the camper in a multi-story
where I picked up a hired van. Its newly painted acrylic livery was a perfect match for the
clinics launderers. The rest you can guess.
The switchover happened literally as Cathy announced the viral infection. Isolation made
it so much easier for the doubles to avoid serious scrutiny: Which worked in so well with
extremely limited visiting.
A pressure wash after the switch and the van went back cleaner than the day it was hired.
Sam and Will wore their doubles outfits. Their arrival at the cottage went totally
unnoticed. To keep up appearances, I made regular visits to the clinic. Allegedly
collecting supplement content from ‘Sam and Will’.
The editor was adamant the story should be ‘seen to be’ continuous, never mind their
“illness”. After the switch, only the doc’s saw the doubles until the day they left the clinic.
The day Mary first learned about the deception. She admired the duo’s plan, but outside
the loop: she was well less than impressed! Ivor felt her ‘displeasure’ on their way back
from the airport. He confessed having no wish to repeat that experience! After his
earlashing, he sent a text to this partner in subterfuge.
“The birds have flown.” Signed, “Your ever loving Aunt Daisy.”
Postcards to Colditz from an aunt ‘popularly’ confirmed a completed escape, a homerun.
When the actors flew out to join their cruise, the three of us had been at Rose Cottage
nearly a month.
- 71 -
What happened when Sam and Will first saw their new home has been a treasured
memory ever since. Remember they have supposedly lived here a while already. They
were quite comical to me. Much later, the locals we came to know had no idea there had
been a change in residents. They simply thought we were as crazy as most of the city
people they had seen over the years.
I pulled off the main road, turning up a single-track lane. The high hedgerows gave way
to bushes and trees as the camper turned into a gravel driveway. Before them was a
Welsh stone, double-fronted cottage. Wild and cultured roses clung with natural and
variegated ivy to the ‘whitewashed’ stonework. Ivory petalled roses clambered over the
Above the outstretched rose and ivy tendrils: dormer windows poked out from the slate
roof. Their glass matched the dimples in the windows either side of the white painted
Rose beds framed the cottage.
“Out you get then.” I said.” This is the place. You two look as if you hadn’t seen anything
of the place.”
“Oh Wooouwww!” Sam gasped. Then put her to her mouth, remembering they’d ‘Been
living there a few weeks’ she tried to take back the words, but too late... Quietly she
continued, “It’s …. It’s wonderful!” Her eyes were darting everywhere. “The agents DVD
do not do it justice!”
FILL IN THE BLANKS FROM PREVIOUSLY WRITTEN
With the doubles safely and anonymously off to meet their cruise the editor was content.
without so much relish, his mind turned to the everyday, the mundane duties. Giving my
toasting about progress on the supplements and ….
“Had they started that darned book yet?”
No the book had not been started. Some of the supplements were still in the melting pot,
more than enough work for the moment. The time was not yet right to explain all the
to his lordship.
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THE SUPPLEMENT SAGA
Every weekly supplement had to hold the reader’s interest, tantalising them enough to
buy next Sunday’s instalment. That’s obvious isn’t it? The really fun part: a book has to
come from the same material.
Splitting it would be a serious work of art, for both to be a worthy read. Before we could
make any decisions on the how, we all had to know the full story. Meaning Sam and Will
had to tell me everything.
The Spears own memories had cleared. Both now possessed virtually total recall of their
coma. They told me all they could remember before TM began recording. The coma show
The docs packed one of the laundry bags in the escape van. Inside were the coma-show
TM data drives and a holographic viewing Opway, the then latest in hi-tech computers.
We watched coma show episodes every day then Sam and Will would tell more of their
story. Each day’s revelations blew me away, more so than the last. Inside a week, we’d
pieced together enough to sort the split to keep the first few supplements flowing.
The opening supplement was the intro taken from our first meeting. The next showed
how their relationship developed: including their wedding, honeymoon and right up to
packing their bags for the weekend away. So far, all pretty much as you’ve read it. While
week 3 touched on their fun together, the shared dream dominated the instalment.
Before you read it, I have to say this is an abridged version of what went to print. At the
time, we all agreed there was so much involved not everything could go straight into
print. Even so this is a cut down version. This was a necessity and not just to make good
reading. Too many would dismiss what had happened as fiction, or worse!
Imagine what else there is, imagine what is yet to come from the shared dream which
has yet to go to print.
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HS3 THEIR FIRST SHARED DREAM
Unlike some early Hollywood films, no grey mist or swirling fog announced the
beginning of the dream. Nothing frightening, just a nondescript darkness as Sam and
Will became aware of eachother. That was all they could make out. Nothing gave any
reference to place or time.
They felt no warmth or cold, no physical forms around them, not enough even to work
out whether they were sitting or standing: they were just there.
They realised they were not alone. Two others spoke in a language the Spears had never
heard before. To start with, they could not understand a word. They could not see them
either. Then, the more the two spoke, the more the couple picked up. Within a short time
they could make out the sense of what the strangers were saying.
Realising Sam and Will now understood them; unseen, they smiled recapping what they
“We are known as guardians. We are here to help you both and protect you from harm.”
The voice was feminine, “My name is Faloe.” Still Sam and Will could not see them. Only
sensing they were very close by.
“I am Retca.” The other stranger introduced himself. “We know you from our past; we
have so much to tell you. Please do not concern yourselves about where we are. You are
“We have known you twice before, in lives where you have been together, as you are now,
man and wife. It is in fact these past lives that may hold the key to your, as you describe
it, extranormal understanding and communication.”
“The first time we were all together was in Egypt in the latter half of the 18th dynasty, in
what you call the New Kingdom: the time when Amenhotep IV became Akhenaten, in
your years about 1345BC. The time of the most radical upheaval in religion ever handed
down by a pharaoh …
We all worked for the temple of the Aten. In the new capital built by pharaoh, in what you
now call El Amarna. During his reign the whole of Egypt, at least in public, worshipped
the Aten above all other gods. Many lost power enjoyed and under the old religion.”
“In his new capital: Akhetaten, (In what might be the first instance of monotheism) only
pharaoh could visit the inner sanctum: the shrine of the Aten. Priests lost access to the
divine and with it their authority and most of their income. Pharaoh even changed an
infant son’s name to tutankhaten.”
- 74 -
“We were too young to know the ways of the old religion. Our elders were careful not to
talk where others may hear any dissent. It could be thought of as heresy.
After Akhenaten Smenkhkare ruled until Tutankhaten was nine years old. The power
behind the throne was Ay, the vizier. Now the young Pharaoh’s name reverted to his
original name: Tutankhamun. It came as no surprise, through Ay he abandoned the Aten
and restored the traditional religion.
It’s recorded as a reasonably peaceful transition. Not so for those whose only mistake
was to follow the only religion they had known. Only a matter of months before the
capital was returned to Thebes, you both travelled to see family there, but never arrived.
In less than a lifetime monotheism and Akhenaten were forgotten ‘enemies’ of all Egypt.
More than 2000 years passed before we met again. Our new lives were in a town close to
the unique city of Naples. A resort town rich in the pleasures of life; where people lived
off its waning prosperity. The extremes of wealth and poverty were harsh and severe
close to the end of eleventh century.
In the early hours of 24th August 1079 the best known natural disaster began. Among
the many lives lost in Pompeii were ours, all five of us. The fifth was your unborn son.
Twice your lives have been cut short by human and natural catastrophe, a cycle that has
to be broken.”
Despite all they wanted to ask, faced with the sheer incredulity of the experience, neither
could speak. The guardians, knowing their many questions, explained all would become
clear in time.
Meanwhile, the Spears would need all their patience to listen, accepting without doubting
the word of these guardians. This was just the beginning.
I think anyone experiencing even the shortened and simplified dream on their own might
find sleep hard work after that. Never mind the sharing aspect and everything which did
not go to print!
A form of life free from the restraints of a body: a fact.
Dream sharing verifies a form of telepathy is a fact.
Reincarnation: a fact.
- 75 -
Everyone, editor included thought that was plenty to keep an unsuspecting readership
occupied for a week! Our concerns over credibility proved to be unfounded.
We had totally underestimated the readers’ capacity for the fantastic. They loved it! Even
the TV news ran a brief story about the extraordinary sales of the Sunday Herald. Popular
demand forcing the paper to publish a special edition!
Even now, decades later, media collectors still crave a copy of the re-run! What an
The trouble with such a success is how to follow it. That was the big question for us to a
Should we explain the rest of the dream in HS4? If so was there enough to
make the early part of the book tick? What about a clean start on another
aspect of their experiences? We came up with many options, dismissing
most as quickly as they escaped a thought bubble.
Finally we found a one off solution: while dream sharing has been known to occur.
Clinical proof only came through Sam, Will and TM.
This would be the basis for HS4. The readership fell on it as they had for the previous
week. No reprint this time. The distinct and separate story made for a real bonus!
Week 5 was a totally blank canvas: time for another mammoth debate?
- 76 -
HS5 THE BLANK CANVAS
Where to start?
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