From International Viewpoints (IVy) Issue 2 - August 1991
Home Page: http://www.ivymag.org/
LRH at Saint Hill: Reminiscences
By Kenneth G. Urquhart, USA
I was first introduced to Scientology and the world of L. Ron Hubbard
by a family friend back in 1956 (the Director of PE then was Antony
A. Phillips). Completely new to the subject, I took part in a 14-hour
group processing intensive over one weekend that was, of course, to
change my life. Some of the procedures were especially powerful.
I released several times, overran a great deal, acquired a dull headache,
but 'blew all the cobwebs out of my mind', as I recall saying at the
time. What impressed me most, though, was each group auditor's presence
and TRs. I was painfully shy, very introverted and convinced of inferiority
and worthlessness. If there was a way for me to achieve such self-possession
I certainly wanted to do it. Because of my dreadful OCA I was not
accepted for professional training but was directed to further auditing.
I took all the courses open to me. It was 1959 before I at last agreed
to more auditing: I had 50 hours of CCHs, O/Ws and Responsibility.
This brought good solid gains, but a few months later, in an emergency
assist, I became spectacularly free of the crushing headaches
I had suffered almost continuously since 1955.
With these experiences and others, I was fully convinced that Scientology
was something wholly good, providing answers to problems, that everbody
should enjoy its benefiths, and that it was the product of a man
wise and beneficent: he had earned the unstinted support of all he
had helped, including me.
Thus it was in 1964 when I was asked to work at Saint Hill, to help
in an emergency. At the time I was being audited privately by a SH
staff member, with excellent results. I understood that Ron himself
had been consulted about my folder. My auditor was in charge of personnel
at SH, and when he asked me to serve Ron there was no doubt or
reservation in my mind. In fact, when I went to SH to be interviewed,
I went, in my own consideration, not as a prospective candidate, but
to claim possession as entirely mine of the opportunity to return
to Ron something of my own. This was how I presented myself to Ron
when introduced to him, but without verbalizing it. He seemed a little
taken aback but smiled as he took my hand and was obviously friendly,
if not convinced. As there was no objection to my claim I was accepted
or tolerated and in due course began my duties.
My position was one for which I had had no training and no slightest
inclination. My ambition had been to become a good and acclaimed musician.
And here I was happy to have the chance to be a domestic servant...
to answer the need of this one person. An adventure began.
My work at Saint Hill
Over the next year and a half, I was responsible for the domestic
services provided Ron and his family. Within Saint Hill Manor, life
revolved around him and whatever he wanted was taken care of first.
There was a household routine to accommodate the children and domestic
staff; this routine had to be maintained around his requirements,
which could be random. He was generally considerate of that routine
and its demands. The randomity had mainly to do with his hours of
sleeping and working.
In running a large house there is always plenty to do. I took my duties
very seriously and tried very hard to do my best. I was busy from
morning to night particularly when we were without a cook (all too
often). It fell on me then to prepare and cook three meals for the
children and two for LRH and MSH, along with all other duties. The
children had one schedule for meals, their parents another. LRH worked
at night, and MSH with him. He would wake up and call for his breakfast
some time in the afternoon. I'd have to drop preparing a children's
meal or cleaning up after one, and have to get everything done in
good order, and well. Generally it came out all right, although I
don't think the children were always happy about their food. The
parents had an English cooked breakfast; he had hot chocolate before
hand and a drink of orange juice and raw egg that could only be freshmade.
Life was hectic, a constant challenge. Such was my admiration and
respect for LRH (and in due course for MSH) and such was his goodness
to me personallly that I worked with great determination to make
it all come out right, and such was this determination that as I flew
up stairs and down stairs, bustled about corridors and bedrooms
and basement and pathways, terraces, kitchen, dining and drawing rooms,
library, ballroom and office, off to London, Tunbridge Wells, or
Brighton in search of cooks, furniture, wallpaper, or what-have-you,
I was more often than not unaware of my feet touching the floor. Many
times I'd come to earth with a bump, but mostly the bumps sorted
themselves out and I kept floating.
Ron as my boss
What was the nature of his goodness to me? It was many-fold. I think
that at first he was uncomfortable with my presence as I struggled
hard with my diffidence. Whatever his objections he overcame them
and encouraged me with kindness as he directed me with firmness as
to what he wanted. We got to know each other; he was more at ease
and I seeing this, started to relax and to expand. In fact, I grew
tremendously as a person just in my association with him.
It was his natural inclination to be friendly, and to respond to genuine
ARC - just as it is with any not low-toned human being. In the
usual way of that time and place, I being a servant addressed him
as 'Sir'. It was not long before he said to me, with a friendly grin,
'By the way, my friends all call me Ron'. I heard from others that
he regarded me as a friend.
He was openly and generously appreciative of many of my efforts to
assist him. At the outset I was little more than an untrained valet,
footman and occasional cook but after a couple of weeks I was put
in charge of the household altogether, and when I had completed a
month's worth of projects he had set me to do, his acknowledgement
was grateful and sincere. He looked after me very well as a subordinate,
and was in fact wonderful to work for.
I was surprised at the regularity with which I would decide to
take a certain action in the house only to have him ask me to do it
before I had had time to start it or mention the idea. I wished he
would not do that.
I get worked on
It was his custom to have a cup of hot chocolate when he awoke. It
was my duty to take it up to him. I'd find him seated at a small table
in front of the fireplace and at the bottom of his four poster bed.
He took his chocolate and few Kools [cigarettes], and chatted. There
were chats daily for several months. The subjects ranged through such
things as: economics, politics and culture (mostly current, and English),
education, his family life and history, his naval career, experiences
with the organization past and present, books he might be reading,
things he needed and wanted from my post, anecdotes from his whole
track, and regular briefings on the research he was doing every night
into the R6 bank. Therein lies a story. He knew of my interest in
music (and encouraged me to practice on the piano in the Monkey Room)
and told me one day that the field of music was covered by certain
things in the bank. Bold, I asked what they were. He gave me five,
which I pondered later. The next day, knowing that they came in pairs
(as he had told me) I asked what was the sixth. Without a word, he
got up from his chocolate and went to his meter by the window to find
it. He checked out this and that, I standing by, fascinated (and
a few ideas of my own, to myself, as he went along). He found what
he wanted (I agreeing, to myself) and turned around. As he caught
sight of me he was startled. 'You could make yourself sick, standing
there, listening, like that', he said, looking serious. I agreed,
feeling no danger. He relaxed and grinned. 'I guess they have been
in restimulation a good long time', he remarked, and dropped the subject.
That day, and for many days afterwards, I was very keyed-out indeed.
He certainly talked to me as though to a friend. Although we know
now that a great many things that he caused to be understood about
his background were not so at all, I can't say, in looking back,
that he said anything knowingly to bamboozle me as to facts of his
past, except regarding his naval career, or about the social position
of his family, and in generally establishing in me an image of himself.
He did not say too much about these things, which had been highly
embellished in official biographies at his instigation, but he worked
to make a certain impression. I was aware that he wanted to be regarded
by me in a certain light, as regards his position, his background
and personal powers, and as I raised no objections to that, he opened
up in other directions.
I heard a lot about his track, real or otherwise, usually in space
opera situations, and about his current lifetime. This all emphasised
his prowess as a free and active individual in charge of his affairs,
resourceful and imaginative, irreverent of Establishment and Authority,
and so on, much in the manner of a typical hero in a schoolboy's yarn
about the past; much in the manner of great, skilled and admired leader
in the present heroically taking on Establishment, yet cool, self possessed
and in command of a great sense of humour.
Since I could not provide facts to the contrary, and since I was very
aware of the personal benefits gained through his technology, I took
all this in, partly prepared to accept it at face value, but also
aware that skillful manipulation was occurring. I chose not to fight
it, but kept a little distance from it.
While he would be telling me such things, he would finish his chocolate
and move to the bathroom just off his bedroom. I had invariably forgotten
to run his bath. He would remedy this without a word, continuing his
conversation. In order not to break the comm line I would move so
as to keep him in line of sight, feeling a little awkward. Regardless,
he would take off his nightshirt, bath and dry himself and start dressing
without stopping the flow of talk. Now, one can be out in the world
with a certain impression of a public figure, but when you see that
public figure in his nightshirt and then in his bath washing himself
all over and drying himself, day after day, that earlier image of
the heroic undergoes a certain adjustment. Awe reduces. Familiarity
may not breed contempt but it increases objectivity.
Clay around the feet
I was not impressed by his tendency to run down to me members of his
own organization behind their backs, something that I and others close
to him tolerated rather than require him to behave with more openness
and justice towards the individual concerned. We tended to agree that
he was being over-worked by people not doing their jobs and by those
who could not duplicate his needs and wants; we accepted that as the
originator of our technology he had a right to complain. We failed
to use his own technology to improve his condition; we just
did not get from him his own similar wrongdoings. Nonetheless, it
was obvious to me that he would get into this mood and it made
me wonder why he saddled himself with incompetents and why he had
to complain instead of acting, if he was such a great leader. And
I wondered what he would be saying about me behind my back. In this
way my idealized loyalty was diminished, but the man as a human being
became more real.
There was one incident which puzzled me greatly at the time. It showed
that he could be covert in an ugly way, or capable of twisting facts
to suit his vanity. He had made me responsible for locking all doors
at night. I found that very often the back door of the Manor would
be left open late at night after I had locked it. I had no thoughts
of the children coming to harm, but as they slept in rooms just above
the back entrance to which a staircase by the door gave access I did
not think that the door should be left open. I told LRH so. He seemed
surprised but agreed without further discussion. The next day I went
to tell him that his dinner was ready, and found him in one of the
offices, holding forth as he was want to do and as they loved him
to do. As I entered that room I heard him say '...such horrible postulates',
in anger. The others looked at me in some disguet as I entered. I
understood at once that he was referring to me and the back door.
I had no reason to care how people looked at me, but noted his put-down.
A few days later he took me by surprise. He wanted the current cook
replaced. Now this man had a very rough look about him, as though
he had been about the world getting out of trouble. I said I would
give him notice, but LRH wanted him out of the house at once. There
was a reason, he told me that was 'rather hard to confront'. I, of
course, looked blank, taking my cue from his words and from the expression
of superior wisdom that he had assumed. 'We wouldn't want anything
to happen to the children', he said. I don't recall if he went on
to explain, but the idea clearly was that the man would be upset about
the notice and would do something in revenge to the children and we
wouldn't know about it as the children were remote from the main parts
of the house. I could not determine if he was being covert in getting
back at me, and didn't really mean any of it, or if he had decided to
prove to me that the possibility of something happening to the children
was something I could not confront on my own, while he had no difficulty
in confronting it at all. Either way, I felt used, in a not nice way.
Come to think of it, he must have experienced the same thing a lot
more than I ever did.
Another time he adopted a pose with me that was intended to impress
and had the reverse effect. It happened one dinner time when I was
serving. Mary Sue was then responsble for disbursing cash, including
payroll. Often I worked through a public holiday instead of taking
the day off. Mary Sue was always careful to see that I was given extra
pay for doing so. On one of these holidays, either through my error
or hers (I forget which) she paid me for two days instead of one.
I made a mental note to tell her so it could be corrected. It slipped
my mind. Along came the next holiday that I worked through, and I
remembered to tell Mary Sue not to pay me extra. Before I could do
so, she mentioned it, at the table. I immediately told her of the
error. She acknowledged it gracefully and left it at that. Not he.
Solemn and stern, he said 'Thank you for getting off the withhold'.
This signified that I had tried to defraud Mary Sue of a day's pay
but did not have the guts to carry it off when confronted with the
opportunity. I was very angry, and wondered if I should put his potatoes
in his lap. I did not, due less to respect than to simple cowardice.
The Confront of Evil
Unhappily, as time went on he became more and more susceptible to
thoughts that people around him were acting out of overts and withholds,
'PTSness', or bad intention. One of the earliest and silliest manifestations
of this that I was involved in had to do with dear old Mrs Foster.
She was a local lady who had cleaned house for the Hubbards since
they moved to East Grinstead. She was utterly loyal to both and devoted
particularely to Mary Sue. She had nothing to do with Scientology
and kept clear of it. One day LRH decided to have his bed made a different
way. Mrs Foster couldn't quite satisfy him and became beside herself
to get it right for him. He got more and more exasperated. He decided
she must have a withhold from him and ordered me to pull it. I had
had some training at SH (which he had organized) and owned a meter.
There was no question but that I had to pull Mrs Foster's Awful Withhold.
Now, for Mrs Foster, that I, a Scientologist, had gained a position
of domestic trust with her employers in a position senior to hers
was gall to her old heart. Not only that, but here was I now bearing
down on her with one of them meters in my hand demanding that she
hold them can things. She was not a willing pc and it was not her
determinism that she should go into session. I chased her all over
the house. She sought futile refuge in a bathroom. The old lady did
not know a withhold from a turnip top. Regardless, I pulled and pulled.
She wriggled and wriggled. I tried the Murder Routine. She all but
wet her pants. My bludgeoning of her wits eventually gave her a clue
as to what was needed to get her out of my clutches, and she blurted
out the Awful Truth. 'I don't know nothing about this Sineology' she
gasped, as much as to say that that was all she would ever know
if she had her own way. It blew down, she calmed down, and went off
to soothe her tortured soul with a nice hot cup of tea. Ron was very
pleased when I reported the 'session' to him. 'You're an Auditor!'
he exclaimed happily. I was horrified, knowing how clumsy I had been
with the old lady, and hoping that any auditor would have done a much
better job. What all this did for his bed-making I forgot. Mrs Foster
survived it in fine style.
In the winter of 1964 he was ill with bronchitis. No doctor was called.
I don't know how serious it was but he was bed-ridden for a week and
was extremely sorry for himself, though not particularly bad-tempered.
He told me it was all due to something he was researching, and that
his lungs had always been hard hit by restimulation when it occurred.
He got very angry with me on only one occasion. I had forgotten to
call to the house the local barber so LRH could have a haircut before
he made one of his Clearing Course films. I needed the chauffeur to
go get him but I could not find the chauffeur. Later, in explaining
to LRH that we had no barber for him, I was flustered and made it
sound as though it was the chauffeur's fault. LRH blasted me for that.
It was unpleasant but certainly bearable. He later apologised and
He could have impeccable manners. He was capable of immense charm.
He radiated energy, determination and decisiveness, and worked himself
extremely hard. He had an unmistakable aura of power. He was unquestionably
a giant amongst men. He could have infinite patience and could grant
beingness, space and time to another to a degree characteristic only
of a being of a high and distinct order. One entered his space
conscious of having done so as clearly as though one had entered a
special room. This quality suffused the entire property. Within his
space there could be tenderness, urgency, directed force, fury, agonized
frustration, exhilaration, deep meditation, brilliance of imagination,
immediacy of perception and knowingness, sense of humour, openness,
canniness, silence, the tension and concentration of the panther poised
to spring, command of self and attention, fearlessness, clarity, confidence,
fun. There could also be some vanity, some posing, a strong desire
for recognition, a leaning toward love of power with position and
privilege, and an aptitude for squawking like a spoiled child. To
merely observe him was to perceive that he was vastly different from
most men; to experience his outflow directly or to another was to
know that an extraordinary spirit was at work.
A more balanced view
The reverence with which I regarded Ron from afar was tempered by
direct experience into a more accurate appreciation of his good and
mighty qualities, and of his more human side too. Although I saw things
that showed that his judgement was less than flawless, his character
to be not perfect, his leadership less than selfless, I saw nothing
that reduced my respect, admiration and awe - for the spiritual
powers which produced the technology that had helped me so much; for
the motives that led that being to undertake that work; for the persistence
with which he had brought it forth for us to benefit from. I continued
to support him in this capacity, and I still do. I learnt that support
for his judgement in leadership had to be tempered by one's own. This
was a lesson I did not always remember, in future years.
I bring forward these reminiscences to show only that one human being
(amongst many) had contact with L. Ron Hubbard and to show something
of how that human being was affected by that, and what he remembers
of what was observed and experienced. These memories may help another
to gain some impression of the man as he was independently of the
figure that is sometimes glorified and sometimes reviled, both with
some truth and a great deal of untruth.
I continued my direct association with Ron until 1976. In 1978 I was
cast off from my position of trust close to him. In 1982 I removed
myself from his physical sphere of influence. He changed greatly
over the years; his weaknesses gained greater hold on him. I disappointed
him; he may have felt I betrayed him. Certainly I could not follow
him. These changes form part of the noble tragedy with pathetic interludes
which has yet to be told in its entirety.
It is not at all difficult for me to accept and understand that there
are people, some who knew him personally and some who didn't, who
cannot find it in their hearts to support him - for some, to forgive
him. There is no doubt that he is responsible for circumstances that
can briefly be described as a mess. For this he is accountable. We
should not fall into the trap of thinking that because he took
for so much, and because there was an element of failure in his doings,
he then should be held responsible for everything. All the same it
is my profoundest hope that he will recognize what he is responsible
for and will do all that is required of him to put it right.
When he does, and only when he does, and only if he does, will he
ever again have my fullest trust and respect: When he earns it I will
give it... with an eye eternally vigilant(1).
(1)Ken Urquhart, who is Scottish,
now lives and works near New York. He hopes to return to Scotland
before too long. Ed.