Sir John Cleggs-Bennett (now deceased) was not your ordinary type of man. It is only because of his fairly recent death it's now possible to publish the transcripts of his interview with me. Just to put the importance of this event into context, this is the only interview he allowed to take place and be transcribed.
His life and his involvement in everyday society across the world had to be kept secret; he was a person that always worked behind the scenes to guide and direct the society we live in, to a better outcome, however a lot of his efforts were in vain.
It was only when the time of his imminent demise became known to him that he contacted the editor of the world renowned publication "TheSpoof.com", who then engaged me, Richard Simonson, to set in writing, the contribution to today's society that Sir John Cleggs-Bennett made.
It was Sir John's belief that if his work ever became public, whilst he was alive, then whatever he had put into motion would have been rendered impotent and of no use to anyone.
The man had worked fervently in the background of major governments, unions, the odd fringe party, and charity shops to direct and drive the way forward.
Sir John died three years ago, stipulating in his will, that our interview should not be put into the public domain until his influence on society had become significantly diminished.
The editor has determined it is now time to publish and reveal, to the world, how much we owe to Sir John Cleggs-Bennett.
As a journalist I can't absolutely describe how he affected society, which must seem unusual, but what I can do is present the questions I asked him and his responses. The determination of his influence is up to you.
Sir John Cleggs-Bennett died at the ripe old age of 121; unbelievable I know, but this is fact as far as I can ascertain.
When I interviewed him at his bedside, he told me his age. I wasn't sure whether he was being upfront and honest with me or just having a joke at my expense. So, in order to clarify what I had been told, I asked him for proof and although he was taken aback by the questioning of his honesty he did produce his birth certificate and it certainly backed up his claim.
Could he have been a skilled forger? Possibly. Might he have been a skilled forger to influence society's development? Probably.
During the course of the interview he described times, places and situations that could only be described if he had been there.
As a person he was kind, considerate, patient and on occasions very obtuse. He saw ill in very few people and took criticism gracefully, most of the time. However he didn't suffer fools gladly and being politically correct was not something he thought about. But without a doubt he had an uncanny ability to be diplomatic and straight to the point when the mood took him.
As I've said before, throughout this transcript I will present you with the questions I asked and his responses to them. I feel I need to make this clear because what you'll read sometimes defies logic if not the history we were all taught during our schooling.
On occasions Sir John goes into great detail. All I can say is; stay with him, you never know there may be points he makes that are relevant to our lives today.
What follows now is one of the transcripts from my interviews with Sir John Cleggs-Bennett.
Simonson: Sir John you have graciously allowed me to interview you about your life. Why have you decided to allow an interview about your life now, when you have steadfastly refused any interview in the past?
Sir John: Young person, throughout my life I have seen a lot and have understood a vast amount more. It is only through this experience that I have come to know the date of my death. However this knowledge is not old. To be quite honest I only found out yesterday when I visited the corner shop.
Simonson: The corner shop?
Sir John: Yes, exactly.
Simonson: This is interesting. Why is it, do you think, the trip to the corner shop revealed the time of your imminent demise?
Sir John: It's quite simple. The corner shop is a place I have always visited throughout my life and in particular the one very near to my home of the last five years.
Simonson: Yes, but how did this recent visit differ from all the others?
Sir John: To be quite honest I'm not exactly sure, suffice it to say that the door didn't open in the way it had done over the last five years.
Simonson: Right. So the door did not open in its usual manner?
Sir John: Correct.
Simonson: So how did this differing door behaviour lead to the knowledge that your time on this planet was going to be curtailed somehow?
Sir John: Let me say this; have you ever opened a door with unusual consequences?
Simonson: Ermm, I can't say I have... actually… thinking about it… I did pull on a door once and it didn't open as expected, but all that happened was that I ended up walking in to the edge of the door bruising my shoulder and chest all the while holding a somewhat detached door handle.
Sir John: So you agree that in some instances doors do purvey some strange behaviour?
Simonson: Well, having thought about it in that way I can't say otherwise. All I obtained through that door interaction was a bruised shoulder and chest. Why, Sir John, do you think that your experience with weird door openings provided you with this glimpse?
Sir John: It didn't.
Simonson: It didn't?
Sir John: No. It was only when I got into the shop, after dealing with the sticky door, that I found I was in a cloud of strange mist and of course I thought this was not that unusual as most corner shop proprietors burn all sorts of things, it's their culture.
Simonson: So you carried on into the shop and into the not so unusual mist?
Sir John: Absolutely; I've seen much stranger things abroad.
Simonson: So when did you receive the premonition about your demise?
Sir John: That's simple; it was when the mist coagulated into a large sphere which then proceeded to absorb me. Not that it was a premonition though.
Simonson: The mist turned into a sphere and then absorbed you?
Sir John: Yes.
Simonson: Weren't you worried about this?
Sir John: No, I've been involved in much stranger things abroad.
Simonson: But this absorption revealed to you the circumstance of your imminent death?
Sir John: No.
Sir John: No. It was only when the proprietor popped the sphere that I then found out the date of my leaving.
Simonson: When you say leaving you mean death?
Sir John: I suppose you could call it that.
Simonson: So, the proprietor popped the sphere and?
Sir John: He told me "You will die the day after tomorrow".
Simonson: And that was it? That's why you called the editor of TheSpoof.com?
Sir John: Yes.
As you can probably tell by now Sir John's life is extraordinary, to say the least, and in this part of the interview I ask him about his beginnings.
Simonson: Sir John, when were you born?
Sir John: You impertinent scallywag; where's your etiquette?
Simonson: Sorry Sir John, what I actually mean is; when was it that your mother gave birth to you?
Sir John: Well... that was... hold on a minute, you've just asked me the same question again. This is outrageous.
Simonson: Sir John, I didn't mean it that way. What I meant to say was; on which day did your father give you your first birthday present?
Sir John: Ah. If I remember correctly that was 5th March 1875.
Simonson: Do you remember what your father gave you?
Sir John: Yes, I can't forget. He gave me a folded piece of paper.
Simonson: Folded paper?
Sir John: Absolutely.
Simonson: And this was interesting?
Sir John: Very.
Simonson: What made this particular piece of paper interesting?
Sir John: After he gave it to me, he told me to throw it.
Simonson: And that was the interesting part, being able to throw a piece of paper?
Sir John: Yes.
Simonson: Can you describe this incident any further?
Sir John: When I threw it, it circulated around the room for some minutes.
Simonson: It was flying?
Sir John: Of course it was flying. What else do you think it was doing? I was most intrigued. I just loved throwing it around the nursery.
Simonson: So, at the age of one, you were throwing pieces of paper around your nursery?
Sir John: Yes, of course. I had to please my papa. Wouldn't you have done?
Simonson: Let me get this straight. You were playing with flying pieces of paper, perhaps what we would call, today, paper planes, in 1875, on your first birthday?
Sir John: Yes. That's what I've said isn't it?
Simonson: But, but, flight wasn't invented until the Wright brothers flew in December 1903.
Sir John: Ah, the Wright brothers I remember them well; they used to come around, with their father, to see my mother, she did enjoy his company and the brothers often used to play with me, though they were a little older than me. I don't exactly remember when they started to visit but I do remember their father enjoyed my mother's pies. Yes, quite often he turned up and my mother was so happy to give him one, and one for each of his sons, if I recall.
I remember throwing my Father's paper planes and they used to run after them, pick them up and bring them back to me, in my cot, to throw again.
Strange thing though, after they left the house I could never find the pieces of paper and had to cry until my Father made me another.
That was very strange now I come to think of it.
Soon after that we left Indiana and travelled to Kansas. My Father had heard from his brother Albert, Albert Bennett, that there were opportunities to be taken advantage of.
Sir John mentioned his father a great deal in our discourse about his first few years, so I decided to ask more questions about his father's history and a little more about his relationship with his father.
Simonson: You mention your father a lot, was he important to you as a young child?
Sir John: Yes I have and of course he was. I mean, without his history I wouldn't be here would I?
Simonson: Possibly true. In what way did his past influence you?
Sir John: Ah. This is an interesting question. I can definitely say that without him I would not have been able to achieve everything I have done so, up and unto this point, this point of our interview I mean.
Simonson: Very good. But how did he contribute? In what way did he avail himself so that you were able to follow through in your life until this point?
Sir John: I think it started when he laid down his seed and my mother took it on, if I recall correctly, if you know what I mean. I believe that was the start.
Simonson: Right, right. Apart from him laying down his seed?
Sir John: Well…
Simonson: Hold on a minute, you remember your conception?
Sir John: Of course. I have a very good memory you know.
It was at this point that it became obvious to me that I was certainly interviewing an extraordinary person who had had an extraordinary life.
Simonson: Sir John, your recollection of your past is amazing to say the least. Are there any particular instances you can recall about your father's history that you are willing to divulge?
Sir John: I can tell you about his time in Dodge City.
Simonson: By Dodge City, I take it you mean the Wild West?
Sir John: If you want to call it that you can, it was certainly wild.
Simonson: Wild in what way?
Sir John: Wild in the way of wild animals, wild environment and wild weather.
Simonson: OK, back to Dodge City. What did your father do after moving the family to Dodge City?
Sir John: If I remember correctly he became a cobbler.
Simonson: A cobbler? A person that made shoes?
Sir John: Yes exactly, he also repaired shoes you know.
Simonson: Right, he repaired shoes as well. So while in Kansas he had trained as a cobbler?
Sir John: No, he was what we would call these days, an entrepreneur, and this is one of the reasons I respect my father. He had no idea about making or repairing shoes but he saw the need and made a decision to fulfil the need. There were no brakes on the horses in those days.
Simonson: What do you mean there were no brakes?
Sir John: At the time, before horses were fully domesticated for the whites, the only way to stop a horse was to lean over to one side and put your heal down hard in the earth.
Simonson: So the cowboys wore out their shoes by trying to stop their steeds?
Sir John: Exactly. You don't think the Indians told them how to do that do you?
Simonson: No, but weren't the horses trained?
Sir John: A very few were because they had been brought over from the Motherland, but the majority were native, caught on the plains if you will.
Simonson: So your father took up cobbling because there was a need?
Sir John: Absolutely, that is what he did. There is an area of Kansas named after his struggle to become a skilled cobbler.
Simonson: Which area?
Sir John: Boot Hill.
Simonson: You mean the cemetery?
Sir John: No it's where my father threw all of his reject shoes, boots, and soles while he was trying to learn the cobbler's trade. It did take him a while, quiet a long time in fact.
Simonson: But Boot Hill is where the notorious criminals of the time got buried.
Sir John: Yes, that's also true.
Simonson: How did that come about?
Sir John: Well, after my Father got the hang of cobblery, he no longer required the land where he had scrapped all of his rejects, so he sold it.
Simonson: He sold that area of land?
Sir John: Yes, exactly. He sold it to the undertakers who were thriving at the time for one reason or another. I vaguely remember it having to do with bullets or something. Suffice it to say he didn't need that land anymore so he got rid of it, for a good price if I recall.
Simonson: What you're saying is; your father got rid of a piece of land that contained all of his scrap to an undertaker of the time and it is, that undertaker, who named their cemetery Boot Hill?
Sir John: This is exactly what I'm telling you.
Simonson: And it is called Boot Hill because it is made of boots?
Sir John: I can't say that, it was the undertakers who named it and the only relationship between them, and my Father, was to do with the sale of the land.
When he found out they'd called it Boot Hill he couldn't decide whether they were trying to be ironic or they'd just given it the first name that had popped into their heads.
In hindsight I think they'd just named it after the first thing that popped into their heads.
Simonson: So, after your Father sold the land then what?
Sir John: He gave up being a cobbler and moved on. As far as I can recall he felt that addressing problems of the feet was not something that was vocational for him.
Simonson: So he was striving for a vocation then?
Sir John: Exactly.
Simonson: Was it ever clear to you, at that time, where your Father would seek his vocation?
Sir John: No, not really. All I knew is that, Mother and I, would be heading north. Father had said, "Kansas is not for us" and he wanted to leave. In hindsight I think father was fed up with all the killing, he was after a revelation of some sort, something that meant more than providing shoes for the death sayers.
Simonson: Before I ask any further questions can you clarify what you mean by "death sayers"?
Sir John: Death Sayers, Richard, are those people that would creep up to a person when they weren't expecting it and say "death", quite loudly in their ear. In the main it was usually sheriff types and if it wasn't sheriffs it was anyone else they felt disagreed with them.
Simonson: So your father moved on because of the slaughter that ravaged the area you were living at the time?
Sir John: That's the reason we moved on, as far as I understand it, but you must remember I was very young at the time and may not have grasped the true reasons why my Father decided to start travelling again.
Simonson: I think your recollections of the reasons are more than valid. Where did your father take you after you left Dodge City?
Sir John: He took us north through Nebraska and then on to Wyoming.
Simonson: That's quite a journey. How long did that take?
Sir John: I believe this took about a year.
Simonson: During this journey, which you say took a year, there must have been instances that stick in your mind. Is there anything you can tell me about this trip?
Sir John: The trip was pretty much uneventful. Yes we did come across the Arapaho and the Pawnee Indians, but they weren't concerned with us. However my Father did make camp near one of their settlements for a while.
Simonson: You weren't attacked?
Sir John: No of course not. Why would we be?
Simonson: Because the Indians were after the blood of white men.
Sir John: The Indians didn't give a hoot about white men as long as they respected their rites.
Simonson: OK. So for a while your father and his family were in Indian Territory. Did anything happen?
Sir John: During that time my Father had to learn how to survive. Although we had money there was no where to spend it to get the things he needed to survive. So he had to make do with the resources that were to hand.
Simonson: What were they?
Sir John: They were the shrubs, trees and the wild life.
Simonson: How did he make use of these natural resources?
Sir John: Father said the first thing needed for survival, after shelter and warmth, was water and food. Father thought that if he could find some food then this would mean there would be water nearby.
Simonson: By food, what exactly do you mean?
Sir John: Whilst we were on the journey Father wanted to make sure we all had decent helpings of meat.
Simonson: How did your father go about locating meat for you and your mother?
Sir John: Father knew of this beetle called the Carrion Beetle that would hunt down carrion to feed on and lay its eggs in. The only problem was how he was going to find one of these beetles to follow.
Simonson: Your father was going to follow a beetle?
Sir John: Yes, he had a natural instinct for tracking insects and beetles.
Simonson: OK. So how did he find one of these beetles?
Sir John: Father was fortunate that he had a small canary left over from the shoe shop. He had brought it along so that on the cold prairie nights, whilst we were sitting around the camp fire, we could have a good sing song before bedding down for the night. Those nights of singing with the canary ended when Father killed it to attract the attention of a wayward Carrion Beetle.
Father had devised a plan whereby he would leave the dead canary somewhere that was obvious to carrion beetles and wait for one to turn up. As soon as the beetle arrived he would quickly whip the dead carcass away leaving the beetle confused for a short time before it would go off and hunt down carrion elsewhere and as soon as it did Father packed everything up and we began to follow. This is how we made most of our way across Nebraska.
Simonson: Living on carrion?
Sir John: Not all the time because where there was carrion there were the animals that became the carrion. On occasions we did have to eat carrion, but cooked with the right seasoning it was quite tasty.
Simonson: So, your father took you and your mother across the prairies, following the Carrion Beetle. Did he ever mention where he was trying to get to?
Sir John: My mother believed in her husband and would have gone with him anywhere, but when he fell ill and we were still stuck in the wilderness she did feel it was time to find out where we were going.
Simonson: How did your mother cope with this problem?
Sir John: During our journey she did begin to learn how to use the native plants for their curative powers. When father became ill with a fever brought on by a twisted ankle, Mother decided to see what she could do with Saxifrage, where we were it was actually Saxifrage of the Saxifraga occidentalis variety. She collected the petals and nearly fell ill with exhaustion herself. The petals were not very big and she needed plenty to make the medicine in the required quantity to cure Father.
Once she had collected enough petals she ground them up with the roots of the plant she added donkey urine to make it into a paste. When this was finished she then desiccated the mixture by drying it out over the camp fire. This was the first stage, the final preparation required adding the spittle of a yellow canary. Unfortunately Father had used the last one for attracting the attention of the carrion beetles, so she had to find an equivalent source as canaries were scarce in this part of the world.
By this time Father was very ill and in his last lucid moment he said to my Mother, "Go Mirtle go. Find the spittle of life and save me from a painful death."
Mother realized she had to find an equivalent bird species if Father was going to survive the twisted ankle. She said to me, "John, stay with your Father, I have to seek out some spittle and I may be gone a while."
There was not much I could do but abide by my mother's wishes. I was just coming up for my second birthday. Mother left to seek out the spittle of an equivalent bird and I was left with Father who, when he was not unconscious, talked about strange things such as "attaining liberation from the material world and union of the self with the Supreme Being" and "the gift of poetic thought, imagination, and creation, together with eloquence of expression" and "the hardiness of yellow earth be known to all". I didn't really understand, at the time, what he was trying to say.
It was three periods of darkness before my mother returned with a vesicle full of mountain plover spit. She poured the contents on the mixture she had made three days previously and this last ingredient completed the salve. She then proceeded to apply the salve behind my Father's ears.
She said to me, "Dear John, I have done what I can for your Father. All we can do now is await the outcome." After that she consoled herself by dancing round the fire singing.
After four days of singing Father awoke.
Simonson: That is incredible. It sounds like all of you only just survived.
Sir John: I think that that was the first time I became aware of my mortality.
Simonson: What happened next?
Sir John: My Father told us that during his illness he had had a vision and the vision had told him to go to Yellowstone, the area of Wyoming that had recently been made a national park. He further said that there was a special person in Yellowstone we would need to find, a person that knew the meaning of this world and could teach him the meaning through melodic lingual means and un-rhythmical metaphors.
Father said we will find the yogic bard in Yellowstone. And we went there.
At this point in the interview we took a break, Sir John's life was gradually ebbing away and he needed to rest a while before we continued.
It was becoming clear to me that one of the reasons Sir John had been so influential in his own history was that, during his upbringing, he had been part of a family that were extraordinary in their own right.
In the part II of the transcript of our interview I ask Sir John about his early years in education, what he made of his schooling and how he dealt with it.