56. When the names say it all
Public speaking comes right at the top of most people’s phobias. I was no exception. When I was younger I was too shy to take a defect item back to a shopkeeper. How I hated drawing attention to myself by speaking up. Psychologists tell us this kind of shyness is linked with low self esteem. If this was the case, I had no steam at all. Only in my middle years did I slowly start to change and found confidence in myself.
I had been thinking for a long time about joining a public speaking club. The way I finally joined one is a story in itself.
One Sunday morning in July or August 2001, for the first time that I could remember, the pastor had placed two microphones at the front of the church. After the singing he invited anyone to come forward and share what God had done for them. A reluctant little lady made a start; another brave parishioner followed venturing to the microphone and gave thanks for an answer to prayer.
The third man to walk forward was a stranger. I certainly had not seen him before. I turned to Isobel and whispered: “Who is that?” The opening statement by the slightly overweight, 55-plus-year-old gentleman grabbed everyone’s attention: “This is the first time I have been inside a church in almost 30 years.” Leaving his sunglasses on during his whole three minute talk, he expressed a latent awareness of God and said he felt almost at home visiting our church that morning.
The following Sunday evening as I walked through the car park just ahead of me, I recognized the same man. He had left an impression on me, if not for the content, then certainly for his professional presentation the previous Sunday morning. A voice inside me said clearly: “Sit with that man.” I did after politely asking for permission.
We sat right against the back wall. To start a conversation I mentioned how I was impressed with his little speech that Sunday morning. It turned out that he was a guru in public speaking, a member of a well known speaking club. Our subdued talking must have annoyed the pastor that night. I felt a little embarrassed, yet the man was full of enthusiasm. He got me to the point, where I promised to make enquiries and join a Club.
My first meeting was with a breakfast club. At this point I do not want to reveal the name of the organization or the club. People may be embarrassed to be linked to my story. The date I will never forget; it was the day after Tuesday September 11th, 2001. One member had arrived and queried why everyone was in a somber mood that morning. She had not heard the earthmoving news, which broke late the evening before, our time.
There were not many members in this group; our meetings started at 7am. I soon developed skills of public speaking from experienced members. The club was a welcome outlet for my creatively thinking mind. My confidence level started to rise as I took on more speaking roles. The speaker’s club meeting was the platform I made a few statements that would later become an important part of my story.
One was my regret that I had not called myself Bob, the first moment I touched ground in Australia. I mentioned this fact in my very first speech to introduce myself to the group. Until the death of Bob Sobczak and its bizarre nature, and the “Bob the builder” theme, this point was just a bit of trivia.
In a later speech I quoted Winston Churchill’s famous words – I have nothing to offer, but blood, sweat, toil and tears – and built a talk around it. As a conclusion I mentioned the climbing of the mountain and raising the flag of achievement … Later I would receive a birthday card with just this scenario illustrated (See chapter 25).
On another occasion a list of names had gotten mixed up. The two evaluator’s names had been listed as firstly, even speakers, secondly odd speakers. I pointed out that the listing should have been reversed - the odd number evaluator’s name listed first, because he/she is evaluating numbers 1, 3 and 5 etc. Right back then I must have had a love for odd numbers.
Very early on in my involvement of the club a lady named Joan was part of the group. She was a very ardent participant and expressed her joy of being part of the group at least once. Without a real explanation she suddenly left the club. Members do change clubs regularly as normal part of every organization. However, I could not stop my mind from becoming suspicious: perhaps she heard a rumour about me and believed it? A similar scenario occurred when we first joined the church at Enfield. At least one couple left the church briefly, only to rejoin soon after. Had there been rumours?
In the 1 ½ years I have been a member of the speaker’s club I had not taken any special notice of the names of the members. Even after the letters d and n became noteworthy, only recently did member’s names register as co-incidental part of my story.
There was Vic, no doubt short for Victor and Joseph-ine; by the hyphen you can guess where I am leading to. Anna, one of the main players, the ex-wife of the enthusiastic man I sat with in church, has a name that is an in both directions.
Originally from the Balkans, Nada’s name is a d and a n when read reverse. Another member’s surname is easily transformed into the phrase - a true worth, if I played my a/o swap and insert a u. This man’s Christian name is Tony. I love that name. Imagine the T as a cross and insert a L after the n: The cross (of Christ) only!
The name Nick, who was a recent new member, I always read as N I see, the k meaning 1000. Nicole came across my mind as part of the game of names. In Feb. 2003 Australian actress Nicole Kidman won a Golden Globe award for her role in “The Hours”, no kidding. Another speaker’s club member’s surname could be translated as engraver man. Of course these names mean nothing compared to the name Ben Mitchell.
In the early 1970’s when we lived in New South Wales we had a Tony Mitchell as a family friend. He had a son, Ben Mitchell. His mother kept sending us gear and clothes Ben did not like any more or had grown out of. I was almost a regular annual parcel that arrived from Sydney. We were very thankful at the time. One item from the Ben Mitchell store I still use is a small backpack, which I carried on my recent Europe trip.
After returning from Europe I noticed that the Coca Cola Company had a new product on the market – Vanilla Coke. The slogan the company used to advertise the product caught my eye a few times: Reward your curiosity. When it came to curiosity I probably would qualify for a reward.
As I took stock of my situation I certainly had been curious in the previous 12 months. I had questioned the guilt of a convicted paedophile; I suspected one of my friends had been illegally assisted in dying; I thought I had discovered a criminal drug operation; I claimed that God was arranging deaths of certain people at certain times to make a point; I linked September 11th 2001 with a scripture in the bible and telling people that God was speaking to us all.
Curiosity was plentiful, but reward very scarce. Since I did not receive any responses to my emails or the claims I was making I was unsure throughout 2002, if it was all just a dream, a leftover of my mental illness.
On Friday 27/12/02 after my early morning prayer time, I was curious, if the slogan “reward your curiosity” has a meaning somewhere. I turned my attention to the word vanilla and voila - I was surprised that I had not seen it earlier. The word Vanilla backwards spells – All in a V.
The letter V in my story plays a huge role. In Roman numerals it represents five; Winston Churchill used it as a victory sign. Added to my VHO 301 number plate it creates the word WHO. I looked up the Coca Cola internet website and emailed via the company feedback page. I simply mentioned that Vanilla is spelled all in a V backwards and that the letter V means a lot to me.
To sound intelligent I asked if any milk powder was included in the new product, since it would be good for children’s bone growth. I also queried if other flavours were being considered. Weeks later I received a response to this email with a message about their new product and that no other flavours were planned.
On certain TV programs I noticed phrases, words or names that my brain somehow linked to my story. Isobel told me: “On Survivor one guy could not even spell the word road, he spelled it raod”. My mind clicked immediately and linked it to the article in my e-magazine: What category of instructor are you? Category 1, section d states that this instructor can’t even spell the word raod safty. I tried to hint towards this fact to Isobel, but even the slightest remark put her on the defensive.
The fact that my family still classed my thoughts as mentally ill became increasingly frustrating. On the one hand I thought that my writings were a blessing to many people. On the other hand my activities were regarded as a nuisance by my own family members. Many times I was accused of wasting time in the computer room and to do some real work. My diary expresses it in one sentence: “This squashing of my thoughts is so painful, but I suffer.”
From what I began to notice in the world around me, my story had somehow reached far and wide. I noticed my numbers in many places, such as a take-away shop by the beach, advertising – 1 Fish & Chips $ 5. On the news: In Tel-Aviv 2 suicide bombers struck within 150 metres of each other, as the crow flies.”
On Wed. 8/1/03 I challenged Isobel to just listen for the 1/5 combination in the news. Sure enough, after a short time I heard my 1 and 5 numbers: “…the number of houseboats on the Murray River could be 15 % higher.”
Tony Blair is sending 15 warships to the Middle East, calling up 15000 reservists. On SBS News, “…five detainees appeared in court for damaging 5 Centres.”
At our church’s jumble sale I asked the price of an Instamatic Camera, which looked almost new. The lady said: 15 cents as if to make a point. (I fell for the bargain, even paid 50 cents to show my generosity only to realize later that each photo cost $ 2).
I first used this camera at a Tennis picnic organized by one of my old friends early in January 2003. Right from the start I sensed something was going on. It was the people’s names that attended the lunchtime picnic that made me think. I had never met any of them, despite being friends with the host, Bill for 28 years.
First there was Diana and Caroline; later Bob and his wife Sue arrived. Mark told Isobel he was 11 days into a fast. He still played tennis in the 30+ degree heat. A single mum arrived with a baby. At that time I just pictured her name to be Mandy. So I introduced myself to her: “Hello, I am Dieter, I bet your name is Mandy.”
No”, she replied, “my name is Jodie, but I have a sister Mandy”. I found out that the baby boy was 3 ½ weeks old and called Joseph.
After first uploading Chapter 4 of my story (dealing with the horrendous practices in industrial relations by the MAC) I overheard a news item:
A Trade Union spokesman labeled a huge Australian employer as the worst in the nation. He went on to give this example: “One lady was sacked (or reprimanded) for having too many family photos on her desk.” I immediately thought of the time I had to remove “God is Love” from the dashboard of the MAC’s driving school vehicle. Had someone read chapter 4 online?
I prayed harder every day; God was in control. HE had something brewing, a big event in the making, of this I was certain. The prayer - your will be done – passes control of any situation out of my hands into HIS. I was prepared for whatever God had in store. My constant thought of strength was: “The Lord has brought me thus far; He is not going to let me down now”.
For Christmas I received a key ring with the Prayer of Jabez (1. Chronicles 4, 10) engraved:
“Oh that you would bless me indeed and enlarge my territory; that your hand would be with me and you would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain. And God granted his request”.
Earlier in 2002 I had played the role of Jabez during a church service. I witnessed first hand how God was enlarging my territory daily. At the time, not in my wildest dreams, could I have ever imagined what lay in store.
Autobiography - Dieter Fischer
1. More in number 2. A sound mind 3. Now I'm found 4. Candle and the Wind
5. Realm of Nature 6. All in his Hand 7. The Wonder of it All 8. To Think God loves