Working with Mr Adie, Sunday 5 March 1989

This continues the lunch time exchange of Sunday 5 March 1989. This question is interesting, not least because it shows one aspect of the weekend work where Mr Adie was rather unique: he would visit each of the groups. When he came, he brought not only his presence, but also his practical ability and intelligence. One measure of this capacity is the fact that he passed the exams of the Royal Institute of British Architects without having attended any architectural school. He simply began working for his father, an antiques dealer. He passed, naturally, from repairing antiques to placing those pieces in a room, then to designing rooms. Then, one day, a client of his father’s said to him: “You’re an architect, aren’t you Adie? Would you design something for me?” Mr Adie agreed on the spot, then went off and obtained the RIBA syllabus, studied it up, sat the exam and qualified as an architect, going on to found the Mayfair firm, Adie, Button and Partners:,_Button_and_Partners  It did not seem to matter which job he visited: whether it was in the kitchen, the garden, the woodshop or the road construction. He could clearly see what was going on, and had a shrewd idea of the positive and the weak points, whether inner or outer.

This question was asked by Grover: “When the work list was read out this morning, I wasn’t clear about the job, the stonework. That was my initial reaction. By the time we got up there with you and had asked you what was required, I realized that there was a reaction going on in me that I didn’t understand, but it was distorting my visual perception of the wall and the job and whether or not another course was required.”

“You were biased?”

“Yes, quite definitely.”

“Yes. That’s very interesting you were so biased that you couldn’t even see whether the wall should go up or down.”

“That’s right and in retrospect I’m fairly certain that something in me had formed an attitude that the wall was finished and that’s the end of it and there’s just there’s no more. But what took place was that by the time we began to start work, I realized that something in me was quite negative and each time I spoke to my colleagues, I realized that this was there, and I didn’t want to have it there, but I wasn’t able to do anything about it. And there where even a couple of experiences of walking past someone and wanting to walk further away from them because I just didn’t want to have that sort of thing affecting them, but I was still in the grip of it and still not able to become free of it. And then we were making a mix of cement and that helped a great deal because I remembered what you’d said to me yesterday about using the body. And during that there were times when I was really quite free. But then it would come back. And then at the stop, we stopped at 10.30, and when we were standing there, I realized it was still there and I just straightened my head and shoulders a little bit and it just fell off me like a coat, just like that. And in the half hour after that there were a couple of times when I noticed it wanting to creep back. There was a tendency to become frustrated when something didn’t go quite right. But what struck me about it was that my attitude to it was slightly different to what it had been in the past. There was a little less, perhaps a little less guilt and little more shame.”

“Shame for your inner friction?”


“But how necessary to know it. How necessary. You couldn’t afford not to have that possession that you just formulated. Without that you would be less, you would be relatively poverty stricken. This is part of your precious collection. Yes. What you’re talking about is not so easy to talk about, and yet it’s perfectly clear. Perfectly clear. The way of it, the waxing and waning, the things that contributed, what took it away. And now, completely impartial.”

“Not completely impartial,” said Grover, “there’s still something in me that thinks it ought not be like that.”

“Has a speck of dust got in amongst the gold? We’re dealing with life. Life, eternity. So, when your walls disappear entirely, there’s no significance to this idea of “your wall.” This is, our work is miraculous. It’s mysticism.”

The next question was from Rita: “I brought a lot of petty worries with me when I came this morning. Life seems to have been very difficult for me recently. And I spent most of the morning washing up, but one stage I talked to my partner to tell her that we were going to do things this way, to explain what needed to be done. I found myself not wanting to speak. I just wanted to get on with the work I had, the washing up. And so, I sort of finished quickly. I didn’t explain it well, I turned away, and to cover up the turning away, I had this smile on my face, but it was just skin deep.”

“Good,” said Mr Adie. “That is a very clear simple observation. But you need to know as much as you can about the disinclination to convey this information. You need to see what in you didn’t want to go about it. Partly a sort of impatience, partly a habit of just getting on with the job, even if you’re not sure what you’re doing is right. Sometimes you go to buy something, it’s got to be bought, but you buy the wrong thing. That has happened, hasn’t it? It’s that kind of impulse, an impulse to move, but God knows where. Yes. So, I’m nothing. I have everything and yet I have nothing. I’m nothing.”

“There were strange thoughts,” said Rita. “I was more aware of my thoughts during the morning. And this word “whiz” came up. The word “whiz,” I was a whiz at doing the dishes and it’s not a word I ever thought that I’d use.”

“Yes, I have to be prepared for anything. I see something, I need to see it. Good. And to use it to bring me back to the centre, my centre.”


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