Paul Thwaites

Paul Thwaites who has died at the age of sixty five was the youngest of three sons of Stanley and Aviva Thwaites (nee Cohen) of Stockton-on-Tees. Paul attended Richard Hind Secondary Technical followed by Grangefield Grammar School where his main hobby was playing the organ in local churches for his own pleasure.

Paul’s first job was at a music booksellers, J.B. Cramer and Co of London WC1 in 1972/3 when he lived with his newly-married brother, Ronald and his wife Judith in Wimbledon for a time.

He went on to graduate in Music in 1976 from CCAT (now the University of East Cambridge) after a three-year course. The following year he received a teaching qualification from Bretton Hall College (Leeds University) though he never taught children. His greatest interest was in early music and he was taught the harpsichord by Mary Potts who he felt was not recognized for the great teacher she was. He commissioned a portrait of her in oils which he displayed on his wall, in Amsterdam and left to a friend, Mandy MacDonald who lectured at the college and had also been taught the harpsichord by Mary Potts.

Paul started his working life as a manager of Harston’s Music Shop in Newark and when the business was closed due to the expiration of the lease, he went to Haarlem in Holland. He spent most of his adult life in Holland.

Through an agency, he took on a number of temporary jobs while he taught himself to speak Dutch including working in a scrap yard and painting white lines on sports fields.

In 1979 he started the English Music Guild in Haarlem, Holland as a wholesale distributor of music and books, ultimately specializing in selling to libraries in the Benelux countries. He established Randall and Swift, a bibliographic micro-publication (micro-fiche) guide for libraries.

In 1985 he transferred both businesses to Manchester. In the same year, he visited Israel to meet his maternal grandmother and other family members.

Paul was introduced to meditation by a friend which in turn led him to learning techniques in self-hypnosis and re-birthing which had originated from an Indian guru called Thakur Sri Sri Balak Bramhachari Maharaj.

Paul went to visit Thakur in Calcutta, India at the end of 1989, having used his mantra for the previous couple of years. He was initiated by an Australian couple and later became only one out of three people outside India authorised to perform the mantra.

He sold his businesses in 1990 and at the age of thirty six hit the “Hippie Trail”.

Paul’s strong interest in meditation was something he was to pursue in various forms for the rest of his life. He took many courses at home and abroad as well as spending time in retreats and at ashrams.

For the following four years he travelled the world, starting in Calcutta in India to visit Thakur in whose ashram he stayed for three months between then and July 1992. Thakur had a following of more than sixty million people although largely unknown in the West. Paul visited India on several occasions. Thakur parted from the body in May 1993.

Paul took yoga and meditation classes and courses in Kathmandu and elsewhere in Asia and an extensive course in Mahayana Buddhism. He also later gave mediation courses in San Francisco, Bali and Lombok in Indonesia. He said one of the places he enjoyed most was Bali and by way of contrast, New Zealand.

By the time he left Asia and got to New Zealand his health had deteriorated badly and he spent ten months there under the care of an American doctor of Chinese medicine receiving acupuncture and other types of homeopathic treatment as well as Chinese herbal remedies.

In America Paul pursued more New Age specialists and he spent time in Buckingham County, Virginia, in Yogaville, another retreat, or ashram founded by Yogiraj Sri Swami Satchidananda whose goal was interfaith understanding as a vehicle to world peace.

After a trip to the Grand Canyon in 1993, Paul spent four months at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California which focuses on humanistic alternative education, again including yoga, meditation, spirituality and organic food.

He also spent a week with Ronald Kurtz, therapist and originator of the Hakomi technique, body-centred psychotherapy and mindfulness which allows the user to bring back core memories as a means of self-discovery which Paul found a rewarding experience.

He travelled around the USA and to exotic parts of Central America, Honduras and Guatemala and in the summer of 1994 he did a writing and journalism course at the University of Iowa. He became an accomplished writer but few of his writings survive him.

Whilst not very adventurous as a younger man, he went up in a hot air balloon, did a parachute jump, flew in a glider and drove partly across America.

When writing in a newsletter about his travel experiences Paul said he had learned to shower in one bucket of water and still have enough for a shave at the end of it. He thought he had changed, become more open and available, less aloof, kinder and more likely to accept and less inclined to judge.

In 1997 and 1998 Paul attended training courses in ‘Conflict Facilitation,’ mediation and other topics related to stress management.

In 1998 Paul set up The English Network, later changed to Ten Training, to offer training and consultancy in maximizing performance at work including stress management, communication skills and conflict resolution.

For the last twenty five years of his life he lived in Amsterdam, for four years in one flat and the last twenty a ground floor apartment in the centre. He travelled to see his family in the north of England twice a year until his health problems prevented him doing so.

Ten Training was designed to bring harmony back into the workplace. His business flourished for a number of years until the financial crisis struck in 2008/9 and by the time businesses recovered Paul was beset by increasingly debilitating health problems.

By the time he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, he had probably been suffering from it for several years. It ravaged his body, prevented him from sleeping and because he was hyper-allergic to the medicines prescribed, he was unable to get any relief from the symptoms. Neuropathy in his legs added to his burden as did the legacy of immune system and digestive troubles from his travels in Asia.

His parents visited him in Amsterdam and after his father’s death in 2009, his Mother continued to visit him in Amsterdam every year until her 90th year.

Paul had his own harpsichord built and it was one of his prized possessions.

He was for a number of years part of an Early Music ensemble of seven musicians who played largely for their own pleasure and met at different homes in and around Amsterdam. Paul played the harpsichord until he lost the use of his left hand.

In March 2011, Paul founded and maintained a highly-regarded monthly blog called, ‘Semi-brevity’ to highlight the lives of the pioneers of Early Music who he thought had been much neglected.

As illness increasingly took its toll he was less able to research, write and post articles. His old friend, Mandy MacDonald took on the role as sub-editor for him on a number of occasions. No new articles appeared after February 2018 but it is extant.

In the end, he was overwhelmed by his various medical conditions.

Paul never married. His mother and oldest brother Ronald survive him. Paul Thwaites, born 10th August 1954 died 3rd July 2020.