An alternative friday nights fun in London

The scientology church on totterham court road london

I was unsure where to put this entry, socially offline seemed a good point between culture & politics and science & theory. Anyhow while I write the rest of this on the Croydon Tram today, you can imagine a night with the London 2600 crew and the Scientologies

So I have been ill for the last few days since coming back from Amsterdam, I didn't really plan on going out on the Friday night. Anyhow I didn't want to be a crowded bar because the Smokey and somewhat hot atmosphere may have started my terrible cold off again. This is when I received a im from nizam asking about going to a 2600 meetup, so I thought what the hell – been meaning to go for ages anyway. So long story cut short, we ended up in a large pub snooker room (college tavern I think) not far from totterham court road. Interestingly enough there was little or actually no smoking from the 2600 guys. It started out with 6 of us then increased to about 10 when we found the pub. Which increased to about 20 by the time I'd finished my poisoned shark drink (Tabasco sauce mixed with shark energy drink, I much prefer to mix using redbull). Anyway the conversations mainly centered around wireless and RFID which were interesting but not at the levels it got to in the end (no offense meant to anyone). So with Nizam wanting to leave a hour ago, we finally left and started walking to Goodge street tube station. This is where my Friday night became very interesting indeed.

Before I go on, if there are any scientologists reading – please note, both me and the woman involved below (huggs) are over 18, we both were able to terminate the conversation and I actually offered her a chance to walk away many times. Also note I have had similar conversations with other religious pushers (call them followers if it makes it sound better or makes you feel better) including the witnesses, alphas and christen right. I'm not picking on scientology as such, its just I have never blogged a religious conversation.

There are times when I have felt like spending some time talking to religious pushers. Why? Because I love being sold to, its somewhat educational to hear and figure out the new moves and tricks used by the pushers. Religious pushers tend to pickup the best (worst) of management, advertising, media, etc. (Or is it the other way?).
Anyhow, I was walking along Tottenham Court Road with Nizam and didn't have any thoughts about the Scientology Church till we were offered a stress test. So playing dumb I asked why and whats wrong with stress? isn't a certain amount of stress needed in peoples lives? Well the woman who had stopped us (who I later found was named Huggs) tried to explain how some people deal with stress better than others, but wouldn't it be great not to have any stress at all – and she could show us the way to have stress free lives. Well I couldn't resist! I started to push the point about certain levels of stress are good and keeps you feeling human and alive. She bite that hard and somewhere along the line we got stuck on the subject of drugs and drug abuse. Although the mistake Huggs didn't talk about was the differences. I kept talking about drugs and how they could have a positive and negative effect. While she was saying all drugs which alter the mind were bad. I asked her why? She came up with something about altering the minds state (interesting point which we shall go back to later). So while Huggs was thinking about drugs like the hard drugs which are commonly thought about, I added sugar, coco powder, caffeine to the mix. And learned our sweet heart Huggs is still a smoker. Indeed! What fun I had with her on the fact she was still addicted to fags.
But oh no I was only just getting started. Nizam came back as he had been looking in a shop window and wanted to go home. He suggested that there all nuts and that we should go. Trying not to blow the conversation I dumbly asked what he meant. So quickly explained that they were a religion of some kind and crazy to boot. Along this time I think I asked (playing dumb again) could Nizam (who is muslin) join if he wanted to? Huggs made it clear that anyone could join, and about this time she pointed out that she was actually jewish and a scientologist. Well before I could start, Nizam handed out the killer blow, how can you be both? there must be conflict between the two faiths? There must be one you follow over the other? Well this about the only time when Huggs started getting very defensive. She really didn't have a answer to supply us, so instead she tried to sidestep around the issue with some rubblish about do we believe in spirituality? But like a pain in the ass, we kept pressing her about her faiths. I believe this about the time when Nizam went home and I stayed because I wanted to keep the conversation going. And yes I did ask her if she want to leave or end the conversation as it may be getting a little too personal talking about her drug habit and faith conflicts. Huggs was happy to carry on…

So Huggs what do you make of this dialects stuff I asked. Cue ridiculous speech about how amazing the author was/is and what a mind and life changer it is. After she finished, well I say finished it was more like prompting me out of my light sleep. But yeah I started on the fact that religion is/can-be like a drug and has all the same effects if your not too careful. Lost of personal time, lost of work, people hating to be around you, lost of money, people taking advantage of you, etc, etc you all get the picture. Huggs made the mistake of trying to separate religion and drugs which was a hoop I had made large enough for her to just jump through. On the otherside of the hoop was a minefield of hot sticking points, so to start off I suggested she may want to call it quits right now. Huggs was fine about carrying on and so I used her speech about how dianects can change your life into explaining why drug use may also not be so bad. Huggs asked if I was on drugs myself and I laughted – however Huggs wasn't.

That was about the moment when the pin dropped for myself and I realised Huggs was so deadly serious about conversation. Now I guess I felt a little sorry for this brainwashed lady so layed off a little – not too much though. It turns out that she was born into scientology through her parents. Her dad was heavily into it and married her mum who was jewish and obviouslybrainwashed converted her into it too. So for Huggs, scientology has been in her life forever. Shes never known of anything different. I was tempted to compare her parents who take drugs (including smoke) while the woman is pregnant and risk causing there unborn child permanent damage. But then again most parents do a similar thing when it comes religion and kids. So I guess i'm actually saying is, scientology is somewhat far below most religions. And honestly that wouldn't be far wrong. Anyway before I start to airing my religious views, on with Friday night.

The last sticking point was around openness. So I started questioning what influence Huggs could have on Dianetics. She came up with the usual line that it was great and perfect, why would it ever need changing? Then about 20mins later she explained how the guy who wrote the book will return and write another chapter. Well I was away, what a reversal of what she had just said 20mins earlier and I launched into why she wouldn't be involved in the process of Dianetics 2.0 (as such)? Well Huggs was well on the backfoot now and she made her position much worst when she explained to me that Dianetics says all people who are gay, are seriously distressed. I asked Huggs if she really believed this? She replied that she has friends who are gay and she always feels pity for them. I was outraged but kept my cool head on. I suggested to her that if Dianetics was written 20 years earlier, it may have a lot to say about people of different cultures and colour. Hey and even futher back maybe a lot to say about women. Huggs was well on the backfoot and kept trying to change the subject. In the end I let her change it but not before she admitted that I may have a point.

Over the 2 hours we talked about many topics but kept going back to the issues of openness, transparency and pyramid selling. Huggs commented that honestly it was one of the better conversations shes ever had with a stranger because I was quite educated about scientology. I suggested she may need to stop preaching and do something else. Generally, we both had fun talking and although Huggs was only a Level 2 sciencetologist could debate and hard sell like the best of them. I expect someone higher up would have simply walked away earlier but to Huggs credit she never till we both really needed to go home. In the end Huggs felt sorry for me and I felt a little sorry for her. Oh well, another smart brain wasted.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser. Can be found at, and