Who Is Graham Phoenix?
Graham Phoenix - A Pattern
This has been a pattern in my life:
- Soon after I left school I joined my first Trade Union, British Equity. Within three years of leaving school I was helping to write a contract for the employment of Stage Managers.
- In my second job in the theatre I hit a guy in the stomach to gain control of a stage crew.
- Soon after I was married I was put in jail overnight by the Police for arguing with a Policeman in the Police Station. “A bit like putting your head in the lion’s mouth”, said the Magistrate as he fined me.
- I shouted at Jayson Gaddis at the recent Evolving Men Conference because I thought he was being dominating… Hmmm… Pots and Kettles…
But then I am a compassionate man who loves and understands others. I am someone can empathise with others and see them where they are:
- I co-hosted a self-help group for gay christians with a woman. I opened my home and created a space where they could work out the contradictions and pressures they felt in the church. I trusted my children to understand and not condemn.
- I have spent my life in a profession, lighting design, that welcomes men and women into its ranks. I enjoy the power of women at work and have employed as many women as men in the firms I have run. I don’t find that equality at work contradicts polarity between men and women.
- Dogs find me sympathetic and loving towards them. They seek me out and sit with me when they can. You can’t amke a dog do that, they choose to if they feel the energy.
I have fun in my life, get drunk, have sex and laugh a lot.
- I love Caipirinha’s and remember an amazing night in Sao Paulo, Brazil, when I got totally drunk on them with a magazine editor interviewing me. The resulting recording was so incoherent that I had to re-construct the interview from memory.
- When I was a lot younger I was thrown out of the digs I was staying in because I was caught by the landlord climbing into bed, naked, with his wife. I have no memory of this due to the excess drinking at a party the previous evening. Remembering the landlady I can’t imagine it was deliberate…
- I remember having sex on the roof of a hotel while watching the crowds in the street below… but let’s move on…
- I got up before dawn, in the freezing cold, to see the sunrise over the Taj Mahal, in India. I froze for hours and missed it because the air was so polluted it cut out the sun’s rays. I did this with my partner, Cheta, with whom I also sat and watched the light change in the Grand Canyon, for hours and hours. It was when we both discovered we loved light.
I have had a lot of success in my life:
- I have won International Awards for my lighting designs. I am most proud of Durham Cathedral and The Albert Memorial. I am very proud of having these as two schemes in the UK’s Lighting Magazine’s ‘Top Ten Lighting Schemes 1995-2005’.
- I was President of the International Association of Lighting Designers in 2006 and 2007.
- I was Managing Director of two Lighting Design Practices with International reputations.
- I have two grown up boys of whom I am enormously proud. They are independent and creative men who excel as painters and musicians. Their love of life is amazing.
I have had many failures as well:
- I have two companies that I ran go into receivership owing money. I was unable to make either of them work commercially.
- I am divorced after 30 years of marriage. It’s a long time to work on something that ultimately crashes.
- In my 60’s I have large debts and savings or house to look after me. I have to work to keep living.
- I frequently let people down through failing to meet deadlines and not following through.
I have my peculiarities, the things that are just me:
- I have a club foot and refuse to let it hinder me, my stubbornness is enormous.
- I love life and never give up living it. I am travelling the world with Cheta simply because I love doing it with her.
- I love women and have more women friends than men. I find them more open and honest and more in touch with themselves.
- Five years ago I shaved all the hair on my head after forty odd years with a full head of hair and beard. I saw it as a spiritual practice to put me more in touch with myself.
Who Am I, Graham Phoenix?
So ultimately who am I, what makes me tick, what is life to me?
- I love my masculinity, my centeredness and my strength.
- I love the world and travelling in it. I never grow tired of networking and meeting new people. This is from someone who used to be incredibly shy and hated cocktail aprties!
- I love Urmila and am marrying her next year. She has brought a freshness and excitement to my life that I value so much. Thank you.
- Life is fun and excitement for me, I enjoy it and have no regrets. If I die tomorrow I will die happy because I feel I have lived my life to the full.