Slay Your Dragons - Malcolm Stern

Embracing Life's Serendipity: Stephen Kirk's Odyssey from Cultural Roots to Purposeful Living

April 21, 2024 John
Embracing Life's Serendipity: Stephen Kirk's Odyssey from Cultural Roots to Purposeful Living
Slay Your Dragons - Malcolm Stern
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Slay Your Dragons - Malcolm Stern
Embracing Life's Serendipity: Stephen Kirk's Odyssey from Cultural Roots to Purposeful Living
Apr 21, 2024
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Discover the extraordinary life of Stephen Kirk as he takes us on a journey through his past, revealing the deep cultural roots that have shaped him and the pivotal moments that have defined his existence. From the vibrant streets of Stamford Hill to the corporate boardrooms and the intimate spaces of personal transformation, Stephen's story is a testament to resilience and the power of love. His narrative weaves through the complexities of dealing with a mother's manic depression, his embrace of English folk music, and the clandestine connections to espionage that have silently orchestrated his life's path.

Venture into the unexpected twists of Stephen's career, where a chance encounter with ViewData software catapults him into a world of business and technology, rubbing shoulders with British embassies and the likes of the Murdochs. His tale continues with entrepreneurial highs and the serendipity of corporate chants mingling with technical disasters, culminating in a profound moment of clarity beneath a desk. As Stephen recounts these episodes, we gain insight into the balance between ambition and the sudden, stark necessities of fate.

In our final reflections with Stephen, we explore the profound shifts that come with confronting health challenges and the metamorphosis of personal priorities. Stephen's journey from a high-flying career to a life centered around creativity, spirituality, and family showcases the transformative power of reevaluating one's life choices. His candid discussion about choosing health and relationships over the relentless pursuit of success inspires us all to consider what truly matters in our own lives. Join us for this intimate portrait of a man who exemplifies courage, compassion, and the relentless quest for an authentic and purposeful life.

This Podcast is sponsored by Onlinevents 

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Send us a Text Message.

Discover the extraordinary life of Stephen Kirk as he takes us on a journey through his past, revealing the deep cultural roots that have shaped him and the pivotal moments that have defined his existence. From the vibrant streets of Stamford Hill to the corporate boardrooms and the intimate spaces of personal transformation, Stephen's story is a testament to resilience and the power of love. His narrative weaves through the complexities of dealing with a mother's manic depression, his embrace of English folk music, and the clandestine connections to espionage that have silently orchestrated his life's path.

Venture into the unexpected twists of Stephen's career, where a chance encounter with ViewData software catapults him into a world of business and technology, rubbing shoulders with British embassies and the likes of the Murdochs. His tale continues with entrepreneurial highs and the serendipity of corporate chants mingling with technical disasters, culminating in a profound moment of clarity beneath a desk. As Stephen recounts these episodes, we gain insight into the balance between ambition and the sudden, stark necessities of fate.

In our final reflections with Stephen, we explore the profound shifts that come with confronting health challenges and the metamorphosis of personal priorities. Stephen's journey from a high-flying career to a life centered around creativity, spirituality, and family showcases the transformative power of reevaluating one's life choices. His candid discussion about choosing health and relationships over the relentless pursuit of success inspires us all to consider what truly matters in our own lives. Join us for this intimate portrait of a man who exemplifies courage, compassion, and the relentless quest for an authentic and purposeful life.

This Podcast is sponsored by Onlinevents 

Malcolm Stern:

So welcome to Slay your Dragons with Compassion. My podcast, done in conjunction with the wonderful online events, and this is a place where we explore what's happened to people in their lives Normally, what's been the place where their lives have changed, what have they had to embrace in order to become who they are and what's their life experience and people have often said it's much. It's truth is much stranger than fiction. If we hear some people's lies, we would never believe what goes on in them. So thank you for listening to our podcasts, and this is now, I think, number 13 that we've been recording, and today I'm very, very pleased to welcome my guest, stephen Kirk, and Stephen has had somewhat of a rich life and hopefully he's going to share some of the ingredients of that and what's made him what he is. So, stephen, welcome.

Stephen Kirk:

Thank you.

Malcolm Stern:

Good to see you, and we've talked a bit about your life story and the things that have gone on in your life, and I think some of what I'm really impressed with is one. You've been through some being a big shot businessman with lots of experience. You've had some quite strong psychic and mystical experiences You've found yourself into in what I see as one of the most beautiful relationships I've seen in my life, and you've also encountered serious illness, which you've also dealt with with your typical style, and so I'd like to unwrap some of those and take a look at what you'd like to share. There's also a story of spying. Would that be a fair word, spying?

Stephen Kirk:

would that be a fair word? The story evolves around the theory that somehow I, completely unknown to myself, was involved in some espionage activities, but to this day I will never be able to prove that one way or the other.

Malcolm Stern:

Extraordinary yeah, so well, you've also had deep engagement with the, the Murdochs Rupert and Elizabeth Murdoch and again we're not going to go into that in depth, but you've travelled quite a distance in your life, so tell us a little bit about how you started off and what took you into some of these places.

Stephen Kirk:

Okay, so it's probably best to start off about 10 miles away in Stamford Hill in Haringey, which I always pretend is Hackney because it sounds more funky, but it was in 100 yards from the borough of Hackney. My background, which really did start me off, was that I was born into a traditional Jewish not religious but observant family, and within that there were various rules that were inflicted upon me and the family about who I could be friends with and who I could marry, and so on and so forth. My mother was all my younger life until about the age of 24. She had manic depression and was in and out of mental hospitals, and it and also and this is in terms of what made me think something strange was going on in my life is that when the group Fairport Convention started, I suddenly found myself in love with English folk music and, wrapping that all together, my father was very concerned I should never, never, marry a non Jewish woman, and that he didn't talk to his sister for most of their lives together because she became a Jehovah's Witness, which is another story, but the point being that when my grandmother on my mother's side was dying, she confessed that actually she was the daughter of a Jewish Christian marriage.

Stephen Kirk:

So actually, in technical terms, she wasn't Jewish and this was deeply, deeply upsetting to my father and probably led in the end to my mother's suicide, because she, shortly after that she committed suicide and anyway. So that was one part, which is that when I saw my mother in one of her many hospital visits, she'd had electroconvulsive therapy and when I went to see her she was like a different person, she was free spirited and she said to me there's a nice Thai nurse, maybe you'd like to ask her out.

Malcolm Stern:

And I said Mom, it's not.

Stephen Kirk:

Jewish and I saw, for the brief period the electroconvulsive therapy worked a different personality and I then put it all together. Why do I like English folk music? Because I have got some non-Jewish blood in me which, like at the time, was, wow, that's amazing. And why is my mother ill? And I thought it has to do something to do with the fact that she's a vibrant, loving, go out and get them woman, but she's been shackled in this environment that's very important.

Malcolm Stern:

When we see someone suppressed, their vital energy gets suppressed.

Stephen Kirk:

For a while they'll often fight against it, but then they'll surrender to it and in surrendering to it, a part of them dies yes, well, she died, died and uh, and that, put it all together, made me think that this isn't the way I'm going to go. I'm not going to outwardly rebel, but as soon as I have freedom. Freedom for me was getting on the 253 bus to Camden and going to an English Folk Dance Song Society concert, which for my parents, was like like wow, what are you doing?

Malcolm Stern:

and, um, from that day on, I was just determined or from that period on I was determined to follow my heart as best I could and I think that's a very powerful thing to do, and I think suicide obviously suicide is a theme in my book, from which this, the title of this series, comes, and my daughter took her own life and um, and so I see suicide as something that's interesting. I've just been out for a walk with a friend. This morning. We've been talking about suicide as well, and I think suicide is something that happens when the balance of the mind is so disturbed that they're no longer able to keep touch with what we see as reality. And it must have been very shocking for you. How old were you when your mother died?

Stephen Kirk:

Well, I was 24. And indeed it wasn't shocking, because during that period and then we come to the next point of my maturity, if you like is that I went to Manchester University and bizarrely and this is the first of many, many, many kind of magic-y things happened. Bizarrely, I went to the Jewish place called Hillel House, which is a place where Jewish students congregated, and the rabbi there was a guy called Alan Unterman and his father was my rabbi in Stanford Hill and, bizarrely, his father had told him to look out for Stephen Kirk which is he and to look after him. He knew about my mother's episode and there was a teacher of transcendental meditation in town who was Jewish very important and he had invited her to Hillel House to teach his students. And he said to me I don't want you to go the same way as your mother, so I think you should learn Transcendental Meditation.

Stephen Kirk:

And I thought, wow, and I told my parents and what could they say? Because it was the rabbi who had suggested it. I learned that and we were so impressed, I was so impressed with it, that my ex and I went on a four month teacher training course after we left university and on the teacher training course, my mother committed suicide. Well, at that moment, I was doing six hours a day of meditation, and so and I'm not saying it's a good thing or a bad thing, because but what that did is it made me completely disconnected from the old world.

Malcolm Stern:

There's a difference between disconnected and and sort of disembodied and also able to step away from a situation and not get caught in the drama of it. And what I'm hearing is, if you were doing six hours meditation a day, probably a big part of you would have been not caught in the drama of your mothers, whereas I've seen people. When Melissa died, I went to a support group for people who were bereaved by suicide and some of the people in that group were unable to speak. They were so desperately caught in the drama. They were so freaked out by the suicide that happened around them. But you somehow coped with that and you were given some tools to cope with that, and I think that's what's quite interesting is that the tools seem to come our way almost uninvited, absolutely. The tool came your way from someone who would have been very acceptable to your parents a rabbi and so you had a tool and we build resources in our lives yes, so um, so should I continue?

Malcolm Stern:

yeah, yeah, please do yes anyway.

Stephen Kirk:

After that experience, um, I'd resigned my job and um, uh, again, in what is a sequence of very odd, magical, positive things, I needed some work. Um and uh, I went to see a headhunter and he asked me and this is where we get to the possible intelligence aspect of it he asked me what I'd like to do. I had a computer science degree and I made something up completely randomly I'd like to be in computers and travel and live abroad. And in those days there were no computers like we use today. He'd written down the job as I walked in and he said my God, I can't believe I'm hearing this. I have the job for you. Go around the corner, corner and meet my, uh, my associate, george ballmer. Uh, in lincoln fields.

Stephen Kirk:

Long story short, uh, I was offered a job 30 000 pounds a year we were talking about 1980. And it was working for a company called arrogant. Arrogant had the rights to some software called ViewData, which was actually the forerunner of the internet. And he said I'd like you to live with my then ex-wife in Amsterdam and we'll pay for a flat. And my job was based in British embassies and it was how it would work. Is the ambassador of the British embassy, wherever I happened to be wanting to set up a meeting, would offer a cocktail party. And he would offer, he would and he would invite news agencies to come and I would sell them.

Stephen Kirk:

I was very good at it. I don't know. I mean, I actually have a very good apparently a very good sales capability. I've never done anything like this before and I put systems into things like the Italian State News Agency.

Stephen Kirk:

Anyway, it turned out many years later through a series of old coincidences that I happened to be had a guy assigned to me that I. He was out of Oxford and he was very bright. He was a guy called Bernard and I was talking many, many years later to one of the sons of John Le Carre, who was the famous writer of spy novels, and I happened to mention this guy and he and one of John Le Carre's sons guy called stephen cornwall, as I was relating what I'm telling you now, he said, oh wait a minute was bernard, the son of peter, and I'm not saying the second name because I don't think it's and I said I don't know, I have no idea.

Stephen Kirk:

He said well, if he's the son of peter, he'll be the model for Smiley. Peter was the model for Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and certainly Bernard would have been aware of the espionage aspect. Consequently, putting two and two together, I kind of reckon that putting two-way for the first time, two-way computer systems because the internet didn't exist into the Italian State News Agency and other agencies was a way that the information could be tapped by the company. And that's a theory. That's oh, and then there's one fight, sorry.

Stephen Kirk:

There's one other odd thing which I've never worked out is on the first week that we're in the Amsterdam, we had an Amsterdam apartment. We got over a bank holiday and my ex and I went for a walk and we came back. The landlord said, oh, someone's called for you. Well, no one knew where we were. I mean no, I hadn't told the company nothing, and I where we were. I mean no, I hadn't told the company nothing. And I said well, like who was it? He said, oh, just tell him, the englishman called and that was it. I never, I've never to this day, worked out who.

Malcolm Stern:

That was how that happened, and he asked for me by name and so you know a lot of things happened, and then I think a lot of steel, because you ended up working alongside Rupert Murdoch at one point, and that's that's quite fascinating. That's how did that happen. What happened there?

Stephen Kirk:

I never would have said I worked alongside Rupert Murdoch.

Malcolm Stern:

Your company was incorporated in Rupert Murdoch's empire.

Stephen Kirk:

So moving, moving forward. I set up a couple of companies. One was a cable tv franchise with no experience.

Stephen Kirk:

I didn't know what I was doing, but somehow we managed to set up a cable tv franchise. I got the whole thing started, but then that wasn't very interesting. So I also started tv phone-ins um, when you vote in tv shows uh, that before my company didn't exist. So I thought I worked out a way to do it and we completely cleaned up at the beginning. But then as time went on, we got more competitors and I realised that I'm pretty good at working out how things might work out.

Stephen Kirk:

But I realised, as our margins minimised and, as our staff had to grow, that we were in trouble. We would be in trouble and I had to sell the business. And I didn't have any clue. I've never done a day's business trading. I could just about read a balance sheet that this was entirely like oh, I'm going to travel out a huge mortgage which I take that huge debt into business. But I realized I just had to sell business.

Stephen Kirk:

So I did what's called a yagya, and the yagya is I paid a group of pundits in India to chant for me, which is something everybody would do, isn't it? And and they kind of you give them a kind of idea that what you want to do and it was to sell my business. Anyway, the day that that started, I had 10 days of this chanting. The day it started I drove to work that day and we were about to launch a huge competition for the Daily Mirror to give away a car over the. You phoned in and you entered the competition. It had never been done before.

Stephen Kirk:

But that morning the night watchman had told me that a van had driven into the forecourt and was tinkering around with the computer wires outside at 5am and when I got to the office the whole computer system had collapsed and the Daily Mirror on the phone, and the contract was worth 3 million pounds and they were saying you know what on earth has happened? No one can get through. We're going to cancel our contract. This is on the first day of the yagya where I'm supposed to sell my business, so everybody's rushing around trying to fix this thing, of course.

Stephen Kirk:

So I said to my uh secretary and we had an open plan office. I decided to sit under the desk of my my desk and I asked to bring me a cup cup of tea and I said I don't want to be disturbed, I don't know what I'm going to do, but I'm just going to sit here cross-legged with a cup of tea and something will happen. I don't know what I'll think of something. And she brings me a cup of tea and about 20 minutes later I'm just sitting there staring into space and she comes to the phone and she comes with a phone and she says I know you said don't, you don't want to be disturbed, but you think you should take this call, what is it?

Stephen Kirk:

and it was a guy called michael hoy who was managing edward the times newspaper and we did a service racing results, very tiny, tiny contract. And he said, do you want to sell your business? I said, uh, I guess why. And along the short of it is, he introduced me to a guy who'd been sent over to the uk to look for people that might help the development of news corporation which is modoc's company. Uh and um, along the short of it, this guy called john evans was the intermediary. He'd come over especially to find people, apparently, who he thought would know the future, help the corporation.

Stephen Kirk:

And John Evans, after we'd had a meeting, phoned me up and said do you want to meet Rupert Murdoch tomorrow? What are you doing? And I said I'm taking my car over for services and I thought that's probably not the best reply but I've made it. So I said, actually I'll sort it out anyway. Uh, I met him and uh, we did a deal on monday. We'd exchange contracts on thursday and uh, it was, I mean, mean, it's like it's set up with. Obviously that's what's extraordinary. But I actually had to persuade some shares. One of the shareholders had to take a loss on their investment and I promised to make it up to them. So they didn't make a loss, they just covered their cost.

Stephen Kirk:

That was a bit of negotiation, but by Thursday I basically was an employee of News International, which is Murdoch's UK campus. That's how I got that.

Malcolm Stern:

And you also worked with Elizabeth Murdoch in one of her organisations.

Stephen Kirk:

Well, later on, through this business and the connection to news, I met Elizabeth's first husband, el, who is my friend, my friend to this day, and he uh arranged for us to to meet socially, he and his wife elizabeth, socially for dinner. Then we get on to which is related to the osteo story. Um, I had colon cancer. To the answer to your story, I had colon cancer shortly after, well 10 years after, I'd sold the business in fact, and at that point I thought I'd lost the plot. Actually, I'd become like all the other executives and put money and status in front of my core values and I'd lost it. And, okay, money and status in front of my core values, and I'd lost it. And, um, uh, okay, so, um, I, um, I don't again.

Stephen Kirk:

Again, I just put in the little thing about so and I wanted, I still didn't believe in, uh, traditional medicine. I used to go and have um Ayurved treatment I still have Ayurvedic treatment, which is the Indian health system, and I chose them. I actually had gone to three GPs who told me there was nothing wrong with me, and I then went to a place in Germany where there were three top Ayurvedic doctors. They took my pulse and they said said nothing wrong with you, imbalance. And then I sat down for dinner and the place was shared by a convention of witches and one doesn't have no idea. And I'm sitting at dinner on my own and this woman comes up, sits opposite me and says you are very ill, you need to get help now. You will be better if you get help now. If you don't, then you'll die. And I walked off. So I went to another doctor and basically they diagnosed colon cancer and then I had basically two years of treatment, a major operation, and during that period I resigned from News International. And I have to say that, despite all the things people say about Murdoch, they sent me a message saying if leave the company, well fine, if you stay and you die, we'll look after your family for the rest of their lives.

Stephen Kirk:

So I but I in my heart now I was thinking I'm in this place, in hospital, because I didn't follow my heart and I should have known. I knew I was ill actually, and I avoided thinking about it and I thought, okay, I'm going back to basics. So I said I have to resign. I resigned and then Elizabeth Murdoch and I were having lunch, as we did many times, you know, once every few months we'd have lunch and I said to her I've resigned, I don't know what I'm gonna do now. Now, and she said I'm setting up my television production company, shine. Would you like to be on the board and like again, it's like what? I mean? I didn't know anything about television production or anything. I mean really, I still didn't know anything about business. We'll stop. But I accepted that position and that's basically how I got to know her.

Malcolm Stern:

That's pretty amazing, and also the amount of synchronicities in your life, the thing like the witch coming to your table. That's not an everyday story that you see in Coronation Street, for example. It's quite rare that actually something comes along and goes. This is what you need to do, but it feels like there's been guidance for you. And so there you were, someone who had suffered with two years of treatment with a very, very pervasive illness, and then you went to um, a meditation retreat after that, but it was a meditation retreat you went to after that that's where I met my, my louisa, my wife and um, I'm sorry, excuse me, you've been together with her for more than 20 years and um, you were married at the time and um, but something in you was not met, was not satisfied, and you're not exactly going to be a sort of like a, a babe magnet.

Malcolm Stern:

You know, having had your colon sort of ripped apart and being, I think you said you were six stone at the time and but somehow again synchronicity came your way and you, you found the woman who and I've seen you, you guys, together and there's it's a very beautiful relationship. And what happened there?

Stephen Kirk:

well, to be clear, I I had no intention whatsoever of finishing my marriage and my ex is a wonderful person, but um, I, uh, I had. No, I wasn't thinking about it. I'd gone to the water filter in the meditation retreat and there was Louisa. Now I had met Louisa when I was beginning of my illness, before I knew I was ill, and on another retreat and she had. She was there, we had a nice conversation and then she left without saying goodbye.

Stephen Kirk:

And I felt sad that she hadn't said goodbye, but I had no idea who she was, how you know to contact her, so I never would have followed up anyway, probably. So anyway. So I knew her, I was at, they went to the, the filter, water filter. She's standing there and I'm standing there, man, oh, I know you. And it just developed from that. I mean, nothing happened on the meditation retreat, but we would walk. You know, we were there a week together and we go for walks. And I drove her to the station and when she was leaving I felt, my god, you know why are you leaving? You know, it's like this is extraordinary. And a few weeks later, when I finished the retreat, we met and she told me she'd fallen in love with me and like wow, I really wasn't expecting that. I thought.

Stephen Kirk:

I mean, I felt for her, but I just wasn't in a place where I wanted yet another drama of ending my marriage, and so it took us three years to work it out, actually before we got together formally, because I, you know know, I felt very bad about leaving a perfectly nice woman in the circumstances. But, um, anyway, we got together. Here we are and your.

Malcolm Stern:

Your life has been transformed by your relationship with Louisa. You feel like you have, um, people often get married and they often get married to avoid loneliness or because that's the dumb thing to do, and to be on the same wavelength as another person is quite rare and to develop together. So something's happened for you in that second marriage that you've got where it feels like it's rock solid and sort of quite different. And I really hear you that your first wife was a lovely woman. But something happened for you and what would you say? That is Stephen.

Stephen Kirk:

Well, in my old relationship, my ex and I hardly did anything together, which is how she wanted it. And I used to in the mornings go for a walk on my own to Cassidy and back and I had friends. But I really wanted a relationship. I didn't know this, by the way, at the time.

Malcolm Stern:

No, of course.

Stephen Kirk:

I really wanted to have a relationship where me and whoever I was with would do most things together and magically, both Louisa and I love the same things, so we spend 90 percent of our time traveling around the world. She likes traveling to anywhere where we're not more than I do, but I live with that. So it's a first year. Every place on the planet and the ones that we haven't been to, she still wants to go um also.

Stephen Kirk:

At the same time, I didn't want to go back to formal work when we met, I had a number of non executive directorships and I was doing some coaching, but I never wanted to go back to a full time job or and that's that. As our relationships gone on, I've got less and less interested in that sort of work and I've become quite reclusive. I mean, people ask me now about you know what I'm like? I say I'm a recluse because the last three or four years as you know have been extremely challenging and I have.

Malcolm Stern:

I just, I'm just hiding in a way.

Stephen Kirk:

I am just hiding, in a way from the mainstream of what's going on in the world, while I watch, as if it's a TV drama. What's happening now? Yeah, and Luisa's the same.

Malcolm Stern:

And we've had conversations before about purpose, and it's one of the chapters in my book, slay your Dragons is finding your purpose, and you said something quite interesting there that you said you felt that Louisa was your purpose, and I think that's actually that's quite profound as well, because to really embrace another human being wholeheartedly, I remember reading Rainer Maria Rilke, the German philosopher, who said if in your lifetime you can truly love one other human being, you've achieved a great deal.

Malcolm Stern:

And so, yes, you have actually cracked that purpose, and I think the challenge for you, as I see it this is the challenge I'm presenting to you now as well as is it? What, apart from that, does your heart cry out for you to do? Because you've led a very rich and varied life, full of magic and synchronicity and all sorts of stuff like that. And now you say that you're a recluse, but you're a very much a people person, as we've discovered as well, and and I'm just wondering what your life is beckoning you to take on now well, you see this, all this words about beckoning and so on and so forth don't relate to me.

Stephen Kirk:

I'm very happy, but what I do is I play my guitar and what I'm doing is also writing a novel of short stories. But I used to have, I used to be driven, you know, by money and success and feeding the kids when I was younger. But unlike the majority of people I meet, I don't have a burning desire to do anything to get anywhere. I'm very happy. I'm looking at the sun outside. I'm thinking, wow, first time I've seen sun in the morning for a few months, it's amazing. And I just go for walks the morning for a few months, it's amazing, and I just go for walks and stuff I mean. So there's nothing. I'd like to do most to play my guitar to a degree where I could perform in public. I don't want to perform, but I'd like to be able to perform and I feel that I was a musician in a past life and, for whatever reason, this life I've stunted musicianship. In other words, um, after 50 years of playing the guitar, I can hardly play anything and my passion is music.

Malcolm Stern:

I'm going to have a passion and now I'm trying as best I can to be able to perform adequately to my so one of the things that I tend to ask my guests on this podcast is what's the dragon you've had to slay in order to become who you are? What have you had to take on and grapple with in order to become who you are being different?

Stephen Kirk:

Being different Always be different, not for the sake of being different, but it turns out the me is different and I don't believe in. Well basically, I'm on a project now to drop as many beliefs as I possibly can, and this has been a lifelong thing, which is that when I find myself believing something, I think, oh, and it started off with religion dropping religion. And now I'm kind of whenever I find myself being certain about something.

Stephen Kirk:

I think uh- problem with humans, our belief systems, and it has caused and is causing the majority of conflicts between people, between nations a lack of people following their heart and saying to themselves do I really believe that? Really do I really believe that and I think if more people did that, the world would be a more peaceful and a better place. If that answers your question yeah, I think it does.

Malcolm Stern:

I think what you're saying is that, actually, that each of us can play our individual role, in that we are all, as sir george trevelyan used to say, droplets of divinity, and so each, each droplet, has its role to play, and you seem to have found quite a lot of peace in in doing and being what you are now. And, uh, and, and you know, still with some some draws towards music, towards writing, still with some draws towards music towards writing, still with some draws that actually help you as well and health-wise, are you fully recovered from?

Stephen Kirk:

Well, it's 20-odd years now. Yes, I have to have check-ups every five years. I'm fine. Thank you very much.

Malcolm Stern:

If I can just ask you before we close, what did that do for you being that seriously ill and having to take on the amount of treatments that you had, and how did you get through that?

Stephen Kirk:

um, funnily enough, and I don't really understand why I was at peace during this, once I, once we started, I had an excellent surgeon who who I'm in contact with to this day, and and there was something peaceful because I knew now that nature was taking over that.

Stephen Kirk:

I'm now doing okay, I put off doing the right thing and if I didn't stop doing what I was doing I would probably be dead. But the message was Stephen, you've gone off track, stop it, come back. And then the worst moment when I was in pain and it was a very difficult evening was when I was in intensive care in an emergency room, having just had the operation, and it was a dreadful evening. The odd thing about hospitals is that when, in this particular hospital, every time somebody had a problem, they'd turn on the alarm and every room would ring.

Stephen Kirk:

Every time somebody had a problem they'd turn on the alarm and every room would ring. So I had a night where every few seconds the alarms would go off in the room in my room. I thought this is so bizarre. Here am I needing rest, and every time somebody else has an emergency I have to be aware. Anyway, I said to the universe, I made a promise that from that day on I'd follow my heart.

Malcolm Stern:

And I've tried my best to do that since. That's very interesting. I had something similar when my daughter, melissa, was born. She was born through cesarean in the end and I sort of like I held her in my arms and I started to well up with tears and there were all these strangers in my arms and and I started to well up with tears and there were all these strangers in the room and I stopped myself and I made a vow at that moment that I wouldn't stop myself feeling again. And I've kept that up and it's like. So I'm hearing that you've had a very similar experience and that actually you're following your heart and it must have been very tempting to stay within News International and and to be looked after. You know, to have your family looked after if anything happened to you and you'd have had security. But actually something else called you. I know you don't like beckoning or calling, but I think there's something that goes with that as well no, there's no there was no question.

Stephen Kirk:

It was a complete non-starter me staying, yeah, and um, I knew that you could, one could take that approach with a look after my family, but on the other hand, we had sufficient funds that I've made by them that I thought, well, actually they'll be okay, yeah, and it's not worth if, if they knew that I thought that by staying there it would harm my health, they wouldn't want me to stay there anyway. And there was no question, actually my ex was fine, but we all thought that was an amazing gesture.

Malcolm Stern:

Amazing gesture.

Stephen Kirk:

yes, yes, I didn't want to do that.

Malcolm Stern:

Yeah, steve, thank you very, very much. I really appreciate you coming on to our show here and to add your particular wisdom, and I do see that actually, you are very much embodying what you're speaking about. There is a peacefulness and a calmness about you and an enthusiasm for life as well, so thank you very much for being here and see you down the trail.

Stephen Kirk:

Thank you very much. I'm honoured that you should choose me.

Malcolm Stern:

Yeah, lovely. Thanks, stephen, all the best.

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