People In Glasshouses began as a result of my travels around the UK, Ireland and beyond. When, as a chartered surveyor, I would diligently explore restored Victorian glasshouse structures of differing levels of scale, scope and complexity. Fascinated by the sublime detail-rich architecture, the social history and the diverse multi-functional end use, my initial plan was to develop a chic coffee table book. Filled with stylish black and white imagery and low on narrative, it would be a book that the ‘discerning reader’ would be proud to feature in their homes. However, I would quickly discover that wasn’t to be God’s plan. For He had an entirely different plan in store for me.
For much like many of the magnificent and modest glass houses that I would survey, there was a time when I, too, was in a state of obsolescence and desperately in need of restoration and transformation. Using a self-formative function, this aide memoir provides a chronological testimony that confesses not only my own failings but to those various vices and primary demons that attacked and tempted me throughout my life. It highlights my struggles with the flesh and with the world but in doing so, this book also brings with it the promise of purificatory value.
People In Glasshouses offers a unique and innovative approach to writing. By cleverly punning with glasshouse/ glass house, it combines beautifully the personal and the professional; the worldly and the spiritual. This book is a thematic literary diptych offering two stories juxtaposed, depicting key moments in one man’s life. It is about experientialism, paradigm shifts, and judgements shaped by conditioning, cultures and historic perceptions.
It is a delightful book, about conservation, heritage, preservation and restoration. But it also about a future born of the past, and all with the over-arching aim of highlighting the risk of judgementalism in life. It is about our spiritual struggles, but it is also a Christological exhortation to white martyrdom and to a life of higher morals and of virtuous improvement.
People In Glasshouses is more than a memoir or a testimony. For much like the wonderful Victorian glasshouses that have been restored for the enjoyment of future generations, so too will this book be enjoyed, by those who are currently with us and by those who will come after us.