For my son..starting in Notting Hill

Yesterday evening I received this e-mail from my son:

set up a blog under some random name and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE write down some of the things we talked about, the histories of British psychedelic 80s culture, the way we’ve all been brainwashed, what is different in mass or youth culture now compared to the 80s, what people need to fight against, what needs to be changed – do it for me if not for anyone else PLEASE!

Thank you”

Now I can be very lazy but I used to be a good mum when my son was younger and so now I HAVE to write this blog.
Yesterday i no I ( I like capital I) I was talking to my son on the phone for over two hours. He was in Germany I am in London in Notting Hill. God what a horrible place it’s become!
It’s beautiful and privileged but if you don’t happen to also be beautiful and very rich don’t bother living here, no one will talk to you unless you go to church.
I remember Notting Hill how it used to be in the late seventies and eighties.
I’ll grant you now it’s cleaner, it’s a lot safer, I don’t get constantly stopped and searched by the police anymore and all the facilities are good but its soul and community have been torn out and deported to some place far from London and far from our times.
Notting Hill used to be a fantastic place for me, all my friends used to live in squats round here, I used to run a stall with my partner Michael and we saw wonderful gigs at Meanwhile Gardens near Trellick Tower. All of them free.
Notting Hill is a good place to live in a material sense but not if you want to set anything up with a community feel or do anything that is not about lots of money, success or celebrity. But I’ll stay here for the moment because it is beautiful round here.
Yes I probably sound spoilt to people who’d love to live here but maybe you don’t understand how amazingly creative, exciting , innovative and friendly Notting Hill used to be or how people like myself felt we belonged and were valued for being who we were.
I now live perched in my ivory tower alienated from all the people and the values that used to be my life.
All I need to do to feel totally alienated is to put on the television set. Alienated is a good word as for a while I was known as an alien.

I don’t know how to start. My son wants a political rant comparing now and back then and trying to get me to explain to everyone how we are all brainwashed, because I do rant sometimes to friends and my dear son and sometimes to his friends and to my surprise they often find it interesting.

We are all brainwashed. Even I am brainwashed.

The most powerful entity in our lives is the media and we have been brainwashed for so long now that money, success, a perfect youthful body and fame are all so important that it ticks away in our subconscious thoughts. But if I’d pick just one thing we are brainwashed to think then it’s all about money, money, money. We cannot start anything new without money in our brains.

Even in writing this blog there is a tiny little voice I can barely hear in the background saying
” Ooh maybe someone will read this and find it interesting and then maybe my blog will be important and they will publish a bit in a newspaper and then there will be a book made of it and I ‘ll be rich and then I’ll be successful just like J.K.Rowling and everyone will know me as this trendy cool middle-aged woman who wrote about cool things she experienced that no one else knew about and I’ll get teenagers thinking I’m cool and I’ll make more money and be on TV chat shows and be more successful and then I’ll have plastic surgery or expensive beauty therapies and stylists to make me look better on TV and record companies will finally listen to my music and I’ll tour the world and be more famous and sell lots of CD’s and have cheap downloads on the internet and I’ll still make money….
SHIT! That is SHITE! that is superstinky shite.

But to anyone who writes a blog can you honestly hand on heart say there wasn’t a little voice in the back of your head thinking
” ooh I can promote myself this way and maybe make some money and be cool”?
I’m telling you this is shite and it’s in all of our brains
. We have been contaminated by the concepts of  marketting and having to turn everything we do into a profit.
They wonder why young people stab eachother or shoot eachother to obtain some trinket. They wonder why people go on reality TV shows to be given such a hard time, but it’s for “money” and “fame”. The ends justify the means even if you have a place to live, all the food you can eat and all the clothes you can wear we are brainwashed to think we need more and more and more.

I bet you that since the success of the Harry Potter books every writer of children’s fiction has had that little voice in their head saying ( Ooh! I could be infinitely rich and famous just like J.K. then everyone will be respect me and I’ll be someone.”)
This is shite and it is endemic.
Nearly every musician I know , and I know 100s of them, has the voice inside each time they write a piece of music.
” Maybe I can make money out of this. I’d better make it catchy or better make it sound a little like that other band/artist that sold so much last year. I’d better make sure my lyrics don’t say anything people wouldn’t like.
Who am I writing for? Which angle should I take in the lyrics , what am I aiming for? Maybe it’s easier to just not have lyrics then there’s no one to upset and I don’t have to stand by anything I say. ”
It isn’t downloading or home taping or computer games that have ruined music…it’s obsession with making money even when there isn’t any to be made.
Just thinking that downloading, or home taping or the sale of computer games is responsible for crap music shows you are only thinking of the financial aspect. Every musician has to categorise themselves in a style for others. Why? because shops started to sell music by category, radio shows started to play music by category. It’s all marketting.
But when good original music is being made it doesn’t know yet what it is.
It might go in any direction. If you label it you might just kill any possibility of doing something creative and new and with some genius or thought in it.
If you really have to label it , then do it twenty years later.
If you have to think of the marketting aspect as you are creating something, your creativity is more or less screwed.
It’s not just the media than brainwashes us, it’s also endemic in the education system which is geared to everything making a profit.
Maybe soon we will have G.Ps. and other health professionals wearing T-shirts advertising Glaxo to sponsor the purchase of an ultrasound machine for their surgery and what about parks and libraries maybe they should earn their keep too and charge entry….
Anyway I can rant but being ranted at is kind of assuming you don’t know these things already. It’s condescending.
I don’t just want to shout and rant at you, an intelligent reader.

I’d like to entertain you with anecdotes of past events that take you to the spirit of challenging how we think about everything but which also demonstrates the shortcomings of anarchic movements.
If someone chose to make a mainstream film of these stories they’d choose the comical aspects and the shortcomings and ridicule it all and there IS comedy here but the message is actually quite serious and very powerful.
If we keep thinking just about marketting our whole society and our planet will collapse and we will have to start thinking again in non money- making terms to survive .
Naturally those still thinking in just material terms will simply stab or shoot one another to get what they want. The concept of pooling resources or working collaboratively for no money in order to survive just won’t register to those brainwashed by years of image/fame/money obsession.

Recently this friendly guy in his thirties contacted me on myspace. He had made a fan site for a punk/psychedelic band called “Treatment” who were good friends of mine and a great influence on my music and my life so I was absolutely delighted to see a fan site of this little-known band. Out of my correspondence with him on myspace I started to tell him stories about my involvement, my creating and my witnessing of various aspects of the 80s music psychedelic counter-culture.
In those days we just loved what we did. We wanted to shout stuff from the rooftops. We weren’t brainwashed yet, Thatcherism and eighties culture started it and the media continued with it not just in this country but many others have become also completely obsessed with marketting and business values…
The eighties was the start of the problems and although my son thought everyone was like us we were deeply untrendy hippies swimming against the current, fighting the system and challenging everything we heard and saw.

In the history of my life there are so many interwoven strands of different music subcultures and different kinds of alternative people I have been involved with but I will start by telling you some little mad stories about an anonymous group of loonies called
“ANTI-MEDIA” including myself.
God knows we could do with them now. But if we did the same things now we’d probably get shot or arrested or both!



  1. Just dropped by as I’m from Notting Hill too ;), not far from Meanwhile Gardens.

    I was a child in the 80s and I agree things have changed a lot. In a lot of areas I notice people who are far too concerned in themselves.
    The last time I enjoyed the Carnival was somewhere before the mid 90s, just the type of music and moxie.

    I write a blog and make music but only in my teens did I care considerably for fame/attention. For reasons you’ve pointed out, I’m happy I can make stuff for myself whether anyone else likes it or not. I’ll share it if people want it and I’m not broke enough to care about some pennies. I guess certain events made a good difference in my priorities. I think this also makes me different from any reality TV contestants.

    And you’re right, labelling and marketing is reducing everyone and everything to a pie chart pixel. I think a lot of people forget what they want because now we’re just told what we want.

  2. Hello! Please let me know where your blog is! I’m new to this and don’t really know how it works.
    Thanks a lot for your comment. If you read my blog and read generally about the History of Notting Hill you’ll find out it was really happening in the late sixties, early seventies. Not much is documented about it but there is a Hawkwind Documentary that shows quite a bit, also a friend of mine called Dave Russell is writing about his experiences in the 60s/70s for the local history society. Pink Floyd did their first gigs here but again the extent of their gigs are poorly documented my friend Dave knows a lot more and many bands, writers, artists were inspired by one another around this area.
    I myself have been part of a music movement that saw psychedelia and punk change into trance and techno. My son even more so. These histories need to be told because some of these events and bands are being rediscovered and are timeless.
    Thanks a lot for your comment and I hope you enjoy the will be me being very silly no doubt and ranting angrily and sometimes stupidly but I am sure I will be telling some very interesting stories I have lived through from the eighties to present day involving infamous musicians and lunatics!

  3. I’ve bookmarked your blog and will be sure to follow it! I know little things here and there – like Joe Strummer’s old house in Elgin Crescent – but not much, so you’ve certainly raised my interest. The music I’m involved is part thrash metal, so it’s a bit more early 90’s US influenced.
    My blog’s at I don’t really update it too often but it’s a gist of interesting and nonsense.

  4. How come you haven’t mentioned `The Pink Fairies’ who played a lot around Notting Hill?

  5. Hello again Sue

    I didn’t mention the Pink Fairies because I was illustrating Dave’s interview and he didn’t mention them but I will no doubt do something about them as well in time and Mick Farren and others. I started off writing about the eighties and never intended writing about the sixties but while I was researching the Crypt in Deptford my friend Dave thought I meant the Crypt in Notting Hill and when he started to tell me about it I simply had to write about that too. Also for a long time I’ve been a fan of Hawkwind, Pink Floyd ,Gong, Davy Graham but I need to listen to other bands more who I don’t know as well.
    Speak to you soon.

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