My Adolescent Weekend & the Power of Gatherings(Part Deux)


Hello Good People who read this blog

After my last entry which attracted a lot of readers , I thought I’d cheer things up a bit.

In the media the knife crime and violence is taking up every spare moment of our consciousness and although it is obviously important I think I need to brighten things up a bit.

So here we go first of all I will tell you that on a whim, because I happened to have my debit card on me when I went out, I bought a sitar today.

Oh what joy! It’s so cool, I’m making a horrible noise on it but playing the riff from Led Zep’s ” Kashmir” is a doddle. I played for hours and the day’s severe stresses faded into harmonic overtones of OM!

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I wrote an entry originally posted on Sunday night all about my mad weekend and how at my age I probably shouldn’t be enjoying myself so much. In the morning I deleted it because it didn’t follow on from my stories of Notting Hill dodgy places, but what happened is that someone, maybe WordPress somehow translated it into French with one of those daft internet translators that completely distorts the meaning and then linked it to my site so since my petty hedonistic weekend is out there for everyone to read in very strange French I thought I’d re-issue it in English. If you read my blog regularly you’ll notice posts appearing, disappearing, re-edited , translated into Japanese..hmm, it’s got to be done.

I hope you enjoy it. My blog like me likes to flit about from subject to subject and swing from one state of mind to another.

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“My Weekend” by hippie aged 14 (sorry I meant 40 something)

Hello Good People who read this blog!

This blog is getting weirder and more anarchic and spontaneous as time goes on, but that’s ok, that’s what life is like unpredictable , with high and lows, memories and day-to day realities, unexpected joys and nightmares.

I am therefore putting my tales of drug-dealers of the late 70s early eighties in Notting Hill and beyond to one side for now.

I’m going to tell you about my weekend as I am ending it with Glastonbury in the background.

On Friday afternoon having no other commitments I decided on a whim to get a bus up to Speaker’s Corner to go to Nelson Mandela’s birthday party. I didn’t have a ticket of course at £65 pounds a hit well , it’s beyond my budget. But you can sit on the grass and hear it from outside.

At first I went to watch the screens from the gates. You could see the screens clearly, at that point there was Annie Lennox and with an African choir. I have no idea who half the performers I heard or saw were although Eddie Grant got everyone near me dancing and singing “ Give me Hope Joanna!” , Will Smith was great too there were so many performers doing 2 songs each.
There was a great mix of people gathered outside looking at the screens. Wafts of smoke of a fragrant nature, lots of black people of all shades, ages, income brackets, tourists as well as out of town white families with their picnics and dogs, groups of students, all different kinds of people. The crowd was as eclectic as the music..

I couldn’t hear the acts so I moved to a bit of grass closest to the stage where I couldn’t see any screens. Hearing it clearly was more important as was sitting down after a couple of hours.
There were a lot of police and one of the bits of fence nearby was regularly being opened to allow in and out convoys of police escorted black limousines. Naturally we the rabble outside then took the opportunity to get up and crowd around and look inside with the police telling us to move back.

There was this very cheerful pretty black woman in her forties …( actually I’m writing “black” but I have to say I didn’t notice to start with. I know that sounds lame but unless I go out of London for a long time, or someone is extreme in their clothing and “attitude” I often don’t notice what colour people are).
Anyway she was a real laugh and was shouting at the policemen ” Come on give us a smile don’t look so miserable! It’s a birthday party!” and many variations on this.
Later I got talking to her and her friend and we found a gap in a fence to peak through and spent the evening in each other’s company and discussed the artists and politics and had a great time.

At one point another woman who I can only describe as what Amy Winehouse would look like in 25 year’s time with no front teeth, pushed us out of the way , along with her mates all totally off their faces. “I love Amy Winehouse” she shouted and we could tell as she dressed just like her.
Later her boyfriend was arrested and carried away by a couple of police officers. I don’t like to be mean but our evening was slightly improved as a result.

As Amy Winehouse started to sing “ Rehab” her voice was weak and faltering and it was kind of sad and I wondered why on earth someone hasn’t cancelled her gigs yet as she clearly is not well mentally or physically, confirmed by her hitting someone in the audience the following evening at Glastonbury.

I really hope in my dreams that some good people, maybe a bit older who have overcome their own addictions, come to terms with themselves, maybe musicians, could take Amy Winehouse off secretly away from the city, the press, the music biz, the crowds to some calm anonymous cottage by the sea and let her chill out and not be this sad object of fascination for the public. She’s only young, maybe she doesn’t want to go to rehab but she definitely needs rescuing.

Later my new acquaintances managed to succeed in making at least one policeman smile.
We were totally sober but there was a great party atmosphere and it was contagious.

I saw several older black people outside the the fence who were wandering about or sitting on the grass. One woman in her seventies wearing a scarf round her head and the kind of earrings and clothes that to me are characteristically Afro-Caribbean must have made a trip there specially , even though she had trouble walking, Nelson Mandela must have meant a lot to her. I found it very moving to see her there.

Similarly I was standing next to a sharp-suited black gentleman who looked like he was well into his eighties who was smiling to everyone. I don’t think he came to see Queen or Bono.
When Mr. Mandela himself appeared on the stage I got up and rushed to find a screen I could peak at and I found myself quite emotional. He looks so vibrant, he represents hope.

I remember all those years of campaigning, from the “Rock Against Racism” gigs I attended in Brockwell Park to Wembley, years later, people singing “Free Nelson Mandela” . I watched and videoed it at home wishing I’d been in the audience.
That concert made a difference, a political difference and he was freed eventually.

How history and the news was rewritten. Once it was Nelson Mandela the “violent terrorist”, Winnie Mandela the “ever-loyal wife”. I never thought Mandela would ever speak in public again let alone be freed from jail to create a new nation.

I can’t embed this video so here’s the link, copy and paste job . “Free Nelson Mandela” with Amy Winehouse in Hyde park it’s cool.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=tcmGGuwAoJs&feature=related

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Saturday I went to a totally different event. I was invited by a close friend to go an see Brian Wilson at Kenwood , Hampstead Heath. This was the weirdest outdoor gig I have ever been to. I don’t think there was anyone there who hadn’t attended public school. All these people had big sophisticated rugs and groundsheets to mark their territory, with iceboxes and Pringles and stuff.
I went to the Big Chill once, I enjoyed it but its level of middle-class affluence scared me a bit. Who brings a Gazebo and a crate of fine wine to a festival? The organisers provided cocktail bars and “greeters” and even clean loos. It’s just not natural.

Yesterday Brian Wilson and his note-perfect band was great though and a good time was had by all. I enjoyed watching the Japanese couple next to us. They watched drunken groups of young people jumping and jiving about to all the Beach Boys hits in great admiration of their free expression .

The gig seemed to end really fast the music was excellent, the performance and sound improving with our levels of debauchery. Although Brian Wilson did miss out a whole verse of a song, I wouldn’t have realised if he hadn’t said anything.

Before and after the concert and during the intermission there was some guy making a terrible monotone announcement in a public school accent for “Jacques Fruit Cider… the cider with Fruit!”………………

Enjoy Jacque’s fruit cider any time ” etc.. each time he said it everyone laughed and cringed he must have said it 20 times. We were near a free “Jacques cider” tent.
The girls at the Jacque’s taster tent were giving away the stuff by the gallon and we got pretty rat-arsed, none of us drink much and have no resistance to such things, we got through our own bottles of booze and most of Jacque’s cider too. It tasted like very sweet lemonade so it was hard to imagine it was alcoholic.

This made the journey back “interesting.” Standing up was possible but walking was trying, or rather trying to walk involved thought processes close to rocket science.

My friends decided that we wouldn’t leave the conventional way along with everyone else but that we would climb over a fence, with a sign on it saying “Do not on any account climb over this fence” and walk to Hampstead.
We managed the fence, I was proud of myself. We walked a bit more, got more wrecked , watched bats , argued about whether or not they were actually bats, I ranted stupidly telling tales of famous rock stars incoherently and then we found we were actually locked into the grounds of Kenwood House and it was dark.
By this point standing up had become very difficult .We were in our forties behaving like we were fourteen unable to get home. When we eventually found the peripheral gate with 6 foot tall iron fence with rusty menacing spikes on the top , I refused to climb over it although there were several comical attempts to haul me over. They would have been more successful getting a drunken wild horse over that impressive solid iron fence. But once they realised this and gave up, I still couldn’t persuade them to go back to the official exit.

We got out in the end but I am sworn to secrecy how, nothing criminal was done, is all I can say. However we then walked at breakneck speed in pitch dark through woods which was terrifying although I laughed most of the way. The whole thing took about two hours but I guess it was fun since none of us broke any bones in the process.

This is Brian Wilson at Glastonbury 3 years ago( except I can’t embed this one either!) copy and paste this:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=4yMR53VcUSk

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Sunday I felt a bit under the weather and I was going to go back to Hyde Park to hear kt Tunstall and The Police. I went for a short walk to the shops and bumped into someone who I think was Hawkwind’s ex-manager, Doug Smith,( who I recognised from the Hawkwind documentary and have seen many times walking down Pembridge Road but then I thought I saw Dave Brock before and it wasn’t, I see so many famous people in the street round here that I just like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and assume everyone is just famous, I’m short-sighted so this helps with my confusion ) The guy who may or may not have been Doug Smith looked at me partly because I was looking at him and maybe because I have this habit of singing while I walk down the street. I suddenly wondered if he read my blog and if I should say hello. Then out of the blue a few feet further I saw a songwriter I know from North London in a wheelchair , who was very surprised to see me. She said I was her angel as she needed some assistance buying bananas and couldn’t physically enter the shop. It was so weird bumping into 2 people like that one after another who I recognised ( or who I thought I did). London isn’t usually like this but I felt connected for once.

Later after various important emails and phone calls, my friend Dave Russell came round and I interviewed him again. After writing a bit about The Apollo in All Saints Road last time I wanted more info on this and the Black community in Notting Hill in the 70s and 80s.
I forgot all about going to Hyde Park .
The “interview” was really a rambling unplanned hung-over conversation which I will edit and put up in the blog soon.. We ended up watching the Glastonbury festival on my computer, my favourite bit was The Groove Armada, ( it’s rare that I can remember the name of a band beyond 1979..that’s when I stopped trying to remember them) what a show…… Dave wanted to see Suzanne Vega and Joan Baez but although I stayed up late I didn’t see them …..and well that’s my weekend.

Live music and all its ensuing interrelationships is what makes me feel alive and happy.

But I am allowed to embed a bit of Hawkwind definitely my favourite of the three so that’s OK!

Love and peace

Born2rant

P.S. I hope my little journey cheered you up a bit. I have just found out that I have been accepted on a Masters course in Ethnomusicology and I am over the moon and scared but mainly very pleased. Buying the sitar today wasn’t as crazy as I thought , I’ll be needing it for my course!

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4 Comments

  1. Good luck with the sitar!

    I think Amy Winehouse needs to leave the music industry totally. Sad is it is for her talent but I don’t think she can survive for too long within it.

  2. Thanks Mo!

    Well I think Indian classical music has some heavy duty theory attached to it, but I can play Led Zeppelin on it which is good!
    I’ve had two Indian Music lessons and the discipline is very strict but friendly. You have to do the same scale 40 or 50 times over fast without stopping and with every aspect perfect until it becomes second nature. As a teacher I find children and adults want to be pandered to and for everything to be broken down for them, I feel like I am spoonfeeding them with their favourite foods. For me it’s great to try something taught in a way that is traditional, about discipline, learning something fairly boring until it’s perfect. It’s so different to what I am used to but there’s a value in this kind of learning and teaching. If you can play the guitar well then I reccommend learning the sitar it’s so cool!
    Yes with Amy I agree with you. On the the BBC one of the commentators was saying how funny Amy Winehouse was without even trying to be funny. I don’t think she’s funny I think she’s an addict/alcoholic who can’t function. I find it sad to see her in such a state.
    Anyway have a good weekend.Thanks for making my blog your home page, but can i cope with the fame?
    Well just about…but I value my anonymity ( although I wouldn’t be surprised if someone ” outed” me at some point.)
    I think all the people who read my youth crime blog via channel 4 are probably puzzled by the contrast in my last post but I’d hate to be one of those people who can only function on one level. I can be moral and hedonistic and still be true to myself. ( ok I’m ranting again! apologies)
    Love and peace
    Born2rant

  3. You have to start somewhere. 🙂 I’m not too bad at guitar but I can only get my fingers around an electric and only know a few chords – other than power chords! I have toyed with my parents harmonium and tabla (I’m of South Asian descent after all) but I’m below average on both.

    There’s quite a few hits on your blog it seems, so don’t forget me if you make it big as I was one of the first here! I wonder if I’ve ever seen you without ever realising, it’d be kind of funny if I did.
    In honesty I’ve come across a lot of boring blogs but this one I follow just because it’s good local learning for me and without toadying, you do write engagingly. I’m working through a novel writing course – and though I’m no genius – the way you write would keep someone gripped in a book if you decided to attempt one; non-fiction or fiction.

    Keep the hedonism going!

  4. Thanks Mo , you are far too kind in your comments.

    I doubt if I become famous from writing this blog but thanks for your encouragement.
    Good luck with your writing course. I hope it goes well.
    Don’t worry if I get really famous I’ll let you know but I hope I am never famous although sometimes I’d like to have my work recognised, but my nightmare is to have me as a person recognised.

    I think writing about my experiences forces me to reflect on my life and it gives me confidence.

    I tried the harmonium( a bit) but I didn’t like it
    my sense of rhythm isn’t good enough to play tablas… but sitar is great! Still playing Led Zeppelin on it so far.
    love and peace
    Born2rant


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