Encrypted: psychedelic nights at the Deptford Crypt


Encrypted

This part is a bit about my involvement with The Crypt in Deptford. Although my memories are hazy I hope that it might spur others to write about their memories of this underground wild psychedelic club in the 1980s in the Crypt St Paul’s Church Deptford.St.Paul’s Church Deptford
(photo from Church website http://www.paulsdeptford.org.uk)

There were other nights run there including a gay night where I performed as Astragone Arglegargle. That experience and others involving The Crypt’s promoter and Club Dog would run into another few pages, also there were reggae sound systems and acid house music at a later date, but I will focus on just the 80s psychedelic club in this bit of writing.
The main band I went to see there was The Ozric Tentacles however some of the other bands included the following ( many of them start with “The” in their name!)
The Stone Roses, The Magic Mushroom Band, Treatment, The TV Personalities, The Invisible Band , The Cardiacs, Space Pirates, Wooden Baby, Nukli, and many many more……

thecryptdeptford.jpgPhoto from www.televisionpersonalities.co.uk

My first trip to the The Crypt must was around 1985 and was probably due to going to see my friends in the band “Treatment”. Through running gigs at Dead Dog promotions and playing in bands meant we were finding other people from the psychedelic scene in London or they were finding us.
For example I was in a band with Michael and some good friends (“Instant Istigkeit” you will never have heard of us, we only ever played at a couple of festivals), when we went up to Stonehenge in 1984. We played on a stage run by the Magic Mushroom band and we were supported by Dr and the Medics. Two of the girls in Dr. and the Medics hung out at our camp and told us how they had just got a manager and would soon be part of the music biz. I think it was through them that we got to know Christian and The Alice in Wonderland crew at Gossip’s in Soho. At a festival in Cambridge we met Rory from the Invisible Band who was running a stage and we played there. At the Norwich festival we met more London hippies doing interesting things and kept bumping into the same crowd. Since the Magic Mushroom Band and the others all played at the Crypt this was the link.
The guy who ran the club who I will call ” Kev” for legal reasons ( although his real name was Andy) was not a hippie at all .He was an ex-policeman and an entrepreneur who used his links with the local police to create a psychedelic club where you could get stoned all night and drink all night and know that you definitely would never get busted for either.
The Crypt was in the basement of St Paul’s church in Deptford. It’s still there now although no longer used as a club and the church website makes no mention of its history.
If you didn’t live in Deptford or in the area and didn’t have a car it was a very difficult place to travel to and back from. The club threw people out at around 4 a.m. or if you were lucky 6 a.m. and the first buses and trains did not start until 6.a.m.. There were night buses but only one every two hours or so, it was a question of having a car , hitching or begging a lift off someone home.
When the place was not full of punters before a show you could see it for what it really was.The place was a damp , mildewy, run down place with dirty walls and dirty floor and a dodgy loo without doors . But with the dope smoke , the fantastic lightshows, the colourlful drugged up crowd dancing like maniacs, and of course the amazing music , it became a magical place. There were very few public places in London you could smoke dope safely. All the hippies were cynical about the ex-copper but I never knew the place to get busted although maybe it did at a later date.
Since I was not living in South London in the eighties it was usually the trek there and back I remembered the most, like trying to find Shangri-La except unlike the Himalayas you could get mugged and the views weren’t as good( older hippies will understand the Shangri-La and “Lost Horizon” references).

A Night of Psychedelic Adventures circa 1986?

At that time the days of my every day life were quite mundane as a full-time single mum and socialising with other local parents living in Harlesden who had no connection with the psychedelic scene.
However I’ve always enjoyed a double life…
I think it might have been Halloween in 1986, I had the evening and night off.
I knew this biker couple called Jenny (a scouser) and Cedar ( not their real names). It’s so funny now because I thought Jenny was really much older than me at the time because she was thirty, I think Cedar was 25 the same as me.
Jenny and Cedar were bikers, they were an attractive couple and always dressed from head to toe in leather.
We planned( on the spur of the moment!) to go to The Marquee Club in Wardour Street to see The Cardiacs. I was going to try to get us in for free because they had seen me many times at Club Dog . We didn’t have much money on us but we went down there anyway. There were huge queues to get in to the place in Wardour Street and it sold out. We soon realised we wouldn’t get in as the place was exceeding the new fire regulations!
We decided to go to a pub nearby called “The Ship” just a couple of doors down. We went in there and at the bar next us I saw Lemmy. He was wearing a Motorhead Ace of Spades T-shirt and well..it was Lemmy!
I had seen Lemmy many times as he liked to walk up and down Portobello Road most Saturdays loudly in his boots when Michael and I used to run a stall there in the late 70s early 80s.Lemmy used to hang out in Notting Hill with a regular groups of bikers/headbangers who I knew vaguely but I’d never actually met Lemmy .
He was very famous at this time but I thought it was a safe bet to chat to him.
So while we were all lined up at the bar I nudged Jenny and whispered “Look who it is, we should say hello”, she nudged Cedar and in a macho blokey way Cedar took over the proceedings and talked to Lemmy while kind of keeping me and Jenny at bay.
Anyway we shook hands and eventually we went to sit down with him. He asked us all what we wanted to drink and bought us each a round and then he asked us what fags we smoked and he gave us each our favourite fags, for me it was rolling tobacco and rizzlas and he went out of his way to get some for me as there was none in the pub, but then he went to sit at another table and left us to it..
We sat there for a while and I suggested we should go to The Crypt because I knew the guy running it . I had performed at the Crypt as Astragone Arglegarle and Kev had messed me around over bookings and he knew he owed me a favour . So after that he always let me in for free ( you have to understand we had virtually no money on us).I knew the Ozrics were playing there as they’d told me.
But around that time the Ozrics told me something really weird….I had said to them that I’d seen them billed to be playing in 2 different venues in London on the same night. It might have been that night actually. Either Joie or Ed had told me they had 2 bands to cope with the amount of gigs they were doing. They had so many fans who wanted to play with them that they recruited people to play in 2 different Ozric Tentacles so the line up was different but then they could do two gigs in different places if necessary. In both bands there were some original members, actually now the members change at different gigs.
So anyway we were talking about this with Lemmy in the background at the next table waving to us from time to time…when this German guy started to talk to us . He was from Munich and very very tall and good looking he was also a musician. He said ” Do you know who just bought you drinks?” I said “Yes” and he joined us and said he would come with us to the Crypt although he didn’t have any money either! He sat with us and we talked and drank before leaving waving goodbye to Lemmy on the way out.
Anyway the funniest thing happened when we left the pub. You have to bear in mind that we chatted to Lemmy for about half an hour and told him how we liked his music etc…
Anyway as we left the pub Jenny said to me.
” Wow wasn’t that amazing meeting Ozzie!”
I told them them it wasn’t Ozzie Osbourne but Lemmy and they wouldn’t believe me at first and I kept saying ” But it was! He was even wearing a Motorhead t-shirt!” The German guy knew but not the bikers who spent most of their waking hours listening to Black Sabbath , AC/DC and Motorhead.
That was classic spending 30 minutes talking to Lemmy and them thinking it was Ozzie.
We set off for Deptford. We were trying to explain to the German guy that London was a very big place and that it might take us an hour or two to get there but he wouldn’t believe us. I remember showing him the A to Z to show him how big it was and him saying he knew every street in Munich how could I not know every street in London!
Anyway another thing I am very embarassed about on our journey there, this is not something I would do normally! We had no money and were a bit drunk and I was following what the others were doing. At Oxford Circus tube we jumped the barrier and then on our way to Deptford we got off at a station and Cedar started kicking a chocolate vending machine with great strength after losing his money when trying to buy a bar of chocolate…to our surprise all the money came out. I’m sure we frightened the life out of the other commuters waiting on the platform then we did this with other chocolate vending machines on the way. I can’t say I am proud of this however in the 80s if you were waiting for a train and tried to buy chocolate nine times out of ten the machine would eat your money and refuse to give you chocolate . I’d lost a few pounds before in those rip-off vending machines so had everyone else, in fact I think some commuters cheered when they saw what we were doing.
I was the only one who knew the way to the Crypt vaguely , I think I got us lost but we got there in the end. Kev let me in free but the others had to pay half price.

The Ozrics were playing and the vibe was amazing. All these girls were on stage and dancing with them, this had never happened at Club Dog. Some people I knew were doing the lightshow, the place was packed solid and everyone was doing mad psychedelic dancing and bumping into eachother under the strobes. Not all the original Ozrics were there but Joie was there and Rollie , Ed’s brother who played bass. Sadly he died at a later date but I don’t know what happened. The crowd were going mental and it was a young crowd of new hippies and I realised that night their career was going to take off . Before that they’d had a big following but it was more traveller and crusty types, now they had pretty young girls with beautiful hippie clothes dancing on stage with them.
I was all dressed up in some kind of hippie/goth evening dress that night and danced like a lunatic but not long after we arrived Jenny and Cedar and the German guy decided to go home to catch the last tube. I didn’t didn’t want to go..it was the middle of the bloody gig, we’d only been there for half an hour. So I stayed. As I sobered up I realised I would have to find a way home because the Crypt finished at 4 in the morning and although there were buses somewhere, they only ran once every two hours. I wasn’t prepared to hang around the streets of Deptford on my own waiting for a bus all night in the freezing cold…I didn’t feel safe.
Anyway I kept dancing and at the end of the gig I asked anyone I vaguely knew if they could give me a lift to Trafalgar Square where there would be night buses back home. No one I knew could help me as they lived in South London.
In the end I asked Joie who was packing up. He said I could come to his squat in south London but it would be crowded. I said it didn’t matter if I could make some tea and hang out there until 6 am. when the tubes started it would do me.
He drove to his place in Clapham and I met his new girlfriend from another psychedelic band. He told me that things had started to get stressful with a bit of fame and how these girls were beginning to get on stage with them. I’d assumed that they knew these girls and that they were part of the act but they weren’t, they just jumped on stage with them and made themselves look like they were with the band. I hung out at their place until the tubes started again. What a weird night!
( Erpland live at the Fridge, Brixton, May 19th 1991..)

Picture of Chill Out /Dogs in Space Tent Solfest 2007 thanks to Mike Cupcakedogsinspacetentsolfest1.jpg

All those years ago and so much water under the bridge but if you were part of that scene it was so special it stays with you forever. I had a very special time at Solfest this year and saw and met so many musicians I used to know and respect and recently seeing some my friends from Treatment and making new friends on myspace and at “Born to Go” a new psychedelic club in Hitchin. I am now meeting people I didn’t know from the same scene.
Anyway if anyone out there would like to write their memories or be interviewed for this blog please let me know.

Midweek expect a short blog and next Monday more stories of hippie counter culture/psychedelic music and/or my political ranting. Love and Peace.Born2rant!

Goings on in Pentameters Theatre:Anti-Media event, rantings on TV, fashion slavery and incompetent policemen(Anti-Media stories part 2)


I was told to go to a fringe theatre in Hampstead called “Pentameters” above a pub called “The Three Horseshoes” opposite Hampstead tube station.
A lovely smiling woman called Leonie was running this theatre and had allowed the mysterious anti-media people to run an event there. She had no idea what she had taken on. In an interview with the Camden New Journal about her theatre she later said
“…I was doing some amazing shows. We did anti-media shows. And they were as radical as you can get.”
Considering that before us she recently had Rik Mayall , Jennifer Saunders plus some of the Young Ones and the Comedy Strip performing there you have to take this as a compliment.
I was quite nervous when I arrived at their first gig to perform my alien act complete with green slime and cling film. I was also there to do others things in the show but I had no idea what. We were backstage and a fairly manic tall young man was on roller blades wearing a pig’s head mask , he shook hands with me and introduced himself as Andy.
Hogan and Richard looked nervous and then said “Let’s go on”.
I said ” What? What do you want me to do?”
They said it didn’t matter we all just had to go on stage and improvise something,anything that came to our heads and be spontaneous.

So we went on stage. Me in my glistening glowing costume, Andy on his roller blades and pig’s head, then there was this quiet guy simply called “OM” who never said anything but was a cool gentle hippie who had cut his hair and now wore a Nazi uniform with a silver polished Nazi helmet and then Hogan and Richard in their untrendy attire.
That was my first experience of Anti-Media.
We walked around the stage area in interweaving circles mumbling things to ourselves and occasionally to one another to a fairly packed room.
Later I performed as Astragone, I had written an extra song called “The Television’s on Everywhere”
I can still remember the opening lyrics
” The television’s on everywhere,
If I want to know nothing all I have to do
is switch on to TV A.M. ,
I really must stay in to wash my brain tonight,
because Quincy is dissecting in my living room,
I hope the sofa don’t stain.”

and here is an Interlude….cue a potter throwing a pot…..an Interlude of ranting about TV:

You have to understand some of the reasons for our rebellion against TV. We were the first generation of children brought up with TV. Our parents didn’t watch it as much or if they did it was with some background of life without TV in their lives.
My mother used to say TV was a great babysitter.She told me how she could place me in front of it all day long propped up with a pillow when I was a little baby and leave me in front of the Test-Card with music playing while she worked . I reckon at least I had a pretty great early music education thanks to hours in front of the Test-Card and I remember from an early age imitating the sound of the TV going “ooooh” in perfect unison with the high pitched tone it would blast out once all the music was played and there were no more broadcasts. I used to sing to it. But don’t pity me I was a sixties baby and millions were like me, plonked in front of the TV from birth and through all the stages of childhood.
I used to have nightmares about advertisements for fairy liquid .The perfect woman/mother/housewife in it was coming to murder me and I had bad dreams about other advertisements too.
I used to have sleepless nights after watching horror films late at night from an early age with images of scenes from Hammer Horror films like flashbacks that stayed with me for years.
I heard debates of how important it was for women to have “sex appeal” and what was “sex appeal” and how we all had to be stick thin. I grew up with the messages that if you are not stick thin and do not have sex appeal that you are worthless and no one will love you.
Any psychologists who dare to say we are not brainwashed by TV and that our children are not affected by it are plain stupid, crazy or blind or trying to protect advertising / TV/ Film companies. Or maybe it’s like smokers in charge of telling us smoking is bad for us .They’ll tell us it’s OK for years until they get found out. Maybe they are simply in denial themselves.
TV is a passive addiction that induces a semi-hypnotic state. That is why advertisers use it. If TV was not the best vehicle to brainwash people with then why on earth would they spend billions on their 20 second slots to sell millions of products. Anyone with a logical brain or business sense can see TV is a brainwashing device even if it wasn’t designed to be like that.

At the time of the Anti-Media events we had a new channel, channel 4 .We suddenly had 25% more TV to watch in the UK and we now had just invented breakfast TV where you could still be half awake and watch TV. I remember when I first saw adverts in the morning, I couldn’t cope as there were times I thought I might be still dreaming and any tune from early morning ads would stay in my head for the rest of the day echoing round my brain like a tape loop.
I guess I’ve acclimatised to it now. I do love watching films and programmes, often the most shallow ones but at least I am an adult.At least I know that what I am watching is bad for my mental health in large doses just like I know smoking ten fags a day is bad for my physical health but I can make a choice. I try to limit my TV/film viewing to a maximum of 2 hours a day now and although I frequently fail ,I certainly feel emotionally and mentally better off from my TV diets. I think watching TV with other people if you are discussing and sharing the programmes is different you can question it but watching TV alone for hours on end should definitely carry a mental health warning.

End of ranting Interlude and back to recollections of first Anti-Media event:
After my alien act, I remember seeing Andy roller-blading in his pig’s head for a bit and possibly OM playing the guitar dressed as a Nazi.

Then of course there were the films made by Hogan and Richard. They liked to film people and scenes in the street :homeless alcoholics dressed in layers of rags , a dog wearing a big plastic collar to help heal some wound, footage of police riots at Wapping and the miner’s strikes. Their films were not staged but often interesting things happened on these and created more of a story. One film taken I think at Wapping showed a load of aggressive policemen standing in line taunting members of the public, one looked directly at the camera and suddenly blew his nose from a great distance deliberately expelling a bogey onto the camera lens and completely obscuring the picture. It kind of reflected their maturity in dealing with the public at that time.

An ad break to make a cup of tea or to rant about police in the 80s…..
We lived at a time of riots in Brixton ,Liverpool , Bristol and near revolution. National Front Skinheads and protesters from the Socialist Workers and The Communist Revolutionary Party were clashing and rioting in the streets.

As for my friends ,we weren’t interested in riots , we were listening to music and playing music and having a good time with our friends but we were constantly stopped and searched by the police .Myself and my partner used to get searched whenever we went anywhere in our van ( a 1960’s VW camper van…not a very good disguise for hippies). Eventually we twigged that our number plate was on the Special Branch computer probably because we had gone to the Stonehenge festival while it was still reasonably legal . Once we moved house and got another vehicle life was a lot easier, getting searched once or twice a day at times was extremely stressful and gave us a healthy disrespect for the law which came out in our creativity.But other “normal” friends of mine also got searched constantly. Some looked completely law abiding and respectable, one of our normal looking friends got searched four times on the same day in Finchley by different groups of policemen. They never found anything yet we felt nervous whenever we saw police walking down the street. There’s no denying the police really harassed alternative non-violent young people . They searched us hoping to find large quantities of drugs but they’d seen the “French Connection” ( not the designer label..the films!) far too many times and they had no idea how to find any drugs. In fact their search methods were hilarious except they were constantly humiliating us by strip searching all the guys in public, as a woman I was fairly safe as legally they needed a woman to strip search me and it was always men who stopped us . However I got frisked with my clothes on by male policemen which was pretty awful at times for a young woman. The only people I knew who got busted successfully by the police were the ones with dogs, they were far more talented at this. But to me drugs were not important , they are still not important to me and to the Anti-Media group drugs were not used or needed.

“And Now…..Back to the Anti-Media event…”
Our evening ended with a kind of open chat show. Hogan and Richard had invited a fashion clothes designer to interview him in a kind of open Terry Wogan chat show with questions from the floor.
The designer looked happy enough to start with sitting back in his chair, all debonair ready to answer questions on his new collection and how successful and great he was. Unfortunately for him though ….they had also invited someone who I think was from Oxfam, in any case they only wore charity shop clothes or ones from jumble sales. The designer talked about his work but then was challenged on clothes made by child slaves in sweat shops and how we didn’t need a constant supply of new clothes and how it made more sense ecologically to recycle all our clothes by buying second-hand. At that time charity shops were dirt cheap, much much much cheaper than Primark in case you were wondering. Also people from the audience joined in who shopped at Camden and bought second-hand clothes. They were commenting how we didn’t need designers to tell us or guide us on what to wear that fashion and style could be created by the wearer in an ethical way by sewing old clothes together to make new creations.
There were no set questions and no set beginning or ending or cute jokes like on a TV chat show. I know that now the ideas in this interview are pretty well-worn ( pardon the pun) but 23 years ago it was the very first time I had ever thought of fashion as being unethical and questioned who had made my beautiful Indian Hippie clothes. As an indirect result of that evening I then bought second-hand clothes for years and worked for a couple of years in an Oxfam shop where I made some fantastic friends. While writing this I have to say that although Primark has been my friend these past 2 or 3 years I think I’ll go back to making my own clothes or buying second-hand in less expensive charity shops. In fact even charities have been brainwashed and operate so much like businesses that there is hardly any difference. Some charities pay their employees such high revenues that people who only care about their bank balances are working for them.
After the Anti-media event we all went back to Bob’s who had recently moved to a flat a few doors down from Pentameters. Michael had come to see what I was doing although it was good for me to be involved in performance independently from our gigs and him . My alien act enabled me to do this subsequently in many different types of venue away from our psychedelic gigs. Some members of Treatment were also there and attended the subsequent Anti-Media events.
That was the first Anti-Media event I can recall but it got wilder as time went on…..

to see an interview with the lovely Leonie Scott-Matthews who was not part of Anti-Media but let us use her theatre see:www.camdennewjournal.co.uk/archive/f041203_3.htm

Modern Life is Rubbish and Harpers and Queen, glossy fashion magazine!(Anti-Media stories part 3)