Bloc 2012 Festival Review


Bloc Festival Review or why you shouldn’t try to have a good festival in a paranoid London devoid of all common sense.

Hello Good People who might read this blog….


Postscript July 10th 2012: When I wrote this post, it was from a confused punter’s perspective, I’d just experienced the festival ,left early and the next day was trying to make sense of it ( and also review the music in my own daft way). I start off blaming health and safety rules being over the top then get very worried as I leave, due to angry crowds outside and  people being cramped and prevented from going where they wanted inside . Since then I heard a totally different story from the  festival crew, which I wrote on July 7th. I now feel totally differently about the whole thing. If the information which was told to me was correct, then I think that some people  were neglectful of public safety to different degrees and maybe when large sums of money and major investments are involved, we really do need health and safety rules.


It’s been a long time, sorry about that, I did start writing this blog under my real name but it didn’t really work, so here I am back briefly as Born2rant, to write about a festival I went to yesterday that could have been great, but which I decided to leave before it all went to pieces.

This will only be a review of my limited experiences. I guess I arrived at the Bloc festival site at London’s Pleasure Gardens around 4.30pm by 10pm I decided it was sensible to leave but had a lot of difficulty getting out.

I was due to hang out on the ship MS Stubnitz, which has successfully been sailing around Germany as a mobile art installation and general chilling out party place for some time. It takes coming to crazy Britain for the Germans to realise they are far better off back home where things are more liberal, the state has less control, and the general public has not lost its ability to make individual sensible decisions without external legislation. Forget gloating about how great and wonderful the British are when I was trying to leave the Bloc festival, it was like trying to escape from a “psychedelic concentration camp” and that was entirely due to Great Union-Jack waving, right Royal Diamond Jubilee, aren’t we proud to be having the Olympics in London, paranoid British madness.

I arrived at Pontoon Dock around 4.15pm. There seemed to be a lot of stressed out people in orange jackets obstructing the oyster card bleeping machines, so people got confused where to “touch out”. They ushered me to a bridge to cross over the road and immediately my bag was searched, then further on more people in orange jackets asking me for a ticket. Other punters were clutching tickets printed out from the internet, I thought that strange to start with, it might be OK for using a budget airline, but without computers, scanners, ID and a whole big security system how can you tell if a computer print-out is genuine? I asked where the guest entrance was after some confusion I was directed to a gate a few minutes walk away.

At the guest entrance I had my bag searched again, then a sniffer dog climbed up the back of my legs, then my bag was searched AGAIN!!!! I complained politely but complied. They couldn’t find my name on the guest list but gave me a wristband anyway because I was saying all the right names. I had to put the wristband on myself, also a bit strange.

It took me a few minutes to chill out after all the security measures, and dealing with stressed out people, lots of security guards on the site, and mobile CCTV units, but the security man I spoke to was friendly enough and to be fair all the police people I spoke to during the course of the day were polite, but then all the paying public I met at the festival were also extremely patient and polite considering we were treated like dangerous animals throughout the festival, and the people who payed £125 per weekend ticket must have been peeved.

At first I went on the ship, the MS Stubnitz where I had a great time. In Germany they do not have many health and safety regulations, and do not scream announcements to passengers on the tube to say that due to a little drizzle that people are bound to fall over and kill themselves on the potentially slippery floor. Therefore I think the general public were probably quite shocked to be on an actual fishing ship with many steps, some damp from rain, and bits of metal to step over, no warning signs and generally to be in a place where you actually had to take responsibility for yourself and keep yourself sober enough to watch what you did. Also there was a big central hole leading from one deck to another, this had some fencing and chains around it to stop people falling in.  From the all dancing deck below, I could see many punters going to the edge of the hole and testing to see if the fence was secure. I felt like saying “You are at a festival, you are free to enjoy yourselves now, so forget the fences, forget health and security rules and just enjoy the lack of them for once”. I feel that the British public and especially Londoners, are brainwashed at all times to seek fences and rules in order to feel safe. Of course bad things could and do happen, but life is dangerous, you can’t control everything, get over it and try to enjoy life!

People on the ship were having a good time, somehow in spite of sniffer dogs and CCTV everywhere, the odd person was skinning up on the top deck, most sat drinking beer, smiling beneath the warm sun bouncing off their sunglasses. Below many moved to the music whilst taking copious pictures of the ship on their phones. Downstairs there were at least two bars and padded “seating bars” around tables where they used to freeze and chop fish. The ship was an awesome place to have different party rooms, the angular industrial music bounced off the ship’s hull in a suitably sheet metal way.

My only gripe about the ship was the music, I would have preferred dancing to Led Zep’s Immigrant Song, that would have been perfect or some kind of heavy metal version of  the Ride of the Valkyries would have been great.Here is some Led Zeppelin with  The Song Remains the Same just for effect,old fart I am!

But the DJ I heard on the Stubnitz was mixing French café style accordion music with deafening heart-stopping bass and drum music, note I did not write “drum ‘n’ bass”. I am too old and psychedelic to know what type of dance music I was listening to but it was experi and mental. I left the relaxed atmosphere of the MS Stubnitz to go and see Steve Reich around 6pm.

This was another “odd thing” , I noticed that they put some of the biggest crowd-pullers on early on both evenings even though the music ended at 6 a.m. Gary Numan was due to be on at 6pm the following day (today). I started to realise that maybe there were “problems” with the festival. Well to be fair all festivals have problems, they are always a headache to run for the organisers but some are worse than others. You really need to know what you are doing when you run a festival, especially if you plan to run it in a dock full of water and then place barriers so people can’t get out.

I found the hugest biggest queue  zigzagging its way round a small bit of the site, but people were patient and well-behaved, I hardly saw anyone attempt to push in. I must have queued for over 20 minutes, everyone was saying they’d never seen anything like this and we could hear Mr. Reich playing from outside, we could not understand why security did not seem to be letting anyone in.

Once we got in the tent was only a third full and yet he had been playing for over 30 minutes. The sound quality was not good, the audience was pretty thin, so this did not help the general feel of the gig. Many people were waiting for their friends to be allowed in.

While watching Steve Reich there were times when I wanted to sit down or leave, but both options were difficult from where I was standing, once people were allowed in from their long queuing they tended to head into the crowd and stand and the only way out I could see was through the entrance with hundreds and hundreds of people blocking the way. I looked around and saw there was a zip in the side of the tent, if I’d been feeling trapped I thought I could always use it to get the hell out.

As people slowly and steadily dribbled into the tent, while many left, the music livened up a bit. This was when a full rock band ensemble in the form of Bang on a Can, complete with sheet music,  started to play. It was enjoyable but stilted at first. They sounded like ‘Yes’ doing a version of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, in fact I was beginning to wonder if Steve Reich had been listening to the final few minutes of Tubular Bells when he wrote it. I’m sure others must have thought the same as me! But then I decided that perhaps Steve Reich  wrote it first and Mike Oldfield and Yes who copied his style. Playing repeated patterns in unusual time signatures is the link. Steve Reich must be far more influential than I realised and I must listen to more of his stuff.

Here is Bang on a Can playing Steve Reich’s  2x 5 (2008)

( turn the volume up first, sorry about any ads that come up, try AdBlock)

But although Steve Reich is no doubt a genius and influenced Yes,

I’m afraid I much prefer the following clip which sounds remarkably similar,

compare the two introductions!

Perpetual Change by Yes  (1971)

OK I digress but it’s my blog so I can, and hopefully not bore the pants off you

After Steve Reich I couldn’t get back onto the ship because by now there were long queues and barriers preventing people from going on board, this made good sense to me because it was quite crowded and there was only one way on or off, unless you jumped into the water, but I still think that if people were left to their own devices that they could have managed to see it was too crowded before boarding instead of being restrained like stupid sheep.

I went for a walk about but there wasn’t a whole lot else going on, the cheapest Amber Leaf rolling tobacco on site was a staggering £7, so I decided to go to the local shop. I couldn’t find the way out as described on the map, so I went to the main way in. There were by now already hundreds of people stuck outside the entrance, and the security process was slow and they were clearly not in a hurry to let anyone in, I have never seen anything like it before, they allowed just a handful of people in then would let them wait a few minutes before letting in another few people, meanwhile crowds were building up outside.

I asked one security guard if I could go out and come back in again. He said “NO” sternly. I explained that I had a weekend ticket. He just said “You can’t leave till later and when you do leave, you can’t come back in again”. Since there were no camping facilities, I decided he was stressed out and uninformed and I continued to look for the exit but couldn’t find one, I asked another security guard but he didn’t seem to know anything.

Then I looked for the queue to go and watch Amon Tobin on the main stage. Another very long queue, at one point that queue got muddled into the ship queue and no one knew what they were queuing for or where the queues ended. After queuing for 20 minutes in the crowded area outside, I found the main tent almost empty once I got in.

It made no bloody sense at all.

This was a joke, why was everyone queuing outside virtually empty tents in a limited area surrounded by deep water, since the whole festival was in fact at an old dock?

Amon Tobin  came on. The 3D projections were fantastic. They had a big installation of a kind of cube shaped wall, I’d seen similar things at multi-media art installations, but this was huge and exciting to start with. Amon Tobin was inside one of the cubes which was see-through, it was a bit “Spinal Tap” but I’d rather have seen Spinal Tap.  I was bored, maybe if the sound had been better I would have enjoyed it. Like so much music in 2012, the visual element seems to be more creative and interesting than the sound itself. Maybe you disagree, here is a clip, it sounds better than I remember , it was visually stunning but after a while it was repetitive ( sorry Amon,I’m sure you are a nice guy, it’s just not my kind of thing)

While I was watching the show, all around me a load of very drunk vertically challenged girls wearing too much fake tan, too much make-up, with silly hats and no clothing but a few bits of white fur and denim, were hugging each other violently and squealing. They took millions of photos of each other to put online, they disregarded the music which was very loud and hard to ignore. On the side of the stage there was  a guy pointing a camera on the audience in a type of steering-wheel shaped frame, which I thought might be a CCTV camera scanning the few people that were allowed in. I decided it was not worth sacrificing my hearing for this, and being sober and not having a set of friends to hug, I decided to go outside to look for something else to do.

By this time there were a lot more people just hanging around outside trying to get into the various venues, queues here and queues there, it was ridiculous. Then when I walked past the main gate even more people were even more tightly packed and waiting to get in and being processed at a snail’s pace as if they didn’t actually want to let them in. Those waiting outside seemed remarkably patient, I am sure some of them had maybe shelled out £55 just to see Amon Tobin , the festival was sold out, but they were unable to get in, others may have paid £125 for the two days and the last DLR train back home would not leave that late.  I felt very sorry for these people waiting, thinking that they might not get in for more than a hour or two before they’d have to go home again. I went for a walk around the dock like others who got fed up with the queues. Thirty minutes later the crowds trying to get in were chanting and then someone let off a flare, the exiled crowd cheered, I wandered off for a bit enjoying the sunset and beautiful clouds, the weather was fantastic and there were some nice walks around the dock away from everyone.

But when I came back to the entrance the people waiting to get in had disappeared, something had happened. Inside the festival the crowds were growing a bit and all this queuing was taking up a lot of space, although walking around was no problem, but it was a pain to queue up all the time, I decided since it was dark to go home and come back the following afternoon. I still could not find the exit and a security guard suggested I went out through the main gate. Since there were no crowds left on the other side of the main gate, I thought that maybe they had all got in, but I could hear “booing” not far away. There were many metal barriers, in my way and I had to climb and crawl here and there, there were many security people thinking of not letting me out, and then telling me it was OK to leave, none of them directed me to the proper exit, if indeed there was one.

I got to stairs that led into the main road and then I was quite surprised at what I saw. A double police line at the top of the stairs, plus many more security guards and on the steps a huge crowd, well-behaved, but angry and a few shouting. Well wouldn’t you be, if two of the main acts had already been on, and you’d paid £125 for a ticket to get in?

The police were very calm at that point, some stood with their arms crossed smiling, they seemed surprised that I wanted to leave, they also could not tell me of another exit and they were very polite, and helped me to get out. As I went down the steps some man grabbed me and asked me a question and I pulled away and ignored him, then this other woman shouted to me and asked me if there was trouble inside, if it was safe to go in. I said “Yes it’s fine. It’s great!” but afterwards I thought maybe I should have told her about the amount of pointless queuing you had to do to get to see any act.

After I crossed the road to get into the station I turned around and then I realised that things were seriously wrong. I hadn’t realised just how many people were queuing to get in, there were in my rough estimation at least two thousand, booing. It occurred to me then  that either they had sold far too many tickets and had hoped to stagger the crowds by putting the main acts on at 6pm, or perhaps that having a computer print-out had allowed a lot of people to forge tickets. What I couldn’t believe is that there were ticket touts still trying to buy tickets off the queuing punters, it was clearly a nightmare situation by the large crowds unable to get in.

I worried then for my son who was working there and for all the people there because if everyone had got on the site and they continued to deny people access to all the stages, then it would be overcrowded and tempers would flare especially by 6 a.m. The thing is, the tickets were expensive, most people who were going there were well-dressed, calm, extremely patient and mostly seemed  sober and compliant with the law, but we were treated like we were criminals before we even got in. It was a disgrace. It was like being kettled and herded the whole time but at a paying gig. We were not  going to a riot, it wasn’t a political demo, in fact there were no politics in evidence of any kind, not even an Amnesty International stall.

After an anxious night I got a call from my son this morning to say he was fine.

It did get overcrowded and they had to get all the stages and DJs to shut down  the music at midnight, then the police cleared the whole area. There was another big stand-off with the police and a bit of trouble, nothing major that he knew of, none at all on the ship where the good vibe remained throughout.

I wonder now how people managed to get home from the middle of nowhere at Midnight or 1 a.m.. My son stayed there overnight. He seemed to think only one person got hurt with concussion but this whole queuing/kettling technique to deal with the crowds caused a lot of the trouble and people were very angry that they were not allowed to see the artists they had paid to go and see.

I hope there were no further injuries. The rest of the festival is cancelled. I wonder if they’d had no barriers at all,  if  just maybe people would be sensible enough to come and go as they pleased.

In less paranoid times, with an atmosphere of caring for one another and looking where you tread, could a few roadies and stewards, a St. John’s Ambulance, a fire  engine and maybe a few lifebuoys, be more than enough to keep this festival safe?

Will the police be kettling people all through the Olympic games for their own safety?

I need a musical interval, this next song was ringing through my head as I took the DLR home, very worried about my son and everyone left at the festival. In spite of my ranting about health and safety regulations, given the situation and the fact that people couldn’t leave easily, I am glad they stopped everyone from getting in, it could have been a dangerous situation, due to the tensions building up over a number of hours as well as the size of the crowd outside.

The Clash – London Calling (1979)

They should just have removed the barriers so people could leave at least!

The festival was sold out, did they sell too many tickets ? I can’t see that several thousand people would forge tickets.

 If you were there and want to say something please leave a comment.

Gary Numan who was due to play today, Down In the Park

Love and Peace

Born2rant

 

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Day Three of my Imaginary Glastonbury


Hello Good People who read this blog….

I thought I would start by telling you that although I smoked lots of imaginary spliffs yesterday, in real life I can’t get away with such behaviour! Dope makes me feel thoroughly ill, especially a couple of days afterwards when I get what I can only describe as “emotionally weak, panicking easily and slightly paranoid”, so these days I can only get away with the very occasional indulgence and then pay dearly for it afterwards. I love the feeling of getting stoned but I also lose keys, money, and cannot function and do all the stuff I like doing normally if I ever indulge! When I was younger I had a better resistance to these things but also grass now is  just so much stronger than the stuff we had twenty, thirty years ago.It’s a different drug these days.

So at my imaginary Glastonbury I wake up Sunday morning feeling also really rough, like a hundred elephants have been stampeding on my head in my sleep. I also get cramp in my left leg!

My Imaginary Sunday at Glastonbury is a bit of a blur, and I have in reality, little time today to write about it. So I will do this briefly( sorry!).

I look for the Healing Field to see if anyone can help me with my dope hang-over but instead find the International Music  field.

I stop and find a Javanese man who speaks no English, he endeavours to show me how to play a Sundanese zither from West Java, to accompany the singing of his beautiful wife.

After this morning’s music lesson, I traipse across the International Music field and go into a large marquee.What I see next is so bizarre that I wonder if I am imagining it all.On a cinema screen they are showing  the Chinese Revolutionary Opera: Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy ( I don’t think you’ll be seeing this at WOMAD! Please note that the singer/dancer is riding an invisible horse whose movements  are portrayed through percussion)

Leaving the International Music Cinema , I stroll around the field and come across a myriad of old friends and we edge our way to the Krautrock and German Electronica tent where we find a serene performance by Klaus Schulze

For the rest of the day, we gather our resources to make a picnic and find a dry piece of ground next to the main stage. We are all recovering from the previous night, the sun is blazing and we want to take it easy and chat about our news and lives.Some of these people I haven’t seen for ten years, a festival is more efficient than a Christmas card to stay in touch. We are all exhausted but cannot resist dancing when the Ozric Tentacles appear on stage.
Domes of G’Bal

After this we can hardly believe our eyes, as a navy blue box with a flashing light on the top,gradually manifests itself on the stage. It’s the tardis!

As if by magic,out comes the original Dr. Who followed by The Beatles ,( and a small dalek groupie wearing a pink feather boa round her neck) .

We just have to get up and sing along as they start to perform  I am The Walrus.

Inevitably we get stoned again and have to eat an entire packet of chocolate biscuits, plus crepes and drink more beer,until Pink Floyd’s set starts with  Careful with that Axe Eugene.

As we reach the final act, the sun has gone and mercifully the air is pleasant and cooler. A well-loved hippie band takes the stage, they must have some kind of secret sacred store of energy after all these years, and all those drugs.I know I can’t really cope with the pace but somehow this group’s energy is infectious and makes us feel 18 again . Yes it’s  Gong,what a great way to end the imaginary Glastonbury festival!

I go home, tired and too exhausted to go into details! I am sad to go home to an urban space where I am not constantly surrounded by live music and many friends, but we have talked about meeting at Solfest towards the end of the festival season and other festivals in between.

Love and Peace

Born2rant

From the Sixties to the End of the Noughties..did it match up to expectations?


Hello Good People who read this blog

I am listening to music over the headphones while I write this, to keep me focussed and calm,so I might as well start by sharing what I am listening to. Some English sixties folk, Sandy Denny with an acoustic home recorded demo version of Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

Across the purple sky, all the birds are leaving…

Well everyone on TV and radio seems to be reviewing the noughties. I can’t believe a decade has gone by.

I feel a sense of foreboding in broaching the subject of the “noughties” as I think for me it was a decade that started with high hopes and ends in doubt, fear and disappointment. In my personal life that is not the case but in terms of an alternative type of person living in London, it has not been a great decade.

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I guess for me this decade started in the sixties. As a child, the year 2000 seemed like an impossibly long time away. I wondered if I actually would live to be that old.

In 1968 , this is what we thought could be happening in 2001:

At school in the sixties,one of the favourite essay topics of teachers, was to ask us write about how the world would be in the year 2000. We all wrote about world peace, wearing silver suits, having robots to do all our housework, going for holidays in outer space, an absence of disease, poverty and famine and extraordinary futuristic and sophisticated pop music,together with the occasional time machine and transporter room ( in the style of Star Trek). It is hardly surprising that we were so optimistic, the sixties was an amazing time of progress, with the peace movement, breaking down of many prejudices,new fashions made of new synthetic materials, amazing ground-breaking pop music, advances in medicine and the proliferation of science fiction which speculated on how new technology would affect us all in the future.

Some of the predictions made by scientists were very misguided.

Tomorrow’s World (BBC)  in the late 60s

At other times the predictions were petty spot on. Here is a clip I found called Britain of the Future . It features mobile phones, CCTV in banks, luxury short plane journeys to Sydney, computers and the internet, how we will select our children for mathematical ability, flatscreen TVs  and more.If you play it 5 minutes in, you will find some predictions for 2000. The population figures quoted must be for Britain only. In fact according to the National Statistics office the UK population in 2008 was 61 million and not quite the 65 million that they anticipated for 2000.

It is hardly surprising that in the sixties, a time of great creativity, invention and hope, that we looked to the future with great excitement. Could we say the same now? How do we see the future in these fearful times where every TV programme seems to warn us about some threat : climate change,  terrorist attack, or timeless pleasures that are a danger to our health, as well as the possibility of financial ruin or new diseases that will wipe us all out unless we wash our hands 20 times a day.

Do you know any teachers who ask their class to write an essay about how exciting life will be in the year 2050?

Poor kids today!

In 1969, western consciousness was full of hope. Everyone with access to a TV,remembers the day when Apollo 11 landed on the moon.  The music of The Beatles, Hendrix and others was so new, young and exciting , we hoped that with new technology  we would be creating the most amazing music ever by 2010…OOPS! We didn’t account for those forces that kill creativity: trying to make money by trying to appeal to all, trying to look perfect, marketing, advertising, selling your soul to Satan Cowell etc..

I remember sitting with some friends back in the eighties, after listening to all four “sides” of  Electric Ladyland and saying:  “Just imagine what music Hendrix would make if he’d survived until the year 2000 , with all that technology!” and others agreeing and imagining this amazing music with  new synthesizers and effects and even computers.

Now I think:”Yep…if Hendrix had survived, I bet his record company would be re-issuing all his old stuff. Maybe having gone through a brief “Unplugged” tour during the nineties.” Cynical me…

But technology has brought some interesting new music, even if it is sometimes rehashed old music from the sixties. Recently this was recommended to me by two people in their twenties. DJ Shadow’s “Endtroducing” ,first released in 1996 and re-issued in 2005.This album is created entirely out of samples. D.J Shadow combines these skillfully to make a totally new, and some would say,genius, classic album.

Is this the future of music?

Building Steam with a Grain of Salt  by  DJ Shadow.

I like it, but I prefer Dark Side of The Moon which uses samples of speech but where  the music is less repetitive and  the lyrics have a message.( Or do I have a case of middle-aged “They just don’t write tunes like they used to and don’t police officers look young”etc.?)P.S. 3/1/2010 However this track has definitely “grown on me” in the past few days. I find a lot of good music plays that trick.

Another PS!!!!

I recently interviewed Andy Leung for another  little radio documentary, he is the keyboard player from the band “Introducing” a nine piece band who play “Endtroducing” live at gigs and festivals. Now  this has become one of my fav tracks , here they are playing “Building Steam with a Grain of Salt” and other tracks for the album at the Skylarkin, Carling Academy Oxford in December 2008. What do you think?

I hope that the future of music in 2010 and beyond goes back to live performance, more thought-provoking contents, and originality. Unlike in previous decades, the music business is no longer the only way for independent minded musicians to get their music aired. The internet has liberated us and trapped us at the same time.

As far as file sharing goes, my feelings are mixed. The musicians I know,mostly don’t mind file sharing, they also like using open source materials and all the free things on the internet to help them, from myspace, to music lessons on youtube. But the musicians I know don’t make a whole lot of money. Internet file sharing is nothing new, ever heard of cassette recorders and photocopying machines? As a child/teenager I had very little pocket money. We used to record the entire chart show on Radio One on an old reel to reel recorder. I still have the tapes!

Here is Kraftwerk being futuristic in 1978.Will music in the coming decade be progressive or retrogressive? It all depends on what our collective consciousness or fashion dictate.

The Robots ( nevermind playing synthesizers, will they design robots to do the bloody housework next decade?)

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Like the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, there have been some moments in life, commonly shared with others, where I remember where I was and who I was with, and every feeling and thought impressed  up there in my memory.Preceeding the beginning of the nougthies, there was the eclipse which I saw on Hampstead Heath in London, together with several hundred others.Each one of us forwarned eternally by the media not to look straight up at the sun. It was a special and spiritual moment, I spoke to many Londoners who I didn’t know there, and strangely I bumped into all sorts of music people I knew,but who were equally surprised to see me there. The eclipse reminded us that day, that we were only on a small, rather vulnerable planet, I felt united with others, but for some reason it made me feel sad too.

New Year’s Eve 2000 itself was also a strange time for me personally,  I remember having ventured alone into Central London around the Thames surrounded by thousands of others.I have never felt so lonely! London can be like that. Luckily I went to a friend’s place later.

I guess the main events from the Noughties that affected everything else in our daily lives in London, was September the 11th 2001 followed by the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Both events completely changed the London I knew into a place where CCTV and police apparently took over. I also remember the bus and tube bombings of July 2005 and the further aborted bombings a couple of weeks later. My entire neighbourhood was cordoned off that day, and a friend had to stay at my place because the police wouldn’t let him go home.

Immediately after September the 11th , I was very interested to hear all the “ins and outs” of why the “plane crashes”  could have  happened.

I knew both Americans and Lebanese people at that time, who knew a lot about politics. Before the full story broke out in the news, it was pretty obvious from my conversations with them, that it was bound to be a group from the middle-east over Palestine.

The protest march against the invasion of Iraq in February 2003 was another day I will never forget. I have been on a quite a few protest marches, but this was exceptional. The political apathy of the British public was dispelled for once and to take part in the march was amazing. It was freezing cold and slow, but I was so pleased to see others of all ages and backgrounds united in not wanting a war.

I had written a detailed letter to my MP at the time, Michael Portilo, a month or two beforehand, giving him five well-thought out reasons why we should not invade Iraq. One of my main points was that London would become a target for terrorists if we got involved in America’s attack. I stated that we were still regarded as neutral until we committed to invading Iraq. I wrote that I thought that central London would become a less friendly, and more dangerous place with armed police, and that there would be a threat of terrorist attacks on the tubes.

To my surprise, and to his credit, Portilo wrote back me ( or maybe someone in his office wrote it for him) . It was a long letter, replying to each one of my five points in detail. The letter is somewhere up in my attic I think, I could not find it to quote here unfortunately ( I may add it later).

Portilo assured me that if we did not invade Iraq, that London would become a terrorist target and a dangerous place to live. Although a conservative MP, he  fully supported the labour government’s actions. I might have sounded hysterical in my letter,but I was right.  Our tubes were bombed and London did become a far more paranoid and fearful place, with new detention laws and the police, at times taking over tube stations with an aggressive and intimidating presence,compounded by stories of police torture at Scotland Yard, police brutality at recent climate change protests etc…

I have subsequently met Kurdish refugees from Iraq and Turkey, living here in London, who were extremely happy to see Saddam go. One guy I knew lost not only his family, but all his friends,school teachers and everyone he ever met in his entire life, through one of Saddam’s mass gas attacks of the Kurds.

I am still a pacifist and think we were wrong to invade Iraq, but these things are never entirely black and white.

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I guess my main worry for the next decade is the impact of climate change, I do think life for people will have to change whether we plan for it or not.

On a positive note, I am a great believer in Mother Earth. Before all the patriarchal religions ( and yes I know I will upset many by writing this!) there were religions in most parts of the world based on the concept of the great mother, the giver of life. The planet and all living things , and sometimes non-living things such land,rocks and hills etc. were sacred and respected.

If we don’t adopt a better attitude, then the forces of nature which are stronger than the forces of man, will take over.I believe the planet will be self-regulating. This is a very harsh image and of course I don’t want anyone to die or suffer. If we think of the planet as a kind of living being under threat (from billions of  little human parasites), then I believe that it could rebel and kill enough people so that it can restore itself back to health.

Well let’s see if we can prevent any great tragedy from happening by using  less, and thinking more about the way we treat our planet within this gigantic, wonderful and mysterious Universe. We must choose to either plunder or to care for this beautiful, delicate, live-giving planet Earth.

Happy New Year 2010,

May the next decade bring us Wisdom and Peace

Born2rant

My Metaphorical Comfort Drug: Gong and a bit of Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah


Hello good people who read this blog

Are you sitting comfortably?

Well before we begin since I don’t have anything specific to urgently talk about let us listen to our first hippie anthem of the day to warm up our cockles on this cold evening ( dancing or waving arms about or playing along with wild and wonderful percussion instruments is optional)

Gong and “Builder” from the You album

The cold season was approaching  and as usual I was conned by the local nurse a few weeks ago into having a ‘flu jab as I come into one of those categories where they insist you have it due to low immunity …

Naturally just  like last year  ( see my blog entry around this time ) this meant within 24 hours I had what my doctor would call  “a  reaction to the ‘flu jab “as it “doesn’t contain any live viruses”.

My “reaction” started off by being weak, having no appetite and aching all over with a high temperature and a sore throat shortly followed by three weeks of coughing day and night, being too ill to go out , losing my voice completely for 10 days,  more fever and now a month later being still very weak and needing steroid medication to  breathe.

So next year I think I’d like the opportunity to catch the ‘flu the  conventional way rather than have it directly injected into my bloodstream. But every year I give in to doctor’s pressure ….

More music to cheer us up the excellent Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band

In the Canyons of your Mind

Well lots going on in my life, busy,busy,busy,ill,ill,ill, busy,busy,busy…..

The bad thing about being busy is that it actually stops you from thinking , if you have lots of other things to occupy your brain and your time  then there is just no time to watch TV, read the news, think about the usual stuff let alone do anything creative like write music or blogs or even talk to friends and relatives.

In some ways this is a good thing as the news is so bleak. I feel that when I watch the news on TV it’s a similar activity to pulling out your own eyebrows compulsively or practising some kind of self-harming activity.

Watching and actually listening to the news is like a neurotic compulsion which serves to deepen that  sense of helpless lack of control over anything and everything…

“Expect to lose everything” the newsreaders and commentators insinuate “job, home, savings, pension, expect not to afford food, heating.. maybe not right now but in a couple of year’s time”...and then on top of it to hear that some companies are making record profits ………..and then there’s still the youth crime and the end of the world through climate change…and ARGH!

Gordon Brown’s smug face and even smugger statements about how Britain isn’t really responsible for all this ….. Get out the bottle of whisky now .

I don’t drink whisky but it’s a metaphorical bottle of whisky to deaden the senses and worries and sore throat all in one.

The news is scaring everyone to death and surely that’s in part what is causing the economy to fail.

The  music in this blog entry is my metaphorical bottle of whisky or metaphorical old fashioned joint (without skunk and just strong enough to make me mellow and creative) ..more music from the lovely gamelan-influenced Gong . “Love is How You Make it” from one of my favourite albums of all time Angel’s Egg ( every track is a gem):

I cannot embed it anymore sorry!

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=O-QuwUWySG0

“The Rich” behaving like “The Poor”

Just one or two little local observations about the economic crisis and then upwards and onwards to something better.

As my regular readers may know I live amongst the wealthy of Notting Hill although I am pretty poor myself. One thing that has always puzzled me if why I never ever see my rich neighbours and acquaintances in the local supermarkets.

After years of puzzling over this question the simple answer is that generally speaking they wouldn’t be seen dead in a supermarket. Sometimes they send their housekeepers off to the supermarket with long lists of luxury foods or they just order everything from Waitrose who deliver.

So imagine my shock when on Saturday afternoon I saw not one but TWO of my rich neighbours in the local Tesco! I tried to make eye contact with either of them and smiled but found them unwilling to reciprocate ( I am poor scum after all and should not be living in a rich area ….maybe I am being paranoid but after 20 years of saying hello to these same rich neighbours and getting nowhere that is my paranoid conclusion).

One of them who owns a penthouse suite with roof garden etc… had ventured bravely into a supermarket to buy one thing only.

He left the store with a  small bag of  economy rice under his arm. I was shocked..I bought that same rice myself and it really is poor quality , I ended up throwing mine away and I never throw away food.

Also …. one of my very very very  rich acquaintances was not her happy self the other day and was complaining that her husband’s investments were all in the States and that he had told her “No more spending” these  people are normally a fountain of money, spending and investing in wild, expensive and often totally useless things.

So although 4 to 6 weeks ago the cracks were not showing amongst the very very very wealthy they are very acutely apparent now.

More cheerful  music needed urgently

Love is a Cylindrical Piano  – Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band and Eric Idle again…

I guess we have to live from day to day rather than worry about the future but when I was at my poorest with my sensible female hippie friends we used to pool our resources. One friend of mine used to buy a huge sack of rice and one of red lentils from somewhere cheap and then we would give her money and petrol money and share the cost ( as well as the food of course). Ah petrol money! I used to go everywhere by petrol money, to festivals and camping and shopping trips. I was not a hitcher or a driver but someone willing to pay petrol money .

So many things are possible when people co-operate and collaborate and life can actually be a lot more fun and less lonely too  when resources are pooled together.

Being ridiculously wealthy tends to make people more selfish, although for some the guilt or the fear of ending up in hell or occasionally just kindness makes them incredibly generous .

I think we all need to pull together ( sounds like WWII ). I also think as a society in the UK people have lost their sense of being able to do anything for themselves long ago. There’s always a law or a rule to stop you from doing something creative and empowering so the general mentality in response to being terrified by the news of recession is to sit at home and listen to more and more and more bad news. Like monitoring impending doom as it happens from a cosy armchair and waiting for someone else to make some kind of miracle legislation to sort it all out.

As for me, I’d rather we started sorting things out ourselves without being told what to do or prompted by idiotic hypocritical politicians.

Why don’t we find out who our real friends are and start to buy big bags of rice and share our cars, share costs, swap childcare, swap services.

We need to empower ourselves and to take pride in the things we can do collectively instead of waiting for a miracle law or a miracle sack load of money to save us. ( now I sound like a Tory ARGH!!)

Anyway here is some more music.

Music is my chocolate, my wine , my spirit, my drug and my hug.

Zero the Hero:

Sorry I can’t embed it anymore go to:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjDo073HzlM

Music is addictive but it’s better than pulling out your eyebrows and sitting watching the news waiting for poverty to set in.

I’m looking forwards to people being collaborative again. If rules and laws are made to stop people from finding creative and empowering ways to survive the law-makers will be turning positive action into helplessness. Let’s hope change will be change for the better, but more than hope let’s make it better and start up our own economic collaborations.

We need lots of comfort music..Love and Peace

Born2rant

Gong ….The Isle of Everywhere

See Also…

Gong Live Now and Then

“Credit Crunch” your favorite cereal for breakfast or brunch (registered Trade Mark)


Hello Good People who read this blog

a little rant this time to change the theme a bit

” Credit Crunch” your favorite cereal for breakfast or brunch (* please see p.s./ footnote)

Morning news first thing upon waking  and I have my first tasty helping of ” Credit Crunch“( no relation to Kellogg’s).
Whenever I hear the term ” Credit Crunch” I automatically think of a bowl of tasty healthy crunchy cereal with dried blueberries and raspberries etc…or maybe some ” Credit Crunch ” bars,  sticky muesli things full of honey designed to rot your teeth in a totally new healthy way.
I used to have the same problem with “hamas”, if I was watching Channel 4 evening news and I hadn’t eaten yet I’d think to myself in a Homer Simpson type way ” Hmmm,  HOUMOUS!”
Yes I know I sound moronic but if you didn’t have a sense of humour ( or houmous ) you’d just have to kill yourself each time you heard the news.

Whoever invented the media term ” Credit Crunch” missed out on the opportunity of earning millions by not adding a copyright or trademark sign next to it.


It’s one of those terms that doesn’t actually tell you anything because they don’t want to panic you.
They could have called it ” The Great Depression” or ” a major recession on a scale we have not known since the 1930s” or ” Everything’s gone tits up – buy cans of food and head for the hills“.

But “they” the big  businesses and those who indirectly or directly  influence the news we hear and read , those who actually OWN the newsagencies, those who OWN the government who in turn influence the BBC news etc… “They” have managed to get the story over as :” Oh yes but, well it’s not so bad everything will be ok in a year or two, back to normal, possibly even better!”.

The news is confusing. They tell us  we are not in recession instead we have a “Credit Crunch” , there is no long term problem, you must keep spending and not worry…and yet we also hear of major banks crashing , no one can get a mortgage, no one can sell their house, people losing their jobs etc…..I think the game is up.
So what IS actually happening?
Well I think our although “they” can influence our news and create nonsense propaganda it’s comforting to know that some of the actual facts do leak through from time to time. There are still committed journalists about,  although most of them have no idea what real long-term poverty is like and always write from a priviledged point of view.  They haven’t gone through a winter without heating , phone,  or proper shoes as I have done in the past and as many have done and will do.

So I am going to write about the limited things I see.

The Rich
I have to say from the extremely  rich people I know, they don’t seem at all phased by this “Credit Crunch” yet.

I have to add that the ridiculously rich people I know are not very  close friends who might otherwise confide in me, but I can tell by their optimism, the cars, the houses, the holidays, the clothes, the new furnishings, the staff, that nothing has changed much in their lifestyles. If they are worried it certainly doesn’t show.
However in the street where I live there have been signs that some of the rich people are trying to sell or rent out their houses. One house across the road from me is empty.
The residents were an American family, but since the mother always avoided making eye contact with me ( like all the other neighbours)  and used to dress in fox-hunting gear wherever she went in a bizzarre attempt to show she was at one with the British gentry, I can’t say that I miss them.
I hope some friendly not too noisy squatters move in although I know they would be ejected or maybe beaten up very soon by the locals ( gentry of course).

From my point of view, I have adapted to the fact that everything is hugely expensive while my limited income is the same.
Everything in my local Tescos  is on average  about 25% more expensive but at least that has stabilised for now.

My phone bill has trippled with my rubbish phone and internet company charging me for  all kinds of calls that I never made.  I then spend hours on the phone trying to sort things out unsuccessfully. With my gas and electricity providers the bills were inaccurate and no matter how many meter readings I gave the bill was always for something much higher. So I changed companies with uswitch, now the new ones I signed up with are playing exactly the same games except now I spend hours phoning an expensive phone number to try to get it sorted, I would have been better off with the previous crooks…sorry company. I now buy much less food and don’t take so many baths, use special prefix numbers to make phone calls, and because I have no children it’s not hard to cut some expenses without suffering.

People who I have spoken to with shares tell me that although some have plummetted that the oil shares are doing very well thank you very much ( well I’ve heard they have plummetted too but considering the world oil shortage they are bound to recover) and that the oil companies are working the market. Basically the rich aren’t getting any poorer it seems because they are using their guile to make sure others are making up the deficit.

Anyone who lives on the kind of small budget where virtually all their money goes on food , utility bills and rent or mortgage are in trouble but those who can afford new handbags, golf clubs and holidays are probably fine.

In the future…well having less money has it’s good and bad points.
We are so much richer than so many countries around the world, obscenely rich, that I think it could be a good thing.
I feel sorry for all those living on “credit” and those who have been habitual shopaholics or huge boozers and who ran up massive bills. But if they can clear their debts then maybe they can live a lifestyle than is based more around the free things in life and gain and maintain self-esteem through non-material or alcoholic pursuits. Unfortunately a lot of naive people have been taken to the cleaners, they were encouraged to believe that being in debt was a good thing and even a trendy or essential thing to do. This includes students with massive loans and of course those with huge mortgages to repay.  Those who were not tempted to spend money they didn’t actually have are the lucky few.

Of course we do have a lot of people in London who are lost, separated, lonely, violent, depressed, don’t believe in anything but consummerism. How will things change for them?  Will some gangs become more violent with increasing poverty?
As it is the gap between the rich and the poor is wider in my experience than it had ever been before in my lifetime.

Will there be more violence on the streets or will there be a revolution?
If enough people are discontented will they just emigrate to another country or invade another one and acquire its wealth?
I am hoping that music will improve, culture, writing, thoughts, everything will deepen.
“Necessity is the mother of invention” they say.

When people feel powerless, poor and without any voice, that’s when they start to express themselves and to be creative, that’s when the big plastic void in the brains of consumers might start to clear and start to think again.

If you’ve something to say what are you waiting for?

I’ll leave  you some music

Love and Peace

Born2rant

* p.s. footnote I just found out that Kellogg’s have actually got a crunchy cereal with dried fruit as I described called ” Credit Crunchy” I promise that I had no idea of this! My brain is on the same wavelength as those who invent new brands of Kelloggs’s cereals! Frightening!

Drug Dealers of Notting Hill ( and nearby) plus dope culture 1979-1981 (part deux)


Hello Good People who read this blog whether you got here on purpose or by accident you are all welcome!

My rambling blog is going to attempt at some form of confused continuity by continuing my stories of drug dealers . Please refer to my calendar on the right and click on June the 27th to read the first part of these tales.

Anyone out there firstly should know that names have been changed and some facts may be distorted by the following mathematical formula:

(time-compressed-in-my-brain) x (imagination + fantasies)  x % ^  (the fact I was very stoned at the time). However if only you knew the stuff I left out, that’s far wilder, so anything innacurate will not be an exageration, if indeed I get to tell that stuff in this post.

The Sports Shop

So if you read my entry (27/6/08)  you’ll know that via my friend who was looking for a party we found a house full of  drug dealers living above a sport’s shop in Harrow Road . At last we had found a regular place to score that did not involve dealing with brawls in pubs or hanging out in  All Saint’s Road.

I had concepts of dodgy drug dealers before I met these guys. This was in 1979 and all I can say is that from our point of view it was the happiest household I’d ever been to. The first people we got to know through my partying friend were two guys called Tony from Northern Ireland.

They were either from Ulster or Belfast I cannot remember, but I do remember that due to the amount of bombings going on,  the general stereotype was that anyone with a strong northern Irish accent was feared as a bomber. This was because each time there was a bomb , on the news they would always conclude by saying “and someone with a strong  Irish accent phoned up to claim the IRA were responsible”. The IRA also were involved in some kind of drug smuggling but there was no way these two young men with strong Northern Irish accents were at all interested in bombing anyone or in politics either , they were only interested in getting stoned, having a laugh and listening to good music.

One of the Tonys had a sweet young  face, always smiling he had a drum kit in his room and I had my first go on drums thanks to him. I was rubbish and realised drums were not for me. He played them pretty well though. His taller friend,  also a Tony, had long black hair with wrigglets and a moustache, he looked altogether wilder and people teased him by saying he looked like one of the Fabulous Furry Freak brothers ( the one with the glasses…what was his name? Phineas Freakears!). Both Tonys were friendly guys with a great sense of humour.

A little trip around the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and other drug culture characters …

In fact I seem to remember we christened a fair few of our friends at that time according to different characters from that comic it was so funny and tragic at the same time. The new obscenity laws that dear old Thatcher brought in meant the nice people at the headshop in Portobello Road were busted several times for selling “Fabulous Furry Freak Brother ” comics.  I bought a board game from that head shop back in 1980 ( the shop still exists, called “Alchemy” it changed address though).

It was a board game called “Dealer Mc Dope” ( this photo is from the Last Gasp website where you can still buy this game from!). It was like Monopoly except you have to go around the world buying and selling drugs . It takes several days to win and some of the rules are quite insane and humanly impossible. I seem to remember there were 2 sets of rules one was the “Perverto Insane rules” or something involving cannabalism and nuclear explosions or similar .

The cartoons on the banknotes are fantastic with Ronald Reagan and other American politicians. Anyway I bought that from that same headshop  in 1980 and they had to keep it under the counter for me in case they got busted for selling a drug dealing game.

My favourite was always Fat Freddy’s Cat and because we had a large number of cats at home , we frequently referred ( or should I say reefer-d..very bad pun!) to the philosophy and wisdom of Fat Freddy’s Cat. He used to poo in Fat Freddy’s cowboy boots to remind him that the catbox needed changing and ours used to poo everywhere too… aah! Happy Days!

Around then there were various cinemas that catered for hippies , late night tokers and those interested in counterculture films. It was through these that we encountered Fritz the Cat. A pornographic debauched cat I didn’t much like, still it certainly turned the stereotypes of cartoons like Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat upside down.

In Notting Hill the Electric Cinema had late night shows where I remember watching “La Vallée Obscured by Clouds“. Pink Floyd had provided the music but one of the characters (Monique) is also played by Miquette Giraudy of System 7. However in this clip she is a bit er… obscured by clouds but  that’s her in the red/brown cape or possibly blanket.

On the same bill was “More” also with some music from Pink Floyd. Both films were directed by Barbet Schroeder. I seem to remember that “More”  was  one of the most depressing junkie films I had ever seen. Mind you I don’t remember a lot about it except that I got bored . I much preferred “La Vallée” which had a more interesting story of hippies trying to reach a place and way of life before the trappings of modern culture and capitalism.

In this clip of “More” from youtube below they have censored some of the ingredients to their spaced out drug concoction……sorry !

I might have to write another entry just about films and alternative cinema because I can sense another 1500 words about to emerge.

I cannot forget the first time I saw ” Up in Smoke” in the late summer of 1979 . I was alone in Paris at the time, I had a place at The Sorbonne to study French but I was desperately lonely , broke, and had nowhere to live.  I ended up going to stay in a convent in the Latin Quarter. I went to the cinema every day to hear some spoken English as I was very homesick and I came across ” Up in Smoke ” by accident , I had never seen anything like it . Cheech and Chong playing  two bumbling American hippies in the most hilarious film I had ever seen, going through every young toker’s scenario . I  went back to the cinema to see it several times until I just had to leave Paris where I was desperately miserable and rejoin my hippie boyfriend and friends  back in London leaving my University course behind…. but I never regretted it and studied later on a course I was much more suited to.

(this clip of “Up in Smoke” has a couple of flash frames in it  added by the person who put it up on youtube but of nothing bad or brainwashing..not sure what it is a picture of)

Cheech and Chong were almost like cartoon characters, also there was Robert Crumb and the Stoned Agin posters.

The bedsits over the Sport’s shop in Harrow Road were full of young small time dealers, who actually were just like Cheech and Chong and had all the stereotype posters on their walls. The Stoned Agin one , then there was the multicoloured one of a woman smoking a great big cone spliff, plus of course Bob Marley , Jimi Hendrix and other bands.

The  two Tony’s were always very happy to see us. We used to get up to run our stall in Portobello Road at   6 a.m. on Saturday mornings and yet I think we used to go there to score and get stoned on a Friday night and I was working full-time. We were young and sleep was optional. (Also jobs were a much less demanding back then in every way  and I worked a 36 hour week which was considered as a typical 9-5 full-time job with a lunch hour and morning and afternoon tea breaks. )

We’d spend the evening there and have tea and munchies and lots of spliffs. There were sometimes other drugs there but we didn’t generally bother with those, I certainly was not interested in other drugs at all. There was quite a range of different types of cannabis available and the different varieties of dope available improved when eventually we got to know their dealers, and their dealer’s dealers! But for a year or so we hung out happily at the Sport’s shop and got to know the other inhabitants who all were smiley jolly people and seemed eager to be our friends and tell us of the latest attempts by the police to have them busted.

Dope was cheap, much cheaper than beer and made me happy, not aggressive or miserable like alcohol could. Plus it made me feel good about being creative and someone who liked to think about society as the entire drug culture was about using drugs to expand the mind and to create new music and other artistic and intellectual pursuits. I think I personally wanted the spiritual ecstatic experience that religion alluded to ( being filled with the Holy Ghost!) but just didn’t deliver. I wanted to feel at one with the planet, with all living things and that life was special and had a purpose. I think I found this through dope temporarily at least although I think the company and culture associated with drug-taking was equally important.

But I was also quite paranoid, we all were but none of us admitted it as well as very accident prone when stoned and well…it’s not a risk-free activity.  At the time we thought it was healthy to smoke it and that tobacco was dangerous so we often smoked neat bongs, pipes, and grass spliffs, and so did the health- conscious people we knew. It always makes me laugh, I’ve known so many hippies who have given up tobacco, eat only vegan and sometimes macrobiotic foods, won’t use any anti-biotics or painkillers or any type of “poisonous” conventional medicine yet they are quite happy to have huge quantities of dope and sometimes other “natural” non-pharmaceutical drugs like mushrooms and even opium etc…

Still I find most people are walking contradictions including myself. In those days we all thought that dope was not only healthy but good for you, cured asthma, arthritis, annorexia, depression, and that is why we supported  the “legalise cannabis campaign” and were willing to risk getting arrested at Smokey Bear’s Picnics in Hyde Park and other legalise cannabis events.

My thoughts and feelings about dope are totally different now and today’s skunk is a totally different drug.  Skunk has wrecked the mental health of at least one of my friends.  Also we now have the knowledge that smoking anything gives you cancer…is ignorance bliss? or just foolish? or were we just young and some of us finding life very stressful and alienating without dope and the good company of other smokers?

It was bliss back then to smoke dope and feel that it was revolutionary, wise, naughty and illegal as well as a healthy herb and it separated us from “straight” people who liked to drink lots. It was very “us” and “them”.

I’ll write more soon. At my leisure!

Please tell me in a comment  if you had any dope smoker’s posters on your wall or other paraphenelia  I may have forgotten about . How about unusual cigarette papers? Like there were dollar bill ones and pink leopard-skin skins.

and do you smile each time you watch the BBC London news read by  Rizzla Teeth? I do!

Yes..the dope-smoking culture and sense of humour doesn’t go away even if writing blogs has replaced the hours of giggling and listening to Gong while smoking bongs. Happy Days!

( cough ! cough! splutter! wheeze!)

Lots of things from the US in this entry and I’ll finish with a trailer from the film Psych-out ( 1968 ) see below this paragraph . It’s an absolutely brilliant little montage of this crazy colourful film. I first went to see this at The Scala in King’s Cross as part of an all-nighter with my ex and our mate Gid  who was 6 foot 4 and had his face painted as a mouse. They were both tripping from dope cake and totally freaked out from seeing this cautionary  film and I had to try and chill them out after the film by finding them munchies and talking to them about nice things. It was quite difficult not to smile , Gid looked very sweet as a 6 foot 4 inch terrified  long-haired hippie mouse with a little red nose and painted whiskers across his cheeks.

PSYCH-OUT” 1968 ( a  psychedelic movie with some horror sequences includes a young Jack Nicholson with long-hair, the Seeds, the Strawberry Alarm Clock and much more!)

Love and peace

Born2rant

The Drug Dealers of Notting Hill


Hello good people who read this blog

For some reason I am writing this just before going to bed so there may be some errors that I will correct in the morning, plus I might add bits if I find further info I’d forgotten.

I thought I’d write some recollections by looking at some photos . I don’t have many photos left some seem to have disappeared somewhere.

Including this one. This morning I suddenly decided that I didn’t want my photo in a post called “Drug Dealers of Notting Hill” just in case I got myself into trouble, I am not a Drug dealer in Notting Hill.There are some people I know professionally in this area who I definitely don’t want recognising me from my blog although their pasts are either obscenely respectable or far more debauched than my own. I need to think about this one and it might go up again in the near future. For now just imagine a young woman in hippie clothing walking up the side of a foggy cold mountain, clutching a hot cup of tea and smiling with motorbikes, a truck and tents all parked behind her.

For me personally the strange thing is that I haven’t really changed. You wouldn’t recognise me physically but I still wear that very same hat, those very same boots and I still wear purple even as I write this I am wearing a purple T-shirt which flares out at the sleeves and hips and basically looks like it’s from 1973. This is good therapy for me, to realise I am still the same person somehow and that I am oblivious to passing fashions.

At that time I didn’t live in Notting Hill as I do now but we ( me and my ex-partner) had a stall in Portobello Road on a Saturday and I had an office job during the week. We hung around a lot in Notting Hill though, this was around 1979 to 1982 . I didn’t really know Notting Hill before then although I knew South Kensington and Chelsea well and they were only down the road, North Kensington was a totally different world ( then, not now). When desperate ( which was most of the time) we scored our dope in the All Saint’s Road from a kind and very mellow Jamaican drug-dealer/silversmith at a pub called ” The Apollo”. The place doesn’t exist anymore.

Memories of the Apollo! The loos were very dodgy that’s where the deals went on. Going down the All Saints Road was dodgy too especially if you were female, young and white. Everyone treated me like a prostitute if I went to the Apollo alone.

In spite of my referring to Kensington and Chelsea a few times I also lived in South London from the age of 12 onwards, I went to a state school, and lived on an estate. Both the school I attended and estate I lived on were not rough but my friends and others lived in fear of violence, rape and crime. This was around the time of the Brixton riots and there was a lot of racial tension. I moved out of home young due to family problems and lived in a house full of crazy people in Clapham and knew street criminals, night club hostesses and troubled people living on the edge. I never felt comfortable in South London and my personal experience of both the black community and the white youth of the Ladbroke Grove area was that they were far more creative, secure, laid back and safe to be around compared to some of the places I had known. For many reasons I had experienced some dangerous and distressing situations before , and even though I had virtually no self-confidence and was mild-mannered, my experiences had made me unusually daring and streetwise , I remember needing both of these qualities to go alone once to score down the Apollo. I wasn’t able to buy anything instead I was surrounded by black guys who either wanted to give me a £5 pound draw for free or one or two were trying to sell me parsley for £5.

I didn’t usually go to the Apollo alone but with my boyfriend and his friends. We weren’t ripped off too badly. The place was rough though and one time we were having drink there and I said to Michael ” Let’s go I don’t like the atmosphere I feel like something bad’s going to happen”. I think he was about to tell me to stop being paranoid when I was hit the face by a flying chair , shortly followed by the person who had previously been sitting on it. It was like something in a Western one second people were just drinking their rum and coke and the next everyone was fighting and breaking glasses, bottles, furniture flying, people wrestling with one another, blood, we were sheltering behind a table for a few seconds and we escaped through the door. The place was closed down and busted a few times and eventually we stopped going there.

Another one of our favourite pubs was what we and others called “ Hennerky’s” ( n.b. I have no idea how this is spelt) although its real name was and still is “The Earl of Londsdale“. The legendary pub was mentioned in the 1960’s version of “Alternative London“. I really need to do some more research and get hold of a copy.

I have a copy of Alternative London from 1982. I loved that book , I think we had to buy a couple of copies because people kept borrowing it and never giving it back, a common problem with hippie borrowers of good books and borrowers of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple albums although these tended to be borrowed by bikers and no one expected bikers to return things on time if ever.

Hennerky’s, like the Earl of Londsdale now, had a beer garden.In the summer it was full of stoned groups of hippies ,punks often with mohicans, with young children, dogs, groups of friends, guitarists and anyone who would grab a table and hang out there all day. Then indoors it had the front bar which was often dirty and a bit dingey and had tourists and locals and then there was THE BACK BAR!

Oh my God the back bar, a den of iniquity. The carpet was so sticky that going there in flip-flops was not recommended, in fact going there in any kind of clothing was not reccommended. The walls were black with dirt and everywhere else , in every spare space was a cramped crowd of mean-looking tattoed, denim-shredded, leather clad, smelly bikers , proper bikers with initiation ceremonies and “colours” , I seem to remember that these were special patches sewn on to their jackets when they had passed some terrible test to show membership. They also had sleeveless torn denim jackets that they wore over their worn out thick leather bikers jackets . I still have my biker jacket, I had to throw it down the stairs and sand paper it when I first bought it so it looked worn and not clean or new and uncool. But as well as being bikers or Hell’s Angels they were either drug-dealers or people wanting to score drugs, or people simply in the wrong place and unable to find their way out due to the tightly packed room and sticky carpet. Some of the punters there were acquaintances of ours but no close friends.The atmosphere was very heavy. We usually went in the beer garden but going into the back bar was quite an adventure but very uncomfortable I don’t remember seats just this hole really. It was the sort of place where Lemmy would have looked at home and where anyone looking like ” the Fonz” posing in a leather jacket and looking clean might have had their head kicked in. Actually Lemmy was much cleaner and neater and altogether pleasant and nicer than most of the blokes I saw in there, stacked up at the bar waiting to get served.

We never tried to score at Hennerky’s it was too risky, there were always raids. After our many Apollo experiences, through a female friend of mine we eventually discovered a place known locally simply as”The Sport’s Shop” or I think it was called “354” or was it “281”????? a high number anyway ,the number of the house( if anyone reading this lived there don’t worry I won’t use your real names). It was above or next to a sport’s shop in Harrow Road.

My friend had been walking past it one evening bored and looking for a good time and had heard music coming from inside. She rang their doorbell and asked them if she could come to their party, they weren’t having a party but they welcomed her in anyway. To her delight and surprise the house above the sport’s shop was a network of bedsits and in every bedsit was a different friendly drug-dealer, most of them were musicians too, all were decadent but smiling , many had jobs…..but I have to go to bed now and will tell you more next time.

In the back bar at Hennecky’s this would have been playing on the juke box

P.s. If the drug squad read this don’t bother coming round I don’t buy drugs anymore .

p.p.s. Sorry if I have offended any bikers…

or drug dealers

or Lemmy

or fans of Lemmy

Sorry I have to go to bed now . I am exhausted. I will write more soon. Anyone remember how to spell Hennerky’s and what you remember?

Sorry for saying sorry all the time.

Love and Peace

Born2rant