Notting Hill almost how I remember it…and some odd music videos (with apologies to Mumford & Sons)


Hello Good People who still read this blog…(amazingly)

I haven’t written here for so long, was very put off by the lack of privacy online and prosecutions after the London riots and then so many things happened in my daily life. Last night I stayed up late and watched old music videos with my son and it made me remember how much I enjoyed writing my blog here and ranting, and planting the odd youtube video in between my ranting as backing music.

I just like to rant to people I know these days and life has been so weird since the recession. I think being a hippie is becoming cool again, or far less frowned upon by youth in 2015,than when I first started this blog.Even becoming a Labour supporter is becoming cool again after years of three main parties advocating capitalism. But as I said the other day, we’re all fed up with relentless caterpillars ( my tired play on words). The money never trickles down from the rich to the poor, instead the rich get more maids, probably with a string of “domestic service” qualifications.The superich can pick and choose among the desperate. But even the rich are more insecure since this global economic downturn, with the rise of apocalyptic religious fanaticism, the spread of 24 news channels to scare us all, refugees and the poor arriving in the countries of the wealthy – giving rise to  more servants! and more xenophobia(see Footnote 1) to scare suburban-minded voters whose herd instinct is too strong to use their brains independently of the right-wing media.

We all share this planet, and for a long time the rich countries, and exploited countries were kept far away from one another, but eventually as travel gets easier, it seems not implausible for every country to end up with the same wealth and resources, that means us westerners will become a lot poorer! But then that’s equality. Countries and borders are drawn in sand, we are just animals roving a small planet most trying to find a way to survive while others try to conquer. ( not conker, to fight all our territorial battles with conkers on bits of string in the autumn (“Fall” for Americans) would be far more fun).

An old friend from a psychedelic band sent me a link to this wonderful piece of Hippie history, Notting Hill as it used to be. A short film entitled “Getting it Straight in Notting Hill Gate”,(1969-“Blissful Company” album) the title of a song by local band Quintessence who jam at the end of the film. Notice how little traffic there is and how many people are black, yes Notting Hill was known as a “West Indian” (Afro-Caribbean) area. Now most residents are white and superrich but also many like me don’t have much but have been living here for a very long time.

This is a link to the short film which was put up online by the lovely people at the British Film Institute:

http://player.bfi.org.uk/film/watch-getting-it-straight-in-notting-hill-gate-1970/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20150812-player-new-britain-on-film&utm_content=20150812-player-new-britain-on-film+CID_36555ab4aae7529e39e04b8809b2ea5e&utm_source=cm&utm_term=WATCH+FOR+FREE

I still live there but feel totally alienated from all the posh residents, I blend in but I remember when Notting Hill was a dangerous and exciting place. I remember each time I walked down certain roads at night on my own, particularly down “All Saints Road”, anyone who spotted me assumed that I was a prostitute or in search of a drug deal. In fact I was more interested in just exploring different ways of being. I’ve never enjoyed danger, but boredom is like death, so sometimes one has to make a compromise and take risks for the sake of avoiding a depressing existence.

Who can afford to live in Notting Hill now? Who can afford to live in London? The prices of houses has got so crazy now that it can’t go on forever, the prices have to stabilise in the next couple of years. There simply aren’t enough millionaires to buy all the houses in London, or rent them. They say that Russian Oligarchs are to blame, but I think they are making them into (rich) scapegoats, after all it is a UK decision not to cap the prices of houses and to keep the “fair rents” at the same level as the going local market cost for rents. Rampant Caterpillars!

I have to put some other music videos up here. They are not hippie videos but are just weird and entertaining. This is the Eurythmics. Here someone is either making fun of the ridiculously extravagant British pop videos of the eighties or this is a genuinely silly pop video.

Great song though! and interesting video, note the cows (why?), the forerunner to the personal computer ( we only had word processors at that time) and obligatory period costume ( see also Boy George Karma Chameleon video and others)

The Eurhythmics – Sweet Dreams 1983 ( I hope this link works!)

Then here’s a great live/not live performance of Radar Love by Golden Earring. Have you ever seen a more bored audience? Note the blonde girl teenagers forced to sit on the stage, frankly I don’t think any of these people like rock music and I think they were all told they would be tortured if they did not sit quietly until the end of the song ( I’d be the same if I had to sit through an Ed Sheeran gig).There’s a very angry looking woman with big glasses in the background, that would be me at a Mumford & Sons gig.Meanwhile the band do a great “stonking” semi-live performance. It looks live they are performing live over a recording, it doesn’t matter, the song is great. I never used to think so but I am old and any music of the 1970s is better than the bland brain death that is Mumford and Sons ( I can get away with saying this because you haven’t heard my own songs).

Golden Earring -Radar Love (1973)(Yey turn it up and dance round the room and ROCK!!!)( Mumford and Sons are so square!)

Now staying on the topic of rock..until last night I never knew who was responsible behind that wonderful song “Black Betty” which used to be played at my school disco right after “Black Knight” (Deep Purple), ” Play that Funky Music” (Wild Cherry), ” You ain’t seen nothing yet” (Bachman Turner Overdrive), and “Jive Talking” (The Bee Gees). But it would seem that all of the dudes performing the aforementioned songs were white and “Ram Jam” who played “Black Betty” looked like this, but hey, as long as you have a Gibson guitar with gold fittings who cares about image?

( I hope this like works!) Black Betty -Ram Jam (1977) Great Glasses!

Today’s “square” and dreary songwriters who find Johnny Cash wildly exciting, and who perceive the music of Mumford and Sons as orgasmic as a Carlos Santana solo, as he melds into one with his instrument, surrendering to a climax of sustained peals of electric sensual screaming guitar ecstasy, will no doubt get very excited by my next music video. ( I can be a dreary songwriter too, and I must get back to my corny song rehearsal later- actually I think perhaps Mumford & Sons have got a bit less dreary recently, but still not as great as my next video).

If you are too young to remember the 1970s then you won’t fully understand the context of the wonderful comedy of “Father Ted“. However this following video will assist you in understanding “the lovely girls competition” and this lovely girl would have won. Dana singing “All Kinds of Everything“. The lyrics start off like Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” but without any of the philosophy. I love the lyrics, totally absurd in places!

“Seagulls and aeroplanes
things of the sky
winds that go howlin’,

Carlos Santana’s orgasmic guitar solos,

breezes that sigh
city sights
neon lights
grey skies or blue
all kinds of everything remind me of you”

( I hope Dana doesn’t read this, I’m sure she’s still a lovely lady)

Dana- All Kinds of Everything (1970)

Love and Peace

Born2rant

Footnote

1. Originally I wrote “Zenophobia” instead of “Xenophobia” . I don’t think the word “Zenophobia” exists, so I have decided that it means the fear someone experiences when realising they are thinking, behaving or dressing like a hippie, or otherwise enjoying hippie music (i.e. most 60s and early 70s guitar based music).Zenophobia afflicts a broad-spectrum of society regardless of religion, economic class, racial background or education. This blog is one of the projects that tries to help people with “Zenophobia” and to re-assure them that it is OK to be a hippie and that once people start to think with their minds, they will realise that rampant caterpillars and Osiris have brainwashed them away from a sensible, peaceful and creatively free way of living on this planet.

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

Freaky Coincidence?The Wright Stuff with Matthew Wright


Hello Good People who read this blog!

Something just happened that has freaked me out ( man!)

At 2.a.m. this morning I put up my last blog post about Frestonia, but also I asked if journalist and tv presenter Matthew Wright was a secret anarchist hippie ( although he is also an openly male chauvinist piggie!). -p.s. 16/6/08 I am regretting that last comment now but in the spirit of freely expressing opinions I will not edit it out as I thought it at the time even if I think now I may have been a bit harsh or even mistaken ( mistaken? but I am always right!)

Well The Wright Stuff is on Channel 5 as I speak ( or as I write) and he just shocked me by having quite along feature on alternative communities in the UK including Frestonia ( please look at my previous post called “Frestonia , Your Essential Entertainment & Lifestyle Guide” if you want to understand what I am on about), he mentioned that Here and Now was one of his favourite bands who he said lived in Frestonia and he said he’d been part of the free festival scene in the 80s .

Just now he had a call from a woman in Hastings who lived in Frestonia and she spoke with him for a long time about how great and creative the Frestonian scene was.

So now I wonder

Is this a freaky coincidence ( man) ? Did someone at Channel 5 read my blog and tell him to get hippies on ( seems unlikely but not 100% impossible), or is my stream of consciousness writing tapping into some kind of collective unconscious psychic weirdness? Did the woman who called in to talk about Frestonia see my blog?

I have watched The Wright Stuff many many times and it’s the first time they have ever mentioned Frestonia or Notting Hill in the 80s.

I was already freaked out by finding a photo of someone I recently got to know on Tony Sleep’s site of frestonian photos. I am obviously having some kind of strange coincidence day!

I already had pre-stage nerves now I’ll be wondering if some other weird coincidence will occur this evening!

I’ll finish with something a French hairdresser told me who cut my hair in a small seaside town last week. As we chatted it turned out that her brother in law and my mother came from the same tiny village in France.

“Il n’y a seulement les montagnes qui ne se rencontrent pas”

( only mountains don’t meet, i.e. people who move about all meet eachother sooner or later)

P.S. I JUST FOUND THIS WONDERFUL FOOTAGE! MATTHEW WRIGHT SINGING SPIRIT OF THE AGE WITH HAWKWIND!

My God what the hell is going on???????? ( am I imagining all of this and have finally gone totally bonkers?)

In the interests of “balanced reporting” here is Space Ritual playing under the Westway about 2 years ago.

<a href=”http://blogs.icerocket.com/tag/the-wright-stuff&#8221; rel=”tag”>the-wright-stuff</a>

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!

The Chainsaw Party (still feeling guilty about this)


The Chainsaw Party Poster

(Poster from the attic of Michael Dog. Thanks. This post was written before the poster was found so that’s why it might sound weird!)

I still remember the day we went to look at the venue and made the deal with the liberal and ever so sweet vicar.

The Church Hall was a huge old barn with oak beams and a newly renovated parquet floor. As Michael told the vicar that we were unemployed musicians wanting to do something for ourselves by running a concert and the vicar offered us the hall for free, I wanted to say something urgently as apocalyptic visions of mud on new wooden floors and possibly other damages worried me. But in the end I said nothing , I let them get on with it, I still wish I had said something .

The Chainsaw Party was a concept partly influenced by our finding 80s heavy metal bands extremely camp and funny and watching the Comic Strip doing ” Bad News” plus “Spinal Tap” etc…

Michael and Bob formed a heavy metal band with our friend James on lead vocals whose antics knew no limits and a couple of other friends. Their name was Bludgen (although I thought it was Bludgeon …don’t know who is right so I’ll use Michael’s spelling).

The day of the gig I was sent to the butcher’s to go buy some offal, as a vegetarian it was not an easy task. I also bought some cling film and experimented with a mixture of bright green powder paint, flour, oil and water which I was to cover myself with from head to toe before wrapping myself in cling film.

When I got to the church hall the usual lengthy preparations were under way including mounting projectors for the lightshow and films and decorating the room with scrim-netting , blowing up balloons ( the nitrous oxide cylinder which came from an unknown source was popular backstage) and general shifting of music equipment.

It was a very cold night with snow and ice outside so it must have been in winter 1984 0r 85?

As well as Bludgen they had booked Giant Aphid Attack fronted by Karen, which was a psychedelic punk band who played at a few of our events. Also on the bill was The Cannibals, a well-known garage surf band who are still going strong, I met and chatted to Spencer before the gig. I think Adam of Treatment and maybe Clive were in the band. Treatment were usually always booked to play but this time they were peppered around the other bands. It would be good to meet up with a few people and get things like band line-ups etc. straight for that memorable gig.

We had run a previous gig in a town hall where no one had turned up and part of the reason for having a spoof heavy metal party was because we knew so many bikers . We affectionately called them Hendon MC and the name stuck although most of them came from Finchley.

As the gig began and we let the public in, we were pleased to see that there was a crowd. However soon the bikers came inside the hall, on their motorbikes, they were going round in circles and filling the venue with fumes and putting tyre marks on the parquet flooring. Eventually after much showing off they parked their bikes near the front on the right side. On the left hand side of the stage there was a paddling pool full of peat where a mud wrestling contest was held. The audience being mainly made up of bikers and in a general atmosphere of rowdiness, the mud wrestling and pelting continued throughout the evening and at one point the paddling pool collapsed altogether spilling a mud pond all over the floor.

Half way through the evening I went on covered from head to foot in green slime and cling film and a dress ( I am glad I chose to wear the dress at the last minute as people were constantly coming up to me and peeling off my cling film ). I was the alien cabaret Astragone Arglegarle\'s first gig ( not a flattering photo of me)( see Anti-media stories part one for more details). I was pelted with mud by skinheads while I sang ” She just desperately wants hippies” then ” Your slime mingled with mine” ( quite appropriate when covered in green slime and mud pies) and told a few jokes.

Later Bludgen took the stage fronted by one of our friends James who enjoyed doing dangerous things. I had bought the offal for their act and he had put it in a life-sized papier mache head. I will now let Michael tell you some of the rest of the story in his words.

” Yes there was indeed a papier mache head filled with offal which James stamped on till it burst and then threw the contents out into the audience who then proceeded to throw bits of offal at each other.(It was herrings in blown up durexes at the next gig!)
Bob was hanged on a theatrical gallows during one number. The harness that he was wearing went wrong and he found himself REALLY hanging by his neck though none of us were aware! Thankfully, the gallows collapsed under his weight, damaging his Les Paul guitar, but saving his life in the process!”

Some Bludgen song titles: ‘Suck My Dick’, ‘Hendon MC Born To Be Free’ and ‘You’re Dead’.

“Someone called Louise did indeed bring a chainsaw (which she was waving about switched on) onstage and at one point, she waved it from behind, between James’s legs which he was unaware of. I noticed it whilst I was playing and remember thinking how close he came to losing his manhood in spectacular fashion….And yes, I did buy and wear a pair of too tight PVC trousers, that split at
the crotch…and I wasn’t wearing underpants!

Poor vicar!”

After the gig we did all we could to salvage the hall. We were all tired and pretty much out of it. There was a glass eating contest going on in the kitchen which I was trying to stop between a friend and another biker. They kept munching their way through beer glasses and I kept telling them to stop whilst simultaneously amazed that there was no blood or cuts even though they were biting through real glass. I guess it was some kind of biker miracle.

Luckily quite a few people stayed to clear up , I remember mopping up for hours and hours with the back door open and snow and ice everywhere as we tried to get all the mud that had tipped out from paddling pool outside. I spent all night cleaning but the place was a wreck, the balloons had flown up to the joists in the roof, I think someone was trying to shoot them down with an air gun, the tyre marks and oil spillage from the bikers on the parquet flooring….

Yes poor vicar . I think we gave him some money for the damages but still…

It was a great party and it’s on film somewhere although I have not seen it.

That’s all for now.

Thanks to Gordon from Treatment for the photo and to Michael Dog for his verbal contribution.

(If anyone reading this was there and can remember any other details please let me know)

Who killed the hippies?


Footage of a clamp-down on freedom, peace and anti-materialism

This blog requires some audience participation from you.

If you want to understand some of the things I will be writing about in future posts please watch and compare the following clips. It is a history that needs to be told and has been suppressed.

Footage of Stonehenge Free Festival 1983

Footage of Stonehenge Free Festival 1984


See Youtube for further clips of the 1984 Stonehenge festival with Roy Harper, Hawkwind and others.

Stonehenge once we were labelled as “medieval brigands”.Actually Mrs. Thatcher called us medieval brigands in 1986 but they had already labelled us as a threat due to the amount of us amassing in large groups and travelling around the country in the summer.

Below this pararagraph is footage of people trying to get to the Stonehenge Free festival 1985 and getting beaten up by the police,vehicles/homes and possessions destroyed. I met some women at later festivals who told me that subsequently their dogs were put down and children taken into care simply because they happened to be trying to get to Stonehenge ( Battle of the Bean Field).

ITN News footage of hippies being stopped from going to Stonehenge 1985 plus political preamble from an anonymous man

Here is further footage on youtube ,they are excerpts from a documentary on what happened in 1985 on the way to Stonehenge

How does this compare to how hippies are portrayed in current culture/media?
I think they/we were braver than most.

Glastonbury vs Stonehenge

The one and only reason why the Glastonbury Festival still survives is that they charge shit loads of money and follow laws and regulations imposed upon them. If you think your door money is going to Oxfam and Greenpeace , think again. I worked for Oxfam and know people who worked at Glastonbury. The door money mainly goes to greedy music biz management who try to get the biggest fees possible only a tiny percentage goes to charity. I am not against the Glastonbury festival but in our money obsessed culture the only way for festivals to survive is by treating it like an enterprise.

At Stonehenge we had great acts and everyone worked for free.

The Stonehenge Culture
Many bands formed at the Stonehenge festival, it was a creative melting pot for music and for friends to meet up once a year. There were over 200 bands playing on or around the Solstice.For some people the festival lasted the whole of June but the majority of people came down for the Solstice itself. There were many soldiers on leave who used to come along from the surrounding army bases who wanted somewhere to party and see live music.

Peace and Love and Music all given freely and camping in fields are dangerous things to people who follow all the rules, who have to pay for something to enjoy themselves and who do not understand why others should be free or to have a good time without money. Hippies make good scapegoats and objects of ridicule.

Officially the excuse for banning The Stonehenge Free Festival was that it was harming the stones and archeology of the site.

I never personally saw any damage to the stones or to the fields on the other side of the road to Stonehenge where the festival took place. I remember that every year we were given free rubbish bags to help clear the site and hundreds of participants were picking up bits of rubbish before leaving.

They banned all the free festivals that year no matter where they were.

After 1985 the Free Festival scene changed, it attracted people who wanted to fight with the authorities and more peaceful hippies opted out. Can you blame them?

Love and Peace

Born2rant who needs wars when you have words

What happens when a good idea degrades into chaos and insanity(Anti-Media stories part 5)


What happens when a good idea degrades into chaos and insanity

Terrorism , paranoia and police state!

I have been quite reticent to write some of the items in the next few stories.
Firstly because I want to protect my old acquaintances and I worry that if MI5 or the FBI or Interpol or someone reads this that they will go berserk and want to find and arrest people.
***So all I will say to all you people who might be from any of those agencies is that all these events happened 23 or so years ago. All the people involved are either now completely law abiding or have had some form of psychiatric treatment. In 2007 we /they are no threat to any government or members of the public or to anyone at all.So calm down!

We are living in strange paranoid times. In the late 60s and 70s the London I grew up in was full of bombs. As a child I used to wake up regularly from some kind of explosion in the middle of the night. There were letter bombs and car bombs and bombs left in plastic bags in London and throughout the country mainly by the IRA but also by the PLO and others.In case the reader is too young to remember , Lord Mountbatten a public figure , famous as a soldier and member of the Royal Family , Prince Charles’ great-uncle and mentor was killed off the Irish coast by a bomb on his boat along with other members of his family and crew. Can you imagine the response if a member of the Royal Family was killed now. They would have to question every Muslim under 30 in the country!
There would be mass panic and 24 hour coverage on the news.
There were countless attacks on Britain by the IRA. The US government were often unsympathetic to these attacks.
Another case in point was the Brighton bombing in 1984 where the government were directly attacked at the Brighton Party conference. Five people died and several permanently disabled as a result, 34 others injured.
Now the daughter of one of the ministers killed in the blast Jo Berry who is an acquaintance of mine campaigns all over the world for peace. She has allied herself with the IRA bomber himself and both now campaign against terrorism and for peace. Whatever your opinion is on this matter , one has to admit it’s quite an achievement and can only inspire other former enemies to find a different way of bringing about change.

However if you watch the news these days you’d think we had never had a terrorist threat before in this country and that somehow we must live with constant surveillance and with extra police powers , and that we must at all times be scared and suspicious.
I understand that possibly the plans of Al-Qaeda are to cause devastation on a much bigger scale than for instance the IRA, and I understand that September the 11th was a terrible crime against humanity. I’m a pacifist and believe that violence just creates retaliation and more violence. I am not on the side of terrorists of any kind however I do think now part of our brainwashing is to leap on and kill anyone subversive in case they could be a terrorist threat. It’s Carte Blanche for the authorities to suppress and destroy any little group of subversives they come across and young people today are therefore not only apathetic about politics but also the ones who do protest put their lives at risk. Maybe that’s always been the case and young people were braver before.
It strikes me that a lot of the protests done by young people I know of is through ” partying” in public places or in ways that are unusual. These are protests but they are not overtly political but it’s certainly better than nothing and less risky to those involved.However the wonderful Circle Line parties , which I was lucky to take part in once, have been stopped because the Spacehijakers were worried about people getting taken for terrorists and harmed by the police. All we were doing was having a drink and a dance on the tube!
(only a few hundred of us on the same train).

My second reservation for telling you the following stories is because I do not want the readers to lose sight of the original message. The Anti-Media message is a vitally important one. It is anti-corporate, anti-advertising, anti-brainwashing to buy products we do not need at a time when the planet can no longer sustain our levels of production and consumption.
The Anti-Media message could almost be equated with Anti-Stupidity and thinking for yourself. However you will read in some of the following stories why I left it all got too extreme for me. However they are still great stories and I love to tell them. We weren’t terrorists , we were only challenging modern culture in our little ways. But still once explosives were involved I had to quit.
Have I mentioned at least three times that I am a pacifist? Good, then I will continue on a lighter note…

Odds and Ends
Some More Anti-media Stories

The Kidnap of Ronald Mac Donald

There was a plan to kidnap Ronald Mac Donald.
At children’s birthday parties at Mac Donald’s they often had a member of staff dressed as Ronald Mac Donald clowning around to entertain the kids. There was an Anti-Media plan to kidnap one and hold him for ransom.
A couple of years ago I bumped into Richard and asked him if this had ever taken place .
He told me there had been an attempt at this. They were a really nice bunch of people and although they often had pretty crazy plans they were too nice to ever do anyone any harm. They had modified their kidnap plan and instead they infiltrated Mac Donald’s and one of them got a job there and volunteered to do the children’s party dressed as Ronald McDonald.
As he was doing the party they pulled up a van outside and bungled him into the back and then sent a letter telling Mac Donald’s of various anti-media demands to be met or they wouldn’t see Ronald again. The plan failed because Mac Donalds ignored the letter and other bunglings. The guy quit but they may have made some kind of film of it somewhere.

The Mess-Age Magnet

Hogan and Howard had asked me if I wanted to contribute something to their Anti-Media magazine ( a contradiction in terms) called the Mess-age Magnet. When I asked them what kind of things they wanted me to write they told me to write anything. I like anarchic organisations of all sorts where you are given trust, freedom and responsibility. It brings out the best in me.
I didn’t know what to write. This must have been in 1985 while we were still doing Anti-Media events.
Every summer myself, Michael and our son would go off to free festivals. That year was particularly interesting as the free festival scene and the country was changing.
The scene had changed because it was growing and Magaret Thatcher was calling us all
” medieval brigands”
although I think the most illegal thing we did on our travels was to sell excellent tea, real coffee and pancakes at a very cheap price from our makeshift cafe without a license . We were even parked on land where it was legal to do so, but the government changed the laws so that The Stonehenge Festival became illegal, and other festivals on sites where there had been traditional fairs, and squatting rights, common land laws etc..were all changed so that our little peaceful free festivals became illegal. As they became illegal the people who went to them changed too. But that’s another story.
In 1985 on our travels from festival to festival we landed at The Cantlin Stone festival. It was one of the happiest times of my life. We were travelling with other groups of hippies in little tribes to deserted places and living off common land, collecting wood, the children who were not wild as they were at some festivals were playing together exploring the hills and countryside around from sunrise to sunset. Every single person I met at Cantlin Stone had interesting tales to tell. Many had come from Hull and other northern towns. Some told us they had been unemployed for several years due to the closing down of different industries and had decided that instead of being on the dole and living in a city full of desolation and junkies that they had chosen to take to the open road, living on buses and in teepees. It was an idyllic lifestyle. I was never lonely, I always felt supported, so happy and so rich in the company of so many benevolent and highly intelligent and colourful interesting people. We were living without TV or newpapers or news and we were very happy.
Therefore it was while I was at Cantlin Stone, perched up on a hill of heather and woods which the forester had shown me was damaged by acid rain, that I wrote about my time there and how our whole sense of selves changed from being away from TV and all sources of news. In fact we probably were in the news if not at that festival then at others we travelled to that summer without our knowledge.
My contribution to the magazine was only 2 pages long. The rest were collages of newspaper and magazine clippings and cartoons with scrawled comments on various issues such as” Is Modern Life Rubbish?“, ” Dress like the pig you are“, “If you think home-taping is killing music you know nothing in either ear.“, ” Love me less, respect me more”.
There were articles about many issues:

” ANTImedia seeks GURLS to contribute to magazine and performances. a GURL regards her environment with contempt and distrust..she is fed up of seeing her contemporaries hanging around with men who are fashion conscious cool and hedonistic….GURLS don’t like the media one bit.”

Another page had a ten step programme ( with 13 steps of course) .They are a bit dated as now it would be computers and computer games and social networking sites and cds and dvds they would avoid as well as TV. Also men with pony tails were quite slimy and trendy at the time and Walkmans were the latest thing…but anyway.

TEN STEPS

1. Turn down the volume on your television during advertisements

2. Turn off altogether

3. Sell television ( and/or all modern conveniences such as expensive hi-fi , or extensive record collection).

4.Cancel standing subscriptions to any daily/weekly/monthly magazines

5.Avoid high neon low life restaurants and take away diners.

6. Avoid high streets and shops bigger than the size of a living room.

7. Allow not your gaze to wander onto street adverts, thus immediately disarming the use of said items.

8. Make a stencil and disfigure the above adverts and invent other creative ideas to occupy yourself positively during your newly found creative life.

9. Tell your friends and discuss anti media ideas with them.

10. Lose them

11. Avoid all modern so called culture.

12. de centralize anti-media by forming your own groups

13. With your new capital from abstaining from bad goods, finance anti-media housing, transport, publications, etc..like buying a pair of garden shears to clear obstacles from underground trains, such as ponytails and walkman leads .
Take the ten steps and your life can only be Improving.”

A flat in Bloomsbury and the Telecom Conspiracy

Hogan had a flat in Bloomsbury and I was invited to come to an anti-media meeting there to discuss various plans.
Hogan used to live there in a media free zone. I remember him telling me he’d met this homeless guy , who I think was an alcoholic and allowed him to move in for a while for free.
Hogan, Richard and Andy were there plus myself and my son.
During the meeting I needed to make a phone call. By the phone there was a window and what I thought was a telescope next to it . However you didn’t need a telescope to see the BT tower. It had been the Post Office Tower but we were living in an era where the Thatcherite government was privatising public companies. The GPO( General Post Office) had split and now we had British Telecom sold off in shares along with British Gas, British Rail etc.. It is hardly surprising that anti-corporate anti-media would have resented the newly renamed Telecom Tower and all the publicity in launching the British Telecom brand.
I saw a jar by the phone which was full of coins and I assumed it was to go towards the phone bill. So I offered to pay for my call and put some money in the jar.
However as I offered to put in ten pence for the bill they told me that each time someone made a call the money was not going to pay British Telecom but to buy explosives to blow up the Telecom Tower. I then looked at the telescope again and I think they were going to use it as some kind of rocket launcher and it was pointed straight up at the Telecom Tower a couple of streets away.

If you haven’t already done so please read my note above ***.

Anyway I rejoined the meeting not sure if this was a joke but my head was swimming and I knew I needed to rethink my involvement with them. Later they gave me and my son a lift home. I have never been so scared in the back of a car. Richard had just learned to drive and had a full license but Andy was driving with a provisional license. The drive was very scary and I seem to remember us going the wrong way up one-way streets and through red lights etc..My son was oblivious and I rediscovered a long-lost belief in God as I prayed we would make it home. After a while Richard said to Andy casually ” So when’s your first driving lesson?”.
After this I reflected and I knew that although my friends were lovely and I agreed with their challenging the media and mass consumerism that somewhere along the line there was a screw loose and marbles gone a-missing.
I still didn’t know if they were joking about the explosives but I knew I would not be part of it anymore. Pooing shit on the TV is one thing( see previous post about crap on the tv), saving up for explosives and my son’s safety were another. It had got too extreme for me.

Exploding Jimmy Tarbuck

About a week or so after that in the rush hour along one of London’s busiest roads they exploded something. There was a huge billboard of Jimmy Tarbuck’s face grinning next to a giant 3 D microwave. In the microwave oven there was a 3D rotating turkey. It was a whole 3D installation, trying to persuade people to roast their turkeys at Christmas in a newly available microwave oven.
They put an incendiary device behind the turkey and it exploded to the amazement of people caught in rush hour traffic. They immediately then called the fire brigade as the billboard was catching fire. No one was hurt, Jimmy Tarbuck’s huge grinning face remained intact.Please see note *** above!

Russell and his explosions

Russell poor lad was one of the anti-media crew I knew less well than the others. I had been out for a drink with him and others once in Hampstead . I barely knew Russell and a couple of others I have not mentioned as they did not perform at the Anti-media Pentameters events or come to Dead Dog promotions /Treatment gigs..( see previous entries in blog for Pentameters events).

When I met him , Russell was shy and quiet, he looked a bit like a young Bob Dylan but wearing some kind of chunky hand-knitted jumper with pictures on it. I thought he looked like the kind of repressed kid who might have been bullied as a child. Russell got a kick from exploding things. Hogan and Richard had told me a few tales about Russell’s behaviour before he finally got psychiatric treatment.
Hogan had left the flat in Bloomsbury and shared a house with Russell for a while. In order to entertain themselves they started to paint furniture and objects in the house, then the carpet was painted. I think Hogan was trying to find something therapeutic for Russell to do as his mental state was clearly worrying. Then Russell took it a stage further and started to set fire to things around the house, he even put lighter fuel on the lawn and set fire to that.
By then Hogan started to realise this was no longer “anti-media art” but simply lunacy and couldn’t live with him anymore. Richard had also told me a story where they were visiting Russell’s parents and he suddenly let off an incendiary device in their living room. He told the others to run and drive off but their car wouldn’t start and eventually being in the middle of a remote part of Scotland and without mobile phones, they had to go back into the parent’s house. They helped them with the damage and then called the AA waiting for them in the family home Russell had just tried to destroy.
Please read note ****

Epilogue

So that is the story of Anti-Media or what I can remember of it.
It went from idealism into anarchy and insanity but the idealism without the insanity is what we need now. We need to counteract the power and morals of the media, advertising and corporate thinking if this planet is ever to have any hope of a future. But not with bombs, explosives or violence but with words and thoughts and hopefully communities collaborating away from media and advertising intervention.

So where are they now?
I bumped into Richard at The Notting Hill Arts Centre where he was DJing. As well as being a DJ and he also set up his own record label and worked for a couple of other independent labels and a music project involving a member of Blur. I asked him if he had talked to anyone from Blur about them using our slogan “Modern Life is Rubbish”. He told me that a few years back they had written to Sony records to complain that they were using our slogan without our permission but didn’t get a reply. He said he might mention it again in the future.

I bumped into Hogan a few years ago in an Oxfam shop in Drury Lane where I was working . He still buys his clothes in Oxfam shops. He had a couple of adoring women in tow. He looked exactly the same and hadn’t changed in 20 years, neither has Richard. Hogan told me he was now working as a documentary maker and had just made a series for the BBC.

I last saw Leonie and Om together as a happy couple at a blues gig at the George Robey opposite The Rainbow in Finsbury Park before Club Dog moved there. He was playing harmonica on stage with a blues/garage band with other friends of mine including Clive and Adam from Treatment. Leonie was expecting a baby.

The other Anti-Media people I have never seen again.
As for me I live in Notting Hill and I write and teach music and recently started writing blogs in response to my son’s request and a guy from Wigan who wanted some stories about completely different things but which involved some of the same community. Next Monday more ranting and a new chapter “The Chainsaw Party” .

Astragone Arglegargle (that’s me that is!)

There’s a load of crap on the TV again(Anti-Media stories part 4).


anti-media continued…. mess-age-magnet-on-careers.jpg

Some other memories of the Anti-Media films. They took lots of footage at Wapping where there were protests by printers at job losses due to computerisation . I think I may be getting some of my years mixed up…apologies for that ,Wapping was in 1986 but I am talking about involvement with Anti-Media events for a period of a couple of years so when I have written 1983 it could have been 1985! I will write more about this in other blogs connected to Club Dog and Alice in Wonderland’s Magical Mystery Trip.
They also had films of shop dummies in windows, it was a bit eerie.
I remember attempting to do stand-up “alien” comedy jokes at our events at Pentameters. My jokes died live on stage. I realised telling jokes was not my forte but throwing jelly at the audience saying it was my ex-husband who suddenly disintergrated was making them laugh, as was playing my silver fake electric guitar, getting out of my silver cardboard box spaceship, emerging from being covered in a mass of newspaper like a mummy shedding it’s bandages, singing love songs to Mr.Spock ( not Dr. Spock) and general anarchy.
I performed as Astragone Arglegargle in many different contexts but performing at the Anti-media events at Pentameters gave me a space to experiment with my act ,write and record new materials, in front of a small supportive audience before doing bigger events or performing to hostile audiences!
I also had an act of performing “Opera Classics”. At that time there were some awful albums of “Rock Classics” i.e. orchestras playing perfectly harmonic arranged and orchestrated versions of famous rock songs and in one fell swoop missing the point of rock music altogether. So I dressed up in a beautiful pink and yellow long dress , wore some kind of fake pearls and sang songs in a suprano fake operatic voice with appropriate posh body language, facial expressions and gestures. I sang Arias including
Hey Fattie Bum-bum“, (Sweet sugar dumpling) by Carl Malcolm, “War Pigs ” ( Black Sabbath), ” Assault and Battery” ( of the human anatomy) by Hawkwind, and of course ” Anarchy in the UK” by the Sex Pistols and other songs I can no longer remember.
Although this kind of thing has been done since then it was a first at the time.
I gave Christmas cards at one event but had tippexed out all the messages and instead gave the audience cards with unusual messages such as ” Throw away your TV” or random symbolic messages from the I Ching or vague affirmations on self-realisation. This was also before the concept of ” affirmations” tore its way into popular psychology books and made us feel guilty for not being able to achieve our perfect goals for ever more.
There was also performance poetry, from a poet with a club in Barnet, it was as I recall stream of consciousness stuff. There were a lot of masks and balaclava helmets, there was spontaneous political anti-corporate/anti-media ranting, jazz piano playing, live graffitti, more films slash edited and experimental in the style of Jean-Luc Godard , strange trousers and costumes, always deliberately wearing the most unfashionable types of clothing, more interviews with people in hair, fashion and maybe even TV executives, Jud Suss, ( a band of multi-instrumentalists mostly of Jewish families pretending to be Hasidic Jews with much melodramatic wailing naming themselves after an anti-semitic nazi film ..more in another blog), more films, more poets, more crazy music and acts of nonsense .
Leonie was always there in the background like a benevolent force smiling on.
I wish I could remember more but because I had to memorise my own bits and pieces and was often cowering with stage nerves at the side of the stage during the other films and random acts I didn’t always take in what was going on.
However one day we went too far for Pentameters and for the world.

Unbeknown to me there were plans afoot in Hogan and Richard’s mind of which I knew nothing , on this occasion and others. They seemed like such sweet young polite lads too!
After an evening of performances, I finished the show or so I thought with a bit of Astragone Arglegargle alien Music-Hall type stuff.
Then Hogan and Richard put a large TV on the stage. Both of them looked really serious and were in the wings. I just knew something bad was about to happen.
Hogan went on stage and faced the television set, he looked like he was doing some kind of ritualistic silent prayer with the TV set as an altar and made ritual gestures. Then he unzipped his trousers and pissed on the TV. I remember being worried in case he electrocuted himself.
Now forgive me for forgetting who exactly performed the next bit but I had my head turned away and left pretty promptly around this time. So I cannot remember if it was Hogan or Richard , but someone then made the most enormous sausage of poo on top of the TV set.
I heard later that they had been saving it up for 5 days to be sure it would work.
The punchline was ” Look ! There’s a load of crap on the tele as usual!” ( boom,boom,)
A lot of the audience left but about 3 remained and Clive ( Treatment) then grabbed a bagel which was on a table put a bit of shit in the middle and went up to individual members of the audience saying:” Would anyone like a shit sandwich?”
I left. I was slightly peeved that they hadn’t warned me that a show I was taking part in was about to make such a coup.
The place cleared easily with some heckling and later we regrouped at Bob’s place up the road where I seem to remember Clive removed the banister from the staircase by accident of drunkenness. The first time I met Clive a few years before, he was crawling down a staircase head first and there have been a few Clive staircase related incidents since..odd.
Leonie was not at all happy she ordered Hogan and Richard to have the place fumigated and disinfected and I believe Pentameters had to close down and cancel shows as a result. I think the shit sandwich had been passed around a bit too much.
That was the last Pentameters Anti-Media event sadly…but Anti-Media was not dead. If you think that was extreme forget it!
Next time I write you’ll understand why names were changed.
(I so wish blogs were not written with the last one at the top…it would be better the other way around. Thanks for reading.)

What happens when a good idea degrades into chaos and insanity(Anti-Media stories part 5)

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


Now…..Back to the Anti-Media Events

Some further memories of our Anti-Media events at Pentameters.
I remember another film Hogan made which was shown at their events but also at our psychedelic gigs at Club Dog/ Alice in Wonderlands and various venues.

There were 3 bored looking teenage Teddy Boys sitting in a bus shelter. One of the Anti-Media crew had a stencil and a spray can and went up in front of them and started to spray anti-media graffitti. The 3 sullen looking Teds looked on almost interested but then something extraordinary happens. You have to understand that the Anti-media films were of real life nothing was set up. I can’t remember if it was Hogan or Richard doing the graffitti but a police car stopped and he was arrested.
The film continues outside Paddington Green Police station where they hold high security terrorists he walks out released after hours of questioning. He is smiling and looking bemused. It was a great unplanned little story.

Fame through Graffitti

I used to smile each time I came across some Anti-Media graffitti in London , I knew my friends had been there. They had a couple of slogans.
One of them was ” Modern Life is Rubbish” and like” Anti-Media” or “Sierra Scum” ( they had something against people driving new Ford Sierras!) could be found sprayed in numerous locations. One of the last places I saw it was on the outside wall of a big hotel on the Bayswater Road close to Marble Arch. That must have been up there for 15 years at least.
I once heard in an interview I think with Alex James or another member of Blur that they had seen some “hippie” graffitti saying “Modern Life is Rubbish” around London and decided to name their album after it.
We were surprised and a bit gutted that our slogan had been used by Blur and gone into mass production and the mass media.

I just looked up on Wikipedia this snippet according to them:
“When the album was released, Albarn was rumoured to graffiti the album name with a spray paint can to reproduce the title in public places such as toilets in public houses and on walls to raise the profile of the new album.[5] Bassist Alex James said of the graffiti in a 2007 interview, “We got fined by Colchester Council for spraying the title on a wall. There’s probably a frame around it now”.”

Well you can’t trust Wikipedia or the media for accuracy. Although so many people do.
I don’t know about Colchester but it was definitely the Anti-media people who had graffitied “Modern Life is Rubbish” throughout central London in 1983 onwards, I never saw one that looked like it was from a different stencil to ours.There are more links between Anti-Media and Blur but you will have to be patient.
In the meantime I encourage bored teenagers to find places to do political graffitti. Not tags, that’s like dogs peeing to mark their territory, come on if you’re a teenager be a rebel what’s wrong with young people today? Their minds are enslaved! Come on do something political away from CCTV cameras. In fact all of us should get the spray cans out and decorate our cities with witty political slogans. Make them works of art or like me just write a blog and hope the right people find it.
( It’s legal still, just about!)
I remember I was performing at a cabaret night in the Finchley Road one night and got drunk, some of my Anti-media allies came to the night and on the way back home me still in my green slime, I seem to remember climbing up on a roof and spraying “Modern Life is Rubbish” . But that doesn’t seem to be the kind of thing I would do normally…maybe I imagined it while a bit inebriated.

back to some more recollections of our Pentameters events…

(apologies in advance to my son who will read this)

Our son Ben was about 2 and a half or 3 at this time. We decided to do an improvised play (most things were improvised at our shows) with him. We told our son that he had to pretend to be our parent and tell us off if we did anything wrong and that we would pretend to be the babies. Ben thought this was a great idea and though very young he was extremely eloquent and comfortable with groups of adults. So Michael and I and Ben took to the stage with no rehearsal .Ben was the star of the show. Michael was squatting bouncing up and down with a dummy in his mouth and I was doing something, I think I was pretending to cry and teasing Michael.
Ben was a fantastic improv artist alternating in comforting us , talking to us gently and patting us if we were crying and when we were hitting each other or being naughty he was warning us in an authoritative but kind voice, then if we were really naughty he was pointing at us telling us off angrily and spanking us…. I don’t know where he learnt his parenting skills from!
Of course it was fun being the two naughty children but mainly I was stunned at how well our young son could role play.
The audience loved it and so did our son who felt at last he got his rightful place in charge of us parents ( mind you no great change there! Sorry Ben! But everyone thought you were fantastic and it’s the one Anti-Media scene people still remember now).
A photographer took pictures of Ben with one of us in a Nazi helmet ( I think) and these were published in that stylish glossy fashion magazine “Harpers and Queen”. How on earth “Harpers and Queen” got to find out about us is a mystery to me but I was asked along to an interview in Pimlico at the time and since the group wanted to remain anonymous and they had all these political ideas of what we should or should not say I just kept out of it. I was too scared of blabbering on as usual in my uncensored way and upsetting someone.
I have the article somewhere and if I ever find it I might quote bits in a subsequent blog.

I have just found out that Harpers and Queen is now called Harpers Bazaar, isn’t that bizarre?

I suppose it’s like Jif and Cif or Marathon and Snickers.

Next Time more terrible tales of Anti-Media…

There’s a load of crap on the TV again(Anti-Media stories part 4).