The Quintessence of Ladbroke Grove, Glastonbury Fayre 1971, Meanwhile Gardens, Here & Now and alternative community spirit


Hello Good People who read this blog….

If you like this post please could you rate it with stars or add a nice comment, thanks!

My friend and mentor Brian R. Banks sent me a link to a wonderful piece about the band Quintessence  from the ezine It’s Psychedelic Baby, to celebrate the release of their complete Island Records recordings.  In his article Brian describes the vibe of creativity at the time in the Ladbroke Grove area. He also has a very interesting interview with former Quintessence band member Raja Ram a.k.a. Ronald Rothfield who also depicts ‘the Grove‘ or Ladbroke Grove area, filled with musicians, squatters, and people living alternative lifestyles. Please follow this link to read Brian’s excellent article: http://www.psychedelicbabymag.com/2017/06/raja-ram-quintessences-complete-island.html

If you are wondering what Quintessence sound like, below here there is a film of them playing at Glastonbury 46 years ago.

They sing :

‘If you want a life that is free

If you want a life full of happiness

You’ve got to turn your back on fear and shame

Leave it, Leave it all behind you

Have no fear,

You’ve got to turn your back on Fortune and Fame

You’ve got to leave it all behind you

You’ve got  to leave it all behind you, ever free.’

Of course the Glastonbury Fayre was free to ‘get into’ , or rather walk into, in 1971. Others performing at this festival included a young David Bowie, Gong, Hawkwind, Traffic, Melanie, and Fairport Convention.

If you don’t like the music of Glastonbury 2017 and like me, could not afford to go there anyway, you can watch a documentary about  the free festival of Glastonbury Fayre (1971) here. To listen to Quintessence, play this video from exactly one hour onwards:

Today I walked down Portobello Road market, I found tucked away under the Westway in Acklam Road  there were residents and friends of survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire, selling cakes, clothes and a variety of things where the money goes directly to those affected. It’s going on tomorrow (Sunday 25th) as well, a bit hard to find but worth going to. I gave them a small donation and wished them good luck, but they really appreciated my modest  contribution. I was glad they organised something, just wish it was in the middle on Portobello Road and took up the whole market and wished they’d opened up the little ampitheatre in Meanwhile Gardens where bands used to play Saturday evenings for free, they could have passed the hat around and done a great benefit gig. Today so many rules and regulations and they are ignored by companies in terms of fire protection but if a few people want to gather and have a free gig , is that allowed? I hope someone does run a free gig there for the community to remember and not let it be only a grand  Simon ‘Chimney Brush-head’ Cowell production.

If you are wondering what I am talking about here is a documentary about Meanwhile Gardens from 1981; Music performance @ 20-23 mins, and in view of recent events, a rather disturbing giant Guy Fawkes Bonfire (30mins in):

 

I went to many gigs at Meanwhile Gardens including probably this one:

I was going to write about other alternative lifestyle things in Notting Hill but have to go now. I will leave you with more wonderful Here & Now from 1978 (Careful with that effects pedal Steffe). On the youtube video below there are some great photos. I recognise people, marquees, The Tibetan Ukrainian Mountain Troupe, etc……I wish I could find my old photos…people at free festivals didn’t want to be photographed a lot of the time. There are also photos of alternative lifestyles in Latimer Road with tower blocks from the estate in the background, possibly Grenfell Tower or tower blocks still standing nearby.

 

 

‘You’ll plot and scheme to get your way,

but you haven’t the got guts to do it yourself,

so you make an alliance with somebody else,

A thousand years it’s been the same,

political parties in power again,

if you’re listening man, I’d like to say,

Floating Anarchy is a better way!’  (Here & Now ‘What You See….Is What You Are’ 1978).

This is really great music and spirited musical performance..Please listen to this before bed and/or play it to your children and grandchildren instead of a bedtime story.

So wishing you Love & Peace, sending good wishes and hugs to all those affected by the Grenfell Fire disaster, let us rebuild a free creative community spirit where and when we can.

 

 

 

 

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The Big Green Dispersion and Solfest 2009


Hello Good People who read this blog ,

(to anyone who read my Guilfest post, I have just added a video clip of Alice Armstrong at the end of it)

Just a note to say  that I just got an email from my son telling me that “The Big Green Gathering“, probably the official festival most like the older style alternative free festivals of the eighties , has been cancelled.

The Big Green Gathering really does represent  alternative hippie counterculture in all its creative and political forms, so it’s very sad.

Some footage of the Big Green Gathering one of many clips to be found on youtube but this one is particularly well put together.

Here is the notice from the BGG website:

Welcome to
The Big Green Gathering
The world’s premier and award winning Green Festival
Attitude Is Everything – Bronze Level Award
July 29th – 2nd August 2009
urgent message

Dear Friends,
following threatened injunction proceedings in High Court by Mendip District Council supported by Somerset & Avon Police and having taken extensive advice from a prominent QC and other eminent lawyers, the directors of the Big Green Gathering have been left with no other option than to voluntarily surrender the license for the Big Green Gathering 2009. The event will now not take place and the directors’ advice and request is that no one intending to attend the event should attempt to do so, as the site is now closed and they are likely to be turned away by Somerset Police. It is our intention to avoid any form of confrontation or public disorder in regard to this and it is our earnest hope that all those involved will follow this advice. It is with great sadness that we have been forced into this position and we express our profound apologies to all those concerned. The Directors of The Big Green Gathering

This is a very last minute decision. I don’t fully understand why the festival has been banned by the local council and police.

According to the BBC , the festival is cancelled for safety reasons as well as crime. Is this the whole reason? Or is it to stop political subversives from meeting in large quantities?

see BBC website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/somerset/8169477.stm

is it really that dangerous that it must be closed down?

It looks like a great way to socialise kids and help them to build for the future when the world will change through our abuse of it.

Here are some more highly dangerous and criminal activities at the BGG.Young people making their own films of the festival. These are fantastic.

**********************************************************************************************************

Meanwhile I should be going to Solfest in Cumbria at the end of August( 28th -30th) ,after going to Hawkwind’s 40th Anniversary gig at Porchester Halls in London the night before.

It’s a long way from London but still my favourite festival, the atmosphere is much friendlier than festivals in the south and people go there not to see any particular band but for the festival experience.Everyone is co-operative and creates a good atmosphere, Saturday is “Fancy Dress” day,which is always spectacular and inventive.

I recommend it for any hippies out there who can no longer go to The Big Green Gathering, but get your tickets early.

It only costs £85 for the weekend  including camping  and car with very limited tickets. You can get there easily from Carlisle by train and minibus.

from the Solfest website:

“Tickets for Solfest 2009 will be available from the following outlets:

  • The Carnegie Theatre, Workington, 01900 602122 (telephone and counter sales, cash and cards accepted)
  • The Cumberland Building Society, Aspatria (over the counter cash sales only)
  • The Cumberland Building Society, Wigton (over the counter cash sales only)
  • The Cumberland Building Society, Silloth (over the counter cash sales only)

For Solfest 2009 there will be a total of 6500 adult tickets available. There will also be a total of 750 children’s tickets and 750 Young people’s tickets. When they are gone, they are gone!”

Although I said that it isn’t the bands that matter, the line-up includes The Charlatans who I saw do a great live gig at Guilfest. Other acts include The Orb, Kula Shaker, Adrian Edmonson and the Bad Shepherds, The Beat ( who I was told did a great set at Guilfest too), The Buzzcocks, the  Blockheads, Nerina Pallot, and many more.

Solfest has all the things lacking at Guilfest in terms of quality of festival-going experience.

A sample from last year’s Solfest , as part of the goings-on in the all night Dogs in Space chill out tent featuring a bit of  Tetchi who are billed to play again there this year (this film makes the tent look a lot darker than in real life, it was actually fairly bright in there).

Any comments on why you think The Big Gathering was cancelled?

Love and Peace

Born2rant

p.s. thanks to the UK Hippie Forum, I have found this update about what to do if you have a ticket.Is there a UK Beatnik Forum? and a UK Crusty Forum? and if not why not?

Next time a radio show I made about the songwriting communities of Open Mic clubs in London.

From BGG website ( note that Gong are playing the Big Chill keep referring to the BGG website for news, the Big Chill is a good place if you want a holiday but it’s nothing like the BGG experience in terms of  green anarchy, still I think  it’s good that they’ve done this, better that than leave people totally stranded)

Several other festivals have already approached us, offering to accept BIg Green Gathering tickets for their events. Some have placed no limit on the number of our ticket holders they will accept. Others have offered us a quota… and have told us that they will announce, on their websites, how many they can accomodate and how many places for BGG ticket holders they still have left. So far, if you have paid for a ticket (whether full price or concession) you will find it is definitely good for full admission to SUNRISE 2010 (late May 2010, Somerset) See website for details of how their BGG swap quota is standing and we are hoping, soon, to announce similar swap options for several festivals. Watch this space please.
ALSO
If you are willing to pay an extra £20, you can swap your Big Green Gathering ticket for a ticket to the BIG CHILL. All you have to do is turn up at the gate of the Big Chill with your BGG ticket and your extra £20. We’ll have a stall there, and some of the same speakers who were on our bill (including Jonathan Cainer) will be in their Words In Motion tent. Also on the Big Chill bill are Max Romeo, Gong, Pharoah Sanders and Music from the Penguin Cafe, plus comedy from Noel Fielding, Tim Minchin, John Hegley, Josie Long and Rob Deering.
Click here for the link. Please note; the Big Chill is not yet a Green event but they do have a long history of supporting honourable causes including Amnesty International… and they are now starting to use more solar and wind power. Solar Aid have a presence there this year.
OR
If you really want to make a gesture of faith and support… you can hold on to your ticket and we will honour it at the next Big Green Gathering, wherever and whenever it will be.
If we can avoid having to give too many straight refunds, it will help us survive. And if you are feeling extra-ordinarily generous, you can simply write to us telling us that you are ‘donating’ your ticket towards our survival fund.



Solfest (Cumbria) 2008…a personal journey


Hello Good people who read this blog

(there may be some editorial mistakes I missed still swimming about)

( this post is very long to save your eyes from going funny copy it & print it!)

I am still coming down from the high of going to Solfest where although there were some initial stresses a thoroughly good time was enjoyed by myself and my companions.

You just can’t beat Solfest as a small friendly creative festival. It has no pretentions of grandeur it is what it is like most of the festival attendees it’s simply there being alternative, subversive, artistic, musical and just a having bloody good time . It doesn’t need to do any social climbing or promote itself.

It sold out but it doesn’t sell out to corporate nonsense or music biz nonsense.

The clips I put up were made by other people I was too busy enjoying myself to film anything!

This is the Human Jukebox you have to put a pound and they will play what you chose!

The Journey to Solfest

Although my son decided to travel from London up to the festival some 10 million miles away in a small car containing 4 blokes,  4 different types of guitar, a mixer, a saxophone, computers, a keyboard and 4 tents, 4 rucksacks and probably more. I decided to travel up the easy way by train and was due to borrow one of the lad’s guitars to perform as I couldn’t carry mine along with everything else.

I have a lot of respect for any festival that puts on a free bus from the local train station and no respect for those who don’t! We all need to be green and some of us don’t drive. There was a lot of traffic trying to get into the festival  and our friendly patient minibus driver took us through the lake district on a detour to avoid congestion he then took me and a couple of others near the artist’s gate which I was very grateful for.

There were a few teething problems on the Friday at The Chill-Out (Dogs in Space) stage jointly organised by Michael Dog of Megadog and Fred of SPACED which was where I was due to camp and perform. I think there were gremlins at work either that or just the heavy rain. The power was failing frequently all evening leaving punters in the dark and with acts having to start and stop, plus there were sound problems with feedback when anyone used a microphone onstage and other technical problems with speakers and then with the generator but the vibe was still good. Thanks to the hard work and brainpower of the crew the many various difficulties were all sorted out by Saturday . I was due to perform the next day at Saturday lunchtime and didn’t really start to relax and enjoy myself fully until after my gig.

Another creative lunatic from Solfest this year!

Never lend a guitar to a man at a festival (even if it’s Bob Dylan wanting try out his new song)

I got up Saturday around 11a.m. after a couple of hours sleep , being camped backstage is great in many ways but you have to be able to sleep through the universal “doof-doof-doof-dum dum doof-doof-doof etc…” from the Dance Tent combined with the much quieter all night djs in the Chill Out tent and louder than both of these were the bass lines bursting out from the Disco Fromage nearby.

Subsequent nights I slept fine with some well placed earplugs and an extra layer of clothing to keep me warm in bed.

I had my pre-gig nerves but knew these could be handled if I followed my plan to rehearse alone and spend some quiet time to relax before going on.  But hey, it’s a festival… I should have known better than expect anything to go to plan!

I borrowed a six string acoustic guitar from one of the two Hamishes resident at the Chill-Out tent.

I started to rehearse backstage with a bit of an audience and this poet who was also about to go stage just before me wanted to play me a song and said he was going to use the guitar onstage. He was a nice guy and in spite of the fact that I soon wanted to garrotte him with a guitar string in a very unhippie way I am sure he is still a very nice guy.

I reluctantly handed him the guitar and to cut a very long story short this was a big mistake. He kept telling me that if I was nervous I had to do this breathing exercise and trying to persuade me to do this exercise while simultaneously breaking the strings on the guitar one by one. Then he was rushing off to get another string to put it on and then telling me to do the breathing exercise again for my nerves, then showing me how to put on a guitar string ( as if I didn’t know how to do this after putting them for myself for 35 years) and each time he would snap the string again. Somehow he got through two spare sets of guitar strings. He would not let me or the owner of the guitar have it back as he was deeply apologetic and was adamant he would fix it himself.

I lost count of how many strings he broke after 4 or 5 I could no longer stand watching him and was frantically going up to random people asking them to lend me an acoustic guitar as I was about to play on stage. Eventually he found a replacement guitar for us ( thanks to Blenkie the owner of said guitar)   but I decided I’d had enough and was not going to risk any more damage. In a very unhippie way,  I grabbed the guitar and made a mad dash off with it while the poet was still telling me to do this breathing exercise to calm my nerves.

The adrenaline from stage nerves , the string breaking incident plus some feedback problems on stage meant my performance had a few mistakes in it but no one seemed to notice and it went well, the lovely  people at Solfest came up to me throughout the festival to say they enjoyed it.

I sincerely hope to play there again and other festivals but with my own guitar which will be kept hidden from poets.

Doof! (Mr Psik)

Some of the people I met

Here is one of the enthusiastic and vibrant people I met and saw perform  Buntyface in the Chill-Out tent this year but this footage is from the previous year…need to feed my brain now…

All the people I met at Solfest were friendly and approachable although a minority were too out of it to really communicate including one old hippie complete with hippie hat who came into the Chill-Out tent and played with the decor of dangling shiny silver threads in the middle of the tent then proceeded to climb on the tables and fall on people, another old drunken hippie was shouting “What about me?” to various people  very loudly during a film and I also saw a steward crawling into a speaker under the stage to pass out from the evening’s excesses ( I checked to see that he was still breathing). But generally speaking people were able to hold full conversations and/or dance wildly to the proceedings.

Various people made an impression on me for instance I was chatting to a singer the same age as me. She said she wouldn’t even bother with women who lied about their age that it was a kind of dishonesty , that she was proud of who she was and that her age meant she was able to give advice to people. She was a (young) grandmother and proud of it. She also had a disability which meant she had to take very strong painkillers every four hours, even in the middle of the night or be in such pain that she would pass out and needed a special kind of bed to sleep in.  This woman was performing in a band and camping at a festival. She also had a varied lovelife. I suddenly felt that there were no excuses not to live your life fully no matter what your circumstances and to wear your age with pride.

I was also impressed by a woman working at “The Camel’s Arse”café one morning. She was single-handedly taking a constant stream of orders, dealing with the money and calling out people’s names when their meals were ready. She was clearly exhausted and stressed and yet she had a smile on her face illustrated with facepaints and greeted each customer with a welcoming cheerful tone that warranted a medal.

The Saturday fancy-dress code enabled people to be endlessly inventive. There were hundreds of interesting costumes for instance in our tent I saw someone dressed as a whoopie cushion, a couple of dominos danced with a pack of  fascinated little children while a Big Friendly Giant on stilts scared them a bit.
Outside at night I saw an incredible sight. Four illuminated people on bicycles. Each bike and rider covered with carefully placed fairy lights, each  a seperate colour, they were spectacular when they cycled in the darkness.

Loads of men in drag, usually the butch macho men.

Outside the Chill-Out tent I shared a fag with “Martin” and “Amy”, two bumbling drunk hairy macho scousers with big black wigs, mini skirts ( frequently falling down and needing to be pulled up again), and make-up plastered on their face. One of them staggered up to me and asked if I had any crack cocaine. I was a bit taken aback until I realised he was “in character” and was pretending to be Amy Winehouse. He showed me his tattoos on one bicep he had a delicatedly drawn diagram of male sexual equipment and on the other a more scrawled “BLAKE”. “Martin” who I suggested should be called “Martina”  was well over six foot tall . He asked me if I liked his make up as he had spent hours getting ready. I looked up at his face, his crimson lipstick was not just on his lips but also plastered all around his stubbly face along with eyeliner that was also heftily and precariously applied. I just looked at him and laughed. They ranted about how they had left their wives and children and were going to have the operation and other things. Everything they said and did made me laugh. I told them they made a great double act and should be onstage. Martin responded “You haven’t seen us together in bed yet” the image was too much for my mind to cope with.

The “Dogs in Space“crew were great too and I had many rambling and bizarre conversations with them at all times of day and night, I already knew most of them some being part of the family past or present.

Here is a clip of the Chill-Out tent at night taken by Michael although it was a lot brighter than this in real life! ( I am  hoping  he won’t mind me linking  it up here  but I don’t think he will. Go to Michael Dog’s myspace

www.myspace.com/michaeldog

for more photos of Solfest 2008 and another video of daytime in the chill-out tent!)


Some of the acts I enjoyed

In terms of entertainment I missed a lot of it because there was simply so much going on and I was spending most of my time at the “Dogs in Space” tent. I still have not attended a Solfest workshop or other activities such as sauna etc..
At the Chill-Out ( Dogs in Space) tent there was a huge variety of acts going on and it was very different to the previous year. The tent ran 24 hours a day and ended at 8 a.m. Monday morning so there was room for variety.
They had acoustic bands with harps, hurdy gurdies, jazz, singer-songwriters, djs, vjs, experimental electronica bands, films, poetry, weird jams, hip-hop rapping and probably more that I missed. Hosted by Michael Dog and assisted by Len from Needle and Thread not forgetting the invaluable input of the second Hamish and sound engineer Matt both great characters.

Some of my favourite acts from the “Dogs in Space” tent included……..
The 2.2 killaVolt Cables whose beautiful melodic electronica that can be listened to lying down or when dancing. In their spare time they also put on shows  with a dance company from the Laban School in London.
To listen to their music check out their myspace :   http://www.myspace.com/twopointtwokv

I also greatly enjoyed an extended set from the Bonsai Big Band from South London. Their brand of nu- jazz was immaculately performed and structured in sections like a symphony with layer upon layer of tastily textured instrumental lines.

I missed Mixmorris Morris’ set  as he was on in the middle of the night but had a chat with him and hope to see him again. He said he’d been in Canada and Japan djing recently and he was very excited to tell me that he had sung with a band his own songs at The Big Chill Festival earlier this summer. It was the first time he had sung on stage for years. He looked well and relaxed.

I also enjoyed hearing the acoustic guitar virtuosity of Hamish Meany ( whose guitar was trashed by a poet and who drove half the performers 10 million miles up to the festival).

The cheerful jazz showtunes of Tres Fez fronted by the talented Helen Maher ( singer and accordion player)
and more….

I didn’t visit the Drystone Stage ( Acoustic Music)  much. This was because I spend a lot of time in acoustic clubs performing or listening to acoustic music and I wanted a break from it. However you can listen to a podcast of some of the performers by copying and pasting this link:

http://drystone.podOmatic.com/entry/2008-07-01T08_29_18-07_00

I was also not in the mood for dancing as my legs were tired so I didn’t venture too far into the Disco Fromage or the Dance Tent.

However I was unexpectedly taken backstage into the Dance Tent and sat on a metal box onstage behind Michael (Dog of Megadog ) while he did his set. The sound wasn’t too loud through the on stage monitors and I was able to rest my legs and enjoy the music and the spectacular lightshow/projections. God I sound like I’m 100 years old.  Some really mad band went on after him and I danced a bit to that. Sorry that is such a brief and sedentary review of the Dance Tent!

On the Main stage I saw a bit of Supergrass , a bit of Alabama 3 , a bit of Dreadzone.
My favourite acts included the very manic folk/rockabilly/ska  Black Velvet Band. Although there was an embarrassing moment when the over-energetic lead singer said ” This next song is the story of a virgin and a ( something or other)…Are there any virgins out in the audience?”
Then he looked down as there were about 20 or 30 little girls and boys dancing right in front of the stage and said . “..except for you of course” .
Oh how I cringed on his behalf!
* (see comment by Louis of The Black Velvet Band below this post)
I also very much enjoyed dancing to the mute Bikini Beach Band who dressed in orange costumes, fez hats and shades played a variety of pop tunes re-arranged in ace surf music style and accompanied by two Hawaiian grass-skirted dancers.

On the Bar Stage I went to see The Hamsters but arrived just in time to hear them say a final ” Thank you and Goodnight”. Still I can go see them back in London at the Half Moon in Putney where they play the last Saturday of every month.
I saw a couple of mad heavy rock bands that made me laugh, cheered me up and made me realise I’m not that good a guitar player and should learn  more.
Firstly a band called “Off the Hook” with an impressive over-the-top lead singer and frontman with a wrestler’s demeanour, stomping about the stage like a stormtrooper hitting cymbals attached to the microphone stand aggressively. He also took the bass player by surprise hitting him between the legs with his drumstick. (This sounds rude but it wasn’t, it was just bonkers.)
The final act on the Bar Stage was just so entertaining I’ve saved writing about them until last.
Forget MOTORHEAD, forget BLACK SABBATH, forget “The Darkness”
( who?  they were easily forgotten) for now we have a band who not only are Motorhead and Sabbath rolled into one but they can turn any pop tune into a heavy metal epic.They’re bloody good musicians and hilarious too.

I am speaking of a band who are the new Spinal Tap and Bad News but more inventive.( they might even be as good as Bludgen..seeThe Chainsaw Party (still feeling guilty about this)


This is a band descended from Vikings (having emigrated to Newcastle) known as  “AROCKALYPSE NOW”.

Here is a clip from their Rockumentary the full thing is up on youtube ( starting off with a cover of a “Bad News” song and then to disco hit “You Spin Me Right Round”)


On Sunday night I had left my son and his friend dancing at the Disco Fromage as I wanted to go hear some live music.

I then came across the fabulous “Arockalypse Now” doing a heavy metal version of ” Play That Funky Music White Boy” on the Bar Stage and it was so good that I ran back down the hill and dragged them off the illuminated dance floor saying “I’m taking you to a higher place where you can both dance and hear good live music“. ( or something less dramatic but it doesn’t sound as good).
They were persuaded and when we got there they were not disappointed. The audience were going completely berserk dancing and headbanging carried away by the passion and lunacy of the performers on the stage. Some people behind me were all dancing while holding up a carpet, it was mad. They played a number of tunes including codpiece Cameo’s Word Up“. The thing is the quality of the musicianship and how they arranged the songs was just amazing. If they were in London I’d go and see them every Saturday night to shrug off the stresses of the week.
Here is a clip of them at Solfest doing “The Final Countdown” but it’s not as great as I remembered at the time. I think being far away from the stage , poor sound quality and not being actually there in the drunken crowd has a lot to do with it.
Check out their myspace site….  http://http://www.myspace.com/arockalypsenow
(they do a great version  of Ziggy Stardust).
Enjoy!

Love and peace
Born2rant
(Undercover Hippie tempted to start headbanging again)

(My thanks to Michael for “strongly suggesting” I play in the Chill-Out tent and putting me on his artist list and to Len (for strongly accepting the suggestion))

Psychedelic Crypts!


Hello Good people who still come to read my blog.

Sorry if it’s a bit bare here of late.

I was starting to do a bit of research on The Crypt in Deptford but ended up interviewing Dave Russell on a totally different Crypt in Notting Hill.

The Crypt of the Methodist Church in Lancaster Road was the venue for many great psychedelic bands from 1967 to 1972.

So expect some really great stuff soon. Stories of both crypts and more. In the meantime here’s a little film of Pink Floyd in 1967 at the UFO club….well that’s what it says on Youtube it’s hard to tell which band it is.The film focusses on the club and the punters . Pink Floyd would have been playing at the Arts and Community Centre of Notting Hill in the crypt of the Methodist church Notting Hill at around this time.

BACK SOON WITH MORE TALES FROM A CRYPT IN LONDON

(no he isn’t tripping he is speaking in German…I think!)

…..actually he is speaking German and tripping at the same time…also notice the woman dancing with mad eyes!

plus the guy putting colours on the oil-wheel …great stuff

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)

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).

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