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


Hello Good People who read this blog….

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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.

 

 

 

 

To the residents of Grenfell Tower: this never should have happened to you, ‘got to make or save money, you see’; you may be in the hands of dishonest or simply incompetent people


Hello Good people who still read this blog…. (written in haste and may need editing!)

I just wanted to say how sad I was to find out about the destruction of Grenfell Tower by a fire that went very quickly out of control.

We await investigations, but my heart goes out to all the residents, their friends and family. I live in the area but coincidentally was locked out of my flat and had to go and stay elsewhere so did not hear the sirens or smell the smoke. Spare a thought for the victims but also those who heard the screams for help and the agony of those trapped by smoke and heat.

Someone said on the news that these days tenants in social housing are treated like vermin.

DSCN0068

I have certainly witnessed this on many occasions, and so many uncaring builders, lying surveyors, and incompetent contractors, some companies with famous names, coming to renovate buildings. Some trash the place, they charge housing associations a big sum, spout nonsense about health and safety but leave the place dangerous while their company is doing very nicely thank you very much and perhaps a bribe or two to various housing association surveyors and environmental health officers. Or perhaps they are just the cheapest deal and the council or housing associations cannot afford to have safe contractors, architects, surveyors who do the job properly.

I have witnessed this many times, and my own life and my family’s life was put at risk. But when you reproach them you get bullied or ignored. Lots of cash at stake you see. A veil of health and safety regulation speech and what lies behind it is absolute hypocrisy. People without jobs who live in central London are hated, and are definitely treated like vermin by MANY contractors and SOME housing officers ( not all I assure you). 

I will give you an example. A good friend of mine with a Notting Hill Housing trust flat close by to Grenfell tower, complained because the external fire escape on her old house needed some maintenance. It had been bolted to the outside walls of two adjacent buildings but these bolts had come loose, plus some contractors were storing a ton of wooden decking there for over a year on the fire escape stairs and she could not persuade her neighbours to move it. A health and safety surveyor from the Notting Hill Housing Trust came round for a special meeting after she’d been complaining for over a year about this. He got very irritated and said that the safest thing to do was to remove the fire escape and dismantle it completely to meet ‘health and safety regulations’. She explained that she was on the top floor (no lift) and that the single internal staircase was made of wood, therefore the external fire escape was her only safe means of escape. He got annoyed, and spouted health and safety regulations, a housing officer present also pleaded with him to fix the old iron fire escape that would lead my friend and her neighbours to safety in case of a fire. But he just got louder and more aggressive, then he wrote a report in front of them saying the fire escape had to be dismantled and removed immediately rather than simply re-attaching it with bolts in the walls.  DSCN0071

So in memory of all those people who died, were injured or  whose lives were torn apart, I say YOU ARE IMPORTANT, it’s time to confront the petty minded corrupt ‘health and safety’ officials in Housing Associations, working for Kensington and Chelsea Council and also to say to all those who write hateful articles about poor people living London that your spreading of hatred and prejudice needs to end. You successful journalists who write with prejudice and resentment today could be jobless and living in council housing on the dole tomorrow. Although it is very unlikely you could get either benefits or social housing!  

Now before I get angrier, let me wish everyone Love and Peace. Love and empathy always wins. Using your anger to find constructive solutions is always stronger, more intelligent, more durable but harder than destructive anger or revenge. If I am right in my assumptions, let’s make our revenge one which improves services for poor people in London, let there be an independent person that social housing tenants can take their stories to when they feel in danger, let’s sack the corrupt surveyors, the corrupt health and safety officers, the corrupt environmental health officers and bring in good people, who actually do good quality work and who deserve their pay.

Some Neil Young ‘After the Gold Rush’ don’t know why,  it just felt right, his voice always sounds mournful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1e3m_T-NMOs

 

 

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