Still Funky Down Portobello Rd (Saturday after Manchester bomb)


Hello Good People who read this blog….. I have returned from a place of deep virtuous austerity where music and dance are still allowed, but not always, to a place where young people and their families are blown up for going to a gig…..Has it really come to this?

I thought I would go out the door yesterday and see what it is really like out there, searching partly as an ethnomusicologist and partly as an old hippie musician, looking for hope through music performed in public. Here are some snapshots of what I found on one  short walk down Portobello Road (27/5/2017). Glad to see Notting Hill is still funky and creative. Keep it going and let your music, dance, art, performance, and all verbal and non-verbal expression blossom further.   Love and Peace and lots of Music (was disappointed not to find any dance)

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Day Three of my Imaginary Glastonbury


Hello Good People who read this blog….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love and Peace

Born2rant

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


Hello Good People who read this blog

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

Across the purple sky, all the birds are leaving…

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

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

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

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

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

Some of the predictions made by scientists were very misguided.

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

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

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

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

Poor kids today!

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

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

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

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

Is this the future of music?

Building Steam with a Grain of Salt  by  DJ Shadow.

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

Another PS!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year 2010,

May the next decade bring us Wisdom and Peace

Born2rant

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


Hello good people who read this blog

Are you sitting comfortably?

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

Gong and “Builder” from the You album

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

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

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

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

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

In the Canyons of your Mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I cannot embed it anymore sorry!

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

“The Rich” behaving like “The Poor”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More cheerful  music needed urgently

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway here is some more music.

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

Zero the Hero:

Sorry I can’t embed it anymore go to:

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

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

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

We need lots of comfort music..Love and Peace

Born2rant

Gong ….The Isle of Everywhere

See Also…

Gong Live Now and Then

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

Police Force (intimidation of Londoners by the police)


Hello good people who read this blog

First of all you might see I got another comment from Matthew Wright of The Wright Stuff on Channel 5 ( scroll down to recent comments or go to “Freaky coincidence” post June 5th ) .

Thanks a lot Matthew unfortunately I only saw your comment to be moderated after I saw today’s show. One of his guests was Tony Robinson who is known as that guy who keeps digging up bits of Britain at the weekend in search of archeological treasures along with the only scruffy eccentrics you ever see on tv and of course as the genius Baldrick from Blackadder.

Well Matthew and Tony did an excellent job of putting across how awful the law is that can detain people for 6 weeks before they are charged, now ironically contradicted by the Conservatives. I hope they put the clip of the panel’s discussion up on youtube. Tony Robinson is an excellent eloquent intelligent speaker.

We need to defend our right to freedom. ( But I don’t want the Tories to lay claim to this! )

But what about the terrorists? Some will argue. The terrorists have won totally if it means that your average person ( or your average alternative slightly eccentric creative person) can no longer go about their lives without being spied on, searched, arrested etc…The best way to be defiant to terrorists is to live your life in freedom without allowing them to interfere with your movements or liberties.

But the thing is it isn’t really about terrorists.

Police Intimidating People in the Park:
I was going to write about other things and had written a rough draft to be posted but I’d been stuck indoors for some hours alone and decided to take a break and go for my usual walk in the park.

Now I am very lucky, I happen to live in a beautiful safe part of London and my nearest park is Kensington Gardens where I have been for walks for decades. I go there to escape the stress and crowds and dirt and polution of the city and talk to the ducks and parakeets etc… Anyway it is normally a good refuge from the stresses of central London.

When I got to the gate there were loads of police. They would not let anyone in but they were allowing people out. Earlier there had been a police helicopter flying over the area for a long time so I assumed that maybe there was some high security event at Kensington Palace. I walked along to the next main gate at Queensway. This time there was a major police presence and people wanting to go into the park many cycling or walking home from work during the rush hour were made to queue up and go into a white and orange marquee with a big sign saying ” SEARCH AREA” on it.There was a police van and many police officers and none of them looked friendly in a British bobby type way. In fact they scowled at people trying to look intimidating.

I looked on from outside a bit frightened and indignant as the park is MY park, my refuge from stress. I was wondering what on earth could be going on. Had they found bombs in the park? Would I see something on the news later? I stood in Bayswater Road at the entrance with these thoughts not wanting to go in. Another man standing next to me, a black man in his thirties was suddenly grabbed by two young plain clothes policemen. They made him put his arms up and were searching him saying ” Have you got any drugs on you?” . The man looked terrified and said no and I was scared too and decided to walk on before I got stopped too.
I was determined I would get in there for my walk. So I went along to the next gate it was locked and the next one policed by two women police officers who were big and butch and not any less threatening than the others. But eventually getting up towards Lancaster Gate I found a deserted gate and walked in. There weren’t many people in the park but most of them like me were curious onlookers. There was a very sinister atmosphere it was very quiet and there weren’t the usual sounds of children’s banter , blokes playing football etc..

I walked back towards the palace and bought a tea in the deserted cafe by the playground. I asked them why they were searching everyone or stopping them from coming in. The manager seemed quite excited ” It’s a new campaign! ” he said” they’re searching kids for knives”.

I was annoyed and I said “Well I’m not a kid and they wouldn’t let me in without going through the “Search Area”. He didn’t seem to understand this and kept saying ” No they are only stopping children”.

This was nonsense. The only children you generally see in that park have parents or nannies with them. I have been to that park 100s of times in my life. I’ve climbed over the fence and walked there at night , I’ve spent a huge amount of my life in that park and I have never encountered any crime whatsoever.

I decided to take a closer look at the “Search Arch”( not sure if the sign said Search Arch or Search Area) and stood not far but groups of policemen stood looking at me sternly so I moved.

I had nothing to hide, but that doesn’t mean I want to be bodily searched and interrogated by strange people at their whim or not be able to go for a peaceful walk in MY local park.

I left the same way I came in but before that I saw them stop and search a group of young black teenagers who were laughing and found it funny when their friend was stopped and detained
( hopefully not for 6 weeks without charge or even the current 4 weeks).

On my way back I walked past the main gate again in Bayswater Road and looked to see if they really were only searching teenagers. I then saw a group of very respectable well-dressed middle-aged white tourists being ushered into the large gazebo/orange and white tent thing, they were looking at eachother in disbelief as they were having to open their handbags and possibly to be bodily searched. I stood there shaking my head saying out loud:

” This is crazy, it’s just crazy!”

But then these two men heard me and told me to move along, they must have been plain clothes policemen again.


Police Intimidating People on the Tube:

I have already endured the unpleasant experience of police taking over tube stations at rush hour . Armed police and plain clothes policemen and sniffer dogs lining the walls of the tube station and looking at people in the most intimidating threatening way. I have experienced this several times now and it’s not nice.They usually do this in the rush hour often on a Friday evening.

Once there was this guy getting off the train in front of me he had been on the same carriage as me and caused no trouble. He was dressed smartly but he looked like a foreigner coming home from work and definitely not a thug. He had a smile on his face and possibly he had been drinking or smoking a joint on his way home on a Friday evening ( most people do not smile on the tube in the rush hour!). I was walking up the stairs immediately behind him.
Once he got to the top of the stairs without a word two policemen came up behind him and just grabbed an arm each and took him to one side. He looked at both of them with a silly grin on his face also saying nothing, clearly this man was not a bomber, he was not violent and he wasn’t currently breaking any laws although he might have been a bit stoned rather than a bit drunk. I found it shocking at the time to have this happen on my normal route home. I felt like I was in some kind of 60s spy movie behind the iron curtain.

Another time as I was going into the tube station on a “police day” two very sweet and innocent looking young Spanish long-haired tourists were suddenly stopped as one the dogs quite liked the way they smelt. I guess they probably had smelt of cannabis, the boys looked absolutely terrified and they didn’t speak a word of English. As I passed them the police told them they were being arrested and were confiscating their passports and one of boys looked like he was about to cry. I wanted to stop and help them maybe by translating but being surrounded by about 30 armed and scowling policemen I was scared and walked on.

So that’s my piece for today. It’s not what I wanted to write about .

I don’t want to have to move out of London or leave this country but I’m finding myself suddenly living in a place that is more like Nazi Germany or some communist regime than the London I grew up in.

We are becoming a police state gradually as this is how it happens and if we want to live in a place where we still have some freedom and democracy then we have to speak out against this and complain.

Love and Peace

Born2rant

P.S. George Bush’s visit and protest march on June 15th 2008

“The Stop the War Coalition has been informed by the Metropolitan Police that a proposed march, co-organised with CND and the British Muslim Initiative, to protest George Bush’s visit will not be allowed. The Coalition has organised scores of marches on this route, including during Bush’s last visit in 2003.” (taken from the Stop the War website..let’s see if they protest anyway and if so how many are arrested)

( sorry if there are mistakes in my post I am having problems with wordpress technology that automatically deletes words and bits of sentences and also with my brain due to an illness..however I do assure you that what I have written is as accurate as I can make it and not fantasy!)