The Last of the Hippies by CJ Stone

Part autobiography, part history, part travelogue, this is an account of the author's experiences in that marginal realm, the mythical hippie's heavenly playground, and an investigation of how the hippies of his youth are faring in the modern world.

Illustration by Eldad Druks*
Illustration by Eldad Druks*

The Last of the Hippies

By: CJ Stone.

88,685 words.

Dedication.

For John Pendragon 1946-1998. The last of the hippies.

It's hard to know where the hippie movement begins. It's even harder to know where it ends. There were hippies before they were ever called hippies. And there were hippies long after the hippie movement was dead. There still are hippies. It's a generic term really. It means vaguely fluffy and idealistic with a cosmic turn of phrase. It means naïve and optimistic and hopeless with money. It refers to middle-aged pot-fiends who sport dreadlocks and baggy trousers, and who look slightly lost in the world; or to men who've reached the age of fifty without ever having gone out to work. The hippie era was a wild, a visionary, a revolutionary time. Especially as you could claim Social Security while you were at it.

The author first saw Timothy Leary on TV in his living room in South Yardley, in the totally unhip British city of Birmingham, when he was sixteen years old. He was impressed. Timothy Leary had probably never even heard of Birmingham, let alone South Yardley, let alone set out to make his views known to a sixteen year old Delivery Boy; and yet here he was, in the author's living room, telling him to "turn on, tune in and drop out". That's when the author became converted. He'd already turned the telly on and tuned it in. Now all he needed to do was to find the drop-out button.

That's what this book is about. It's about a generation of lost souls looking for the drop-out button. Part autobiography, part history, part travelogue, it recounts the author's adventures in that marginal realm: the mythical hippie's heavenly playground; where LSD is the drug of choice, where evolution is the pastime, where revolution is the rhetoric, and paganism is a religion. It's a carnival of madness. Join it at your peril.

Acknowledgements.

I would like to say thank you to all of those people without whose help this book could never have been written.

To at Faber's for commissioning it, and for putting up with my doubts. To Steven Andrews, of course, for being himself (whatever that is). To Jon and Terry from Espionage Films who, although they don't appear in the book, were there at its inception. To Piers and Gill, for the wine and conversation. To Sue Rowley, for her well-being. To Graham Fowler, for remaining a friend. To Dave Westacott, for remaining a communist. To Nancy and Moffs of Groovy Movies, for the solar equipment (it never worked). To Des Moore for his candour. To Susanna for being a hippie. To Louie for being a closet hippie. To Simon Rogers at the Big Issue, for feeding me work. To Jeanette Page and Deborah Orr at the Guardian Weekend, for their continuing support. To Terryl and Joe Bacon, for the use of their orchard, and for their kindness and generosity. To Karen and Tony, for their back garden and their patience. To Judith Roe, a good friend, and a source of inspiration. To Chris Craig, for distracting me with Karl Marx. To Lissie Freewoman, for distracting me with other things. To the Library of Avalon and the Assembly Rooms at Glastonbury, for the use of their space. To Paul and Nik for the use of the room. To Simon and Bunny, for the lift and the squabbles. To Kevin and Roger of AD3000, for revealing what was hidden. And to everyone I met in the course of writing this book, whether you appear in it or not. It was better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick.

Last of the Hippies on Amazon USA

Contents

  • Chapter 1: "Dear Pete."
  • Chapter 2: "Hippies, Heads and Freaks."
  • Chapter 3: "Free Love."
  • Chapter 4: "Oops."
  • Chapter 5: "Rod The Mod Takes The Plunge."
  • Chapter 6: "Druid Time."
  • Chapter 7: "Huna Druzz," or, "Another Failed Love-Quest, An Apple And A Cup Of Coffee."
  • Chapter 8: "Enlicenment."
  • Chapter 9: "Not An Earth Mother," or, "Nasturtiums In Barbed Wire."
  • Chapter 10: "The Rules Of Sensible Driving."
  • Chapter 11: "And Another Thing."
  • Chapter 12: "The Pilton Pop Festival."
  • Chapter 13: "The Trouble With Hippies."
  • Chapter 14: "Des."
  • Chapter 15: "Glastonbury."
  • Chapter 16: "PS"

Reviews

'Tony Blair was. Half the Cabinet were. And so was your dad, probably. But these days, original hippies are hard to find. Despite the flares, hennaed hands and cheesecloth revival of recent years, only an ashtray-full of die-hards remain. Now C.J. Stone has endeavoured to expose them - and himself at the same time. A professional drop-out for the latter half of his 45 years, Stone's new book, Last of the Hippies, traces the movement to its genesis.' The Times

'A touching memoir .... Stone writes with intelligence, wit and sensitivity about being a working-class, belated hippie who has been hanging out with assorted no-hopers in places like Cardiff and Birmingham. This is a book written from within the hippie phenomenon by someone looking sceptically out.' Times Literary Supplement

'Ambivalence rather than embarrassment is what fuels this engagingly candid memoir ... Much as he likes to protest his disillusion, Stone's commitment to an underfunded life spent in squats, at free festivals and Green Gatherings blazes, or flickers, at least, off every page.' Sunday Times

'In a converted ambulance, Stone traverses a refreshingly uncool landscape (Birmingham, Hull) digging out friends from a quarter of a century ago. They are his counter-cultural characters, but now they are living in council houses surrounded buy pictures of crop circles.' Independent

'C.J. is surprisingly engaging for a self-confessed hippie. Last of the Hippies is something of a diary of his life from the day he decided to grow his hair (centre parting not optional). You've got to love him just for the way he confesses from the off that the prospect of free love was what really sold it to him.' Big Issue

'Hippies - a word conjuring up a cool, far-out generation, beads and tin bells jangling around their necks, flowers in their tangled hair, the sweet pungency of joss sticks everywhere. Everyone knows, or knew, one - no one wanted their children to grow up to be one. But Where Are They Now? ... Last of the Hippies is a sometimes sad, sometimes funny-whimsical look at a generation.' Yorkshire Post

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Comments 30 comments

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Hmm ... I am not quite sure how to respond to this.

You see, I have no kids, no wife, no mortgage; I don't wake-up in the morning to go to work - I sometimes go to bed in the morning. I don't fancy Pamela Anderson, I don't own a car (gave mine away a few years ago to my father's girlfriend) but I am not part of that hippie category you describe. Nonetheless, I am a hippie. Therefore, there still are youthful hippies (I'm not that old).

For me, you are a hippie if you are not a narcissist, if you are compassionate, if you love Mother Earth, if you listen to the Spirit(s) ... if you love to dance ...

The hippie is the Spirit but many of us do not even bother to listen to our Spirit or any other Spirits for that matter.

I enjoyed your piece of writing again. Cheers!

P.S. Very well written, you made me think of Jack Kerouac "On the Road" - I think that's what I wast thinking of, I could be wrong though ... and I knock my astray over sometimes too.


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

ashtray* that is ...


CJStone profile image

CJStone 5 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

I thought you meant "ass-tray" as in the tray you put your ass in.

I was just feeling a bit rancid when I wrote this Mr Happy, and it only goes to show you can't trust any categories. Anyway, it's the vainglorous hippies I was having a go at: te one's on the festival site that year.


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Haha, I am glad I have corrected that ... Indeed, I do not knock "ass-trays" over. Thanks for the laugh. All the very best to you, Sir!

P.S. And perhaps if you can't trust any category - you can trust any category.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 5 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Maybe I should use another ample chapter. That one was a little bit pissed off.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 5 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

I've put up a new sample chapter.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

Thanks for choosing a chapter about me, Chris! I have just promoted the link all over the place!


CJStone profile image

CJStone 5 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Cheers Steve. This one is less bad-natured than the one I was using before.


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

You kept me up 'till half past four last night, Mr. CJ ... or better say this morning. By the time I was done reading the chapter I didn't know which way to crawl to bed.

This chapter was indeed less grouchy.

But hold on a second ... maybe I am still sleeping, or maybe I was too tired last night but is this now, the same chapter that I was reading at 4am last night? It seems to have changes again (for a third time). I may be wrong though.

I think I gotta read it again. I will come back ... this is now in between Kerouac and Kafka. Trippy ...


theherbivorehippi profile image

theherbivorehippi 5 years ago from Holly, MI

I must put this book on my "list" of things to buy. This sounds likes a great summer read for me! Thanks!


CJStone profile image

CJStone 5 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Yes, it is another one. I'll be giving the whole book away at this rate.


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Okay, good. At least I know I'm not completely out of my mind. I will return to read it since what I was going to say last night is no longer valid or applicable. Cheers!

P.S. I'll have to buy the book now too since you did a great job teasing me with these chapters. (Teasing is not exactly the right word but I am lacking another now - still sleeping really.)


theherbivorehippi profile image

theherbivorehippi 5 years ago from Holly, MI

I ordered it through Amazon. I'll post an update when I get it!


DC Gallin 5 years ago

Just ordered the book, looking forward to it !!!


PETER LUMETTA profile image

PETER LUMETTA 5 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

From a child of the 60's I must say it sounds familiar but I wasn't a hippie I was a biker but everyone called me "hippie". I must read this book. It sounds scrumtious. I enoyed your taste try some of mine. thanks Peter


CJStone profile image

CJStone 5 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Peter, you should try this: this guy is a biker: http://hubpages.com/literature/The-Trials-of-Arthu


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

What's a fiction and what's a fact? How can you tell the difference? Hunter S. Thomson's gonzo journalism is a good example here.

"What the fuck was that?" he said. "Something just ran over my leg." ... Memories of Amsterdam for me, the hotel room was a disaster by the end ... "Fear and Loathing".

"See? To store food in, see? In the Ice Age. Like hamsters. Look, see. The cornflakes stay there. So when the Ice Age comes, I'll be all right, see. I'll be all right. People without hairy chests won't be all right. Nowhere to store their food, see? But I will be, because I'm adapted to it. See? I'm adapted to the coming Ice Age."

Okay ... wow. I still have tears to wipe-out. Geez ... that was just phenomenal. I couldn't stop laughing.

"See? To store food in, see?" Ohh damn, that is just too much ... I am not going to get over this for a while I think.

The ending took me to Kafka's "The Trial". Very nice! Awesome, thank you for posting this Mr. CJ.

P.S. Just re-read my comment (just so I don't break asstrays) and had another laughing fit over the Ice Age Hamsters!! I might have honestly died laughing if I was there for that story when it happened.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 5 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

I have my good friend Steve to thank for that particular story Mr Happy, though I think the execution of it must have helped. Unfortunately the book was a flop - don't ask me why. I think it just missed its moment somewhat, and I've been living hand-to-mouth ever since.


tengo un amigo profile image

tengo un amigo 5 years ago from minneapolis

so, you're awesome


CJStone profile image

CJStone 5 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Thanks.


fen lander profile image

fen lander 4 years ago from Whitstable

Excellent.... whether you intended it as humour or not, I literally had tears of mirth running down my face for 2/3s of it. I'm ten years too young to be a genuine 'hippy,' but I'm a hippy too- I now know it's true.... similar experiences to Steve's have accompanied me all through my life. Not a buzzing-sound but things 'real' no-one else could see or feel.And weird people attracted to me because they 'knew' I could relate to them.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 4 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

You should know me by now Fen. Of course it was intended to be humorous. Glad you enjoyed it so much. I had a great time writing it too.


fen lander profile image

fen lander 4 years ago from Whitstable

I'm even going to relinquish my hard-earned 'miser' status and purchase a copy!!! I can't buy from Amazon don't have a C.Card or other bankers thing. Can I get one direct from you? PS I knew the humour was intentional really.... It must have made you laugh, it really has a ring of truth and that's why it's so funny. People like the Bard are genuine geniuses 'cos of that horrendous pathway to here.... an easy ride is no way forward. Cheers


CJStone profile image

CJStone 4 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Yes I've got copies Fen. Send me an email and we'll meet up.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 3 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

It was very good to read this again, Chris!


CJStone profile image

CJStone 3 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Thanks Steve. Will you share it on facebook for me?


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 3 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

Already have!


CJStone profile image

CJStone 3 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

OK, ta!


mary o brien 2 years ago

AS one of the last old dyed in the wool hard core hippies,(67). I am looking forward to reading your 2 chapters, and commenting upon same. I have saved your page to peruse at my leisure.How is it going, are you selling loadsa copies?Has it got photos? How much is it? I have no credit card, or pay pal account...please advise...thanks....be lucky.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 2 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Mary, write me a letter to my home address and we'll discuss it: christopherston@gmail.com

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