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Summer of Love '67
Sgt. Pepper -v- Lt. Calley
This is part two of what can only be describes as random recollections of times gone by in my life. If you want to start at the beginning, visit 'Smoke whilst you're praying..." which was the first part.
It's a kinda autobiography, which didn't start that way.
It was originally a longer profile, but then I realised that nobody knows what I know about my life, and maybe I should put some of it down in print for my children to read and understand who, what, why, where and when I lived.
This may grow longer, or stop all together dependent upon whether you or me get bored first!
1967 saw me being 16 years old and freshly defiled, loaded and locked and ready to go. The Beatles released Sergeant Pepper on June 1st, two weeks after my birthday, and the whole scene changed from loose to chaotic.
Psychedelia was born and nobody saw or heard anything the same again.
All over the western end of the northern hemisphere youth were breaking the moulds that had held previous generations in check.
Parents, raised with ridged standards and ethics, were now just relieved to still be alive, after a World War which had killed 60 million people, and was still fresh to the memory.
They still barked at their children, but their bark was worse than their unenthusiastic bite, which very often din not even follow.
My father NEVER raised his hand to me, for he had been in Burma, a place where bad things happened because nobody was looking (and they still do....and they still aren't) and had been changed from a normal peaceable bloke, to someone who had been prepared to kill in an instance and to massacre whole Burmese villages, if their patrol was inadvertently spotted as they snuck through the jungle seeking to kill their real enemies.
Equally I was 38 years old before we hugged! - He was an emotional cripple.
Dad admitted the massacres to me, when Lt. Calley was being interrogated, after the My Lai massacre, and I was expressing my hippie horror at the news "What did they expect them to do" he uttered as a one liner that changed my world.
His explanation left me with various options;
- to view my father as a mass murderer.
- to understand that sometimes people can be made to do bad things by forces outside their control.
- to see that he was also a victim.
All were true of course.
Many years later, when I was down in South East Asia, working for a man who supplied 'equipment' to corrupt governments, in return for paying large commissions back on the purchases, I was asked to 'dispose' of a chap who had stolen from him.
I had no moral code at that point, so I arranged a one way 'fishing trip' for him with a couple of local hoods. His life was worth $1000 (and I was offering top dollar because he was married to a local generals daughter) and I was charging $5000 to my 'boss' for the task.
Thankfully I cancelled the murder and told my boss it was simply too risky to him.
There was no emotional reason for me to cancel, my reasoning was purely selfish. I was concerned not that the man would be killed on my command, but that I was the 'fuse' between the killers and the client, so if anything went wrong, I was the logical point to cut the chain to both sides.
When I came to faith in Christ, my Pastors wife was preparing me for spiritual cleansing and handed me a sheet of paper with all the probable 'offenses' I would need cleansing from, saying with a light voice "Most people say I'm guilty of all these except murder"
I couldn't even say that.
I knew enough bible to realise that if the scripture right applied I had no defence.
My fathers war and his spilling of 'innocent blood' had been settled upon my shoulders, and given me a propensity to kill without concern, I am not blaming him, it was me that reinforced the curse by my lack of concern for the lives of others.
Generational curses obviously still were effective, thankfully the Christ I was to meet was more than capable to deal with them.
One way or another the Summer of Love changed me and the world.
At the time we thought we were changing the world for the better, now I know and realise that we were actually Satan's storm troopers, rather than beings of love challenging a corrupt old fashioned establishment to bring in the 'Age of Aquarius'
If ignorance is bliss, then knowledge can be hell.
My summer of love started with smoking a joint for the first time in Mick Smiths bedsit, crammed in every Thursday awaiting the dealer to come with our weekly supply of hash.
My first drug purchase cost me thirty shillings ($4 at sixties conversion rates) for a small piece of Lebanese gold, about a quarter of an inch round and one and a half inches long. It would last me a week!
At that time only West Indians and jazz musicians took drugs, and we were by and large ignorant of what they may do short or long term. At one point all but three of my druggie chums were either dead, in jail, living in Piccadilly Circus underground's toilets, or in prison.
My cousin was found dead in the store room of a block of flats with 32 undissolved tuinol pills in his gullet, killed because he didn't pay the suppliers of the heroin he sold. I've no idea how many had dissolved before he died.
I stayed clean of everything except hash, I saw first hand what acid did to you brain, watched desperate friends fixing up amid blood spurting scenes of horror, with excitement on their tortured faces.
I was an observer, not a participant in the heavy drugs scene.
Later on, when I moved to Spain (which is eight miles away from Morocco, the source of supply) I smoked ten or twelve spliffs a day, but back then, at the start, I would have a furtive puff on one joint per night.
It was drug abuse by homoeopathy!
Mick's got busted, but not before I had met two musicians called Mac and Den, who were Walthamstow's answer to Bob Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel rolled into one. One night I found them comatose by the road after to much imbibing in alcohol and various drugs, and escorted them home, getting to know them better.
I was known as a 'bread head' in hippiedom because I wore suits to work and had half short hair, but we became friends and I had the idea of helping us all by opening a folk club, which I called Tunc, telling all the college students I advertised it with that it was Latin for 'Think' - which showed the severe lack of Latin education at Waltham Forest Polytechnic, because it actually is a legal term and it means " now for then" - but I was even less educated, having just made it up, thinking of it as an anagram!
Looking back having ONLY JUST found out what it meant, it was a good name for the time.
Tunc was a great success and lived it's short life mostly above The Rose & Crown pub in Hoe Street Walthamstow which we shared with the local Buffaloes and various tenants associations.
It got closed down when the cleaners found some M & M's on the floor and thought they were drugs, they were not, they were M & M's, but there was no telling the landlord so we were homeless. Besides we smoked the real drugs before we left each night!
I moved it from pub to pub for a while, attracting a larger following and making next to nothing, mainly because we didn't charge friends, nubile girls, hippies, students and the unemployed who had their P45's, which made up most of the audience!
I sold it to another 'breadhead' for a fiver, who never paid me. If you're reading this Rick, it's forgiven!
During this time I was working (if you could call it that) for a guy called Eddie, who was a jazz drummer with a clothes boutique in the High Street. Eddie was a bankrupt, so every Wednesday (early closing day) we would take whatever was in the till and tour the East End buying 'cabbage'.
For those who do not know (and if you do, this is just a remembrance) cabbage is the clothes made from the spare material when the cutters have finished cutting the required number of items. It works like this:
- The chain store send the makers 'x' yards of material with instructions to make 'y' garments from them.
- The cutter by his or her skill and ability cuts the required number of garments and still has material left over.
What they make from this 'cabbage' is sold to people like Eddie
Eddie was unconventional to say the least.
We had a full drum kit in the shop for a start, and Eddie would pound away on it whenever he felt the urge, whether we had clients or not. All the stock was arranged by colour, rather than size, because kids bought strictly by instinct rather than design.
At this time street fashion was just being created, and you could still venture into Carnaby Street with a design and get an order from any of the 'big' names like Lord John.
You may not ever get paid (which was why Eddie was a bankrupt) but you could design what you liked and get famous overnight, just like you could learn three chords on a guitar and be touring with The Who two weeks later.
Life seemed blissfully open ended and there seemed to be no limits to what 'we' could achieve.
Which is why my tiny little life seemed rather pathetic to me after a bad night at Tunc.
Sitting at home cowering over the gas fire which passed as heating in our house, dreading the climb to a freezing cold bedroom which had icicles inside the windows, I saw an advert for working in exotic climes; Barbados, Bermuda, the Azores, West Germany....
I should have twigged it immediately, but I didn't, so next day Eddie encouraged me to go to the 'interview' and I did, and so started a 15 year association with some of the best con artists in the country.
Hopefully in a day or two, the next section of the hub will be up and running!
Part three is here: http://hubpages.com/hub/Sheep-to-be-sheared