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from A Squandered Life / Acid '70
I was so moved by this phenomenon that I had to crouch down in a corner and desperately struggle to write notes.
At about this time my urge to experiment with LSD was becoming an obsession. Lenore had already done some and advised, if not entirely against, at least caution. So, one quiet Sunday, we resolved to drop together and began our journey in my bedroom at the Harvey Road flat. I kept a note pad and pen by my side in readiness (as I did for every hallucinogenic excursion I ever did afterwards).
Of course nothing happened. Initially. I began to imagine things but Lenore was poo pooing saying nothing had kicked in as yet. I went out to the kitchen and was watching the kettle boil. “Watching the kettle boil?” I heard my inner voice ask. “How often do you do that?” Then I noticed the texture of the kettle. It was a cheap imitation old fashioned brass thing, but I had never noticed the concentric rings in its surfaces. They were like the rings of a not quite finished clay pot, only infinitely finer. The kettle, and then the kitchen itself, began to glow with a magnificence I had never noticed before.
In a dream, I made two mugs of tea and brought them back out to the bedroom. I placed one beside Lenore where she was sitting in the room's only chair and crossed the room to sit on the floor opposite. I had the sense that Lenore was feeling awkward and avoiding eye contact. The room was taking on the beginnings of a warm glow in the same way the kitchen had when I happened to notice a wellie boot on its side under the bed. I looked down the tunnel of the boot and had the strange sensation of being drawn into it. I tried to point it out to Lenore but she responded rather tensely saying, “Look away. Look at something else.” I looked at her. She too was now glowing and looked beautiful. I felt a smile break out across my face. She turned to me and at last made eye contact and I was rewarded with a facial relaxation and a broad smile from her.
As I watched her I began to get the impression that I was watching an old film as her face altered in a series of slow slightly jerky frame jumps. Then I noticed that her face was actually on a film reel and that there were faces behind her descending in an arc and in front of her ascending in another arc. I felt I didn't have the reel quite lined up and leaned over further and further to my right to achieve best vantage. Then I realised it wasn't just her face I was seeing, but a succession of many of the faces of the women I had encountered in my life thus far (including my mother!) - as if my companion Lenore was somehow the personification of all the females of the species I had had the privilege of meeting. As if all my female companions had been and were in fact one and the same being.
I tried to explain this to Lenore only to discover I couldn't speak properly. Some strange spluttering came out, but I saw Lenore stand and come over to me, hand outstretched. She was standing above me with her hand floating in the foreground. I reached up and took it and she pulled me to my feet. She led me, still clutching my note pad, out of the room, down the stairs to the front door, and out into the world.
Outside it was a glorious late afternoon. We strode off together up the hill towards the university campus like a pair of old soldiers. Being a quiet Sunday, there was hardly any traffic. Everything seemed quiet and looked immaculately perfect and in its rightful place. It wasn't a windy day but the trees were gently heaving and shifting as if it was. We couldn't exchange more than a few words, mostly “Look” accompanied by pointing and followed by slightly desperate acknowledging and appreciative exchanges of glance. She was the most perfect fellow traveller, attuned to the shaping reality around us, both in awe of it and confident in it. I couldn't have asked for a better guide.
We wandered down the other side of the hill and over to the campus, watching the sky and the distant low hills as they glittered in their flawlessness. Much of the university was connected by heated and brightly lit underground pedestrian tunnels and we descended into these and found ourselves enraptured by the properties of artificial light, its elasticity and fluctuating spectra. I began to detect “auras” associated with people we occasionally passed. These were in the form of large flexible soap bubbles at the centre of which would be its human carrier. The bubbles would change shape to accommodate movement and proximity of other inhabited bubbles.
I was so moved by this phenomenon that I had to crouch down in a corner and desperately struggle to write notes. Writing had become progressively more and more difficult as control over my hand eye coordination evaporated. I could hear myself groaning softly with the intensity of trying to avoid tangents and keep my scrawls coherent. I would look up and see Lenore gazing pensively at some feature of our immediate environment. We tried to smile at the occasional passer by but became concerned that it might be thought weird to be found still and fixating in an empty tunnel and began to look for a way out.
We surfaced near one of the lecture theatres and stood at the back appreciating its curvature and the way in which it focused attention to the front and centre. I was approached by a woman carrying a large book who asked me some question I couldn't make out relating, I guessed, to its content. As she flipped through the pages to find the one which, presumably, contextualised her querie, I happened to notice the inside front cover which was a bright and vibrant red in colour. I couldn't help myself and slowly, apologetically, reached over and turned all the pages to reveal that inside cover, completely blank but for its vibrant oscillating red. The book responded by releasing the full power of its pulsating colour which spilled out into the surrounding atmosphere and splashed up on to the woman's front and up on to her face. She must have sensed that she wasn't going to get a sensible answer to her question but remained calm, gazing down on to that blank coloured page as if she were watching a glowing fire. I had to try to signal Lenore who came over and, for a few blissful moments, the three of us stood there silently looking from the source of the colour to each other's relaxed and glowing faces and back again. I think I managed a “thank you” and the woman gently closed her book and quietly went on about her business.
Lenore and I went outside on to the now darkening campus and were greeted with the sparkling of street lights as if we'd stepped into the Milky Way. We set off slowly, in wonderment, heading back up the hill from whence we'd descended all those hours ago. By this time we'd realised we should try to avoid meeting anybody we knew or who might try to engage us in conversation, but as we walked up the hill a car appeared coming in the opposite direction. This was the first one we'd clocked all day, and we both became transfixed as it appeared to hover near us like a small space craft. What appeared to be its pilot was gesticulating furiously from its window. Suddenly the ship lurched away, whirled around, and swept back to hover right beside us. The pilot was now leaning over and winding down the window as we crouched to look in. I realised this was a guy I knew as Michael the Archangel, a guy who had himself done acid and had been profoundly affected. Generally speaking, I usually found Michael to be largely unintelligible, but I now found, crouching down looking into his car window, that I could understand him perfectly. Somehow or other he'd sensed - from just glimpsing us walking along the road - that we were tripping and had stopped to offer us a brotherly lift. We were too in thrall to the night and the times and our journey to accept but we thanked him as best we could and he disappeared off up the road again - opposite to the direction in which he'd been travelling when he'd first spotted us.
It was now properly dark as night and an even greater peace seemed to descend upon our city and we continued to be absorbed by its hidden features. I'd been getting used to the shifting visuals but now discovered I seemed to be experiencing audio hallucinations as well. Whenever I passed a large doorway or entrance area I could hear a mesmerising and contradictory soundless echo. How could soundlessness produce an echo, let alone a soundless one? At one point we passed a paved footpath leading from a gate down across a small lawn towards a short dark tunnel leading into a doorway. I paused as the tunnel appeared to call to me. We stood and watched the tunnel and Lenore began to get anxious. I couldn't resist moving towards the gate. Lenore tried to induce me away, but my curiosity dragged me down the steps and slowly along the path. As I got closer to the tunnel, the echoes built up to a positive din. About halfway along the path I stopped, halted by the overwhelmingly resounding noiselessness. I turned to see Lenore standing under the light of a street lamp, watching with concern, and I changed my mind. As I carefully retraced my steps, the sounds diminished and then disappeared as we carried on up the road.
Later we found ourselves next to a park by our friend Roger's basement flat. A police car suddenly appeared and prowled slowly and suspiciously past us. Convinced they were going to come back and ask us what we were doing and knowing that we wouldn't be able to make any sense, we went and knocked on Roger's ground level window. As we were knocking the police car came by again but didn't stop. We stopped knocking as it looped up the road and off around the other side of the park. At that point Roger (see Re-finding Roger) appeared at his window, bleary with sleep. He looked up at us; we looked down at him. Then he went off, presumably to open his door down the other end of the building.
With the police car gone, we felt less threatened and more able to carry on with our journey - and less able to have a sensible conversation with Roger. So, having woken him, we abandoned him, probably standing at his back door in his pajamas wondering what the fuck was going on, and scurried off back to our part of town and, eventually, to the safety and sanctity of our warm and welcoming flat.
© 2012 Deacon Martin