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Altered states - The wall in Cardiff that really wasn't there
A shared hallucination or reality?
There were all sorts of tablets going around in those days and the orange-coloured ones we had were supposed to be mescaline, although I think in retrospect they were just good old fashioned acid repackaged. Anyway, a group of us had decided to try the stuff and were waiting for it to kick in.
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Rasputin, Llandaff map and mescaline
Amphetamines and Acid
There was Dave and Christine, who were partners, there was Ron, who was also known as Rasputin, and there was me. Ron was nicknamed that way because he wore a monk's habit and had let his fingernails grow really long. He had also taken far too many amphetamines and acid in his past when he lived in a cave on the southern coast and his mind wasn't always in the same time and place as everyone else.
We used to often play card games of snap and if we had taken some mind-altering substance eventually we were all not far off Ron's state of mind and unable to follow the rules or even understand what they were. Card-game playing became impossible when you were more involved in contemplating the pictures on them than taking your turn.
And so it was that night, and we all knew the tabs we had taken had come through. We decided to go out for a walk. We called in a local pub but it was far too weird in there and far too confined so we headed outside again where the stars were sparkling overhead and the world had that dark and mysterious way it looks at night when on a psychedelic drug.
I can't remember what I was wearing but it was autumn and Christine and Dave were both wearing flowing capes and Ron too was wearing a cloak over his monk's habit. We must have looked like travellers from another time, more suited to a medieval Europe perhaps.
For some reason it was decided we would take a walk up through the Llandaff Fields park and then along the pathway going past the graveyard that leads up to Llandaff village green by the ancient cathedral.
After wandering around for a while, Dave asked me if there was another way back we could take. It was starting to get cold despite the substance we were all up on and the question was a logical one. I had gone to school and lived in Llandaff years before this and thought I knew the village well.
"Well, yes, we can go down here," I replied, indicating a pathway that leads alongside the grass lawn and gardens in the old Bishop's Palace. I went through the cast-iron turnstile with my friends following.
I was positive there was a lane that cut through from the bottom of where the lawn finished and that then led directly into Cardiff Road on which we could make our way back towards town. But I was wrong that night because all we could see was a dirty great stone wall right across the end of the gardens.
"So where's this path then?" Dave asked. "You don't know what you're on about and have wasted our time coming down here."
And it was true, there was no path. There were just hard stones that made up a high wall, too high for us to even think about climbing it and we all felt it there. It was solid and made of cold stones.
I had to admit defeat but I really couldn't understand where the pathway had gone and where this wall had come from. Was this a shared hallucination? It certainly felt real though.
I felt stupid having led them all along a path to nowhere and we had had to retrace our footsteps and found another way home to the flats. Ron, knew how I must be feeling though because he was used to people doubting what he had to say and thinking he was crazy.
"I'll tell you what," he said, "how about we go back tomorrow and have a look if it's there by day and when this drug has worn off?"
So that is what we did and there it was just as I had thought it should be. The wall had vanished and there was the lane that normally led from the bottom of the gardens around and down to the main road.
It felt good to have proved I had been right after all, even if it was only Rasputin Ron who believed me!
© 2009 Steve Andrews