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A Memory

When BIG Business







"It's the end of October 1969 - almost 45-years ago. I drive in my old pale-blue Ford Popular from Huntingdon to Northampton where my cousin lives. It's his 21st birthday!"

After writing that first paragraph I write a second, thus:

"It was a Saturday, a typical autumnal day full of rustic autumnal browns and yellows; dry, cloudy, a bit windy, periods of sun, leaves blowing from the trees. In those days traffic was light even on main routes, yet I chose cross-country where I knew the roads would be deserted. Despite many junctions, I always go for the rural option if there's time. Even now, I prefer empty winding lanes, to pass through hamlets hardly changed in a century, the occasional quaint ramshackle farmstead, now and then a wood - usually with mysterious tracks leading in… then, sometimes, undulations that give intermittent views over the landscape."

I pause and think: BORING! So decide on a change of tack. Yep, we both got drunk... what else at age 20 (me) and 21? Curiously, it was only us two. No one else was there... except in one pub we met a couple of my cousin's friends. They weren't very exciting, I recall, and we soon moved on. All I remember after that is staggering helplessly back to his parents' house.

Next morning I crawled late from bed, somehow got into my clothes and went out - moving very slowly, unable to speak or communicate with anyone. I guess one look at me told them my condition. There was no headache, just a weird sense that my brain was detached from the rest of me and a kind-of floating effect. And everything around me, the road and pavement, houses and gardens, looked different, not quite familiar - like something in a fairy tale or even a parallel universe.

For several hours I just wandered dreamily around streets and parks like this. I remember passing a 'corner-shop' where I bought a grapefruit, which helped. I must have walked at least ten miles: around the town, through surrounding estates and so on. Eventually, by mid afternoon, I'd recovered enough to make a route back, still groggy but a bit more alive in a dreamy kind-of way.

By now it was also time to think about heading home. And was that journey surreal? It was so weird I can hardly describe it. To try might result in a mawkish dirge, which I was hoping to avoid, but I'll give it a go anyway:

My head was still swimming, as I say, yet I'd never experienced such a sense of composure, serenity even. Reflecting now, I realise I was somehow locked in 'the-moment', as if all my memories stood at a distance, through a haze I had no wish to penetrate, tucked away in some remote vault.... maybe, it seems to me now, as if I'd taken a mixture of psilocybin and lsd. Not that I've ever tried the latter, but I've read about it (as I relate shortly), and have observed the effects in Ken Kesey's famous cult film: 'Magic Trip' (compiled and released in 2011). Had those two 'friends' we met slipped something into my drink? But why would they? And, true, I'd been drunk a few times before - what 20-year-old hasn't? - yet for some crazy reason this was nothing like before. Was it something in the beer?

I stopped three or four times on the way home, in the remotest locations possible. My intention - my overwhelming aim - was to just absorb nature, the naturalness, the earthiness of the reality out there in the wilds of Northamptonshire. The effect of all that nature, with my brain as it was, resembled being love-struck. Everything appeared to me as sensational and beautiful and precious, sacred even (though not, I think, in a religious way). At the time I couldn't immerse myself in it enough. I remember picking up several leaves at each place I stopped, and laying them carefully on the floor on the passenger side, vowing that I'd keep them to remind me of where they were found. I was under the impression they held great sentimental value - like a highly treasured heirloom.

If that doesn't strike you as weird then what about this: If I hadn't given way to inhibition, I'd have thrown myself to the ground and hugged the leaves and grass... if that could have been possible. I'd heard about tree-huggers, and had laughed at the idea, but now it made sense. Even so, I remained on my feet... though I nearly got down there - after all, the ground was dry.

This experience, this perception, brings to mind the kind-of episodes described in Huxley's 'Doors or Perception' and Ward's 'A Drug Taker's Notes' - both eye-opening and predominately positive events that challenge orthodox views on the nature of consciousness. These experimenters, along with Timothy Leary and a few others, were pioneers whose experiences are eloquently and comprehensively outlined in a number of books.

But the sensations of that journey home were both extraordinary and illuminating - and maybe a little unnerving too, due to their unfamiliarity. Instead of being confined to my head as normal, consciousness seemed more like something detached, or projected: as though I was infused with my surroundings or they were infused with me, and to an extent, inexplicably, which almost evoked tears. I'd somehow become conscious, I think, of time not simply as 'that moment' but also of where 'that moment' stood in a whole vast spread of time, both back to before the solar-system existed, and to way ahead with the sun (after engulfing Earth) as a white dwarf. So during these extraordinary 'moments' of awareness (immersed in and infused with the dying nature around me, all too aware that I was dying too) those tears, had they appeared, would have been from a despair or sorrow that everything was so temporal, so fleeting - and very soon, like those leaves, everything: friends, family, eventually the planet itself (in a few billion years, and what's a billion beside infinity?) would be dead... me especially. All I wanted to do was melt into it, literally - I belonged to this crazy cycle of life & death as much as everything else... all part of the universe together.

By the time I reached home my brain had returned to normal. So everything took on its usual mediocrity, familiarity, banality even. I guess whatever it was that had affected me had finally dissolved away... though occasionally it returns in flashes even now.

This memory looks more than a bit bonkers in the light of sober refection after the event. But I think the episode of ~7-years later (described HERE) bore some elements of the same effect - and rendered that situation also one to remember, to treasure.

OK, yeah, I know that was boring - as well as mawkish. And I'm still not sure precisely what part, if any, alcohol plays in altering perception or consciousness - nor whether my drink had been laced with something back in that pub when I was just 20?

Either way, I hope at least you like this shot of an old car that looks identical to the one I once owned... and once daringly took the engine to bits of, and towed up to a local garage workshop for a re-bore then towed back and installed new valves (which had to be laboriously ground-in), fitted new gaskets and so on, and when reassembled IT STARTED FIRST GO!

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Another Memory







Another Memory



As a teen back in the 1960s I worked part-time at an old cinema. There were two cinemas in the town: one reputable, the other not. No prizes for guessing which I worked for: The Grand - more often known as 'The Flea Pit', ran a Saturday afternoon matinee for kids, a Bingo Night for oldies - and now and then some other kind of night the manager took into his head to try out.

The manager also ran several pop groups. On Friday and Saturday evenings he (or a group member who could drive), would load-up one of several beaten-up old dormobiles he owned and drive out to some venue within about 15-miles of Huntingdon, where at a college- or village-hall the group would perform for 3 or 4 hours while bedazzled teens danced themselves crazy to rowdy inferior interpretations of the latest hits. The dormobiles were insufferably cramped - I went out on quite a few of those trips: people squeezed at the front so you could hardly move, the floor and back stuffed solid with instruments and associated gear.

One time, I recall, in an attempt to emulate the on-stage performances of famous artists as frequently appeared on TV in those days, the manager decided, against everyone's advice, to put his best groups on stage in the cinema. Initially welcomed, the novelty quickly faded: even the finest renditions lacked authenticity and variety, so became painfully monotonous... even though they usually lasted less than half-an-hour.

For most of the week, though, we had films - fine one's too, much of the time. I forget most titles, but we showed westerns, monster films, war films such as 'The Great Escape', film noir, all kinds of weird spooky graveyard stuff, even the occasional musical... And a pretty good time we had: members of pop groups, me and several friends who did the ushering and various peripheral jobs all enjoyed anytime free viewing.

At the other end of the High Street, as I say, was another cinema, The Hippodrome. Precisely why it was more reputable might be debated.... but they never ran bingo, nor any kind of live performances. But, like The Grand, they did show some great films.

I remember two of several occasions I sneaked in the back when I was about 13: for 'The L-Shaped Room' and 'Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?'. Both received extensive 'shock-horror' publicity. Being naive at the time of the 'great' publicity machine, I wondered afterwards how they could possibly be regarded as shocking - and barred to under-16s? To me they revealed unusual insight into the sad condition of society and of a pathetically primitive status quo... which I'm pleased to realise has evolved quite a bit since.

Likewise for 'Lord of the Flies'. The version shown was with the boys naked, since the taboo in those times applied only to adults (and maybe 'flippant' nudity), whereas this a was 'serious and edifying' story, where nudity was a natural and realistic condition. It was quite above anything tawdry or improper (or so the publicity implied). However, to maximise their audience the producers would have been obliged to provide a version that would sell in countries that censored nudity - so another version was made with the boys clothed throughout. I mention this only out of curiosity because a free copy of this censored version appeared with a weekend newspaper a few years ago, and although I haven't made any kind of a thorough search (I mean, who cares anyway?), there seems no record in 2014 of the original - presumably in accordance with the current bizarre highly-fickle culture that's evolved in the west over recent years (despite an internet awash with hard porn).

I think I actually paid to see 'Lord of the Flies' despite being 'under-age' - though I must have been 15 by then, and with the aid of an old trilby my brother had discarded, and an ostentatious fag in my mouth, the cashier took my dough without a qualm.

About a year later - why so long after its release in 1958? - amidst even greater publicity The Hippodrome presented the 'indescribable, indestructible BLOB'. It promised to scare the 'wit' out of the most hardened cinema-goer. A claim that puzzled me after I'd seen it - what an anticlimax - but I was still naive about methods of publicity and dubious claims to top all box-office records. But it was on that basis that a crowd of us from The Grand - who saw quite enough films anyway - set out even so for competitor territory to see 'THE BLOB'.

In those days, like music records with a 'B side', every film was preceded by a 'B' film. Normally not publicised, this would be followed by adverts - then finally the 'A' rated film that everyone was waiting to see. Also, in those days, people were inclined to turn-up anytime - usually during the 'B' film - and they'd shuffle in one or two at a time guided and directed by the usher with his/her torch-beam.

For some reason (I could speculate, but won't) the film that preceded 'THE BLOB' was the most interminably abysmal tosh imaginable: a 'cowboy opera' or 'musical western'.... monumentally duff in every way. It seemed to go on forever too, while a restless packed cinema seethed with agitation and was getting increasingly impatient for the film they'd come to see. On and on the excruciating drivel went...

Before long murmurings began, soon becoming interspersed with shouting-out. I turned to those I was with: several members of pop groups, mostly older than me, and other friends all of whose head-shaking and grins were very conspicuous whenever a bright scene flashed onto the screen, and I wondered what might happen next. The persistent calling out: ie 'crap', 'get it off', chants of 'We want The Blob, We want The Blob...' etc, was unprecedented in my experience, and so were other intermittent disturbances which became louder and more frequent with more people joining in. Then suddenly an uproarious cheer that drowned the soundtrack of the film. We all looked round to see the manager waddling swiftly down the aisle towards the front.

Evans was his name, and he bore an uncanny resemblance to Alfred Hitchcock in that notorious silhouette - short, fat, completely bald and decked in a black suit, white shirt and black bow-tie.

Once at the front, Evans raised his arms in a gesture of calm, like some biblical prophet, and announced, just audibly, that the film was almost finished and to please bear with it a little longer. Then he turned and hurried back up the aisle to shouts of abuse and a shower of coins, some of which kept rolling for ages.

Within a few minutes the film ended.... I think at least one reel (probably about 15-minutes) was omitted, because I don't recall seeing credits. The advert break was skipped too. Then finally came the long-awaited 'THE BLOB' - and, as I say, what a load of hot crap that turned out to be!

I guess because the 'B' film had been so appalling 'The BLOB' was thought OK. Either way, the audience seemed contented... they settled down and watched the film peacefully.

So much for 'THE BLOB'! Which has been on TV several times since - though I haven't bothered to watch it, not even for reasons of nostalgia.

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In the Scottish Independence debate, BIG business has suddenly en-mass asserted its opposition to independence. And they're not just opposing, they're SQUEALING!

Ask yourself: Under what circumstances does BIG business ever squeal and panic? Answer: When their continual rip-off bonanza is threatened.

In my experience no business, BIG, small or any-size, has ever given a rap for anyone but itself: above all, its profit and power.

So anyone with the remotest idea that this last-minute panic-squealing from BIG business is supposed to be to anyone's advantage other than their own is living in a fantasy-land.

And while you're about it, ask yourself too: Where does all the dough that BIG business is so afraid of not making, come from?


So if Independence is bad for BIG business, you can be certain that it's VERY GOOD for everyone else.

Pure, Clear, Simple, Obvious, Rational, Self-evident LOGIC!

It's merely a contest between Big Corp Elite Establishment and the rest of us (that is, the Scotts). Q E D.....

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Friday Sept 19

... and there was me thinking the Scots were maybe a bit more progressive and intelligent than the rest of us in the UK. Obviously, they prefer hand-outs for millionaires and bedroom-tax/food-banks for the poor. So the FUTURE (or progress) gets shoved 'on-hold' a bit longer - that is, social progress... technological progress continues unaffected, of course, which means Big Corp & other Elites continuing unfettered, as ever, towards causing whatever hassle Climate Change brings.... scarcely to mention the consequences of their war-games (all at OUR expense, of course).

What a let-down! But then, what could anyone REALLY expect?