I’ve just begun work on a new Roy Harper book and I thought that it might be good to share the beginning with you.
This is the Preface to ‘Ruminating on Roy Harper’. I hope you like it. I’d love to hear your comments.
1967 was a momentous year for me. I was eighteen, boiling with hormones, angst, sex and rebellion. In the prefabricated world of the dedicated followers of fashion I was the rank outsider, too extreme to fit into the norms of the ‘in crowd’ with their Carnaby Street flares and neatly trimmed long hair and collections of top ten hits. With my shoulder length hair, Zen and head full of Kerouac’s crazy zest for discovery I was the acid tongued hipster more attuned to the psychedelic jungle of London backstreets, blues clubs and all night adventures than a sixth form common room.
I wanted to let rip. I was eighteen, wild and bursting with idealistic fervour.
The world was my playground, my university, my mystical, infinite source of wonder and awe. Life was there to be burned. I had to grapple with it, wrestle it to submission and screw answers out of it.
1967 was the year of freedom. I got my car and was leaving home. There were just a few side issues to put to rest: I had to take my A Levels and secure grades that would get me a university place so that the next three years were sorted and I could continue my explorations; I had to decide where to go; and I had to get somewhere to live. It wasn’t quite Kerouac’s dream. But it was close enough.
While the ‘in crowd’ studied I did my own investigations. I haunted the Toby Jug, Middle Earth, the UFO and Marquee. This was my year of psychedelics, Beat literature and poetry. My head was full of Acid Rock and Underground mutterings. I wanted to take it all by the scrag and wring it dry. There was not a moment to be wasted.
To top it all I was in love and that gave me another heady set of hormones to stew my rewiring brain. All those trillions of delicate neurons vainly trying to snake their way through the chemical swamp of my cerebrum as they futilely attempted to rewire me into an adult. For adult was the rudest of words and one I rejected forever. Adult was the vision of my dad with his slippers, TV, 9 to 6 job, and living death on the settee. Adult death had to be fought off and slain.
I was considered a bad influence and subsequently banned from the common room and so spent my days more profitably chatting up the girls, arguing music with the dead, sorting out the sounds, gigs and parties and hanging with the small group of similar misfits. Our task was to push the limits and watch with burning eyes as the bourgeoisie squirmed impotently.
Seemingly I was throwing away my future.
Nineteen sixty seven was a year that went off in one long slow motion detonation whose reverberations would echo through my life, whose tsunami washed away the life that might have been. I’m glad. For it meant that I lived.
I didn’t give a shit.
I knew what I wanted. I wanted it all – the whole fucking universe!
Nineteen sixty seven was the year I discovered Roy Harper.