I decided to have a cake party. I’m not quite sure where I got the idea from but it seemed a good one. We decided to dedicate the evening to psychedelia and Roy Harper. What could go wrong? I had this recipe for chocolate brownies. You just crumbled the dope into the cake mix; it dissolved in fat, and then you cooked it and then you ate it. Easy.
I don’t know why I was so confident. I’d never cooked a cake in my entire life. Then there was the fact that there did not seem to be a mention of how much dope to put in. The recipe for that was sadly lacking on the box. Still I was supremely confident and Jack was there to lend a helping hand. That in itself should have been enough of a warning.
The invites went out, sort of word of mouth. The music was selected – we went for something spacey and psychedelic by Pink Floyd, Mothers and Grateful Dead with a bit of Third Ear Band and the Incredibles thrown in for good measure. The ingredients were purchased. Jack himself was given the task of getting the most important ingredient. He came back with a plastic bag with a lot of what appeared to be a light brown powder. It didn’t look like dope. It didn’t smell like dope. It didn’t even taste like dope.
“You sure this is dope, man?” I enquired suspiciously. I somehow couldn’t believe Jack would get ripped off but it happened. Anything was possible.
“Dude said he’d burnt it down, man,” Jack replied in an injured tone. @Told me it was really good stuff.’
“It don’t look like dope,” I added dubiously, examining the light brownish powder Jack had produced in a plastic bag. It didn’t look like any dope I’d ever seen.
“He’s reliable,” Jack insisted. “He wouldn’t let me down.”
I shrugged. We had nothing to lose.
I mixed the mixture up in a bowl and started pouring the powdered dope in.
“How much do we add?” I asked as I poured a good quantity of the powder into the bowl. “Did the dude say?”
“No, he was a bit vague on that one, man.” Jack admitted. “He just told me it was incredibly good and would blow your head off, man.”
“Did you tell him it was for thirty people?” I asked still feeling extremely dubious about this powder. It didn’t look right and it didn’t smell right.
“Yeah.” Jack replied contritely.
I poured half in as Jack stood at my shoulder watching. He dipped his finger in the mix and tasted it, smacking his lips and looking quizzical.
“A touch more, there man,” was his assessment.
By the time we had finished I’d put it all in. What the hell! I was still very sceptical as to whether this was going to work at all. We baked it anyway. Even if the stuff didn’t work we’d have some great chocolate cake. I loved gooey chocolate cake.
By eight o clock, the allotted hour, there were six of us gathered. Me and Jack, Bede, Lanky, Snitch and Snatch. Of all the other twenty four that had expressed interest there was not a sign.
Undeterred we ceremoniously sliced the cake into thirty equal pieces and took a slice each. Thirty was the stated number and Jack’s source had allocated the dosage accordingly seemingly with the instructions to only use half of it. We’d put it all in but hell – it had only been a rough guide, right?
I put on some Mother’s of Invention and we prepared to get zapped out to Zappa. After half an hour nothing had happened so I changed the music over to Ken Nordine’s Word Jazz which was good music to get stoned to. Already the set list had gone out the window. We were decidedly peckish and by unanimous agreement decided to risk a second piece of cake, especially as it appeared now that nobody else was likely to turn up and we were decidedly sceptical about the authenticity of the dope. If nothing else we could sit around and rap. It’d be OK.
We ate that and settled back to listen to Ken. Music was something to be venerated, listened to intently and digested. Music was the life juice of our generation. It contained the message, the philosophy. It wasn’t something to be put on as background Muzac. Musicians were all knowing Gods. They had to be listened to with respect. The lyrics were poetry to be understood and decoded. It was sacred. The music was our bible.
After an hour we decided anther slice was in order. I changed the music over to Roy Harper’s ‘Flat Baroque and Berserk’. Still nothing was happening.
At nine thirty Geof and Malc arrived. We welcomed them in, changed the music to Traffic and got them a couple of slices of cake each. We then decided to finish the cake off as it was becoming exceedingly unlikely that anything was going to happen now. The stuff was obviously dud but the cake tasted decidedly alright.
I changed the music over to Floyd’s ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn’ and sat back down on the floor. I began to feel a buzz rising in my head and turned round to Jack.
“I think ……….. something’s ………… beginning ……… to happen.”
By the time I’d got my head round it had come over me in a rush. Jack was grinning back at me like a searchlight.
I could not move. The music swept through every atom of me. It flowed and swirled and pounded through my body and swelled in my ears. I became the music. I lay my head back and allowed my whole being to pulse in time to the music.
I had to lie down on the floor. I watched Lanky. His chest rose and fell as he breathed and it seemed to pulse to the music to. He didn’t breathe very often. I began to count the breaths. He must have gone ten minutes between some breaths.
After a few hours I noticed that the Floyd were still playing. Someone must have put it on again but I hadn’t noticed.
“The music’s still playing,” I mumbled to Jack.
“Still first track, man,” he replied from the midst of some beatific dream.
After an hour Geof and Malc got bored. They thought we were all taking the piss out of them by pretending to be completely out of our gourds. They genuinely believed that we’d set it up between us before they arrived and went off in a bit of a huff. They almost got home before it came on.
“This is real trippy,” Snatch said after a few hours.
We’d all come down a little by then and regained the power of speech even if movement, such as doing essentials, like changing the music, was still a supreme effort.
We’d been through Beefheart, The Bonzo’s, a bit of electric Dylan and back to Harper. I was now toying with Soft Machine and Love but was wondering about a bit of Fugs. Decisions were not proving to easy to make. I settled for Ken Nordine’s ‘Colours’ followed by Country Joe’s ‘Electric Music for body and mind’.
“This is more than a bit trippy,” I finally managed after what seemed like an hour.
Lanky was breathing more regularly now. Jack and I had both noticed the phenomenon of Lanky’s breathing and were discussing whether it was actually his breathing or a distortion of time, or just that he was doing occasional deep breaths. We decided, as with the Floyd track, that it was obviously a distortion of time.
Everyone was grinning madly at each other now and I went to get a few packets of chocolate biscuits that I’d sussed might be handy later in the evening.
“I have decided that my mind is not a chemical phenomenon,” I announced to Jack.
“And what, given the experiences of the last four hours, do you base that on?” Jack asked in a bemused manner.
“Oh, I’ve been thinking about it a lot,” I replied thoughtfully. “I’ve been examining my mind and watching my thoughts scoot by, man. You know, I was watching the way it all worked.”
Jack nodded. ‘You’re stoned, man, stoned immaculate.’
“It is true that there were certain distinct changes to the way my brain was functioning,” I replied earnestly. “Everything sounded different, time and all that, man. I felt very different. But the essence of me as a person did not change. That is what I base this deduction on.”
“Fascinating,” Jack replied. “I was thinking exactly the opposite.”
“So you think mind has substance?”
“I don’t know about that, man. I just felt it was chemical. I mean, we’d taken chemicals and they were altering everything inside and out. That’s what I mean, man.”
“But didn’t you get the feeling that the essential you was kinda at the back of that, man.” I argued.
“I think I did,” Lanky interjected. “I’m just not fucking sure where I am at all anymore, man.”
We took to lying on our backs examining our thoughts and watching the colours swirling in time to the music. Whatever that stuff was it was no ordinary dope. This was more like acid than pot.
The next day I was with Jack on the Underground and as the doors came together with a hiss my whole mind echoed with it, expanding and contracting. It took three days to come down.
Everyone agreed that we probably should only have used a quarter of the stuff. Jack felt he had been vindicated though.