Youth Culture – Where’s it gone??

Where’s today’s youth culture?? Simon Cowell compliance? Where’s the music and passion??

Looking back on this video – there was passion (Bit too much aggression at times but …..)

Youth Fashion – what’s that about?

Now I’m not talking about high culture here or looking to get into the range of styles. It matters little.

winkle-pickers, beehives, split jeans, arses hanging out, no laces, mini-skirts, levis, Italian suits, waist coats, plastic coats, what-ever.

Goths, Punks, Hip-cats, Rockabillies, Hippies, Skinheads……….

What’s it about?

Every new generation creates a new set of equally daft fashion statements.

It’s all about sex isn’t it? It’s a statement of fertility and accessibility isn’t it? It’s saying – ‘we’re available’.

But people hang on to their youth and fashion long past its sell-by date. Each youth fashion and haircut sticks around long past the youth, fertility and availability it signifies.

That is why youth fashion has to change all the time.

Other cultures – like some African cultures – have a ceremony where the youths are stripped of their hair and youth culture and enter into an age of adulthood. They marry and settle down.

But hey – fashion is fun – right?

Opher Goodwin – An interview with the Author – Opher interviews Opher

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‘Good morning Opher, how are you?’

‘I’m fine, thank you, Opher. Good of you to ask.’

‘There are a lot of people out there interested in knowing what makes you tick.’


‘Do you mind if I ask you a few questions about yourself and your writing?’

‘No. Not at all. Fire away. Opher Goodwin is my favourite topic of conversation.’

‘How long have you been writing?’

‘I’ve been writing for nearly fifty years. I actually started writing seriously in 1969.’

‘So technically that is only 47 years, isn’t it?’

‘Yes, but sometimes I write very fast and pack a couple of years into one.’

‘So how many books have you written?’

‘I’ve actually written 58.’

‘You have 58 books published?’

‘No. I have only published thirty four so far.’

‘Why not the others?’

‘Give me time – I’m getting there.’

‘So why aren’t you on the best sellers lists?’

‘I don’t write blockbusters. I write from the heart. I write with passion and I do not always follow convention. Some of my novels are quite mainstream but some are very unconventional. I tend to write exactly what I like and not tailor it for a market or commercial interests. I’m not writing for money or fame. My books cover many different genres. I’m a maverick alternative writer.’

‘So why do you not take all the good advice and settle for producing a few books in a particular genre and set about properly publishing and marketing them so that you become known and sell a lot more?’

‘Because I don’t want to. I like writing what I like to write, when I like to write it and how I like to write it. I don’t like constraints. That’s like imprisoning my creativity.’

‘But you’d like to sell a lot more?’

‘I would like my books to be read. There’s a difference.’

‘So what are all these genres?’

‘My main two are Rock Music and the Sixties and Sci-Fi, but I do Beat poetry, experimental novels, antitheist novels, environmental books, education, art, and even travel. A lot of them come straight out of my own experience.’

‘Why aren’t you more successful?’

‘I think having all these books confuses people. They don’t know which one to go for. They do not know that I have been writing for so long and think I go for quantity and not quality.’

‘So what are the basic themes of your books?

‘The environment runs through most of them. I love animals and science. I’m a biologist. I despair at the destruction of the natural world by our burgeoning population and the lack of interest from our greedy, narrow-minded politicians. Then there is the love of loud Rock music and the ideals of the sixties and fifties. The alternative cultures of the Beats and Hippies. Also the power of education to overcome fascism and fundamentalism.’

‘You seem to have a thing about religion?’

‘Yes I do. I cannot understand why the whole world is in thrall to one of three medieval Middle Eastern cults. I do not deny that there are some great stories and good advice in those old writings but there is also so appalling intolerant and violent garbage. It boggles me that they can be claimed to be the exact word of god. I believe that religion has been used by powerful men to bolster their power; it has been used to create division and hatred. What was it about the writing of three Arab clans from a small area in the Middle East that has created such turmoil and ferment?’

‘But what about all the good religion does?’

‘The evil, intolerance and hatred outweighs all the good – we’d be better off without any of it.’

‘And the environment?’

‘We are trashing it. We are killing everything. In my life-time the teeming herds are being wiped out. The forests cleared and the insects decimated. All in the name of progress. For a fast buck. We have to stop!’

‘You sound like an angry man.’

‘I am angry. I hate what we are doing to the world. I hate the war, poverty and wanton destruction. I hate the cruelty thoughtlessness and greed. I hate the inequality, racism, sexism and disparity between rich and poor. We can solve all the problems overnight if we didn’t keep electing corrupt megalomaniacs to run the show.’

‘Do you think your writing will help solve all that?’

‘It’s all I can do. I write. There are millions of us out there who think like me. Together, through the web, we can make a difference. We can build a better zeitgeist and change the world for the better.’

‘Well thank you for being so candid.’

‘It’s always easy when you know what the questions are and they are tailored to the answers.’

If you would like to purchase this novel (or any of my other books) you can get it from Amazon.

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Featured book – In Search of Captain Beefheart – the Preface




Jack White launched into the searing riff that was the intro to ‘Death Letter Blues’. It shot me straight back to 1968 and the thrill of seeing and hearing Son House. Son’s national steel guitar was more ragged than Jack White’s crystal clear electric chords, and nowhere near as loud, but the chords rang true and the energy and passion were exactly the same.

Meg pounded the drums and the crowd surged forward.

It was Bridlington Spa in 2004. White Stripes were the hottest thing on the planet. The place was packed and the atmosphere electric. I was right near the front – the only place to be at any gig – the place where the intensity was magnified.

It was a huge crowd and they were crazy tonight. I could see the young kids piling into the mosh-pit and shoving – excited groups of kids deliberately surging like riot cops in a wedge driving into the crowd and sending them reeling so that they tumbled and spilled. For the first time I started getting concerned. The tightly packed kids in the mosh-pit were roaring and bouncing up and down and kept being propelled first one way and then another as the forces echoed and magnified through the mass of people. At the front the crush was intense and everyone was careering about madly. My feet were off the ground as we were sent hurtling around. I had visions of someone getting crushed, visions of someone falling and getting trampled. Worst of all – it could be me!

For the first time in forty odd years of gigs I bailed out. I ruefully headed for the balcony and a clear view of the performance. I didn’t want a clear view I wanted to be in the thick of the action. It got me wondering – was I getting to old for this lark? My old man had only been a couple of years older than me when he’d died. Perhaps Rock Music was for the young and I should be at home listening to opera or Brahms with an occasional dash of Wagner to add the spice. I had become an old git. Then I thought – FUCK IT!!! Jack White was fucking good! Fuck Brahms – This was Rock ‘n’ Roll. You’re never too old to Rock! And Rock was far from dead!

The search goes on!!

We haven’t got a clue what we’re looking for but we sure as hell know when we’ve found it.

Rock music has not been the backdrop to my entire adult life; it’s been much more than that. It has permeated my life, informed it and directed its course.

From when I was a small boy I found myself enthralled. I was grabbed by that excitement. I wanted more. I was hunting for the best Rock jag in the world! – The hit that would send the heart into thunder and melt the mind into ecstasy.

I was hunting for Beefheart, Harper, House, Zimmerman and Guthrie plus a host of others even though I hadn’t heard of them yet.

I found them and I’m still discovering them. I’m sixty four and looking for more!

Forget your faith, hope and charity – give me Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll and the greatest of these is Rock ‘n’ Roll!

I was a kid in the Thames Delta, with pet crow called Joey, 2000 pet mice (unnamed), a couple of snakes, a mammoth tusk, a track bike with a fixed wheel, a friend called Mutt who liked blowing up things, a friend called Billy who kept a big flask of pee in the hopes of making ammonia, and a lot of scabs on my knees.

My search for the heart of Rock began in 1959 and I had no idea what I was looking for when I started on this quest. Indeed I did not know I had embarked on a search for anything. I was just excited by a new world that opened up to me; the world of Rock Music. My friend Clive Hansell also had no idea what he was initiating when he introduced me to the sounds he was listening to. Clive was a few years older than me. He liked girls and he liked Popular Music. Yet he seemed to have limited tastes. I can only ever remembering him playing me music by two artists – namely Adam Faith and Buddy Holly. In some ways it was a motley introduction to the world of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

I was ten years old which would have made Clive about twelve or thirteen, I suppose he could even have been fourteen. That is quite a lot of years at that age. We used to got off to his bedroom, sit on the bed and he’d play me the singles – 45s – on his Dansette player. He’d stack four or five singles on the deck push the lever up to play and we’d lean forward and watch intently. The turntable would start rotating; the mechanism clunked as the arm raised, there were clicks and clunks as the arm drew back and the first single dropped, then the arm would come across and descend on to the outer rim of the disc. The speaker would hiss and crackle and then the music kicked in. We watched the process intently every time as if it depended on our full attention.

The Adam Faith singles were on Parlaphone and were red with silver writing. The Buddy Holly was on Coral with a black label and silver writing. We reverentially watched the discs spinning and listened with great concentration to every aspect of the songs. It was a start.

Yet Rock ‘n’ Roll was by no means the only quest I’d started on. I was an early developer. I’d hit puberty at ten and can imagine myself as the scruffy little, dirty-faced kid who climbed trees, waded through ditches, got covered in frogspawn and lichen and was suddenly sprouting pubic hair – very confusing.

Life was going to change for me. I was in a transition phase.

My friend Jeff has a photo of me from this age that seems to sum it up very nicely. I was briefly in the cubs before they chucked me out for being too unruly (they – ‘they’ being the establishment – also chucked me out of the scouts and army cadets!). I went to cubs with my mate Jeff. Jeff lived at the end of the road and I used to go and call for him. It was only about 400yds away. I set off in plenty of time, did my thing on the way and arrived at Jeff’s house. His mum obviously did a double take and went for the camera.

Oblivious to any underlying motive on Jeff mum’s part I innocently posed with Jeff. The resultant picture, which shows the two of us proudly standing to attention doing the two fingered cub salute (very appropriate I always think), showed Jeff immaculate with creases in his shorts, flashes showing on his long socks, cap, woggle and scarf all perfectly aligned, and me not quite so sartorially presented. To start with I am utterly begrimed with green lichen, having shinned up a number of trees; one sock is around my ankle and the other half way down my calf; my scarf and cap askew, and my jumper and shorts a crinkled, crumpled mess. It looked like a set-up but was probably par for the course.

Looking back I can see why Clive liked Buddy and Adam. Buddy Holly was a genius. In his short career of just three years he wrote tens of classics of Rock music with hardly a dud among them. He was highly prolific, innovative and talented. I think of him as the Jimi Hendrix of his day. He was far ahead of Elvis. His mind outstripped all the others. I think Buddy’s death, along with Jimi’s, John Lennon’s and Jim Morrison’s, was the greatest tragedy. Out of all the early Rockers he was the one with the musical ear, the melody and adaptability to have really progressed when the music scene opened up in the 1960s. The other Rockers all got caught in their own 1950s style or went Poppy. I would have loved to have seen Buddy interacting with the Beatles. My – what we missed out on!

In many ways Adam Faith was Britain’s answer to Buddy. The arrangements of the songs were cheesy covers of Buddy and Adam did his best Buddy warble. Britain hadn’t quite got it right with Rock music, the production and direction from management (Larry Parnes the old-fashioned British Impresario has a lot to answer for as he guided his Rockers into a more ballad driven, family safe, Pop sound that he figured would make him more money) was all a bit twee. Even so, back then, Adam Faith sounded good to me. In Britain in the 1950s we were starved of good Rock ‘n’ Roll. The good old Auntie Beeb, with its plumy DJs did its best to protect us from the dreadful degenerate racket created by the American Rockers.

I wonder where Clive is now; is he still alive? I wonder what happened to him through those heady days of the 1960s. I don’t suppose he even thinks about me much or imagines what he unleashed.

I am a collector. It is a strange addiction that started back then. Clive would sell me his Adam Faith and Buddy Holly singles when he’d got bored with them. I bought them cheap and I still have them all.

The age of ten was a bit of a milestone year for me. I not only discovered Rock ‘n’ Roll but also fell madly in love. Glenys was a dark Welsh temptress of eleven who utterly bewitched me (females are always portrayed as temptresses – but I was certainly tempted!). She too had reached puberty early and the two of us indulged in ‘real lovers kisses’ like they do in the films. For nine months it was heaven. We even talked about having kids and wrote each other love letters.

Glenys was a bit wild and, obviously, led me astray. We planned to get out for a night on the town. We could imagine the delights of Walton-on-Thames at night. For us it was the big city – all full of lights, crowds and excitement. We saved our money and arranged to go to bed fully dressed, slip out when our parents had gone to bed, meet by our tree (a big elderberry tree that we had a camp in) and head off to the bright lights – big city. Even at ten I had a craving for the Rock ‘n’ Roll lifestyle. We were wild, man! Unfortunately I must have drifted off to sleep and awoke the next morning fully dressed with light streaming through the window. Glenys assured me, huffily, that she’d waited for hours. Then, next night, I got there and she never showed up. Then on the third attempt my dad caught me wandering around and I had to make a lame excuse about needing a drink of water. Glenys and I never actually made it to those illicit bright lights. But that was probably a good thing. It remained a mythical place of bustle and excitement where in reality it was probably all shut up with just a couple of fish and chip shops and a load of drunks.

I was hopelessly in love. I’m not sure about Glenys – she did seem to be cultivating a stream of admirers. But the love affair was doomed. Her family moved and took her with them. I was bereft.

This was made worse by the doldrums that Rock had lapsed into in 1960. Life was crap.

I lapsed back into the solace of my huge collection of pets and wild animals. I taught my crow Joey to talk and fly. I sold my mice, guinea pigs and hamsters to the pet shop and ran a mini stud farm while I tried to allow my broken heart to mend. It was a kind of hibernation.

I emerged to find, at the age of thirteen, that there were loads of other girls all brilliantly enticing and willing to engage. There was also suddenly an explosion of Rock music. I resumed both my quests and the zoo took a distant third place.

I am writing this in my ‘den’. I spend a lot of my life here. I have my shelves of vinyl albums, my drawers of CDs, my cupboards of singles, my piles of magazines, my hundreds of Rock biographies all around me. I’m immersed in it. Yesterday I spent the day organising my CDs. It takes a bit of doing as I’ve over ten thousand. I use the Andy’s Record shop system; I catalogue them using the first letter of the first name – so Buddy Holly goes under B. I have tried grouping them under genres or eras but that’s fraught with problems. At some time I will endeavour to rearrange my albums. I don’t need to that but I do like holding them, looking at the covers and reading the blurb. It brings back memories and I can imagine the music and the feelings that went with it, the concerts, the friends and the times we lived through. There’s something very tactile about an old vinyl album. It’s a piece of art. When you hold it there’s warmth to it. You connect with the people who held it before you, the feel of the music, the musicians and the era it was made in. The cover tells you a story from the artwork, the photos and liner notes, to the label it was released on. Certain labels mean something special like Folkways, Electra, Stax, Dead Possum or Track. You knew what they stood for.

Collecting is an obsession. It is probably a type of madness, a symptom of autism that is mainly confined to males – but what the hell!

Back in the ‘old days’ there were hundreds of us collectors. We’d meet up clutching our recent purchases, pass them round, discuss them madly, play them, argue over them and roll our joints on the covers. We’d vie with each other to get hold of rarities, obscure bands or artists, bootlegs or rare pressings. We’d develop our loyalties and our allegiances for certain artists (the more unknown the better) and develop our collections. The first thing you did when you met someone new was to get a look at their collection. It told you everything you wanted to know.

Back then records were hard to get hold of. They meant something. You had to hunt them down. Every Saturday you’d be making the rounds of the second hand shop, rifling through the bins of vinyl albums hunting for the bargains and rarities, with the expectant baited excitement of discovering that gem. You’d meet up with your friends, show your purchases off with pride, and discuss your new discoveries and what gigs were coming up. It was a good way to socialise. Nowadays we are few and far between and viewed suspiciously as eccentric dinosaurs, children who have not grown up, or sad decaying hippies. Whatever. We still do it though.

In the age of decluttering, coupled with the wonders of digital (I also have a few terabytes of digital recording – mainly live concerts and bootlegs), where you can download a band’s or label’s entire recorded output onto your I pod in an hour or browse through all the cheap releases on Amazon or EBay and find exactly what you want in minutes – it takes most of the thrill out of it. I have now obtained albums and recordings, in pristine quality, that, in the early days, I would have died for but there is no longer the same thrill in the hunt or the excitement of uncovering a longed-for rarity in the second-hand rack. It’s the same with football – now you can have exactly what you want, when you want it, it does not mean as much.

In 1959 I started my collection of singles. Having become addicted I moved on to albums. My first purchase was the quite incredible ‘Cliff’. I know, Cliff Richard is naff, a sugary sweet, Christian Pop singer. That has its elements of truth now – Cliff is undoubtedly a wet twerp. But in 1959 Cliff was a genuine British Rock Singer and produced more great Rock ‘n’ Roll tracks than anybody else. There was more to Cliff than ‘Move it’. He, more than anybody else (apart from ‘The Sound of Fury’ and a little later Johnny Kidd plus a few assorted tracks by other mainly Larry Parnes kids) captured the sound, excitement and rebellion of Rock ‘n’ Roll. His first album, recorded in 1959 live in the studio before a small audience of screaming girls, was a storming, rockin’ affair. Back then Cliff was neither wet nor Pop. He, like Elvis, suffered from bad management, and was directed down the saccharin Pop road to success. What a travesty. He became wet, Pop and MOR. I still love that first album though.

Strangely, given that most collectors are blokes, it is seemingly the girls who buy the most singles. They set the trend. And girls tend to like songs to be sweet and sickly. They veer away from the loud and raucous. They like the pretty boys. It paid Cliff, Billy and Johnny Burnette to become sweet faced pin-ups rather than wild rockers.

Soon I had a heap of albums including the wonderful Eddie Cochran, Little Richard, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry. I made little brackets so that I could put them up on the wall in my tiny bedroom. When someone shut the door too violently they flew off the wall into a heap on the floor to my great dismay and chagrin. I was a junky. I had to get my regular fixes of Rock ‘n’ Roll. I sat in my room playing them over and over. When I got a new record I’d rush back and play it to death while reading all the liner notes until I’d absorbed every note and word and wrung everything I could out of it.

As a kid I loved the loud visceral excitement and rebellion of the music. As I grew older I wanted something more. I wanted something that was more musically complex and intellectually stimulating. I still loved the excitement and energy of early Rock ‘n’ Roll and R&B but I craved something more.

I was looking for Roy Harper, Captain Beefheart, Son House, Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan but I didn’t know it. It was a search that took me through many absorbing and exciting revelations. There was, of course, the Beatles, Stones, Downliner’s Sect, Pink Floyd, Free, Hendrix, Syd and Cream. There were the Doors, Country Joe, Janis, Jefferson Airplane and Love, Zappa, Jackson C Frank, Leon Rosselson. There were Muddy, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed and Slim Harpo. There were the Who, Kinks and Prettythings. There was Bert Jansch, Donovan and John Renbourn, Otis Redding, Aretha and Booker T. There were the Sex Pistols, Clash, Stranglers, Stiff Little Fingers, Elvis Costello, and Ian Dury. There was Bob Marley, Michael Smith and Lee Scratch. And now there’s Nick Harper, Eels, White Stripes, Tinariwen and the North Mississippi Allstars. There were a thousand others. I saw most of them live. I met a number of them. I even got to the recording sessions.

It’s been quite a journey.

I am a collector. I have the records to prove it. I also have the collection of memories.

The life we live, the choices we make, the ideals we chose to live by, all make us the people we become.

I have always been an idealist. I wanted to solve all the world’s problems and have a great time doing it.

I also became a teacher.

My music has been the soundtrack to my thoughts, dreams and ideals. It has driven me, provoked my thinking, awoken my sensibilities, fuelled my anger, and filled me with love and pleasure.

I apologise to me wife and kids. It’s not easy living with an obsessive junky, an insane romantic on a mission. Someone will have to clear out my den. My head will take care of itself. Those thoughts, memories and dreams will be gone but hopefully they’ll leave behind a few ripples that will make the odd person think.

Right now I’m off in search of my heroes. There’s still much to discover.

If you would like to read more it is available on Amazon.

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So where have all the Hippies gone?


What happened to all those radical, long-haired Hippies from the sixties?

The young women and men who were so extreme that they rejected the lifestyle, the establishment, the wealth, the status, the conventions and formed their own liberal rules; who brought colour and flair, do-it-yourself philosophy; who sought meaning and integrity where there was superficiality and hypocrisy?

Where are those bold young people who saw the establishment as corrupt and obsessed with appearance?

Where are the ones who were determined to find a more honest way of living; who saw models for harmonious living among the simpler cultures of the North American Indians and South American Indians?

Where are the people who wanted peace, harmony and environmental integrity?

Was it all a fashion statement? An empty promise? A strategy to get laid?

Were they all weekend Hippies out for fun?

What happened to the Underground with its promise of real spirituality?

Did they get married?

Get careers?

Give up their ideals?

Are they now wearing suits? Running firms? Living in luxury? Buying yachts and penthouse suites?

Was it all worthless froth?

Or do they still write poems, sing songs, subvert from within, live true to their philosophy and fight for that better vision?

Where are the Beats, Hippies and Punks? Are they dead inside?

If you would like to try one of my books they are all available on Amazon.

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New Novel – Chapter 4 – All smoke and no mirrors


Chapter 4 – All smoke and no mirrors

Danny was feeling good. He had a place to stay. All the worries in the world had dropped off his shoulders. He had a few weeks of grace at least. That was how long Suzie had paid up. At least he had an address now. He could sign on. When the cheques came in he could pay Suzie back. He had three weeks to chill out and get his head sorted out.

He didn’t dare start thinking permanent yet. He had three weeks of grace, that was all. Then it was down to Mr Rose.

Venturing out of his world on the fourth floor the first person he bumped into was John. John was making his way back from the bathroom and came to a dead stop when confronted with Danny. At that point in time Danny had no way of knowing what a rarity this was. John never ventured out. He was never seen around the house. No-one knew how he got his shopping or paid his rent even. John was a total recluse. For a moment the two of them eyed each other up like prize fighters. Danny noted the suspicion in John’s eyes. The man looked to be around thirty, rather flabby and paunchy, with skin so white that it was almost transparent. His long hair was dishevelled, straggly and decidedly greasy. He looked like a down and out.

‘Hi,’ Danny said, breaking the deadlock, ‘I’m Danny. I’m new here.’

He held out his hand. John frowned at it suspiciously but took it. His limp grip was clammy and he quickly dropped the contact.

‘Do you fancy coming up for a coffee?’ Danny asked in a friendly manner, nodding up the stairs towards the flat.

John seemed to consider this for an age, studying Danny carefully before coming to a decision. He finally seemed to make up his mind.

‘No,’ he said. ‘But why don’t you drop in for a smoke?’

Now that seemed highly preferable to Danny. He nodded assent. Danny was not averse to a gentle mind alteration.

John’s living room was the strangest Danny had ever seen. The walls were lined with books. There were heaps of tomes all over the place.

‘Wow,’ Dany exclaimed, ‘I’ve never seen so many books.’

‘I studied literature,’ John explained succinctly. It later turned out that John had a first from Cambridge and a PhD. But he did not talk about it. He spent his life sitting in an armchair reading and smoking dope.

The evidence of the dope was there for all to see. The room was dominated by a large, square oak table. On that table was the biggest collection of roaches anybody could ever have imagined. It rose up feet into the air like a peaked volcano. Danny was fascinated. Why would anyone want to do that? Apart from anything else it elicited a musty aroma of full ashtrays that insidiously pervaded the room in an altogether unpleasant way.

Danny sat himself down while John began to expertly construct a three skinner, carefully burning and crumbling the dark black resin on to the tobacco, rolling the papers in one hand, licking the gum and inserting the rolled cardboard roach. He twiddled the end, rolled the joint between his palms and inspected it carefully before applying the flame from his lighter to the end and sucking it into life.

‘Have you read all these?’ Danny asked, watching him perform the ritual, and nodding towards the heaps of literature all around them..

‘Most of them,’ John said, inhaling a lungful of smoke, without looking up and avoiding making eye contact.

‘Who’s your favourite author?’ Danny asked, as he tilted his head to read the names on the spines of the books.

‘I don’t have one,’ John replied exhaling a big blast of smoke and passing the spliff across.

Danny could see that John might be a man of words but not a man of many words, and certainly not a great conversationalist. He accepted the spliff and took a toke, sitting back in the chair and studying the titles of the books in the heap nearest to him. There didn’t seem to be any order to them. There were three volumes of Trotsky, together with a DH Lawrence and a book about Africa. How would anyone find the title they wanted in amongst all these if there was no order to them? It was contrary to the way Danny’s mind worked. All his books and albums were carefully alphabetically catalogued. He enjoyed doing it.

They smoked the joint, in silence, and Danny was consumed with a beautiful buzz. There was nothing corporeal or heavy about it. The dope, despite looked dark and resinous, had a light heady quality that was vibrant and exhilarating. Danny was no big connoisseur of hash but he could tell straight away that this was premium gear.

When they had finished the joint John threw the roach on to the huge pile on the table and set about rolling another.

Poetry – We used to be cool – a poem about getting old and hip

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We used to be cool

Being cool. What’s that about? Some people just are and some people never could be. It’s not so much fashion and style as attitude.

Kerouac in his lumberjack shirt and jeans was supercool.

Miles Davis had it.

But Michael Jackson was just a showbiz phenomenon.

To be cool is to be locked in to the flow of the universe, the cosmic dynamo – to have the energy flow straight through you – to be an individual. There are no trends when you’re cool. You just is. You be.

Back in the 50s it was the American blacks who were supercool. They set the pace for the hipsters. They wanted to live, to go and to hit into the energy of life. They had nothing to buy into, nothing to lose; theirs was the ultimate freedom.

The Beats sucked into that energy – go, go, go – the jazz, the wailing sax.

The Rockers tasted a different beat and rocked.

The Hippies dropped out and grooved.

The Punks wanted to tear it down.

The moment the fashions and styles were born they were dead. All the trendies jumping on the wave as if it was fashion. It wasn’t. It was life. There was no part-time life.

But then you see what you have become.


We used to be cool


We used to be cool

But now we’re cold

Used to be hot

But we done got old.


We used to be hip

Riding the crest

But I guess we fell off

When our hips went west.


We used to be with it


Now it’s our hair

That’s all go go go.


We used to be fab

And groovy too

Now we’re just sad

Me and you.


We could crawl off and die?

But what’s the point?

It’s not so much joints and hip

As hip joint.


Opher 15.4.2015

These are my six books of poetry. They are available as paperback or on Kindle from Amazon – all for under £5 for a paperback. You could buy the whole lot for just £27.62!!

They are not conventional poetry books. They are like you find on my blog with a page of explanatory prose followed by the poem. The prose is as important as the poem to me.

Codas, Cadence and Clues – £4.97

Stanzas and Stances – £5.59

Poems and Peons – £4.33

Rhymes and Reasons – £3.98

Prose, Cons and Poetry – £4.60

Vice and Verse – £4.15

Anecdote – Young Easy-Rider and the course of death.

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Young Easy-Rider and the course of death.

When I was sixteen I had a girlfriend called Ro who lived quite a way off in Virginia Waters. I used to go out to see her twice a week.

At that time I had a little Honda Sports motorbike and treated it much like a speedway bike.

There was a stretch of windy road with big dips, tight corners and sweeping bends on the way to Ro’s. My aim was to manage the whole section with the throttle wide open.

When you are young you are fearless, crazy and immortal. The adrenaline rush far outweighs the risk.

The section was usually free of traffic and in a wooded area. I treated it like a computer game. I had to learn the course and how to negotiate each part of it. The bike would be travelling at seventy miles an hour. I had to lean it right down, go up on to the embankment, up on pavements and even pivot it round on the footrest for one corner.

Fortunately I mostly did this at night when you could see the headlights of oncoming traffic as a lot of the time I was on the wrong side of the road.

Gradually I pieced it together. By the time we split up I had the whole course down to a T. I loved a challenge and life was for living.

At sixteen brains haven’t wired up. Consequences have not been understood.

I have two books of anecdotes out. They are available on Amazon in both paperback and on kindle.

Anecdotes – paperback just £6.95  Kindle – just £1.99 or free on Kindle Unlimited

More Anecdotes – paperback just £7.29  Kindle – just £2.12 or free on Kindle Unlimited

My other books are also available. There is some unique to suit most tastes if you like something thought provoking and alternative.



Anecdote – Hyde Park free concerts in the sixties


Hyde Park free concerts in the sixties

It was Blackhill Enterprises who organised the free concerts in the park. Pete Jenner was an instigator. Pete had been involved with ‘happenings’ like the Pink Floyd thing – ‘Games for May’. The sixties were full of it. There was an anti-capitalist theme. The music was part of the community, for the community and of the community. This was the sixties underground. It was the culture that we shared with the San Francisco scene with their ‘Human Be-ins’ and free concerts in Golden Gate Park. This really was the gathering of the tribes to party and meet up.

There was no exploitation in it. It had no ulterior motive. It was fun in the park.

I went to them from the very beginning. They were small affairs. Roy Harper would play and compere. Bands like Pink Floyd, Edgar Broughton, the Deviants, Pink Fairies and Battered Ornaments would play.

We sat around in the sun. Met new friends, shared everything and there was a great atmosphere.

Word soon travelled around. Soon they were gaining in popularity. Instead of a couple of hundred there were hundreds. The atmosphere started to change. The scene had too many pretend hippies who diluted the vibe.

They changed from being small gathering of like-minded people to huge crowds. By the end with the Stones and Blind Faith they were enormous oceans of humanity. I couldn’t get near the stage and Roy Harper was not even allowed on.

The vibe had gone. I preferred it when it was little.

They are available on Amazon in both paperback and on kindle.

Anecdotes – paperback just £6.95  Kindle – just £1.99 or free on Kindle Unlimited

More Anecdotes – paperback just £7.29  Kindle – just £2.12 or free on Kindle Unlimited

My other books are also available. There is some unique to suit most tastes if you like something thought provoking and alternative.


Anecdote – choosing a college. Where to study in the sixties.


Choosing a college

Choosing a college is hard.

My first choice was Royal Holloway. It was a girls’ college. I thought that suited me. It was changing over to being mixed and I would have been in the first year of boys. They had built a great new block of accommodation. It had alternative floors of boys and girls with great self-contained flats with communal areas. As there weren’t enough boys they were offering a cut-price on the flats. It sounded good. I quite like the prospect of being sandwiched between the girls.

I managed to get through the interview (I think they liked me – they offered me a ridiculously low offer!) but, due to Captain Beefheart and a misplaced set of priorities, I missed out on that place by a single grade and that was that.

I went round with my meagre A Level grades looking for a place somewhere else. That wasn’t easy when you’re scraping the barrel. Oxford university were probably not interested though Oxford council might have employed me as a road sweeper. I was offered a place to study Botany at Durham but I didn’t want that. What bands were going to play in Durham? I wanted to be in the heart of where it was happening. This was 1968. There were only three possible places to be – San Francisco, Los Angeles or London. As neither LA nor San Fran offered any possibilities of either studies or employment that narrowed it down. It had to be London and the centre of the Underground. That is where ithe action was.

There were only three colleges that had places left in Biology – West Ham, Barking and Walthamstow. I mounted my metal stallion and took off on a tour to check them out before some other miscreant filled those vacancies. My job was to convince one of them that I was a viable proposition for a degree in Biology.

West Ham and Walthamstow were both OK and would have accepted me on the course. I discovered that these colleges, being not the most salubrious, were looking to fill the empty spaces and would basically take anyone who walked through the door, had the basic qualifications and was still breathing. I walked through the front door at Barking clutching the evidence of my qualifications and took a deep breath. Crash hat under my arm and motorcycle boots clumping on the lino I looked around to be confronted with a poster for Roy Harper. He was performing in the college that Saturday.

I took that as an omen – which is a strange thing to do when you do not believe in superstition. I confidently presented myself to the correct, rather hassled admissions officer and was subjected to a five minute interview. I was accepted. I never looked back.

I was in the midst of the London Underground for three years. All was right with the world.

I walked out with a broad grin and happy thoughts.

Looking back I’m not sure if my criteria for choosing a college, or course of study, was based on the right criteria? Perhaps I should have been more concerned with the nature of the course and where it might lead rather than the number of girls there, or whether Roy was performing that weekend? However, things have a way of working out, it seems to have served me in good stead. I was in London through the height of underground scene, the purple period of Rock Music, I managed to see Roy Harper in all his glory as the fiery young man, and also nearly every important band going. I was part of the scene at a time when we thought we were changing the world and everything was fun, optimistic and rosy. We had things to stand for, feel passionate about and the will to change it. I felt myself to be part of a new order that was based on a better way of living. And I managed to scrape a degree that enabled me to have a fantastic career in teaching and get to be involved with thousands of brilliant, lively, creatively minded kids. And here I am do what I love – writing.

What could be better?

If you enjoy my poems or anecdotes why not purchase a paperback of anecdotes for £7.25 or a kindle version for free.

Or a book of poetry and comment:

Rhyme and Reason – just £3.98 for the paperback or free on Kindle

My other books are here:

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