Goofing With The Cosmic Freaks

This is one of my books that nobody buys or reads. The title was a silly construction. One day I will put it out with a different title. What the hell…………………

Preface

This is the ultimate sixties book – an ‘On the Road’ for the British Underground with all its sex, drugs, dreams and music; those times of crazy people high on life and mad for experience – when anything was possible.

It captures that idealistic naïve impossibility permeated with vitality and careering love and dreams, the wild rush for adventure without a thought for the future because it was going to last forever.

– Seemingly forever changes!

It spans continents as it trips its way through time, space and mind in a mad rush to discover life and experience or die trying.

Now was all there was and it had to burn, burn, burn or it was dead.

In the days of dope and poetry, where the world was ripe for changing, there was a mystical buzz of unity. In the shadow of an establishment that stood for war, prejudice, work, isolation and the rat-race with all its status-seeking power games, racism and slow death signified by getting the lines straight on your lawn, Jack’s cackling laughter and bright eyes, death-defying madness and care-free attitude showed there was an alternative.

Maybe dope was never enough and when we grow up it is time to put aside childish things where they are confined to our dreams and memories. But somewhere out there Jack still lives where it is real.

We did change the world!

Opher 16.8.2014


CHAPTER 1

I remember the first time I met Jack. Although he was a small guy he filled the room with the exuberance of his soul. He possessed that thin, haunted face with that aura of electricity running through his bones, long blond hair to his waist, blue eyes and the mad laugh of a hyena on amphetamine sulphate; his whole being throbbed with life. As he talked his body and hands were animated with a super abundance of energy – jig-jig-jig, bob, dart and cackle. He was never still. Jack was high on living. Every second counted. You could see those glinty blue eyes were constantly peering into the depths of the universe and sucking meaning out of the mundane. To Jack everything had meaning; everything was alive, and Jack sucked that sense right out of everything and filled himself with it. I watched him from the side of the room with amazement. I had never witnessed anyone so vital. There was madness to it. I was drawn to that madness. He devoured the world and sucked it in until it seemed he would burst with it. He was so full of ideas and visions that he had trouble containing it. It welled up in him and threatened to choke him with its intensity and he just had to let it out or it’d kill him. It burst out in a crazy torrent. He didn’t so much talk to you as spout forth out loud in some ecstasy as his mind raged.

Man, he thrilled to it.

Yet people reeled from it. It was too big for them to handle. They had no answer to it. There was no room for them to get a word in. It cascaded over them like a tsunami of passion and they found themselves floundering in horror. It was too much they desperately tried to escape before they were buried.

All around him people retreated.

Yet Jack was oblivious. For him they did not exist. They were empty vessels, echo chambers, into which he allowed his thoughts to gush just so’s he could see them coming back at him.

They had to be thrilled by it too. They had to see it. It was so wild. It was so real.

You could see it in Jack’s wild evangelical eyes. He wrestled with the entire universe and would grapple it into submission with sheer energy. He was so full of it. He wanted to find out what it was all about and wrest every last moment out of it. He had to know. He had to experience it. He wanted to get to the bottom of everything. He needed to tell you all about it and find out what he knew, what you knew, and how to solve the riddles of all time. Nothing was holy. Everything was holy. Nothing mattered. Everything mattered. Life was a paradox. It was all straightforward. He clutched a battered copy of Bertrand Russell’s ‘History of Western Philosophy’ in his hand and waved it under your nose to emphasise a point. With anybody else it would have been pretentious bullshit but somehow with Jack it was real. The book was thumbed ragged. He quoted from it. He was stimulated by it as if it was a drug. He wrestled with paragraphs and wondered at others. Every page was an epiphany. He was amazed by it.

Surely everyone was as consumed by the wonder of this mad journey? Surely they had to know?

A short Story – A little Early

A little Early

I selected my pale green jeans with the bottom seams unpicked, threads pulled out to create a fringe that spilled out over my Cuban-heeled Chelsea boots. The colourful patches I had ineptly sewn on were half hanging off, but that was cool. They were my style; my unique creation. I alternated them with the dark blue flared jeans whose low hipster cut fitted me so perfectly. I only had the two pairs but that was fine. Today was definitely one for patches.

I donned the olive denim shirt with the button-down collar and epaulettes that I had bought in France. Pretty snazzy.

My hair was now below my shoulders and looked nothing like the photo on my application. My bushy sideburns had mutated into a full-grown beard.

I looked in the mirror and nodded. The deputy head Miss McLaughlan would be having kittens. She’d perennially been on my case, but all that was behind me. I had moved on. Miss McLaughlan was nowhere.

Jimi Hendrix played the last notes of ‘Hey Joe’. With a hiss and loud click the stylus moved to the centre, lifted and swung to the side. There was a clunk as the last single dropped into place. The stylus arm moved with a jerk, paused and descended on the new disc with a clunk. Following a brief hiss Cream boomed in with ‘I Feel Free’. I had two and a half minutes to be out of the house.

Picking up my white silk scarf of the chair I casually draped it around my neck. For a moment I paused, analytically surveying my tiny room, wistfully assessing the entire content of my life summed up with the shelf of books, the piles of albums and heaps of singles, I nodded. It felt like I had already left it behind.

Jerking out of my reverie I retrieved my black fur-lined leather airman jacket from the floor, slipped into it and rearranged the scarf. I liked it streaming out behind me, mingling with my hair in the slipstream – a magnet for the speed-cops. I seemed to live at the cop shop endlessly presenting my documents, but that was how it should be – the price you paid.

Collecting my helmet from the corner of the room, scarlet with the orange and yellow flames, I closed the door behind me just as the track ended.

Weaving through the London traffic I made good time, bumping up the kerb outside the main entrance, kicking the footrest down, swinging my leg over, I stood and removed my helmet. Looking up at the old soot-stained frontage of the Victorian building I felt a flutter of nervousness overlaid with a wave of elation.

Walking through the entrance I was confronted with a poster for Roy Harper pinned to the notice-board. It felt like an omen. I found myself grinning inanely. Everything felt right.

My terms or no terms.

Glancing up at the big clock over the reception – twenty-five minutes to go.

Opher Goodwin – 500 words

50 Years Ago Today!!

Anecdote – Wedding Number One – The Buddhist Ceremony. (There are some photos in the photo gallery – sixties photos)

Posted on  by Opher

Anecdote – Wedding Number One – The Buddhist Ceremony. (There are some photos in the photo gallery – sixties photos)

Wedding Number One.
Wedding number one was A Buddhist wedding in the Temple at Sheen, Richmond. In true sixties fashion we had been going along there regularly to meditate. It was very pleasant. We had a friend called Gary Turp, who I haven’t seen for forty years, who was very into the Incredible String Band and Buddhism. He got us interested. I enjoyed it and learnt a lot.
We also made friends with a very wise monk by the name of Vorasak Candamitto. He was one of the happiest people I’ve ever met – must say something.
So we organised for a wedding ceremony and received a verbal okay.
Then we had to decide who to invite. We couldn’t fit all our friends in so we decided this was one for the relatives. It left them a little bemused so that was also okay.
On the day Liz and I got into our wedding gear. Liz had made it all. She had a dress in yellow, orange and red check which looked rather nice. She made me a top out of the same material so that we matched. She also made me this trousers of red velvet. We looked very colourful in our orange and red.
We arrived at the temple still not quite sure what, if anything was going to happen. The relatives all trooped in and we were shown to the front where we sat on cushions.
Much to our surprise the whole place was decorated with red and orange with lots of red and orange tulips. We matched!
Then a dozen monks came in. I did not know there were that many!
The ceremony was wonderful. The monks chanted and made this incredible sonorous sound. We lit candles and incense and got splashed with water. The monks chanting was intended to create Loving Kindness which was focused on that water. When the congregation and ourselves were splashed they were spreading the Loving Kindness around. I’m all in favour of Loving Kindness. We recited some words in Sanskrit. I’m not sure what we said. We could have been signing up to some Thai cult. It was probably about staying true to the path of goodness.
Then it was over.
The temple had arranged for someone to take a few photos and we ended up with three hazy black and white prints.
It wasn’t the usual wedding.
Liz’s parents boycotted it. I don’t think they approved of me.
I’m not sure what the relatives made of it. Some of them were very staid. We probably blew a few minds and sent a few tongues wagging.
One point of contention seemed to focus around whether we were actually married or not? Was it recognised?
Well that didn’t matter to us. But it seemed to matter to some. Particularly as Wedding two – The Registry Office – was not until the following week.
Were we living in sin for the week?
Well as we had been doing for a year we thought that was quite amusing. How times change.

Photo Gallery – back in the 60s!

Today is the 50th Anniversary of our Buddhist Wedding! I thought it would be pertinent to recognise this momentous day with a batch of photos from that time.

Enjoy!

We’ve already raised a glass to love, naivety and idealism!! Long may they reign!!

Photo Gallery – back in the 60s!

Click on a circle and scroll on…

Me n Liz
opher Autumn 1967
Opher in France 1973
opher & Bo Diddley 1980
opher and Liz 1971 _0001
opher and Liz 1971
opher 1971 Yellowstone park
Opher & Liz Buddhist Wedding 1971
Opher 1971 Haight Asbury
Opher 1971 Texas
opher 1971 with Gary Turp
opher 1971 front page Boston Globe
Opher 1971 _0003
Opher 1971 _0002
opher 1969 Devon_0002
opher 1970 little grey cottage
opher 1970
opher 1969 Devon_0001
opher 1969 Devon
opher 1969 Dartmouth Castle
Opher & Liz Oxshot woods Wedding 1971
Opher & Pete Ayley Oxshot woods Wedding 1971
opher 1968
opher 1968_0003
opher 1968_0002
opher 1968_0001
1980 - USA -Oph with Norwalk colleagues
1970
Opher & Liz 1973
1971-2
1971
1973 - June
1968

Poetry – Keep on Rockin’

Keep on Rockin’

For me there were a number of eras of rock excellence. The thirties acoustic blues, the fifties rock n roll or Chicago blues, the early sixties Greenwich Village folk, British beat and r&b, then the late sixties underground and the seventies punk. But if I have to pick an era it has to be the late sixties. That was when music exploded and anything was possible. It was when the world was flooded with a wave of optimism and possibility, an age of experimentation and fusion. That was an age that suited my personality. It was a revolution that threw out old values and sought to create some better ones.  It certainly allowed me to explore, think and expand my mind.

Back then I was out three nights a week rockin’ to Jimi, Cream, Fleetwood Mac, Roy Harper Traffic, Tomorrow, Free, Edgar Broughton, Nice, Chicken Shack, Tomorrow and Floyd. Dylan was never far from my turn table and I got to see all those brilliant West Coast bands – Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, Grateful Dead, Doors, Love, Country Joe and the Fish, Buffalo Springfield, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane, Byrds and Mothers of Invention. I’d been knocked out by Phil Ochs, Paul Butterfield, the Who, Small Faces, Pretty Things and Janis with Big Brother. Then there was Cohen, Bert and John, Donovan, Jackson C Frank and John Mayall. The Fugs and Velvets brought an East Coast realism. Joni, CSN&Y brought harmony and Neil brought energy.

So much was going on. You did not have time to catch your breath.

It went on and on. I thought it would never end.

We were having a Bonzo. John Peel was our Guru.

Anyway – I wrote a bit of doggerel that you might like to pick over and tease out some of the names. There are a few more obscure.

I was playing with words. But it is also a bit of a homage.

Keep on Rockin’

Country Joe was grateful as the airplane flew

From Buffalo with invention when that feeling grew.

Love flew like the byrds while velvets walked the streets

It was canned tomorrow for a bunch of cosmic freaks.

Doors flew open as magic filled the land.

We’d been devoid of Floyd but now we understand.

The cream of the traffic was a family of mac.

As Dylan had foretold there was no looking back.

We were all sunshine supermen across the universe,

Floating on a cosmic stream that skipped from verse to verse,

And I’ve been harping on with big brother in a fug

Where every stone is lifted a beetle runs amok.

Well I’ve been zapped with quicksilver, convention and who?

And experienced  with Jimi, the look on a small face with you.

But a field can make it happen as we all make for free,

As we peeled back with more reason, so that we all could see.

I, like a cross bee, shall stay young with Joni

And plant the ochs of a different tree,

Based on Guthrie, and sanity.

For music’s been my inspiration as my consciousness flows

Along that golden stirring, as that syncopation grows.

Opher 7.12.2015

What did the Sixties mean to me? And what does it mean to you?

I was born in 1949 so the sixties came about at exactly the right time for me

 

I was fourteen when the Stones and Beatles blew the world apart and I grew up with them.

 

At sixteen I was reading Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs, listening to Dylan, Woody Guthrie and Ray Davies, growing my hair, developing a finely tuned social conscience, and cultivating a horror at the way the world was run and discovering an alternative way of living that was far more colourful, meaningful and fun.

 

We lived in the shadow of the bomb in the chill of the cold war.

 

I thought there had to be a better way.

 

The world I inhabited was boring, racist, hypocritical, elitist and highly conforming.

 

At sixteen I had a motorbike, freedom and my thinking was dominated by sex, love, girls and music. We talked endlessly about the Stones, Pretty Things, Animals, Kinks, Yardbirds, Beatles, Downliners Sect, Nashville Teens, Mojos and …….. Music was king.

 

As my hair grew my rebellious attitude proliferated and I found myself suspended from school quite a bit.

 

My parents despaired. They wanted me to get a good career, earn lots of money and have the lifestyle they had dreamed of. They couldn’t understand why I did not agree. I wanted freedom, girls and rebellion. We rowed a lot.

 

At sixteen I had no idea what I wanted to do in life aside from the fact that I wanted to live, love and eat up the world.

 

School went by the board. It was a side event.

 

I had already decided that I did not want any part of the war machine they called society. I did not want to be in a career where I prostituted myself for money to purchase houses, cars and status crap – to mortgage my life away. I did not want the boring, pointless, hypocritical life of the previous generation. I did not want to be part of that machine that was bulldozing the world. I saw it as self-destructive, selfish, greedy and empty. Happiness wasn’t to be found in ownership. It was to be found in friendship, love and experience.

 

I saw society as immoral. I wanted out. That brought me into conflict.

 

In 67 I had hair below my shoulders and was living in London and going out with the most amazing crazy woman and life was good. It consisted of parties, friends, gigs and craziness. We sat up nights rapping, playing music and laughing. That was living.

 

We knew life was about experience – not cash.

 

We had little money. We hitched everywhere, lived on air and grooved. I was at college and did a little casual work to buy albums, get to gigs and eat.

The music scene was brilliant. The underground, with its alternative culture philosophy, was underway with Bands like Hendrix, Cream, Family, Traffic, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, Free, John Mayall, Tomorrow and Soft Machine playing at Middle Earth, the Toby Jug, Klook’s Kleek and the Marquee. There were free festivals and revolution in the air. We all wanted something better. We trooped to Les Cousins to hear a fiery Roy Harper, Nick Drake, Bert Jansch and Jackson C Frank. Bands came across from the States with their brand of Acid Rock – Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, The Mothers of Invention, Love and the rest. There weren’t enough hours in the day.

For me the sixties meant a totally different, alternative way of life with different values. My world rocked. Between 67 and 71 life was a riot.

 

What does the sixties mean to you?