";Foolishly I asked them both . If they had actually been there at the time and the blond lady looked at me like I had just insulted her .It wasn't until I watched the footage again I knew why; she was in fact the beautiful blond girl in the film“!
My first post I ever wrote on this blog on the site was a write-up of the V and A ‘Revolution’ exhibition that ran a couple of years back, (see review). It covered all aspects of the period; The Social /Cultural/Political /sexual revolution, Paris student riots, Fashion, Music, Vietnam, race, moon shots, organics/Perma Culture and brought everything back to the present day. It started with the Beat revolution and ended 69 Altamont and was superbly curated containing 1000s of artifacts. It even had an incomplete sheet of Californian Sunshine blotter Acid. They were massive; about the size of postage stamps and printed with the smiling sun logo. I spent ages looking at a battered Stratocaster with a black scratch plate that Jimi Hendrix had used in Band of Gypsies, imagining him playing it.
I was born in ’65 and this period with its radical explosion of ideas and art that completely challenged the old conventional norm: the elitist power structures. It enabled empowerment of the young and scared the shit out of the Establishment and it very nearly succeeded in toppling it, and as history moves on in cycles and the more I write about the current psychedelic music scene, its global and the boundary-pushing free jazz explosion and politics that are happening now, the more I am sure that the seeds that were planted are starting to sprout up again, and it will take more than Monsanto to kill the re-growth. I don’t think it ever went away, it just went back underground where it started, like a mushroom mycelium, just waiting for the right conditions for a massive blooming flush to appear like magic.
I can't write about the book because I haven't had a chance to read it yet. They both signed; mine with a personal message to me, and I got to talk a bit to Nigel, I didn’t talk to him about the Psychedelic revolution, may be another time. He still believes it's going to happen because he said in his talk .
I asked him instead whether he remembered someone I once knew and was a great friend . I just had to ask him because it would have connected everything for me. I lost touch with her and her kids for maybe 20 years, but managed to find them about 2 years back, but unfortunately she had died of lung cancer a year before. She knew Michael Hollinghead and must have known Nigel too and had been slap in the epicenter of what was happening. Nigel didn’t remember her name and I felt disappointed, but it satisfied my curiosity and maybe I have jogged his memory as he will recollect and get back to me? ….
Helgies has been open since August but this was only my second trip up to it .I only became aware of it in December .I was chatting to Ollie and his wife (The patrons )about it because I was curious .The walls are covered in reflective mylar and a set of decks and a powerful set of stack speakers are set up near the entrance and a basic bar with some stools and pictures of Charlie Manson and Aleister Crowley and a back shelf with books Vinyl albums and loads of Mathmos Lava lamps.They serve beer on draught £5.00 pint and a 7.5%Scrumpy served from a polypin .The back area has another bar and a small event space and the walls are painted black with a back projector screen and this is where the event took place
Nigel started the evening explaining how the wind-up movie camera worked and how he shot the film; he had it with him. It was silver and made in Germany, if I remember right. It was small, a bit bigger than his hand and very well engineered. He explained how it worked and in hind site was the perfect tool for randomly capturing the historic footage and the way the frames speed up and slow and the image flickers and the distortion of colour make the footage seem like a very close interpretation of what someone would actually be experiencing whilst tripping. After watching the film he explained what had happened that day. He spoke very warmly of Syd Barrett and was a genuine friend of his. He also talked about the Pink Floyd and the UFO club and a bit about himself
He was a film maker and a writer and actor and had published quite a lot of books, ( I have left links). Quite a lot of the people in the room were of a similar age group. They all looked very well educated and as bright as buttons when I looked them in the eyes. There was a couple of people standing next to me: the man was dapperly dressed with a scarf and a full head of immaculate white hair, neat but not cropped and the lady was blond. I guess they were both in their 70s but could have been in their early 60s. We made eye contact and I preceded to make small talk with them to break the ice. I mentioned how fascinated I was with the film and foolishly I asked them if they had actually been there at the time and the blond lady looked at me like I had just insulted her. It wasn’t until I was looking back at the footage for this article that I twigged why she had behaved how she did to me, and the reason was that she was in fact the beautiful blond girl in the film!
The evening was broken up into parts. It stopped for the signing and Twink was horizontal having a power nap on a bench, then we all returned to the room where he read a narrative. I had never read up much about him before I knew about his Hawkwind connections and have been listening to his 60s psych output recently and I was aware of the Pretty Things and Pink Fairies, but I didn’t know that he had played in a band with Syd Barrett “Stars” or that he had jammed out with Jimi Hendrix, or collaborated with the Bevis Frond. Twink read the narrative from a book, anecdotes of Syd and various other things he had been part of or witnessed. He described knocking on Syd’s mother’s door in Cambridge and jamming and writing stuff with him. There was another short interlude and he came back on stage still wearing his pink Trilby and was joined by The Lysergics guitarist, (the band he is currently playing gigs with), and they preceded to play some of Syd’s solo and Pink Floyd output, some of the Stars’ material that both Syd and Twink had written to a psychedelic back projection and when they played “The Gnome”, I found my self singing along and I knew all the words, it was magical. Flashing myself back to when I was in my teens and listening to Pipers in altered states whilst bunking off school. When it finished everyone moved to the main bar area for the Space Rock disco.
For me personally, I love Syd Barrett, his creativeness with Pink Floyd and solo stuff; it’s the disjointed other worldly-ness of his mind, it’s the non-conformity of his song structures and lyrical prose, it’s the humour and whimsy, it’s the way his mind processed what was around him and how he used his guitar not as a straight instrument but playing with sound. I have only read accounts of how he went over on the Mandrax and other downers and possibly un-hinged himself on the acid but maybe the pressure of being Syd Barrett did it ? and how he was pushed out of the band. A lot of the people in that room that night witnessed it firsthand. I can’t comment on it. I just love what he did and for me, even though Pink Floyd reached technical and creative heights and album sales. The first album with its zen production and panning was really like nothing that had been created before and it was Syd Barrett who was the reason that this psychedelic masterpiece was, and still is, what it is. So, I guess whilst I was watching Nigel’s film The Crazy Diamond was with us and waiting for the Space Rock Disco, so that he could cut some shapes on the dance floor. Helgies also has hot vegan food available.