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culled from.....They Shoot Hippies, Don't They?

My career as a Hippie lasted all of one month and a few days (or to be excruciatingly exact, the very moment lice began dancing around my genitals). The Free Love & Peace were remarkably agreeable, but no-one had mentioned the lack of hot water when contracts were signed on back of fag packs. The stale odour in the 60s Camper Van (the 60s of which Century still remains a mystery) were a harbinger to the beckoning hygiene horrors. Open roads and open mind were the mantra as we shuffled towards Shropshire. The stranger’s mouth on my lap dribbled for the whole journey, leaving a wet stain which resembled the outline of an Outer Hebrides’ small island. Not entirely sure Sal Paradise experienced dribbling and heart-burn induced by a vegetarian sausage roll, as he embarked On The Road.

In the litany of bad decisions, 1991 was my nadir. I could have been on all expenses paid beano to Mauritius, courtesy of my room-mate. During those initial polite conversations, I had told him Dad was a painter. He’d assumed in the manner of Van Gogh or Lowry (never had the heart to tell him his canvas were front gates, gutters and window sills). I don’t know if it was Dad’s artistic credentials, but his family invited me to spend the Summer with them. Ouch. Some wear bad decisions as a badge of independence or as a visa to entry into the self-pity Hall of Shame. Fuck that. I simply demanded a recount, or the very least, a refund. In one chemically inflamed dream, the beautiful island of Mauritius sent me a postcard: ‘We’re glad you’re not here.’ I awoke to three cows staring at me. They probably thought they had found a kindred spirit. In any Animal Olympics, bovines would be disqualified from the Staring Competition as they are too good.

It was the Summer of Love Mk. 2. Solicitors, football hooligans and those who only dance drunk at weddings, were unified by a small tablet. Expecting the pulsing funk of The Happy Monday or streaming tedium of Acid Hose strobes, I was rather surprised to encounter an ensemble of acoustic guitars, couple of recorders and a girl called Alice who wailed Joni Mitchell songs through her nose. The kids were folked and not a tambourine in sight.
 
There was no philosophy or beliefs to this July jamboree. The odd rumble of Beatniks was heard, in between arguments about the best relief for sunburn (not nettles, I unfortunately discovered) and the shrewdest crouching position for shitting in a hole. If I learnt anything, it was kneeling is not an astute option for the job in hand. An adjacent stream offered water supply and skinny-dipping was reserved for the moonlit cider drinkers. A nearby camp site presented the luxury of a short shower for the princely sum of twenty pence. It was the best forty pence I have ever spent.
 
There should be prescribed laws for sex in sleeping bags. I still struggle with the etiquette of eye contact during oral sex, so intimacy in (what amounts to) a large sock with a zip, was always going to be problematic. The Karma Sutra may be deeply involved with flaps, but there was not a tent in diagram sight. Height was a difficulty; didn’t know where to wrap my legs or if too vigorous thrusting could result in canvas collapsing. Enter Sheila, contortionist extraordinaire. That girl could have sucked her toes, whilst juggling eight bars of Toblerone. Sheila was nice. Just nice. It is the most useless word in lexicon of English language, but credit where it’s due, Sheila was, well, nice.  She had a slight look of young innocent-blonde Jayne Mansfield, before the alphabet-list of lovers, and obviously, the car crash.  It was when she was sat around the camp fire with the tattooist’s jacket around her shoulders, that I knew she would be performing acrobatics in an other’s tent. It was nice while it lasted.
      
On arrival, everyone was assigned a daily task. Adopting a husk lumberjack voice, I volunteered to be one of the hunter-gatherers. The Alpha Males, or to my eyes, those with the more sensible footwear, were designated to be hunters. The rest, a row of skinny adolescents, an asthmatic shop assistant and my Adidas trainers, were gatherers. I undertook my collecting of wood with professionalism, pride and a devious ability to plunder from the piles of the others. In fact, if stealing wood was a career, then I would have been able to retire at thirty. The Feminist Movement took a back step, but the hunters basked in their privileged status. When they weren’t stalking the land for roaming vegetables, they sat rolling and smoking the fattest joints. The smell of weed permeated the skies and if a Northerly storm had suddenly erupted, the entire populace of Liverpool would have been stoned in seconds. That was it then.  “Turn on, tune in, drop out” was being replicated in a small field outside Shrewsbury at the behest of sensible shoes. Well, not quite. Revolution was a strummed guitar and carrot casserole, with a side-dish of sex in Mummy and Daddy’s tent.
  
On my hitchhiked journey home, in the dubious hands of a rough farmer and his rougher wife, there was ample time for reflection. The only rule of the community (it wasn’t a community, merely a group of strangers lost) had been RESPECT EACH OTHER. I wondered whether it was missing a question mark at the end. My Notebook contained little of any worth – the pencil hadn’t even been sharpened once. As my tired feet rambled into my street, there really, was only one conclusion to draw. I should have gone to fucking Mauritius.
Strangeways_Rob
Written by Strangeways_Rob
Published
Author's Note
I can't be arsed to rummage through my rusty disks of the other episodes to this, you lucky people. Funny enough. I now love the great outdoors. 1991 was just wrong place & wrong time. Hippie life...
I can't be arsed to rummage through my rusty disks of the other episodes to this, you lucky people. Funny enough. I now love the great outdoors. 1991 was just wrong place & wrong time. Hippie life was not for me!
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