Saturday, May 7, 1983


Pete and I set off for London before twelve. He’d bought a half-bottle of whisky in Watermouth as we waited for the train to Waterloo and we supped this in first class on the way up. From then on the rest of the day is condensed into a drunken sunlit blur of sound and colour.

We met Mo in Brixton tube station and joined the huge river of CND Rock the Bomb festival-bound punks and punkettes, stopping off at a house off Railton Road to call on Pete’s friend Tony. He was out, and by this time I’d bought another ½ bottle of whisky. I said goodbye to Pete and Mo and set off on my own for Camden.

I went totally mad in record shops and got overdrawn as a result: I bought three albums in Honest Jon’s (now Rhythm Records) including a double LP of Coltrane and I got talking to a middle-aged jazz fan there who said he’d seen Coltrane in London in 1961. After this I staggered across the road to Compendium Books and, like the idiot I'd become, bought a cassette tape of Kerouac reading October in the Railroad Earth and Mexico City Blues, even though I don’t own a tape player.

I was very drunk now, and mechanically lurched towards the tube station, pausing only to buy yet another ½ bottle. I was back in Brixton and I could hear the loud din of music coming from the  festival over in the park. I had vague designs on searching out Pete and co. but the park was full of people—20,000 the newspapers said later—and all I could drunkenly perceive as I scanned the crowd were countless sunlit faces.

I caught the tail end of Madness’s set, Suggs wearing a CND T-shirt under a white baggy suit, but mainly I stumbled aimlessly around among the jigging people, sliding in the mud and swigging occasionally from my bottle. As I wandered up through the park I got talking to several people; I met Gavin and his friend Crater Face plus a fat hippy girl from downstairs; I also exchanged sundries with two punkettes and a laconic bloke who propped up the side of a tent. I invited Gavin and co. and the punkettes back to Blake Road.

Meanwhile, black lines of police massed on the horizon, silhouetted starkly against the setting sun. They began to gradually move down through the park towards us. How I ended up back at Tony’s I’ll never know. I was greeted by Pete and Tony who both seemed amused at my condition, and after this I remember little, other than lying partly asleep on the sofa in a drunken reverie, dimly aware that Gavin and friends had turned up—apparently sixteen punks I’d invited showed up too and tried unsuccessfully to gain admittance.

Joints were passed around and I partook and the last thing I remembered was Pete and Tony pulling off my shoes and socks and laying me down on the sofa.

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