I had thought this album was released earlier than 1969 as it was around this time that I first encountered cannabis. Ah well.
There used to be a hall on China Street in Lancaster. I think it was called Priory Hall but I’m not sure. if I ask Steve, he’ll know. Anyway, it was there that we (Steve and I) went to watch Liverpool Scene. They were a group of poets with musical accompaniment. The best known member was Adrian Henri, a poet from Liverpool who had already become fairly well known from two poetry books, ‘The Mersey Sound’ (1967)and ‘It’s World that Makes the Love Go Round, (1968)I don’t know who did the cover for this book, but it certainly fits the times.
So we went to the concert. It was good. Before Liverpool Scene we had what seemed like several hours of Jeff Nuttall reading from his book ‘Bomb Culture’. Then came Liverpool Scene.
Andy Roberts was the guitarist and I can remember him singing a song about a raven on his roof. But the two things I mainly remember are:
- Talking to Adrian Henri afterwards. He was large and friendly and, I seem to remember, had some sort of large medallion round his neck
- Being approached by some lads who asked us (Steve and I) if we wanted to buy some cannabis. This was absolutely my first encounter with illegal drugs.
Well, we went through our pockets to see how much money we had. I think that, between us, we had something like 19s 3d (that’s very nearly £1 and would have bought over half an album at 1969 prices). So we went and found these lads, who were outside on China Street by this time and, being really cool, said “Can we have nineteen and threepence worth, please”. They took our money and gave us a packet which we (I can’t remember which of us) rapidly pocketed and went home, no doubt in Steve’s car. I don’t know which car he had at this point but it may have been the huge Rover 90 which was built like a tank and may have had the words ‘Mind Machine’ painted down both sides. I say ‘may have had’ as I’m not sure if it was this car or the one before which had been the Mind Machine car. The Mind Machine, by the way, were a band which Steve managed and with which I was peripherally involved. *
It was possibly a couple of days later when I first tried smoking it – for some reason I was the guinea pig. We were up at Geoff and Rosie Woodhead’s flat on Laurel Bank in Lancaster and Steve and I were in the living room. I don’t remember how I smoked the cannabis, in a joint or a pipe, but I can remember waiting apprehensively for something to happen. At one point Steve asked me if anything was happening. “I’m not sure”, I said, looking at one of Geoff’s paintings on the wall. “I think that painting may be changing colour”. One thing you need to know about me is that I’m colour blind – not red/green, the normal sort of colour blindness, but rubbish at all of them.
As an aside, one time in the late 70s I was accused of stealing a duffle coat from the Ring O’ Bells pub. I hadn’t stolen it, I had just taken the wrong one went I left, probably drunk. Who would steal a duffle coat and leave their dole card in the pocket of the coat they left behind? My solicitor said that it would be a good idea to have my colour blindness confirmed by an optician so I went to one. After testing me he called his partner into the room because he was so impressed with how rubbish I was. It didn’t stop me losing the case though.
So the first time I tried cannabis nothing happened. I’m not sure if that was because the stuff we had bought was poor quality – it was full of seeds I remember – or if it was because I hadn’t learned how to recognise the effects. This learning the effects of cannabis I am aware of in particular because of someone I knew many years ago. A few of us were regular smokers and this lad was sceptical. So we gave him some. And nothing happened.
“It’s just oxo cubes”. And threw it in the fire.
So we got him to try it again. Same effect.
Then suddenly, after several months, he got it. And loved it. Even though we had been aware that he was being affected before this, he hadn’t recognised it.
Anyone else come across this?
So that’s my first experience of cannabis. I think Steve had a similar experience, but without the confusion about things changing colour. Unlike me, Steve has very good colour sense.
*please note that all personal recollections in this and any other post are subject to the vagaries of time and memory and may not fit the facts. The author accepts no responsibility for errors and pleads age and declining mental faculties for all mistakes