Joanne (Berns) Banks
Subject: Eel Pie Island
Date: 27 Nov 2002 / 8 Jan 2003 / 5 Feb 2003
I was on the island from September '69 to July '70. I got there with my boyfriend Dave Tweddle through Peter Crisp and Felix and Loretta. Some of us have stayed closely in touch. Early on, Dave had become friends with David Walton, who always wore a duffle coat, and for years had very long dark hair and beard which he rubbed together when he was thinking, and was the one round whom we gathered round for all-night cosmic talks. David Walton was the father of my two daughters and, tragically, died in 1990. My best friend is Gun, who came there in the spring and had a relationship and a child with Irish John, whom I also still see. Dave Tweddle was living on the Edgware Road, across from Little Venice in Maida Vale, when last I talked to him, about six years ago.
After Eel Pie, it was a combination of being homeless for a year and travelling around the country, and a little in Europe, taking advantage of other's hospitality as much as possible. A small group of us from there emerged as the Eureka Continuum and carried on as a group for five years. In September of '71, we (David Walton, Dave Tweddle, Irish John, Gun, Tom Evans, Simon and Magic Mike) moved to Alston, Cumbria where we had a smallholding for two years. We were involved with community arts in Newcastle and with quite a few other communes around the country, especially in Wales. Tom went back to Toronto in '71 or '72. In the summer of '73, I moved to London for a few months, and then on to California and Hawaii for the winter. 1974 was the last time I spoke to English John (Cox). I had made contact with him too late, as I was just leaving California (Carmel Valley on the Monterey Peninsula) to join David Walton, Gun and John and Tom in Toronto. That was when the group, the Eureka Continuum, as we called ourselves, broke up.
Back to London in May of '74, and lived with David as a couple from that summer until the summer of '77. Then I lived as a single mother in Maida Vale with my two babies, Sara, born in September '75 and Emily, born 1977. If those names sound horribly straight, their middle names are Red-Rose and Crystal respectively. And they are absolutely beautiful. Although Sara had a lot of medical problems for years, she's fine now. Sara looks the double of David Walton and Emily looks like me, although both are a lot better looking than either of us was.
I digressed with the proud mama syndrome. Okay. Then, while still in Maida Vale, I met my next future husband and we got over involved in drugs until July 1981, when I picked up both babies, one under each arm, and, going cold turkey, moved to the States near my parents, which was a god-send and a nightmare, as my parents and I picked up where we had left off when I was last there as a 17-year-old. I started working two jobs in October 1981 and haven't stopped working since. First I worked in the radio station I had worked in as a teenager and did cocktail waitressing. After my boyfriend got out of prison in England, he came to Indianapolis, we married, and had a son, Nicholas, who is 18 now, 6'4", blond and blue-eyed. Then I trained as a court reporter for three years and worked as one for another eight years, but spent the whole time in Indianapolis planning my escape back to Britain, as I hated it there the whole time. But, on other levels, it was very good for me and my kids. My marriage fell apart during that time, and yet again, I was a single mother for most of the time; this time with three kids.
Then I heard the BBC was recruiting for court reporters in the States to be stenographers, to do live television, since they couldn't find enough in Britain. I interviewed, got the job, and came back to London March 17, 1996. I moved to South Wales in connection with the job in August of that year, and I live in a village-town called Caerleon (an ancient Roman site).
All three of my children live in the States. I have a two-year-old grandchild, and my aged parents (father is 92 this year) are still well. If anyone wants to know more about me and the last 30-odd (and how) years, I'll be glad to tell; however, I don't want to bore anyone either.
Has anyone thought about a reunion, like an (anti) class reunion? It would be amazing even if it was a disaster. But we took a bigger chance than that when 40 of us took acid together. At least now, whatever states our minds are in, we've had years to get used to it.