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EEL PIE DHARMA - a memoir / haibun -  © 1990 Chris Faiers

Chapter 10 - Eel Pie Days

Life as a draft resisting hippie was becoming more tolerable.  Most evenings we stayed up until the wee hours smoking incredibly strong three-paper joints of tobacco and hash and sucking on hash-stuffed chillums.  Sometimes there were impromptu musical jams.  Many could play, or attempted to play, guitar.  We would all sing, until finally we lapsed into stoned reveries.

Those who had a lot of sexual frustration to work out organized a sex room. Despite my interest, I only visited the orgy room once in its heyday, and only as a voyeur.  The unventilated room was so thick with the smell of spunk and sweat that it put me off, and I didn't have the confidence to perform in front of everybody.

And so the evenings and nights were spent in stoned bliss.  I wouldn't get up until mid to late afternoon, and then I'd wander across the bridge to the Linton Cafe.  It was a narrow workers' cafe which served healthy portions of bacon and eggs and toast and tea for only three shillings and sixpence.  There was a small dining room upstairs, overlooking the alley leading up from the embankment and the bridge, and often the room was filled with Eel Piers eating their one meal of the day:

Bacon and eggs
    in a workers' cafe
        at teatime

After noshing at the Lynton, I would often walk back along the Thames embankment and watch the ducks swimming.  The path led past the ancient Anglican churchyard and up several stairs carved in stone to an elevated promenade.

A gate in the hedges opened into a botanical gardens for a stately house, which was public property.  There were three rectangular garden areas, bordered by high trees.  A magnificent artificial waterfall splashed into a pond overseen by a statue of Venus surrounded by naked nymphs.  Often I would sit in the lotus position beside a small fish pond and meditate on the beautiful scene.

Other days I would wander into the greenhouse, which had flowers blooming all year round.  Sometimes I would follow the towpath a couple of miles into Richmond.  It was a pleasant walk, and it led past old boats moored under weeping willows.  Most days I found the walk idyllic, but occasionally I had a down day, and amplified by all the hashish even the ducks and swans and weeping willows wouldn't lift my spirits during the walk.

stoned and depressed
dogshit on the towpath

Those days were rare, however.  When I got to Richmond I would cross Richmond Bridge, and sometimes stop at L'Auberge for tea.  I wasn't as interested in L'Auberge now that I had the scene in the hotel, and often I would continue up Richmond Hill with its vistas and gardens and stroll into Richmond Park.

Sometimes I would take the back streets of Richmond, and enter the park by the back gate.  Once into the park I felt free again, and would walk for hours.  The park stretched for miles, and there weren't many other people on weekdays.  Sometimes I would find a secluded spot and meditate, or take out my notebook and write poetry.

    butterflies, flowers

    leaves pressing
        church window

washing up
in a public washroom
hobo likes my singing

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revised 8 March 2017