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

Chapter 20 - The Three Fishes

Pub life in London reflected the British tendency to divide into classes and areas of interest.  There were upper class pubs, right wing pubs, Irish Republican pubs, working class pubs, and one unique pub where all the regulars were very short, young males who only listened to Eddie Cochran on the juke box.  There were skinhead pubs and of course hippie pubs.

The Three Fishes was a hippie pub, located on the corner next to the Kingston-Upon-Thames rail station.  The lights were dim, the music blaring rock'n'roll, and the clientele longhairs of both sexes.  At that time in Britain, kids as young as fifteen could get away with going into pubs, although the legal drinking age was eighteen, so there was the expected quota of schoolgirls and boys.

It was just the sort of atmosphere I loved after a hard day of digging graves.  On one of my first visits, a gorgeous young girl of about sixteen came and knelt before me, as if before a medieval knight.  She clasped her long hippie shawl about herself, and even I found I couldn't take advantage of her, and offer the expected walk home through the park:

Young girl
    in an old shawl

One summer evening I made the long ride into Kingston on my bike after work, and had a pint or two at the Three Fishes.  It stays light very late in Britain in summer, and so dusk was just turning to dark when I left after 9 p.m., and began undoing my bicycle lock.

In the half light I noticed something very strange.  There were several police vans parked outside, and more arriving every second.  In the dark I made out the shapes of several dozen policemen, and I realized that a raid was about to take place.

I wasn't drunk, only stupid, and some sense of hippie brotherhood won out over common sense.  I walked back into the Three Fishes and began yelling "It's a raid! - It's a raid!"

The office in charge followed me through the doors, and I was the first one grabbed.  "You're nicked," he snarled, and passed me to another bobby.  Bustled back out the door, I caught a glimpse of the pandemonium as drugs were dumped under most of the tables.  I was pushed onto a bus, much like a large tour bus, which the bobbies had requisitioned for the occasion, and soon I was joined by thirty or forty other longhairs.  Then the bus and several van loads of miscreants were taken down to Kingston police headquarters and booked.

I didn't get to sleep that night, as it took the police all night to process so many of us.  In the early morning light I found my way back to my locked bicycle, and slowly wound my way back towards Twickenham.

Our case didn't come up for a month, and the courtroom was a mob scene.  When my turn came, I pleaded "Guilty, Your Honour" to the charge of interfering with the raid by warning everyone, but I added, "I don't feel guilty, though."  The courtroom burst out laughing, both at the oddity of my charge, and at my unusual plea.  I was given a fine of thirty pounds, which was then my wages for about three weeks.

Hash aroma
    and stale beer
        under the table

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revised 8 March 2017