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Chris 'Yak'

Subject: Eel Pie
Date: Thu, 24 Sep 2009 08:29:31 +0000 (GMT)

I went to Richmond originally seeking my brother Dick who had disappeared 'on the road', but somehow I got word he had been spotted in Richmond, so when I left school in 1966 I got a job at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington because it was close by. I lived in a number of bedsits around the area for a year or so. For some time I shared a bedsit with Bristol Alan, who knew my brother and the rest of the beatniks who revolved around the area. Gradually the work at the Laboratory took the back seat as I got more and more involved in the 'scene' based around L'Auberge and the 'Island' - Jazz and Blues and Folk, and 'blow' and 'speed' (hence the Yak!) in their various forms. The hair grew longer and attendance at work grew shorter!

Around that time I got involved in the Richmond Community workshop, and the folk club at the Coach and Horses in Kew which was connected somehow, probably through Grenville, where I hooked up with Clifford Harper and Peter Polish, and kind of got involved in discussions about the "unattached" and with Brennan and Annie, and Peter Crisp, in the Cumberland project and the rural attempts at social reorientation!. I got involved somehow partly through Grenville Sheringham, and his brother Clive, at one point we lived together in King Street Parade, opposite the Odeon that used to be in Twickenham, along with Bristol Alan, of course. A notorious abode! This was dead handy for the 'Island'. This time is a bit fuzzy because of the discovery of acid and colourful clothing! At some point I became homeless and lived on the streets up West and in Notting Hill Gate. In the end I met brother Dick at the Arts Lab in Drury Lane where I was rescued and became a technician there under the tutelage of Jack Henry Moore and Jim Haynes.

When the Arts Lab was closed, Dick got involved with the rodeo! After a period living with 'The Exploding Galaxy' in Balls Pond road I shifted back to Richmond, and the guys suggested I stayed at Eel Pie which they had somehow managed to rent. Mostly Ray and I shared a room with a balcony view over the river, we had a tree with candles for decoration! It was a beautiful time and a scary time, all kinds of weird stuff went down, and too many casualties in hindsight; poor beautiful Lorna, I think of her often, even all this time later. Part of the weirdness for me was the fact that I had loads of experiences on Eel Pie Island when the club was there. And I had slept in a shed there in an earlier homeless bout! There was a lovely little old lady who lived in a cottage on the island who had given me cups of tea down the years. I think she had been an actress. But mostly I also felt safe the time I was there, because there was a strong 'love' vibe. At the end of a 40 person trip out we would gather to sing 'White Bird of the Morning', and then slope off to come down gently! I spent the latter part of my time there working in Coombes Bakery cleaning out bread vans to gather cash to head to Germany to join Dick as a roadie for the band 'Sweet Smoke'.

After a time as roadie I headed off to Ireland to look for a base for the band commune as a part of the rural sustainable 'alternative' society. I met Niamh there and fell in love, and the band never came, except Steve Rosenstein for a visit. Niamh and I had two boys before we separated, one of whom is a DJ and the other a teacher and runs a surf school in Ireland. I did the 'Premi' (Guru Maharaji) thing in Dublin in the late 70's and went to a number of 'programmes' in Denver and Florida, where I bumped into Peter Crisp once or twice. I still see Sally, who lives in the West of Ireland, and I bumped into Karen, her friend not that long ago. Dick is still in Wales.

I am amazed that I am still alive and fairly healthy. I thought I would never get past 30, like many, I feel who went too young. I spend my time between London and the West of Ireland.

I swapped my bell bottoms with Tom for the 'choogling' jacket, you can see me wearing it in the wedding photos - he has the bell bottoms. I think we swapped specially for the wedding! Brennan and Annie also ended up in Ireland where I think Annie still lives.

'Keep on choogling'

22nd September 2009

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