Just thinking about England while watching a football game on television between Brighton and Hove Albion and Huddersfield, being played in Falmer, Sussex.
Below : American Express Community Stadium in Farmer, Sussex, home pitch of BHA. That new and beautiful pitch is located in Falmer, equidistant between Brighton on the east and Lewes, very close to Sussex University, where I earned my Masters in International Relations between 1969 and 1972, way back when, around 45 years ago, now.
I used to live in Brighton, first, and then in Hove, a part of my life I enjoy thinking about as my salad days. We had a gas, my girlfriend, Donna and my friend, Lorne, as well as other characters we encountered on our journeys.
Below: Brighton, Sussex, England.
One of the latter was a classic, “Paul” to the straight world, “Sebastian” to his buds and all the Hippies around in those days. He was homeless, relying on his friends, of which there were more of than a few, to provide shelter to this cashless guy, with his copy of the album “Mirror Man “ by Captain Beefheart** under his arm, and his Alsatian (German Shepherd) by his side. Like him, dog carried a dual aperture. She was “Hash” to the freaks and “Tessa” to those with, shall we say, more conventional views, including cops.
Below : Captain Beefheart – Don Glen Vliet – and album cover. Paul was hardly ever without this album under his arm.
Cops couldn’t simply approach Sebastian to search him. They tried once and Hash bit that guy, breaking his arm. To call her off, Mr. Sebastian simply said “Hash”, firmly, from some place deep inside this remarkable gentle man whom I grew to love. When the dog was with Paul, all the time in other words, they had to lay back and he was safe. Never got busted as far as I know.
Actually, one of the highlights of my 1982 visit to England was locating this guy and hanging out. The last time I was in Brighton, in the “summer” of 2013, I wasn’t that lucky. Couldn’t find Sebastian even though I went to check out our old haunts, pubs, mostly, as well as putting an ad in the local “Evening Argus” newspaper. Too fucking bad. Hope he’s still living. Some of my British friends have since died, most from from lung cancer and I am convinced it’s from all that tobacco we used to smoke – chain smoking straights except for me who didn’t smoke straights while stoned – I recall one time, somewhere in the world, when not stoned, I lit up a straight and the person I was with mentioned that he didn’t know that I even smoked cigarettes which I happened to not do when buzzed, for some reason..
That and the fact that we constructed spliffs rather than simple joints, the former containing the tobacco from a single cigarette plus hash of course.
We used to use three skins – cigarette papers, Rizzla, I think, and stick two together on one side with a third skin perpendicular affixed to the other two. Then we used open up an entire smoke by licking the seam, breaking the filter, and pulling it down, along the wet seam, and emptying an entire straight into it. Then the hash and roll, add a filter of at least 1/4 inch wide and voila, an English spliff. Some of us used to put the filter in prior to rolling it up.
We used to suck this concoction rather than puff on it if we really wanted a strong stone, similar to how chillums. Imagine what that did to the lungs.
Now back to my story :
One time, Paul was crashing at our place, in Hove – we could actually see the English Channel/La Manche – from our living room window as well as from the window of the room which Sebastian was occupying that morning.
So I enter the room, take two steps in the dark, and immediately hear a low-throated growl emanating from Hash, the dog. Fortunately, that’s all it was, rather than something more painful than the fear I felt for the few seconds it took for me to escape from that room and quickly closing it the in my wake. I believe that that huge Alsatian had scented me out, and recognized me as a friend to Master Sebastian. Otherwise my unannounced foray into that dark room would have resulted in something worse than that growl, which I imagine I can still conjure up, exactly, after all these years.
I remember Sebastian, Hash and I going up to London
in a small car with little money and less gas. This is how it was on this trip of around 50 miles/80 km. We’d get to the beginning of a downhill slope or hill, turn off the ignition, and glide down the hill. Upon reaching the “end of the road”, as it were, we would then turn on the engine and use it to get us to the next downhill portion of the motorway. So it was use the engine, turn it off, turn it on and repeat.
One more interesting tidbit is that I purchased a car while over the ocean. It was a 1958 Austin A-35 and you actually had to crank it from outside the front of the car to get it started. That wasn’t the same car as the above-mentioned vehicle Sebastian, Hash, and I used on that incredible “ride” to London.
Below: Stock photo of the A-35. Look very closely and you can see the hole in the bumper, right in the middle, where the crank is attached.
I paid a measly seven quid for it, less than $20 at the time so I wasn’t risking much cash. Don’t remember getting insurance for it. It was fun to use and ran fairly adequately in the few months I owned it. Only problem was the fact that I had to drive on the left side of the road, to which I wasn’t at all used. At times, turning left found me on the wrong side of the median, but I used to drive completely focussed so that I handled those turns a very high percentage of the time. It was black, by the way.
Sebastian was a generous man, who gave what and when he could to his freaky friends who had helped him out. One morning, upon waking up and heading down the 69 stairs to the street – beautiful flat which exhausted the less in shape among us at the time, at least the sixty-nine steps did – and opening the front door, and low and behold, raw fish wrapped in newspaper, a few pounds if it was an ounce. From Paul, – fell off a truck – cod, I believe it was.
That’s pretty much all I’ve got to say,
Today, Christians attend Church and pray,
So have good days tomorrow and today
May all your cares and worries go away
Just like the Habs’ chances for a playoff foray.
**Legend has it that the Captain, a Frank Zappa-like character. or maybe it’s the other way round – went to live a solitary life in a California desert until he forgot how to speak English. Provided that he relearned it on his return to civilization, I find that very cool.
Below: “That guy…”
Just had a horrible experience with this man. He’s the brother of one of the owners – she and her hubby – and he drove me to the Harley dealership in North Charleston to collect some clothes to take home when I head back to good old Montréal. We also went to a buffet to pick up some Chinese for us although that wasn’t intended at the time. At first I thought I wouldn’t mind spending time with this guy who I’ve know for six years eating at the restaurant but decided, because I knew that, right here, right now, I didn’t want to spend any longer than necessary with the guy, I decided to ask him if it was ok if we put the food in boxes – including food for my hosts – after hmming and hawing and generally being obnoxious, he asked me why I didn’t want to eat at the restaurant and I surprised myself by giving him an honest answer in this context rather than simply making something up – that he was acting obnoxiously and I felt that I wanted to spend as short a time as possible with him at that moment.
Suffice to say, after collecting and paying for the food, things got a lot worse on the 30 or so minute ride from China Buffet to the house where I’m staying. In the end, I was almost physically sick; this was my first conflict since hitting the road in late January. Good and bad. Anyway, on getting back, I simply begged off and have been recovering on my bed. Unfortunately, I’m hungry – all I’ve eaten today and it’s now just after five in the afternoon, is one-half of a left-over Big Mac which means I’m gonna have to head downstairs and interact with this obnoxious man once more; hopefully it’ll be alright. If he starts acting up again I’ll either head back upstairs or clock him. Actually in the car on the way home, I told him that if I was feeling better and it wasn’t raining that I would get out of the car and cab it home. His response: If you were healthier, I’d “beat the crap out of you”. Very nice. What an asshole this guy can be. I apologized for calling him obnoxious, and he, obnoxiously, didn’t accept my apology and when I mentioned that to him, he said that I was “putting words into my (his) mouth”.
Peace and Love