Found in a shoebox

106 Thurlow Park Road
West Dulwich
London SE21
5/5/74

Hiyah Adie

Got your last letter the day before we moved again. Naturally, Gary had opened it first. New address above.

Well, things are almost getting too much to cope with.  So many changes, so many freak-outs, so much agony, so much ecstasy.  Baby, it’s paradise!

Firstly, Romano lost £1400 last week!!  And it wasn’t his money!!! He and John Owen (the cat who lived with us in Llanrhaeadr for a while before running off to London with Stuart’s wife Maureen the week after they got married) arranged to meet a guy they hardly knew at the Marquee to score a million ounces, or something ridiculous, for various freaks all over London.  Romano just handed over wodges of £10 notes to the guy, who said “be back in a minute” – and, of course, that was that. So now Romano and John must find £700 each, and by all accounts Romano’s already been in some very heavy scenes with the people who laid the bread on him (lead piping and things like that).  It’s fucked up the next 12 months (or more) for him.  Now he has to keep on living at daddy’s, keep on working at that wretched little bank in Blackfriars, and keep on wheeling and dealing to pay back the bread.  Do we laugh or cry?

Romano couldn’t organise a booze-up in a brewery, yet he persists in seeing himself as High St. Kensington’s answer to Rockafella.  As for John, well he’s a walking disaster.  Everything he does is doomed to fail even before he does it.  As a partnership they make Laurel & Hardy look like Marks & Spencer.  Amidst it all, Romano is forking out £5 a time for therapy from some jumped-up pseud in the Philadelphia Association.  If  I hadn’t seen it all with my own eyes I wouldn’t give a fart for this story.  But it’s happening right now as I write this tedious dreck. He’s got his friends though and, with a little help, we should get him through it.  But man, where’s he at?

Now what else?  Oh yeah, Gary got busted again.  That makes three times this year, all in different names, all for different offences, all by the same coppers.  Jon bailed him out this time.  Saw Gary last night; he was tripping, giggling hysterically and warming up to the prospect of a couple of years in Brixton. Is everyone going mad?

Jim Barnett is in Pentonville for six months for fraud or something.  I bumped into Maura and Nicol in Holland Park the other day and she told me about Jim.  She didn’t seem unduly distressed.  She’s still vague and freaked-out but, as she put it, she’s “finding the missing pieces of the jigsaw.” Nicol was his usual self and had some far-out Durban Poison.  We smoked it on the lawn and threw Frisbees all day.  They both send love and look forward to seeing you and Jimmy soon.

All in all, I’m drifting away from the old crowd quite deliberately.  That scene of mutual distrust, paranoia, highs & lows, ripping-off, etcetera, is so destructive.  In Dulwich the people are so open and genuine and loving.  They can teach me to open up too. There’s a little community of squatters here with a sense of purpose and comradeship which would be ridiculed or rationalised by those old faces.  But I keep links, just in case.

Surprisingly, I’m speaking almost fluent Italian! I have quite complicated conversations with Tito and I’m finding out what he’s like.  He’s beautiful – an Aquarian like you.  But that’s such a dumb generalisation. Me and Rick, another guy in the house, go to dance classes! I’ve decided to get my awkward, bony body together and be at one with it instead of apart from and ever-conscious of it. I’ve applied for a job with Melody Maker. There was an ad in Time Out for new people with strong opinions on music.  I’ve been short-listed and the interview’s next week – I pray I get it. Also, I’m doing a little nude modelling through this guy Maureen knows to get some bread together for a trip to southern Italy with Tito in July.

HELL! I just read this letter so far, and it sounds fucking arrogant, speedy and pushy.  Oh sod it, that’s how I must be at the moment.

Now to your letter.  Beautiful to hear that you and Jimmy are coming back.  As I know well, Wales can be a lonely place.  There’s lots of possible squats in the area which I can get you into.  As for your “new attitude to the fuzz” – it’s groovy.  Kisses not cusses will change the world.  Your idea about getting a house together is nice, but doesn’t allow for a few facts:
1) I don’t dig paying rent – I’m a squatter from now on.
2) A lot of changes have taken place since you were last in London Adie.  I couldn’t live with Romano, James, Adam etc again.  They’re just too self-concerned.
3) Jon and I don’t see eye-to-eye on a number of very basic issues like work, money, lifestyle etc.
You and Jimmy will always be close to my heart and I would love to live with you again – but with different people, or else we would fall into old traps. Anyhow, plenty of time to sort all these details out.

This is turning into an essay not a letter.  I’d better stop.  Write back soon and tell me your plans in a more definite way.

Smiles and love,
Richard

PS: Kabul’s been ill recently, had to have a tetanus injection.  He’s on the mend and sends lots of purrs and licks.

PPS: I saw Jon before I posted this today. We pooled some bread and scored some Moroccan.  Vibe ok.  Don’t let him talk you into making life easier for him.  He told me he was worried about you.  Guilt pangs. Don’t expect too much from London – it’s still a hell-hole.  I’m still more often on a downer than an upper; but if I will keep taking that acid…there’s light at the end of the tunnel though. Your idea about a van to Afghanistan sounds ever more appealing.  Get me out of this dump! This time let’s do it.

PPPS: By the way, got that grass you sent but didn’t get to smoke any of it!! Stuart opened it because the envelope had no name and the bugger smoked the lot!!  Anyhow, he said it was far-out – thanks Adie. xx

OUTCOME IN 2013: Many are dead (John, Jon, Gary, Maura, Jim), many disappeared from my life. I still know Romano, Adam and Rick.  Adie left Wales eventually, not for London but to return to her native South Africa. There she joined the fight against apartheid and lived long enough to see it overthrown.  We never went to Afghanistan, the squatting movement was crushed in the 1980s and I didn’t get the job with Melody Maker (insufficiently enthusiastic about Mott The Hoople).  I have long since given up recreational drug use: when not clearing out the attic I now spend my leisure time building miniature replicas of Welsh buildings out of matchsticks.