It was as beautiful on the fringes back then as it was ugly looking in on the Straight world. I used to work in a Whole Food shop called Ploughshares run by Uni graduates dedicated to veganism, incense, good weed & replacing the Capitalist oligarchy with people who could think & feel, people in touch with their spirit & the spirit of Life, people who'd rather go & sit under a tree with a bottle of pure orange than sit in a coffee shop. We considered the guy who ran the corporate health food shop across town a Nazi & Margaret Thatcher represented everything that was dark & putrid in human evolution. & you know what? I don't know what happened to those guys -- Ploughshares got bought out by middle-class dilletantes when the profits plummeted, & the original co-operative members all quit -- but I really haven't changed at all. People always say that when they get middle-aged & pot-bellied but if you don't believe it come round my house one afternoon. In fact I'm more of a damn hippie than I was back then because I've seen the conventional life up close & I know it doesn't work; I know it's a con trick played by a few sharp, merciless, spiritually dead people designed to rob you of your coins. I'm also old & I've been in too many confrontations & bad situations & seen too many gut-twisting horrible things to be scared of anything anymore except watching anyone else I love die
We used to have a Ploughshares market stall in Northampton every Friday. I hated coming out really early on freezing winter mornings to set that up. But I had better bladder control then -- people weren't so thirsty anyway before coffee houses proliferated -- & when the day got going we always had great talks with hairy hippy Keith who ran the secondhand book stall. Would stand there for ages talking about books & food & Margaret Thatcher being the embodiment of all wickedness. He's still there, his beard as thick, his hair as long as it ever was, but greyer. I miss those days when it felt like there were loads of us around who believed there was an alternative to Capitalism & Communism (as ill-defined as our alternative might have been)...the Beast was evident everywhere but you knew that around every corner you'd meet someone with weird hair or tattooes or piercings who smoked too much weed & drank too much lager & listened to reggae & dub or old folk music & was ready to go & stand outside an American Air Force base because they couldn't rationalise in their minds as too many can these days that it was right in any way for human kind to retain the means to destroy his/ her own planet. Someone who wanted to feel & LOVE instead of have a career in banking & didn't mind if they made no fucking money because they knew what was important in life & what wasn't. & ANYTHING coming from the Tory Party devil wasn't. The people I'm talking about in this apparently dewy-eyed nostalgic way did exist in large numbers then & there AREN'T as many of them around as there used to be. Not as far as I know. But they're still there -- I'm one of them -- & that's what gives me hope.