The Reckless Fruit – (1)

A documentary in charcoal drawings & poetry, of 1960s street life and the young ~ . All Drawings and Poetry COPYRIGHT (c) janeadamsart.wordpress 2012. ~ ~TO VIEW GALLERIES, Scroll down to the end of each Post.~

THE RECKLESS FRUIT – Front-Cover and Allegory

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Link to Book Two

Discovery

This was painted in about 1963, for a local schools’ art competition, which I did not win.   The theme was “discovery”;  for me this meant the unknown, away from the “gramophone record” to which the people are bound.

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Allegory – What is the Reckless Fruit?  and Why?

The title of this work dropped into place, when I wrote the Prelude (See the main Pages bar, above.)  The Prelude page gives a full background, describing the general social scene,  teenage life in the 1960s, and how my documentary-odyssey began.

Why “reckless fruit”?  Consider Adam and Eve, and their innocence, their longing and desire for the Fruit of experience.

As they were God – the unity of God become two: male and female – they needed to be all and everything;  and hence our history.  Now, Eve offers the fruit to Adam. She is his subconscious, pure as a pool.  She offers him ALL his potential depth, embodiment, emotional octave, time and space.  Who (desiring existence) could resist such an offer?

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So Adam as self consciousness, takes the fruit and eats; and straight away he and she begin to act out the aeon of history – the fruit is their fullness – they must become as Earth, and survive its climate and live with its animals;  they must live, be born, work and die;  they must desire each other for their children to be born.  They discover that they are, erogenously, fascinatingly, separate. That is their banishment from the Garden of Upper Unity. They cross the Rubicon:  there is no going back.  There is a full Circle to complete – the full Fruit to eat – the seeds to plant.  There is the snake, who became symbolically their water and their stone – for the snake’s movement flows like a river.   And Yeshua came along and said Take eat, this is my body and my blood.  For water and stone are earth.

Water and stone are our flesh,  The Philosopher’s Stone flows soft as water – the POWER of the waters, through all our generations.   Once I dreamed I was crossing the Rubicon.  The torrent pushed great boulders, rocks and stones with it – it came in from the Sea.  The sea is our collective subconscious.

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My Reckless Fruit is an artist’s intuitive quest.  What makes children from refined cultures suddenly plunge into the unconscious subculture’s dark allure?  What invites us?  What do we see in each other?  The descent – into substance and media abuse and Lilith’s labyrinth of feral brats – is nowadays much exploited.  It is the calvary of many families.  Had I not been an artist, with the artist’s  alchemical urgency and obsession to observe, record and re-create, I believe I could have been very vulnerable.

An artist’s deep passion is Love – the great life-preserver.  I feel a certain key here, towards transformation.  It addresses addiction and the armed predators of the underworld.  The key enters the soul;  an individuation takes shape.  My key is creative – literally, an art therapy, or way of healing.  If I go underground and consciously co-create and follow the thread, it becomes my ally; and maybe yours.  As I – a naive 1960s child – prowled the streets, the core creativity awoke.  In future years it would remain my authentic guide and protection.  With it, and positively-charged, I felt nervous but safe enough, hitch-hiking up and down the land, or walking through Soho and Liverpool 8 at night.  I got into scrapes, but melted out of them, because I behaved rather oddly – like a research student.

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Later still, when on my spiritual quest, this same experience of being simultaneously detached and involved, protected me from astral predators, cults and false gurus.  My self-consciousness was painful, but I learned.  A divine paradox – a peculiarly knowing innocence – kept me safe.  When I was very young, I called it “the divine Regulator”.

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These drawing sequences are my first fruit.  Driving through Carlisle in the rain after a family holiday on Mull – we stopped briefly for fish and chips – I wanted to be that girl inside the black beehive, who belongs – that guy, playing the tunes and rattling the fruit machine.  I wanted to have white lips and smoke-coal eyes, and to stare at ignorant country-bumpkin intruders like my family.  It drove me crazy all night down the motorway to Somerset, until we reached home and I could draw them, earth them, and make them mine. The journey is dark fruit, recklessly, intensely pure.

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THE RECKLESS FRUIT Book One, Chapter 1 – Walk the Untrod Land

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Link to Book Two

Scottish hills – The Rough Bounds

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The Yearning: Early evening reaches after school

The frosty west horizon
darkens the lurid copper glow
where long ago the sun went down.

In silver flitting twilight, a lingering cloud crest
outlines my Black-Down hills

Hidden hills beyond the cloud, for aeons lay.
The phantoms stand in front.

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If I were to reach for you, star
glinting up there, a million light years of infinite night
as spider’s sunlit string at dawn,

if I broke our cloudy cloak and fled from earth, from home,
abandoning my spinning, self-contained sphere
to go beyond

thought, hope,
beyond wildest dream,
beyond time,

beyond ALL,

somewhere in that boundless reach
will you begin to swell to a ball of fire?
And should I go –

(fire burned out in aeons past)

beyond?

1964

These thoughts are in my earliest poem notebook.  I lived near North Petherton where the Quantock flank rises gradually from the levels.  Across Taunton vale, the Blackdown hills rode the horizon gently. On winter evenings after school, a mile to walk home from the bus-stop, the lane was pitch dark, and I groped between the hedges.  On clear nights the stars came out one by one like songs until the heavens were ablaze.

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Rollingstones a Lulu

Make me shout, mick
hear him sing and shout, mick
round, round, it’s dark, it’s hot, why I wanna
cry, mick,

shake the cavern
raw
girls are screaming mick
make Lulu wanna shout roll round eyes

mick’s thin cheeks,
fat door step lips
sob sullenly, It’s the last time,

baby, the last time
I don’t know

sweat hair, Stone
starveling eyes, snake hips
girls scream mick
strobe light judders

mike swipe, I wanna shout
charlie buttons up the watts, bill
rubs long bass,

brian’s thatch is off
the marbles,
keith the slinky dresser finger
pick, wanna shout

but mick
rolls Stones around the Night,
into screams,
screaming girls.                                                                              1964

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1 :  Cavern.  I am not sure when I did these paintings which follow – whether before, or during the series of charcoal drawings.  I was fifteen.  They were done at school or at home, with the school poster-paints, on large sheets of the school sugar-paper.  The powder paints mixed with water, had a sweetish smell.  This painting has suffered folds, tears and damages over the years, which add to its impact.  It hung, pinned to the ceiling, near the window in the “Old Bathroom” which was my artistic lair.  Visitors were a little taken aback.  Nowadays, these teenage mastiffs are commonplace.  I think it is an impression of the Rolling Stones, before I knew what they looked like individually.  I hear now the caged metal sing … the harmonica howl.

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First:  some poems – and a drawing from a later series, 1968:

Poet and child 

2 :  Gramophone Poems:  Music at night – written during 1964 – 66.  I worked on all the poems since then, to express what I then felt, more clearly; for I recall the flavour of each episode they were written to. 

A few were linked, by association, to the drawings.  Where this is the case, I put the poem and picture side by side.  They are mostly metaphysical, as I tried to camouflage my obsessions;  I loved the dark.  I had tackled Dickens at eleven, and now my muse was Franz Kafka.  At school, Milton on the First Rebellion, was a catalyst.  Meanwhile, at home, my father – a farmer –  followed J.Krishnamurti, and practiced on his family!   This intensified my liking for abstract thought.  From an early age, I felt burdened with a  consciousness to deliver and unfold.

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Music at Night  

Do a pair of living hands
breathe my soul
inside the box?

From a shadowy land
over the sea to this,
some dying thing has passed,
coiled in a shining disk.

Placed on turntable, tripped by switch,
the snake unwinds, reveals
a city, seething
brand new humanities.

Adam promised
to read this book for me,
to open my own
untrodden land.

He may have walked my fields –
he bought them long ago
before he was even born ;
nothing then was his.

“Dust incarnate,” God has said,
– “to dust of stars return.”

1965

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Symphony on the Gramophone

Needle
trace for my ear
your story along the groove
of a glossy black planet
that quietly turns.

So many voices are sown
in this furrow you plough
as my black field rolls your circle
into its core
slowly scratching.

I, in the dark room hearing,
stare at the embers.

1964

ALT:  carry you round and round / a slowly diminishingcircle / to the centre,/ softly scratching

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3 :  Confession.  A desire to confess, or confide.  What a lot of time we passed, gazing into the embers on winter evenings.  I do not remember doing this painting.  I found it in a folio of my school work, and it surprised me!  It must have been when I was about thirteen.  The red glow in it is intense.  Those are the old wooden shepherds’ chairs we had in the music-room;  my parents had them in Scotland, and my mother sewed rough grey army-blankets around the upholstery.  The furniture was the family’s “face”, we hardly saw it.  Yet I touch – in here –  the dark wooden arms, scuffed to a smooth, pale yellow. 

I was desperate for a confidante.  This was not because my hardworking parents were unreceptive.  It was the struggle of arranging my interior intensities into an articulate presentation, time and place; and my fear of being teased or losing face.  Pipe smoke is reassuring, and gives me time.  Later on, I smoked heavily, to companion an equally intense lover, during our battles to communicate.

This painting – (I portrayed myself as a bloke in those days, because as a young female I felt vulnerable and confused) – has a reassuring, spacious quality.  We might be listening to music.  How rocklike, warm and relaxed my listener is.  I hear the hissing, spitting sparks of the fire;  the slow crumblings of the log – sometimes it tinkled as it fell to ash.   There was an abundance of apple and elm wood, which we chopped.  Fire in the wood is a wonderful image for Karmic issues, slowly burning out.

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To my poems in the 1960s, I add more, written in 2010 –  my own feedback to the resurrected memories.  Like the early poems, they grew as inward songs towards the deep.

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Film Clips – A Hard Day’s Night Movie

There were milk machines.  You put in two bob, and out came cool fresh milk in a cardboard box.
“I fought the war for your sort” – “Bet you’re sorry you won!”

Floaty fans wore tall fluffy hair with long ends, school uniform, ties, fawn socks, and ran and stretched their hands and broke their hearts in railway stations.  They burst the sound-crew’s ear drums

“I never realized what a kiss could be” – “you love me too.”  Hiding in the luggage van – a lad wants girls, then there are too many;  the lad is snoring, cos he’s a window rattler.

There are minders keepers, and jam butties for breakfast, and the sheer joy of hippy shakin’, in sweaters, blouses, skirts, frocks. Free LOVE.   Hey!  He shaved the mirror, he knows just where to look.  Are you a Mod or a Rocker then?  Neither – I’m a Mocker.  Just turn left at Greenland.  It’s grotty – y’know what I mean?  Grotesque!

From  laddering the back stage, split timbers and frowsy dressing rooms, the Fab Four burst  into high harmonic frame – CAN’T BUY ME LOVE (a belted 12-bar blues) – running out to perform four squares rough tumble on the grass roots;  the helicopter scooped it up, soaring skyward, even though the camera was low on battery and shot slow frames.

Between gigs, there are board games of shove ha’penny for high stakes – “Tell me why, why why why you lie, and why you always cry to me?” That horn rim glasses guy among the camera crew turns up everywhere, in every city.  I know him.  He is slightly hip.  Perhaps he’s David Hockney.

Meet Dick Lester.  He is a Goon movie director.  He’s stylish, ex wide-boy, and nutty as a professor:  “using hysteria to control the natural exuberance.  Like, I tell the camera crew – you are my eyes.  Do your stuff!  Let it happen!”  In later years, he would say, “How could I know what was going on in the 1960s?  I was the centre of the universe!”

When McCartny snipped the tailor’s tape:  “I now declare this bridge/synagogue/fish and chip shop OPEN”,  the English Happening opened for business.  Victor Spinetti wore the gay pullover, because Brian was shy.  They said – write a song, boys, for the movie.  Ringo quipped – but that’ll take a hard day’s night!   The song was written overnight, AFTER the shoot was in the can. “Guys, we got a hit song on demand!”

America’s media top brass, at the first screening said  “I don’t know what that was about, but I think we’re gonna make a lot of money.”

A dreaming grandpa – Britain’s world famous rag and bone man – got himself cranked up onstage and down again as the Wurlitzer organ took a nap.  How anti-Hollywood.

2010

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4 :   Hard Days Night.    Heavy hair fringe, and Beatle suits!  I painted it black.  I painted the whole paper deep, rich black, mixing many colours, and then onto it went the yellow street-lamp.  The heavy paint dries out the cheap sugar-paper – it is amazing these paintings have not crumbled away.

The Beatle with his briefcase wants to get home to his girl:  he dances in the street, because it’s cold, it was – a hard day’s night, what makes him shiver?  And they made a film, and it all went crazy, the can bust open on street corners and in railway carriages, and it is a fabulous hit.   It turned the stars around. I thrill to that heavy clash on the electric strings where it starts – Owww – you know, I feel alright

And I’m also a shake, a hippy hippy shake-shake, I can’t sit still, for goodness sake I burst with the pills.  I’m a dancer and a shaker and it’s dark, unbearable, she’s not there and OWWW – you know I feel alright.

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Little Children …  (a song by Billy J.Kramer and the Dakotas, 1964)

Such neat, shining boys, with smooth ducks tails and tie.  How could you guess he’d slip you candy and a sixpence not to spy and tell on him, so he can kiss your elder sister on the settee without little children like you around?

For the little children are peekin’ and gigglin’, why don’t y’all just go bye bye.

Neat boys with smooth ducks tails and sandy cheeks – big sister going steady – can’t you keep a secret?  The house is too small, the family too large for kisses and sniggers.

Children, stay under the stairs.  It is thudding through stripy pyjama wallpaper, while Mum rakes out the kitchen range, and Dad is not yet back for his tea.

2010

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Evening in the Snowdon Hut

Boy with sandy hair
play a poke o’ smoke against the dark …
window pane

mirrors my interior
tumult, climbers’ mess on chairs and tables
plunge and soar like
mountains in the Night outside

but the
Darkness pressed on the window
prisoned my impression:  the firs
softly stir the warm

night air outside
my beating bird.

1964

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5 :   Evening in the Snowden Hut … A memory from my first climbing holiday away from home.  I was 15.  Every time I see this painting, I hear “Little Children” through Radio Luxembourg’s drifts of crackle and static – a haunting tune, with pictures in my mind. The scene is just the lads, but I have a calf’s love for one of them, and I pretend to be a lad too, so he won’t notice.  I am not safe.  He wears a blue jersey in the distant reflection.  I feel only just contained within the window, and I hear the trees outside in the dark, the wind, their branches beating softly on the pane.

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School Girl (1969) by Argent/Supertramp, Words & Music by Russ Ballard

Remember when you were a schoolgirl, schoolgirl
when we played love games like children do.

And in some games I used to pull your hair
and other games at your house with no one there.

Schoolgirl, schoolgirl;  those love-letters that you handed to me
Schoolgirl,,schoolgirl;  early Mondays and Sundays for tea,
I must have been a fool not to fall for you
when you were a schoolgirl.

Remember when you were a schoolgirl, schoolgirl
those holidays when I showed you what I had,
remember when your mother caught us there;
my father kept me in for being bad.

Schoolgirl … …

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6  :     School girl.  This is me, with my satchel, pretending to do my homework.  He also is me, with a lean and hungry look;  the glamorous adult angst.  I watched the streets for him.  I called him “K”, because I was reading Kafka.  Perhaps I am waiting for the bus.  The yellow streetlight stains the figures.  The glass reflecting night, is a recurring theme.  We have here, an interface of worlds;  the shadows pass, like those in Plato’s cave, in conversation. 

Which is the inner and which the outer plane?  Which is reality, and which the passing show?   One of those souls in the dark window turns, to look at you!  That face behind the schoolgirl, your own reflection, might be her spirit guide.

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Strangers in Trains (1)

Dark lights in here
rattle an echo through
night, wind rushed, we
slumped to the rails’ gallop
through sleeping soils

and the stranger
laid his head on my shoulder
to sleep
(just us few scattered together) and the sea
fluttered softly –

I felt so proud I
knew not how to bear
the honour of his heavy head
and breath ;

we are a grown up city now
upon the sleepers

and in the ocean of night,
a ship’s light
still moves slowly,  far
from our dim, swift shore
which heaves.

Her waves lap gentle
time on the window, but no boat
awaits us, only the

city lights
long ways behind.

1964

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7 :   Couple in the Night:  Strangers in trains or ships.  Ah!  I see that picture with this poem in mind – the distant lights –  though the actual train journey was another time, and reminds me of the open voyage when we are young – may it never end!  

There are places on the edge of towns, which are deserts and death.  Where is he taking her?  That is a very small suitcase.  What did they abandon – or who abandoned them?  That badly mended tear down the night, and into him, is how he feels.  But look into his eyes, and you meet a pagan god, an orgasmic power of the will from primordial space.  She is deeply resigned and accepting, like a Madonna.  She is his strength, she keeps him in touch, she holds his left hand – his subconscious.  She is lit from that window of a house, which he does not see.   They are moving on, from some deep trouble or sorrow.  The world is changing.   This picture too is black;  and painted on with light.

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Hippy Hippy Shake

Hitting the town tonight
I jingle here like coins
Beatles and
the Swinging Blue Jeans.

The thrill is in the bag
and I’m a stand-up guy,
I don’t feel no frost
pockets rattlin’.

And the
rocker tunes, the buzz of
Billy Fury bikers fill
the road with
accelerated innocence;

on the pillion are
girls behind the glass
with powdered lips and eyes of sand
and passions in their purses
I don’t understand.

Those brief sexy jets
drive me crazy I can’t sit still
yet here I stand –

here it stands –
Ooh-ooh! the hippy shake-shake
OWWWW!

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8 :   Youths.  The dark haired one is called Manfred.  He developed a strong character in my drawings and inner world.  He wears a black velvet suit and tie, but his hair and face are wild, and he is stoned.  He never sleeps; the streetlights paint the hollows in his face.  He is an educated man, in style a “Mod”, but he’s hanging out here with one of his “Rocker” friends.  Unconsciously they lean on that fragile illumined membrane with the night.  The Mods were mostly in Taunton, the Rockers in rougher Bridgewater. As crusading cavalry on macho Harleys and mirror-twinkling Lambrettas, their warfare outraged good folk, and stood no test of time on beach or promenade.

He’s called Manfred, because the sound in the pop group Manfred Mann, evoked him for me.  His friend is a big bloke, with duck-ass hairdo, brylcreme and a clean shirt.  I hear the warm snap of his lighter.  It’s Saturday night.  Good pair of legs!  He wears winkle pickers, but you can’t see them.  The darkness around Manfred is sensual and sexy. The velvet tone of yellow on black, excited me, when night fell.  It is like a bumble bee.

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9:     Lovers in charcoal.   This is a detail from (33).   Here is the reckless fruit, on a railway footbridge near Taunton School.  I saw them in the corner of my eye as I passed somewhere;  went home and drew them.  How passionate and joyful they are!  They are alive – those violent struts and strokes of charcoal around them, are shadows, almost coming to life – the iron rails and wooden boards – an erotic life.

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And here is the artist:

An early drawing, 1954

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… and a black and yellow bumble bee

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Follow the Beehive in Boots

Follow the Beehive in Boots

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THE RECKLESS FRUIT Book One, Chapter 2 – “Don’t Throw Your Love Away”

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(THE “TAUNTON BLACK DRAWINGS SERIES” BEGINS)

Human Candle …

flame struggles to burn a
smothering cloak; yearns to fire
the void it cannot conquer

but breaking through,
glimpses a flicker, gone

while sunny thrush
tugs out the worm.

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10 :  Viola.  This lady’s name is Shirley Mason.  She played string quartets with my parents.  She was rather a chatterbox, but a fine musician.  This sketch reveals the beauty in her repose and bone structure – my parents liked it.  She draws breath, and waits within.  Musicians hear “the space around the notes”, particularly in Mozart;  and the essence of music is listening.

I’m placing Shirley and her instrument here, to open the main drawings’ sequence.  I was a young pianist myself;  it sharpened my perceptions.  I relish the way my different worlds of classical and pop music, rub shoulders.

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World Without Love” – a Paul McCartny song/by Peter and Gordon in 1964

Peter and Gordon on Radio Lux …

In the Snowdon climbers’ hut,
high above Llanberis, I hear
through blurry blasts of static, the
radio on the mantelpiece –

Please lock me away, don’t
allow the day, I can’t stay
in a world without love.

 One of the guys here
“thrutches” a Grade-Seven Flying Buttress practice
climb around
the kitchen door frame – unroped stress for real
on questing toe and finger tip.

The others, clattering crocks
and shattering decks of cards,
brew tea and leave
the pots and pans to congeal.

Softly, those descanting vocals
tap the buzzing walls;
red hairdo and horn rim specs,
college scarf and tinkle strings,

their names are
Peter and Gordon, and the trees
feathering the wind outside, just hide the moon
and nobody cares

what they say
but everyone plays

the fool, and I wish
I didn’t love him so.

2010

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11: Taunton ‘64.    This pub is more probably in Cym y Glo, near Snowdonia.  Gathered at the bar, are the lads I met in the Snowdon Hut in April 1964 – on a basic hill-craft course organized by The Mountaineering Association.  It was my first time away from home.  My mother loaded me up with 30lb of potatoes and veg from the garden – which ended up feeding us all. The young man in specs with his back to you is the one I was fond of;  (the others all teased me, so that is how it happened) – his name is Prothero, and he wears a pale blue jersey.  Next to him are Bernard and other undergraduates at Selwyn College, Cambridge.

Compositionally, all these people stand back to back!  It is a rift valley.  The young woman in the foreground holds her glass with a certain bravado – she is myself – she doesn’t want to betray her tender heart, she’s trying to brazen it out, with bluff, uncaring ways.  The lonely man in front of her, with a pint, is also myself.  He feels deeply divided and unloyal.  He fidgets, reaches into an inner pocket, but finds nothing.

He is the first of my “Taunton Black Drawings” series.  He and the woman could be a marriage;  yet she has a boyfriend too, who tries to get her attention.  Now she starts to look bitter.  I like the darts players – the best details in a drawing are often those to the periphery – and the time on the clock – nearly closing time, but still a bit left for drinkers.

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After Annapurna  (and after Snowdonia)

The bus jolts on:
Himalaya dwindles away.
The drama back there
is a thing of the past.

When the peak is over, and the pain,
dead flesh starts to rot
as we always descend;  the ascent
conquered glory;  and now the grief.

Steep snows, cascading crags, mighty passes
are no more …
no more are the hills.
In front, it is flat country.

The bus jolts on.
So goes the river
and the road.
We’ve all been through it together.

1963

12 :  Shoppers.  I include this, and the next drawing as an afterthought.  They are crudely sketched in thick brown felt-tip; they have met in the Womens’ Institute, or for morning coffee.  I did not empathise with housewives and mothers. 

I see now in this drawing, some female characters of the 1960s – and indeed at any time – whom we all might recognize.  I like its almost painterly movement – the space like a valley, between the women:  their conversation.  I sense a passion – I wanted to paint the people in the streets of Taunton, a grand project;  but ran out of steam.  The fire didn’t “catch”, yet.  The smudges and ravages of time, enhance the composition.

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“Don’t Throw Your Love Away”/The Searchers 1964

Up the Charts

I heard this tune in my ears
as well, crawling along
Crib Goch razor ridge
above the mist with chill fingers and aching toes.

Sensible advice they give!
these Searchers.
They are moving up
the charts.

Don’t throw your love away
as paper in abyss.
Keep your life, your dreams.
You might be needing them some day.

No, no no no!  these boys
are so clean cut with their guitars,
their tidy drums and
angel choir hey-yay-yeas,

they fly on the biting wind
like kestrels
straight up to the Snowdon summit caff
in the sky.

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2010

13 :  Flute – My brother.  This is the only sketch of my brother Simon, in the series.  I worked off my anti-family feelings, by mocking them in my drawings.  The title of this drawing is “The Juvenile and Adult Flautist”.  The mother gently helps her son to play.  Then she plays it herself, looking rather ravaged;  for the children take her energy.   The idea flags up my adventure to come – my juvenilia enters an adult world.

 

 

Simon, some years later.  Like myself, he loved the Liverpool mythos and the rhythms that hit the scene.

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Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey/Gerry and the Pacemakers, late ’64

“Life goes on day after day,
hearts torn in every way,
so ferry ‘cross the Mersey,
‘cause this land’s the place I love …”

I didn’t get to Liverpool until 1968, when I went to art-school there.  The Cavern was still open, but the butterfly had flown.   I knew Liverpool before its modern makeover began.  I crossed the Mersey many times, and heard the steamers fog-horns on those bold grey-brown waters, and the thready honk of the Liver Building clock.  The building was jet black with soot then, before they scrubbed it white.   It throbbed – the thrill of having been the hub of the beat scene.  It was cold, windy, friendly, tough and gutsy, with the new, mixed marriages, and pubs and clubs for sailors; the tarts plied their trade in Upper Parliament Street.  Acres of Liverpool 8 were still flattened by the bombs of World War Two:  the kids played truant from school in the Anglican cathedral, and lit fires in the open wastelands where a few terraces still stood like broken teeth.  In the cafes, we bought bacon butties and chips with curry sauce, wrapped in newspaper. In the pubs we drank Newcastle Brown.  The principal at college warned us not to haunt Princes Street and Huskisson Square at night – ensuring that we did!

How many rock and blues bands were born in pubs, in drinking fraternities, in sing-songs around the piano?  The old people from the slums got up and danced  till their teeth dropped out – the warm, urgent pathos of family sorrows.

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14 :   Honky Tonk.   Here’s a new sound!  Somebody said the other day, these guys all look gay.  Well?  Other view-points are valued – like different seats at the same table.  My two-dimensions spring into three, and even four;  they come to life.  In those days I knew nothing of homosexuality, but felt safe with male comradeship in pubs and among farm workers.  The pub piano is a “Joanna”.  Her battered keys are stained with nicotine.  Her cracked dissonances warm up the sing-song reminiscences in the room.  (Sometimes the sound of an untuned – and therefore abused – piano frightened me, and made me want to run away.)  Her brown shellacked case on which so many pints have stood, is splintering at the edges.  I made the pianist’s jersey too black – using charcoal and crayon pencil, I think – but black it stayed.  I don’t remember where I “saw” this drawing, nor do I remember doing it;  but his hands are pounding away fiercely; that tight, male energy.  The Joanna is a working girl.  Amplifying systems were superfluous.

..

 Lyrics by Little Richard, sung by The Swinging Blue Jeans

Well, good golly Miss Molly, you sure like to ball, when you’re shakin’ and a shoutin’ can you hear your mama call?  From the early early morning to the early early night, when I caught Miss Molly rocking at the house of blue light, Ooohh!  good golly Miss Molly – well now Mama, Papa told me “son, you better watch your step – what I knew about Miss Molly, gotta watch my daddy myself … Waaah …

..

Levis

Good golly, in the tub
shake and
shrink ‘em on your butt and thighs

beatle-ing thick
fringe style  – and Hey!  Four
Three Two One
clumped around the mike
let’s get out there  –

heaven’s hell bent harmonic screams
small town
heads swing together like
pin-ball machines;

those
leggy twangs of strings
a-hoppin’ and a-knottin’,
a-rockin’ and a-rollin’

pack the County
Hotel Ballroom for a gag that pays
the squares  –
disco birds a-gogo,

school and typing pool
twit their tits to guys that stand around
the walls they
can’t keep still …

and as you grab she’s gone
to powder her nose.

Good golly in the tub
I lay and wet
my groovy blue jeans!

2010

..

15 :   The Swinging Blue Jeans.  More “male comradeship”!
In the beginning there was Rock n’ Roll, then there was the Twist, and then the Shake.

..

His Hair

He came out of the door now,
white shirt and tie, pushes his dark brown hair
in the wind, smiles,

other hand in pocket – speaks;
she saw him through the window where he works,
she ran across the street,

they chat, oh yes he’s cool.
We held her school bag, watch, not half
she shows him off and yet

she doesn’t dare, they move apart – Mrs
Garrow on the street,
they might be seen –

“You know,” said she when she blushed back
“he MUST be OK,
he went out with Mrs
Maxwell’s daughter when

his
hair
was short” – but They

don’t know she goes out with him they mustn’t
because his
(Hair)

is long.

1964

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16  :   His hair is long.  I like drawing peoples’ legs, both men and women.  This was another romantic glimpse from the family car – or perhaps from the farm car darting by – through North Petherton, a village near Bridgewater.  It might have been in Bridgewater itself.  This town on the Parrett estuary is flat and rather seedy, with seagulls overhead.  My drawing has transformed it into a Cornish fishing village, but the pavement as far as the house with an open door, and those inviting stairs (!) is recognizably North Petherton – or “Petherr’on” as the locals said.  Here’s a Somerset guy, and isn’t he leading me on.  I’m in love!  But who is he going to?  What became of him, after his flash inspired my drawing? Where does he live now?

The poem “His Hair” is situated in Taunton where I was at school.  The girl was called Pauline Turner – she was naughty and successful with the boys.  She ran across the road, just where the old Odeon used to be;  where Station Road joins French Weir Avenue.  Taunton is the county town of Somerset, and quite posh, Bridgewater was the poor relation;  you could smell the “bad eggs” from the old cellophane factory for miles around.  We lived in a village called West Newton, exactly half way between the two towns.

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72 SB Young man with crossed legs & cigarette

Radio Luxembourg East Reach

Now it is smoky evening;  lights
begin to glimmer pale dusk;  the girlies
prop up the chippery
just opened;  they are waiting.

(this is a pause) “It’s
     a lonely town tonight…”

static transparent for
the knob to turn and
life unscrew.

What is my
Craving universal
there in the Dark

ness?

1964

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17:   The Chippery.  It is almost intolerable to wait in the window pane at dusk, in the dead grey town, for the wolves, the colour, the excitement to come on with the streetlights.  In that borderline, school ends at 4; the shops close at 5.30; pubs open at 6.   It is 7, and will soon be dark.  I’m in East Reach, one of Taunton’s main shopping streets, and I saw these young women in the window.  The chips are still frying;  they will be wrapped in newspaper.  I didn’t like this drawing at first – it hadn’t “worked”, and I began to rub it out.  Then I stopped:  look  – the erasures are streaks of rain on the window pane, and with them, the interior springs to life.

..

Captured

Moth, drawn into
lit room
knocks blind

glaring walls,  held
prisoner in the light,
chased by a lurching shadow.

Caught
in a dark hot cage of hands,
whirrs captive wings that

push this clammy cell
to the night outside where
suddenly it flutters

free.

1965

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18: Poems on Captivity –  written perhaps six months later.  They express a bid for freedom; too often there is recapture into the mind’s pleasure-seeking toil, or into the “the family way” of the world.

Sometimes the path to freedom is itself arduous and uncomprehending.  The moth, fluttering hard, has no conception of the cage as an amnesty, letting go.  (See the facing page to No.20)

The poems suggest a feeling from within, and from “outside”, simultaneously.  “On the fence” are  fledgling loyalties that tug to each side, while growing up.

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An Obsession

When the house on the plain
unspokenly
became my own to freely enter,

seeing her naked face, her truth,
I gladly ran
over the grass at night to claim
my home.

When I went inside,
her roof closed over
as I lit my trail along
a wondering dark virginity.

Every door stood open
to each path of song
I probed.

My newly born kingdom
has triumphed over me;

I’m trapped in her fantastic walls,
no longer mute and true;

as I made her face, my prison,
I am her slave, I cannot leave!

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83 SB Square toe shoes

1965

..

Twilight

A cigarette glows
in the pit of dark shadow
cast by the pier.

Its parent sun smoulders
among horizon’s clouds.

The dying flare
blinds my eyes
that strain to see
the first star burn alive;

then the breathing earth
turns her bundled body,

boring through the grey
feather bedding
to wed and generate life
for the dawn.

1964

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19 :   The Angel Café.  This guy got caught, and he holds the baby.  He was a free spirit – a Hells Angel.  Now he is a king, captured into fatherhood.  He has a brand new land he is rather uncertain about,  He too is “on the window”;  he feels outcast from conviviality, like the old man further along, for whom the lights are out.  They have luggage as well as a plastic carrycot, they are out in the cold – where will they settle down?  She feels secure and in charge, pulling out a fresh nappy.  In a minute she will say “Give him to me.”  My grandfather remarked that her right leg in its stiletto is very beautiful – he would like it as a painting by itself – never mind all the rest.

I think they are “on the run”.  He cuddles his child with a committed tenderness, almost defiantly;  to demonstrate this situation to his old mates and ne’er-do-wells.  This drawing opened a new depth of humanity.  I must have worked on it for a few days;  again, a cameo struck my inner eye in passing, and in the darkroom grew.  I used a soft, dark pencil, and the rubber here and there, the way I discovered with “The Chippery”.  It is an amazing feeling to master as a young artist, these complex and uncharted adult relationships.  In his overcoat and winkle-pickers, he is almost centrally positioned in the “mirror”, and looks straight into me.  Who are you looking at, kid?

The picture also invokes my mixed feelings about marriage – an adventure and a Fall.  It was strange to see a man hold his child  – to know for sure, that he’d put it in her, and out it came.

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20 :    Strap hanging in the Tube.  I was excited with the so expressive hairpin mouth of this straphanger on the Underground.  It is one of those spontaneous strokes.

Someone asked, “Were the elderly couple my grandparents?”  No, they are too fragile to be my grandparents, but look at them being carried along on the train of progress.  This drawing has an authentic Underground lighting – that interior pressure.  What a pity I didn’t take more care with peoples’ hands and feet, in those days.  The shape of the man with a newspaper, drags open the “rift valley” space across the composition, for humanities to happen.  The old man’s face is tenderly revealed, like a monk.  Again you can just see reflections in the dark window – a vital life.

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THE RECKLESS FRUIT Book One, Chapter 3 – Mountain Interlude: Bivouac under the Stars

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Link to Book Two

This image, taken from the cover of “L’Autre Annapurna”, is for me extraordinarily arresting.  The high mountains encircle a lifetime’s urban odyssey.

The long poem below, was written when I was about fourteen, at school.  I tidied it up.  It had too many adjectives. Stripping them  from the silent ridges, the essence speaks.

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Bivouac Under the Stars – the Rope                           (1963)

The sun is dipping.
Dusk creeps over summits without a sound,
draining away the light, their blood of Life, to Death
the unfathomable dark.

We’ll have to bivouac tonight,
between the abyss
and twinkling myriad stars.

A ledge is found, just big enough for two,
a piton whanged into a resistant crack,
the rope fixed on – security.
I balance the stove on my knee.  He opens a tin.
Hell! that’s the matches gone!  – never mind, the stove’s alight.
The water boils; we gulp it down –
the warmth!

We hug our meagre meal.
Watch the coming night.

Slow, irretrievably it wanes.
To the west, the copper fury dims.
A rose tingeing the summits, dies.
Shadows lengthen hollow to hollow –
grey mantle creeping swiftly –
all is covered, all is sleeping.

..

..

With night comes cold …
Frost drops from degree to degree.
Suspension of all motion reigns.

The cold devours.  We sing to survive.
On the edge, our ballads, love-songs, memories of warmth –
the abyss swallows up our plumes of breath.

..

..

The first star!
Finger points; more appear,
pricking the velvety heavens, twinkle, glitter, sparkle.
We pick out constellations one by one –
glad – the weather, tomorrow!

Mist lies on the valley floor.
Far, far in the other world,
a light gleams;  civilization.

The vast black splendours, mystical with
our death’s fragility, plunge and soar.

Dark, yet darker still, it flows.
The symphony softly hums and rumbles.
Harmony has a deathly tenderness.
Silently, it congeals our bones.

We close our eyes and try to drift – as cold strata flows.
Our dreams together – other climbs – tomorrow’s tension from this ledge  –
emerge, encircle, turning over and over, smoke curling lazily up and up …

..

..

He moves;
reality surges back –
the darkness of the deep, starry splendour.
All is still.  That twinkling light is gone.
The symphony stopped.
A diaphanous purity prevails, petrified, frozen, velvety.
My companion stirs; he, too is sleeping.

Hours creep past,
I doze and watch by turns
the dark mantle away to distant horizon
till it is the sky.

I’m in my world, and he in his.
I’m scared.

..

..

Drifting away – the cold.  The stony ache.
I wake again; a pale light glimmers, in the far East –
dawn.

He’s awake, we’re brothers again.
Together we watch it coming.

No word passes between us.
In the rock, and with the rope, we love, we are one.

In day’s early hour, we catch
our Life stealing the soft march over Death.

A faint streak of pallor widens, attunes to green, luminous blue.
Slowly, the dark void takes shape and form.

The summits are now tipped with gold.
Rivers of light spill forth, pour down their flanks.

..

..

I see the
faceless phantoms of my night fly back
across the chasm, to fields of simple snow
whose brilliance flares in the dark
like fire.

The sky to the East, ruddy gold,
streaked with  red and peach,
crowns the glory of the Sun rising slow,
majestic from the mist,
bathing the peaks in our love,
in love
with warmth and life.

..

..

The stone in chilled limbs, thaws.
The piton is knocked out, our rucksacks made up,
the rope tied on.

Once again, we as comrades shall be united
on our crazy, fantastic, upward journey
into the unknown.

..

..

published in The Weirfieldian  in 1963

Photographs from Regards Vers L’Annapurna and Etoiles et Tempetes, both published by Arthaud in the early 1950s:   “dawn” is a photo by Fosco Maraini  in “Karakorum“.

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THE RECKLESS FRUIT Book One, Chapter 4 – Family Life and “Down Town”

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21:   Climbers on the Rope:  and poem, Bivouac Under the Stars – picking up at this point, my mountains, whose heights encircled the urban journey.  

The poem is very long, so I tucked it into the “Mountain Interlude” of Chapter 3.  It is authentic to who and what I am: and more generally,  our metaphysical yearnings and romance when we are young – a high-relief contrast to the street life and conformity.  The mountains form our ideals.  For the dark night contains also the eternal snows, and Self realisation.

The rope – whose stout twirl symbolizes also the Spirit – cements life-long adventures of friendship.  The rope attaches warm flesh and blood to the rock of ages.

At the time I wrote “Bivouac under the Stars”, I was mystically obsessed with mountains, and this addiction had begun to erode and collapse into unforgiving stony screes.  The poem – written for the school magazine – was a brief creative refuge from my fast encroaching “rationale”.  I wanted to go on worshiping the peaks, the strange sensation they gave me, the romance, the stories, the men who climbed them.  But the light was being withdrawn from them.  It became a dark night of the soul.  It marked the end of a phase.   Everything balances out.

The mountains were shining summits of where I now was going  – into the roots.  The young passion picked up the stars at night in the bars and streets – the hit parade.  All it needed was intense desire, empathy, and a willing hand with pen or charcoal …

..

..

Him

I want
us to be friends:
not with tingling heat
which turns
heads in the street that sneer
and call it love.

I’d like
us to know each other;
I’d like
to go with him
feel him beside me;
and not dark, so we can see –
ourselves together

I should
like to know I love him simply for him
I’d like to swim
with him through
diaphanous sparkling water, soft
as sunlight;

a shadow which jumps
and comes and goes.  I’d
like
to hold him, have him to me
(he is just
a living thing which breathes?)

I’d like to
simply
forget him.

1964

22 :    Horses.  My other passion, by then almost outgrown  – I rode a lot.  I mucked out and cleaned tack in the local riding-school, to get free rides;  in 1962 I took care of Lindy, a neighbour’s pony, for nine months.  These ponys’ heads are too small!  If my men climbed mountains of ice and snow, my girls rode warm mountains, which were horses.  When I had feelings I couldn’t express, or wanted to hide something, I would usually doodle and draw a horse – like National Velvet.

The ponies converge.  This is a drawing of interior friendship – I had at least one good friend at Weirfield school – but the aim of it all is still unclear.  These gently-educated girls are earnest dreamers;  the drawing was not a success.

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50 SB More Studies H

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100 SB Thoughtful man & fashions H

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Oak

The young, eager flexible sapling
newly sprung from the dark
moist earth

will one day
grow to the oak,
stubborn, unbending.

Would it not also give
every drop of its sap
to touch the ground again
for the first time?

1964

..

As the child who wrote this is now older in years, I do not see any oak as stubborn or unbending.  My friend the poet Kevan Myers prompted the lines about touching the ground.

..

23 :    Ironing.   Here is my sister Quince, when aged about thirteen.  This drawing has lain face to face with the climbers on the rope.  An osteo-myelitis condition in her right hip, disabled her, during her teens;  she fell back on her inner-creative world, and seemed much more integrated with the family than I was.  She was a home lover. She sang and played the recorder with our mother, and later, the flute.  I was restless, and continually provoked by my father’s spiritual quest.  Quince and I are close, and in those days we bickered a lot.  Quince became a potter, had three children and moved to France;  she replaced her hip.

This and the drawings that follow, is an introduction to my family.  Sometimes I sketched them in the evenings, when they were practicing.  The poems alongside have no particular connection, other than being written at about the same time.

..

..

Holiday Beach

Where pebbles of sun
slope down to meet
in-creeping tide

the stir of countless kingdoms,
whispering unique pocket
radio transmissions

lifts infinite cross-purposing
dictator ships
in dialogue with surf.

1965

24 :   Peter Adams.  Here is my father playing the violin in his expressive style;  his supple spine and sharp snort of breath before each phrase.  He wore sandals  – an unusual sight in those days – even when at work on the farm.  The tractor men all loved him and called him “Gaffer”.  They agreed to try out the almost-forgotten organic farming methods, and to share profits;  he fostered over the years a strong working community.  At home, when he had time, he studied Krishnamurti’s teaching, “sat quietly” in an empty room we called The Monastery.  He went up to London to go on CND marches, and used his family as a sounding board.

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66 SB Street scene

Stranger

In the street, he smiled
slightly, sad ;
and now
it is different between us.

1964

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25:  Sleepy Cats.  These are the two tom cats at Manor Farm, West Newton.  They were excellent ratters, and worked hard.  They were almost feral when we moved to Somerset in about 1959:  my sister and I coaxed them back to domesticity.  They were not allowed in the house, but worked their bed and board into warm places.   The tabby was called Mouldy, and the other was called Ginger.  They had broad, ugly faces, and six toes on each paw …  and so did all their West Newton progeny.  They could no longer miaow or yowl properly;  they croaked.  They enjoyed a good working life among the fields, the elm trees and the barns, and both of them died at a great age, from throat cancer.

..

..

Great Aunt Appelonia

In the splendour
of her blowing scarlet cloak ,
her bony frame

ventures
to the pillarbox
down the road with an envelope;

and like a child
when a robin redbreast sings,
she jibs around to see

and the wind flaps
her frail great sails –

quivering ship in harbour
from the voyage.

1965

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Another photo, with the wind blowing her mac, and an elm behind her.

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26:   Music Room.  These sketches are of my parents, and of my father’s Aunt Appelonia, who had studied with Emil Sauer, a pupil of Liszt.  She was tall, bony and passionate – a Czech.  Her fiancé went down in the Titanic.  My mother is wearing her long Paisley-pattern evening-dress, and is about to sing.   My father is cleaning his violin and meditating by the music-room window.  He called it “sitting quietly” – it seemed rather a forbidding pastime.

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Religion

Frosty leaden sky
over the misty
morning chilled
and busy town:

church tower
soaring
tentative above
and into the sky:

silhouette bone grey, ethereal
lifts frail spars
to four upper spires
tapering point to sky –

what a beautiful finger
made by man!

1964

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27 :    Quince, practicing.  That is the precise character and curve of her leg and foot;  the way she walks still, with her toes a bit turned in.  Piano practice was a daily discipline, in the morning before school.  I rather think that as the more ardent pianist, I hogged this hour.  It has stood me in good stead;  my mind is at its best in the mornings.

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63 SB Sensitive girl

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Dishonest Misery

My love is a dumb
unspoken thing in the dark
unformed, and yet with force
I cannot rule or shape.

I’ve broken him !
Just one word – such clever clogs.
Like a broken toy he lies shattered
and I cannot find him

for the room is dark:
the light
streams dim through cracks
of the closed door.

1964

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28:   Recorders.  My poor mother looks very dreary in my drawings – this was a standing family joke.  She is a warm and ardent hill-walker, friend and cellist.  In those days, she coped with an enormous, unheated house and vegetable garden, the varied gifts of her three brats, the responsibilities of being the farm-manager’s wife, and the ups and downs of living with my father.  She has a unique vitality and commitment to life.  She and I did not get on during my teens;  yet she was usually my first confidante.

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.. 

The Wave  (“Always Something there to Remind me”/Sandy Shaw 1964)

So be it. Past is gone.
Present is Now –
waiting, numb heart for the next seventh wave
to fill and flood my land, and land the fish.

On this sandy shore
was always something there
to remind me 

hearing her say, she sobs “When shadows fall,
I pass a small cafe where we would dance at night
And I can’t help recalling how it felt
to kiss and hold you tight …”

Pop diva strutting barefoot
brokenly, smiles brave on stage,

her glossy bangs and big bad voice
from Dagenham
all the way to the top

of the wave.

Walking the small
town streets.
I try to remind myself
how I am the wave.

Past is gone.
To wave is Now –
and I am
the fish I want to catch …

1964, 2010

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29 :  My father.  Here he is again, with his beloved instrument.  This sketch has lain against “Light Dark Reflect” – the pipe smoker in the window – and the “Winklepickers” in North Petherton (31 and 32).

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A Dream about Being on the Fence:  A Poem on Captivity

I rode my white pony every Sunday
said the girl in love with the dense dark-green
wood over the fence where
she played and the

pony waited on the edge
of the strange field, whinnying
to be taken home.

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30 :  Light Dark Reflect.  Returning to my odyssey:   If you turn back to “The Angel Café” (no.19), you can find this same young man with heavy glasses, he is almost hidden inside the cafe, behind the window frame.  He seems to have forgotten whom he waits for.

I never liked this picture, for in it I see my own isolation and ennuie; but it found a warm response recently, and so it helps me to look afresh, through a different pair of eyes.   I meet a philosopher, or student of the awaking town, his back to the busy hum of life. He gazes into space, he dreams and smokes, his amber beer-glass forgotten;  it reminds me of my painting (on the cover) of “Discovery”.

Consider this:  you are the dark mirror he gazes into – a place of meeting.  You are the street unseen, the passer-by.  You are his window; you receive his private hinterland, his soul.   Consider this also:  the play of the dark and the light – the negative in photography, the plate, the photo-sensitive psyche.  And further:  the square of light he’s in, which is yet a bubble.  For we look through the glass darkly …

I remember also, feeling lonely like a dry well, and the excitement when a street or café filled up with life, a glow of lights and noise, the Mods and their girls who clumped together there.  A life-style quickened for sure.  It lay just beyond my pubescent reach.   Imperiously it beckoned me.

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Tide Out

Sun taps
drowsily an empty harbour;
sea is far beyond the gate.

Vessels lie dry on
waste mud, groovy slack
Egyptian delta.

The tide left
a slimy stranded trace
high up the rotten walls

and youths stroll unused
along the pier:
radio throbs

“one of these days these boots
are gonna
walk all over you …”

battery conking out
as blue jeans shank
lazy together
on the wall.

1965/6

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31 :   “Winkle pickers”.  I spotted these youths unused one afternoon in North Petherton, but the later poem about the “Tide Out” sits well with them.   The day’s rope is slack;  they are up to no good.“THINGS WILL BE GREAT WHEN YOU’RE DOWN TOWN …”

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Things will be Great when you’re Down Town ...”  (Petula Clark, 1965)

Over the bus stop hill
after Thurloxton,
curve of pitch black ink blots
bus, and bus don’t come.

And down in the dumped-out dried-up sticks
– you can’t wait to be
Down Town !  uplifting
Petula’s pavement petallings –

the dolls in the river,
the dresses and the drinks –
for boy, the lights are so
much brighter there,

and she said “You’ll find a friend” –
your mother won’t know…

Over the bus stop hill
comes green double decker,
ticket and hard, bright squares, and
never quick enough

for I can’t wait to be Down Town
where the grownups are pretty
and sidewalks are glitzy
for Rockering,

and caffs are filled
with those modish, wolvish ones
my mother won’t know –

who cannot know themselves
how easily their faces speak
for me to drink  –

Down Town
where pink petalled lips breathily lick
the mike,
there are movie shows

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32 :  Harriet and Manfred.  Harriet is barely visible, to the left, but her presence is strong.  She’s a big girl, with plump legs.  He’s a lean, hungry alley rat.  The sailor whom they are both watching, to the right, is smoking Players Please.  A tip from Michelangelo Antonioni: we can move in and  “film” their open, spatial field, while they are distracted.  This ‘third-party’ perception within us gains access to their thoughts and dreams.  On the other hand, self-absorbtion – the armoured gaze – is opaque, and locks out intimacy.

Some of those bright, sharp stares are those of the farm people, folded with the land – “Oh-arrh!” – in broad Somerset.

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THE RECKLESS FRUIT Book One, Chapter 5 – Taunton Black Drawings: Ready Steady Go

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14 SB Tight jeans & net stockings

“Other eyes see stars up in the skies;  for me they shine in your eyes.  As the trees reach up for the sun above, so my arms reach out to you for love;  with your hand wrapping in mine, I feel a power so divine.”

Cilla Black, You’re My World 1964

Criss Crossing

My secret rapture
glimpsed
them crossing

each other’s
path of life with joy.
Running home

with charred stick,
I carve
in my stone age cave
their mark.

2010

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33 :  The Lovers Cross the Railway.  Here they are – in their complete setting, on the planky footbridge.  It looks more like the approach to Paddington Station, than Taunton.  But like many country towns, Taunton had a lot of railway sidings.  The lovers boldly cross the trains of destiny … where?

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76 SB Courreges zip

RSG Signature Tune

YEAH –
READY STEADY GO !

Groovy
jazzy jizzy blues,
drummer cut mike harmonica flipping
flower gutter rutting flutter

swinging FIVE
galvanic metal strings
FOUR THREE TWO ONE

uh huh
it’s the Manfreds’
Age of History

oh yeah
we’re on the air!

2010

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34 :   Pick of the Pops.  This band is Manfred Mann, with Paul Jones, lead singer (an impression from memory), Tom McGuinness behind him, Mike Hugg on the drums, Mike Vickers harmonica, Manfred Mann at the keyboard, and an additional bass guitarist.  They were at Oxbridge, they remind me of the lads in the Snowdon Hut.  The screens are my impression of TV stage sets.    

Hi there, pop pickers!  Alan Freeman’s adenoids – His Thursday night signature tune on Radio One was as eagerly awaited as the mens’ Match of the Day jingle on Saturdays. The Manfreds weathered well, and are in their sixties, and still grooving.

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 THERE SHE WAS, just a walkin’ down the street/Manfred Mann 1964;
PRETTY WOMAN, are you lonely just like me?/Roy Orbison 1964

Joined to my Shadow

I feel like a tailor cutting cloth
with power to my elbow.

I feel I am joined to my shadow
chasing me,

she’ll come to my door
to kiss some more

he’ll turn to me
and shuffle my feet

he’ll cut my dress
way over my head

and let it fall
not quite to my thighs

for he’s a rattling and a shaking She’s
so good to me …

and in the street the heat
is in my blood to flood

and fill the night
with chimes that bite –
the power to my elbow:  write.

2010

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35 :   Doo Wah Diddy   This is my breakthrough.  The window-pane broke, and my charcoal stick splashed a hieroglyph of power and confidence onto the page – black, rich black, and throbbing with sexual ambiguity.  Who is stalking whom, along the street?  She is bold and beautiful, you can hear her heels along the pavement.  He is horny, and wonderfully smudged.  Their facial expressions leaped to life, with a quick stroke of shadow.

Oh, whoah pretty woman …  are you lonely, just like me?”  (Orbison, his shades – Obsession …)

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Well, baby used to stay out all night long 
She made me cry, she done me wrong/ 
Jagger, Richards 1964

With Diamonds on his Arm

“Go shag a pile!

“Table turns. Her turn to cry.
My best mate and she
behind my back,
no place to shack,
take turns – who’s gonna try?

“Table turn,
my handkerchief stay dry.
Let Knightsbridge, Stepney, Saint John’s Wood
bleed down the wedding cake,

to remind her, if they could
my best mate is
no girl’s best friend  –

“Table turn
she’s out with diamonds on his arm,
minted from my heart.
She’ll walk clean off the board, and who’s to blame?

Table turns – now it’s
her turn, the tart to cry.”

So those hard grey stones
that hold in place the street, the windows, door
are blind, but saw it all before –
night after night,

turn-tabling the hit parade  –
for nothing new can shade
the juicy jade inside
Crawdaddy’s fruit.

The table turns the blues
a run-down stoop in black Mississippi south
to a London lad whose jumping jack flash mouth
on stage, scoops, he plays the dudes.

2010

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36 :  It’s All Over Now.  This is the Rolling Stone crying – that rude, raw, sexy Jagger in tears.  Sentimental, tough garage rock, betrayal, spite, broken heart – the mixture is lethal.   The Crawdaddy was the club, back of Richmond’s Station Hotel, where the Stones rose to fame.  (Turntable:  record player:  disc jockey).

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56 SB Folk guitarist

Night Ride

Bike:  dusky road fled my wheels.
Moon sheds her leaden crop
on naked earth.

Night revolves kaleidoscope
fairground carousel
at dawn’s threshold.

A spliff of cheap hot dog
breathes back of my throat with onions –
lingering feast.

Hold tight now, it’s Dave Dee,
Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch –

            Babe,
just ride my roundabout and shut your eyes!

1964

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37:  Parrett Riverside.   A windy day, where the Parrett opens into the Severn estuary, near Bridgewater.  The girl with the headscarf in the background is my sister Quince.  Near her are families on Sunday outings, passing.   The child aloft in its father’s arms – I feel the wind in their hair.

I am the young leather Rockers lying in the grass, who stare at ignorant “squares” like my family.  Their blue jeans “shank lazily together.”  My parents in their turn, scoffed at this new drawing:  “Bravo!  You mean to say those louts can ACTUALLY JUMP OVER A LOG?”

The couple have a motorbike romance …

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Town
sprung up like
weeds on a hill

sun
scorching rooftops, walls
of brick aflame

scar
of new road
slices through fields

home
and hedgehog ghost
laid under macadam

taken
possession of –
each car is quick –

while
the earth
is raw

 

1965

38:   Public Library.  Two “cameos” spotted in Taunton library – the  studious young man looks a bit like  my “flame” in the Snowdon Hut.

In the other scene, the little builder bloke in his big work-boots got into trouble, and tries to talk his way out of a tight spot.  He’s covered with brick dust.  He shouldn’t be in the library at all.  But the long arms – the rather sinister long pants of the library bosses – hem him in.  Are they the law?  Or are they predators?  He is smoking.  Nobody minded.

The library is an old-time bookish refuge, a store of memories. The times, the towns, they are a-changing …?    In the poem, the cars are punters to the ravaged ground, gang rape.

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Let Go

Put that dead
flower out?

Blown in the wind,
breathes mortality.

Pressed him in book, the print
lies, but cannot die.

Burning book, the ash
rots into soil and sky

but letting fall the links
of ball and chain identity,

how can I be ?

1966

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39 :     Public Bench.  Loneliness, perhaps at a railway station – a Trinity.   My father – who badgered us, what did we mean by ‘I’ – said, “The people in your drawings are extraordinarily isolated from each other.”  Three storylines here, pursue their personal come-uppances, with rich, mutual disregard.

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40:  Tristram, Carole, Nathan.  You can see their friend Kit’s hand on the table, to the left.  That is obviously not a wine bottle, but a candle holder.  They’ve been eating steak and chips.  These are characters in The Shadow – the story I was trying to write.   Manfred and his chums are on the next table – they are messing about, while the waiter takes their order.  Tristram du Maurier “was born” a year or two earlier, when I painted him smoking and writing by candlelight, on an odd-shaped piece of hardboard – see the cover for Part Two.  He moves differently from the others.  He is a sensitive dark-horse, and American.  In the way he observes what’s going on, he is my ally;  and he keeps an inner life up his sleeve.  Carole is a heavy breasted girl, she just got engaged to Nat – but I haven’t drawn her ring.  Nat is a well meaning fellow, with attitudes.  He’s a floor manager in a department store, but he turns on a bit, too.

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Kit with indigestion

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Bell Bottoms

Some people think this is me.
It’s not.
You can see, by the shoulders.

He was so fabulous with
his straw-blond long hair
and bell bottoms
soft-shoeing along.

I followed him in
Pig Market Lane
as far as I dared.
I think he’s a Yardbird.

2010

41 :  Pig Market Lane ran under the houses from Taunton Town Centre to the municipal car park.  Its opening was near the Tudor Arms –  which leaned into its own covered alley.  ‘I have this sense of the rain and sex soaked bricks and buildings, being embraced as my body, the warmth.” (Diary). This drawing was done in compressed charcoal – a heavy, hard, bright black texture.

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Constellations

I leaped aboard from a town
whose lights the darkness
left behind.

For a moment
I had no past.

The green bus
carried its warm bright cargo
bravely through the night.

Clouds veiled
the stars

and made it strange to think
across the timeless space
how unseen features link
the fire spots of immensity

and tie our tiny lives
to these cold pin points
pricked in the immortal sky

1965 (but thanks for your help with the last two verses, Kevan Myers)

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42 :    Encounter:  Dick Tresilian and Brian.   Dick sits on the milestone, with his sack;  Brian is thumbing – a car just passed them, and he curses.  They are on their way to or from Cornwall.   Above them hovers a buzzard.

I’m on the move, I want more space.  As I drew him, Dick announced himself and his name to me, through that ancient knowledge in his eyes;  his own left eye particularly, piercing and sardonic.  That chance touch with soft dark pencil, leapt out into flesh and blood.  I met him, I met a feral man, fully informed about himself.  His mate Brian, by contrast, has no real knowledge of life and death, although his dark hair lifts quite sensuously, a little to the wind.

They are older, and their hair is much longer than the lads in town.  They have the gear;  they deal, they will turn you on.  They are on the road …

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THE RECKLESS FRUIT Book One, Chapter 6 – Hill-top and Carlisle

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Link to Book Two

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57 SB Mod in fur trim jacket

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Ponder Spaces of Time

How long a time
the winking plane took
to cross the road,
much longer than I:

I could not cross the sky
if I ran all night
over daylight drained
stubble fields.

The western glow sinks
swift in a shallow
sea of glistening cloud
as earth’s rotation
turns away
from grey horizon veils;

the moon’s cold journey
for ever
across the earth’s
dim margin hurtles

slowly towards

1965

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43: Pub confessor.  Here’s a familiar scene in any pub or diner in town.  The tension of that soul in shades;  and the alert listener in captivity.  I can touch his muscular hand, near the tin ashtray.  The air is thick with mariners’ tales turning sour.  There is a dartboard round the corner, in the busy public bar.  Sometimes I needed badly to draw, but had no picture in mind;  so I began this one by doodling the listener’s profile and hand, like I often did in my school rough-book during lessons;  the rest worked its way by trial and error into place.  Again it is deep – a human landscape of headlands, bays and weathers.

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54 SB Gesture at a cafe table

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Before the Night, a Window

Sculpted in living fire
the image
cast upright
has plonked itself upon
the horizontal garden,
as colour drains from twilight.

Night now folds
its raven wings.

The flare of life within,
sits still upon a window pane
and glows.

1965

44:    Peter.  I am fond of this sketch of my father…  and less so, of the rather dull portraits but good likenesses of his Krishnamurti friends from Singapore, Bruce and Alison McRae Smith – I didn’t bother to “see” Bruce’s right leg properly.  It weakens his otherwise firm and colourful character – Bruce was quite a scamp.  The thigh should be longer, the knee should come much further forward.

 

 

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67 SB Young men watch the game

 

 

45: I Used to Hate the Lawn Mowing.  A family spoof on 1960s advertising …

… but a truly awful tale of how it was “before” …

46:  … and “after” – with paterfamilias pruning the roses, the youngest family member driving the new machine peacefully, while Mother pours the tea.  Her guests are Mrs Freudenberg from Creech St Michael, Marion Nation the daily help in slippers, and Elizabeth Offord from North Newton.

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81 SB Skater

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82 SB Skier

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Three Faces Self Enquire (“I’m The Face”, by The Who)

Who is the Face?
The Who is the face – my first class ticket, man.
Everyone else must travel third.

Who am I?  I, who?
Break into my horned accoustic,
hear the feedback monitor
howl and scream!

I who?  Who I?  Why –
why is that cross question game
wiseacring –
while cool dudes catch birds on the wing?

Well now, who’s
talking upalong
I and you?  What we got to say?
Why, babe!  We are the Mods.

We are the best.
You know what? He never listens.
We talk me and you, through him.
He’s dreaming.

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47 :   Chris, Manfred and Lionel.  Their backs, their Cuban boots, but not their Mod-style Faces yet.  It is exciting to turn an empty corner and suddenly they fill the street.  Lionel was based on the Four Pennies’ lead singer, Lionel Morton.  Chris is someone who hung out with him and Manfred.   These three guys sidle along in highly individual ways, as they plan the evening ahead, or gripe about last night.  Many of the young generation in the 1960s were reared on postwar rations and austerity – fashionable, sexy starve-lings?

Compressed charcoal is densely packed, you can sharpen it with a knife, and use the point;  ordinary charcoal splits and crumbles, you get a point or an edge, by rubbing it on its side, on the paper.  They might be walking up Bath Place, one of Taunton’s smarter alleys, or they might be in London, or any big city in the Hit Parade.  They are my eyes.  Follow them, and see!

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This is a poem written 30 years later … it belongs with the next drawing:

The Lake in the Hilltop

The sky of the isle of Mull
lashed rain each day;  save one
unveiling hill and deep glen full
of rainbow’s faery shimmer, ray of Sun.

Climbing to a gleaming pointed peak
of stone-chat heathery flank that soared to sky,
I found in summit high hid, a sapphire lake
heaven’s mirror shining;  a deep, dark eye.

Within that stone-girt hill tip seeing
a bright
lofty welling source secluded,
I plunged in its pocket to swim,  as sky my being
cold, sweet, watery shock;  oh secret, denuded!

Then I dived.  Opening sight,
was blinded – dark eye of earth
brown peat unfathomed, heaven met with night.

Where light drowns I,
the panic, flailing breath
erupts on sunny grass
to dry,
the water’s
silver, singing robe
ensilks my nakedness.

Here in my glass, the abyss I raise
hill high to sunshine deep and blue –
God’s child in Genesis gazes
face into radiant Face, reflecting true.

Creation enters the deep
and watery womb  –
a seed of fire, to swim the tomb.

1994

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48 :   Happy woman, driving (1964).   My poem about Mull, written thirty years later, with “Indian” ideas in it, goes with this drawing;  for it was on the way back from our family holiday there (1964) in heavy rain, that we passed this car, while still in Scotland.  In the passenger seat with his pipe, sat Prothero (who lived, as far as I knew, somewhere near Truro) to the life – I was sure it was him:  the shutter clicked for half a second, as my heart spilled out – a snapshot of ships passing in the rain.  His woman driver looks radiant and rather dangerous.  Is she Learning? 

“The Lake in the Hill top” was our last day in Mull – the only day it didn’t rain.  As that lake, she overflows!   The rain and wipers slash the windscreen back and forth.  This drawing reminds me of being fifteen years old, and in love with a vanished young man:  the volcano in my stomach.  But you can make your own history of this couple.  My family did.

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Window Shop

Walk past the window display –
the lads from Liverpool say
can’t buy me love, no no no no,
no diamond ring

better wait see what she says.
There on the trays
behind the bars,
my heart glitters.

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49:  Rain in Carlisle.  On the long car journey from Mull to Bridgewater, we stopped in Carlisle, where my “shutter snicked” this donkey-jacket for the series.   When my father saw the drawing, he commented, “Look at Rosalind” (my best friend at school) “stomping along, thinking about God.”  But others felt rather sorry for the undernourished legs of this north country lad.

He has a great and grim sense of purpose.  The duffels around him, and the shop windows, are stuff of dreams.  He strides through them with power and strength.  That is the force of my “glimpses”.

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Can’t buy me love, love
Can’t buy me love

I’ll buy you a diamond ring my friend if it makes you feel alright
I’ll get you anything my friend if it makes you feel alright
‘Cause I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love

I’ll give you all I got to give if you say you love me too
I may not have a lot to give but what I got I’ll give to you
I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love

Can’t buy me love, everybody tells me so
Can’t buy me love, no no no, no

Say you don’t need no diamond ring and I’ll be satisfied
Tell me that you want the kind of thing that money just can’t buy
I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love

Lennon/McCartny 1964

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50:  Jukebox, Carlisle.  Now the charcoal is coming into its own again.  We went in here, for fish and chips, which I was too excited to eat, for the brilliance of these stars, and my family’s incongruous countrified presence among them:  to be that girl inside the black beehive, with white lips and insolent smoke-coal eyes;  to draw – that is, to touch and co-create – the guys putting money in the juke box to play Can’t Buy Me Love;  to rock with the overwhelming, thudding sounds and smell of deep fried batter.  Mine!

Imagine how it felt, as the Beatles, to abandon the “covers” and to create your own love-songs upon those bluesy template chords.

The beehive helmet was back-combed and sprayed, back-combed and sprayed, till it stood by itself, like sticky, brittle glass to touch.  In the same way, I sprayed and intensified my charcoaling.  Cheap hairspray worked better for this, than expensive artists’ fixative.

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88 SB Mature man in duffel

 

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Try so hard to Draw

I wanted well to build
your soul, a portrait for “the kill”,
but your saint in a
terrible fix, is reborn.

I drew against that light
a wooden wall of night.
Where was the star that shone
in your eyes?

The darkness still
blockades
in your stubborn mouth,
the dawn.

Crayon approaches
your outline,
fumbling above your front door
for the key.

1967

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51 :   Night wall.   I think I saw this in a dream.   It looks like a prison, but every brick and window is alive with sound, and it merges into the sensuous dark.

When I was very small, I had nightmares of stone Yorkshire houses on the moors, which suddenly lost their faces – all their windows disappeared, and they were blank.

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119 SB Girls

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52 :     Stark Bar, Carlisle.  Or I could call this one “Eruption”.  I can think of nothing to write.  The charcoal medium reaches a satisfying peak of expression in this, and the next drawing.

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80 SB PVC dresses & boots

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53 :   Rain, streetlight, Carlisle.

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THE RECKLESS FRUIT Book One, Chapter 7 – Street Life & Cambridge

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Link to Book Two

Future Too Suddenly

I put my spout in her.
Man what’ll I do?

She’s so sweet,
she’s mine,
her purse was small,
but I duffed her up  first time,

there’s a baby on the way,
her dad’ll beat me up,
for sure,
man what’ll I do?

I want to go my way.
We too young and we
got no money
for kids.

I want to go
roam the world but where
will I ever find my girl
again so sweet?

Man, what’ll I do?
Man, oh man, what’ll I do?

2010

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54:             She’s pregnant.  See the poem above – the first of the new ones I wrote for this project.  Looking at the drawing, I let it turn me into a song, a play of words or story, whatever arose – remembering how it felt when I drew it –  and let it flow.

The covered alley across the street, behind them, is Pig Market Lane.  Scars of demolition, change and dereliction, appear.   In the 1960s, they began to tear the heart out of the towns, and to rebuild.

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17 SB Two girls copy

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55 :    Chris and his girl.  Here he is, steering her into the Bright Lights, his hands claim her soft waist and hips.  She isn’t looking where she goes – she turns to him flirtatiously.  Chris is very proud indeed of his girl, and can’t decide whether to kiss her again, or show her off.  This drawing had much warmth for me, because they are neither inside nor outside, but going in.  It looks as if she might be pregnant too, but they have enough money to take care of it, and he is proud:  he is guiding his baby.  Oh baby, you know what I mean …   That hard brassy window became a door.

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Rap Blues Lick

Jamming the E string, shift to A and B-string, back …

you pick the space around the notes,
drop your pinkie, really cool,
leavin’  middle finger open –
mute it with your thumb, to growl
for extra bite …
you keep that twelve bar shuffle goin’ for the lick –

Four chromatic spaces on a spree

came spiralling outa sky at war, a stick of bright blue bombs, now up a tone, now down a cloud.  My dad came home on leave: the baby boom.  The blitz blacked my unborn flower, I bloom.  The rubble places are my lick, my bright blue pills;  we are the Faces …

so pick the space around the notes
go slam and slide the key to shift
the way those old, muddy waters
slapped the barrel, stars that twang

and upward, scraper chord,  slicker spaces on the spree sing under whip, missouri south, my finger stick, the stick, my soul tore up, let go.  The blitzers stole our home. They put my grandad in the ship for trade – he was the King  –  I pop the powder, smoke the gun  –

yo’ keep that twelve bar shuffle goin’ to the lick –
white dudes in W.A.Chapmans’
mod street gear
– (before it fell to Debenham’s) –
prop up the wall with stick in here,

watch out for
jelly babes –

Move up to the dominant chord
and buzz that string right down on the board.

Woke up this mornin’, Mister
Flowers, knockin’ at my door.
Said “hello Dolly. So what’s the score?”
He said “Roll up the dough, moll.  Time to go.”

2010

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56:     Mods.  These are not really Mods, who dressed more smartly.  But they do wear the “mod” shoes, with elasticated uppers, and are fashionable, they think black music is cool.   Suddenly, behind this vibrating fence of post war youths, a glamorous vista opens, of broken bricks;  houses and walls are fracturing, gaping open.

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Street Life

To love a human body
is a curious thing
like love is a rolling stone

it is living, it moves,
wrap your arms around,
lie on the ground with
warmth

as yet one stone
that’s stacked upon another
makes a home
where life can tumble

and empty eyes of houses hide
the beds of passion piled inside.

1965

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57:    Brick on brick.   This place was a vivid dream;  I reconstructed it when I woke up.   The footpath was almost blocked by a fallen brick pile, which stuck out at right angles from the wall – an anomaly it seems, of spirit-levels and destinations, all morassed together.  Then I go into one of those covered alleys.  Nowadays, it looks to me like a Karmic knot, or attractive density in life.  In the dream, and the drawing, those old bricks are throbbing with sex and emotion.  The poem “Street Life” was written in the following year,  The houses’ eyes seem to gaze upon what is happening to their own strange bodies.   Puberty?

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33 SB Couple cuddling copy

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Noise of Man

When I became a man,
my voice broke.
When I joined a band
it broke the mike.

Birds of a feather,
on horny strings, feel,
grooving swan necks together,
wild songs of steel.

Guys and babes and muffin men
with rain, ice and pence,
shake up the fire that chews
my lips, my cracking lips that belt the blues.

2010

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58:   Cambridge Rag Week, 1.   It must be November 1964.  Visiting my grandparents at Kettles Yard in Cambridge, I discovered to my delight that it was university rag week; the streets were filled with noisy crowds and pop bands – I dashed from one to the other.

But through my teens, there was a parallel odyssey.  A few months later – in April ’65 – I went to Paris for some music lessons with my grandparents’ friend Vera Moore, a New Zealand pianist whom I had met at Kettles Yard.  In Paris I showed my Taunton Black drawings (which I took everywhere with me) to one of Vera’s sponsors – a Monsieur Halff, who lived in one of the more elegant arrondissements, not far from Etoile.  He was impressed, and asked, Could he photograph them?   Mais oui …  I do not know to this day, what he did with the photos he took, but it came back to me through the family grapevine, that he’d raved about my drawings of La Vie en Angleterre, and produced just one print – this one.   I was bitterly disappointed, because it was not one of the “good ones”.

Yet – the other day, my teacher in the Work stopped right here, while looking through the series, and said he likes this one, he hears the sound of the band, he’s right there in the crowd.  I too hear what they are playing, I hear the song, their voices loud and clear to this day, but I don’t remember the words or the title.  It might have been by the Beatles.

It was!

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The Beatles

Well, she was just seventeen,
You know what I mean,
And the way she looked was way beyond compare.
So how could I dance with another, (Ooh) And I saw her standing there.


Well she looked at me, and I, I could see,
That before too long, I’d fall in love with her.
She wouldn’t dance with another, (Ooh)  And I saw her standing there.

Well, my heart went “boom”,
When I crossed that room,
And I held her hand in mine…

Whoa, we danced through the night,
And we held each other tight,
And before too long I fell in love with her.

Now I’ll never dance with another, (Ooh)
Since I saw her standing there.

Well, my heart went “boom”,
When I crossed that room,
And I held her hand in mine…

Ooh
Since I saw her standing there.
Yeah well, Since I saw her standing there.

Lennon-McCartny 1964

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55 SB Girl with combover beehive

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59:   Cambridge Rag Week 2.   Googling Beatles’ hits 1964, my eye fell on: “… never dance with another, since I saw her standing there” – a pattern of words which seemed to fit that haunting tune in my mind.  What a remarkable thing the subconscious is, to draw my eye to this one song, among the hundreds the Beatles wrote, and make the link.  I had not known it was a Beatles song, but thought it might be.  A few weeks ago, I hummed it down the phone to my brother, but he didn’t recognize it.

I can play it now on U Tube – it is one of their best;  that unique, sizzling 1960’s electricity, romance and raw excitement, with gritty guitar riffs and wild, tight drumming.   A similar thing has happened with (no.67) “She was Untrue” – the song I Found Out the Hard Way, by the Four Pennies – also after a long search.  A curious intuitive focus suddenly settled confidently, and found.    It was biting cold on the Cambridge streets;  the band in this drawing, sheltered in an alley and played their socks off.  The bearded undergraduate to the right, is handing round the hat.

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A Journey in Parallel – My Piano Teacher

FROM my JOURNAL, 1965 …  with Vera.  She is an old friend of Jim and Mam.  She loved Brancusi the sculptor, and they had a son, John.  John lives in the cottage in her garden with his wife Maryse, and he and Vera argue.  She is, through all her vague  disorder, beautiful.  Her eyes are peat-brown, soft and bright, she has a round snub nose and she dyes her long grey hair a reddish tint;  she’s very old, in her sixties, and she had a rough time in life;  she lives now in poverty, and little short of chaos.

But she is rare.  She is a true artist.  The true artists, however enclosed their field, evoke another world.  Perhaps it is their scarcity.  In the evening she played to an invited audience in the long, L-shaped, oak beamed music room.  She pulled out an un-ironed linen dress, said to me with mischievous radiance, “this will do?” and put it on.   It was crumpled all over.   Her broken wrist was in a sling and she limped across the room in her down-at-heel court shoes, with her handbag and sat down.   The lamp was on her other side.  She and the piano, silhouetted into one dark, fluid shape, communed with one another.  They flow like a river, and as they fuse the room melts.  For Vera IS music.  The poetry of Bach, Beethoven or Debussy, is her being. She lives in this field, and carries its perfume with her.  I never met anyone as beautiful as she.  She misunderstands things all the time and infuriates me;  and she glows with sympathy.  That must be why I like writing long letters to her.

Vera Moore – a sketch circa 1973

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60 :   Cambridge roof tops.   This is the view towards John’s College, from the attic in Kettles Yard, where my grandfather stored his overspill and the undergraduates’ picture-lending library.  We, the grandchildren, slept up there among the spare Ben Nicolsons, Gaudiers and David Jones’s, on our visits.  The attic is now the Gaudier-Brzeska gallery.  In 1984, my grandfather published his guided tour around the avant-garde paintings, sculptures, old glass and sea-wrack in his house – it is now a book called A Way of Life.  Today’s journey through my drawings reminds me of him and his picturesquely personal digressions.  We are curators.  It is in the blood.

More than anything, I loved to stay with Jim and Mam, my wise elders – the  pungent flavours through their home of beeswax, toast and honey, and interesting visitors for tea.  From the attic windows I looked out across the rooves – my dark foragings through the streets – as if from the high mountains.  There is a better sketch from this same place, later on.

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68 SB Two women

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A Companion of the Light with the Dark – Paradox

FROM 1965 JOURNAL A LITTLE LATER ON, CONTINUED:

When I first met her at Kettles Yard in Cambridge, she asked me to play.  There was a family legend about her as a teacher, very frightening and volatile.  They said “She’ll sweep your hands off the keys!”  But she put me at my ease.  She said it’s the music which matters, not the mistakes;  her voice rippled, and she smiled.  So I played to her, and I enjoyed myself.  This musician from the core understood the magic of being free.  When I heard her practicing, I was spell-bound;  she felt along the keys, the bones of what she would play that night.  Later on, she forgot to take her books and music back to the Garden House hotel where she was staying with Helen Sutherland.  I ran through the dusky frosty streets  to give them to her.  She smelled delicious in her foxy fur coat with her shabby shoes and bright brown eyes.  She invited me to come and stay with her in her home near Paris.  I fell in love with her.  I met Helen Sutherland too – that is another story.

When I went to stay with Vera in Jouy en Josas (between Paris and Versailles), I learned her prejudices and problems.  It made me love her even more, and eager to see her again.  She taught me to play Chopin’s Berceuse and Debussy’s Cathedrale Engloutie.  A music lesson with her, lasts a lifetime.  It is tenderness and touch.

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61 :   Cambridge Rag Week 3.  Down among the colleges and street canyons where I foraged, this encounter with a young traveler with a withered leg, for a moment, behind and between the festive nebulae …  is rather Dickensian.

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A Voice at Night

Lady if you sing the blues
don’t tell me you don’t
pull my string, I wake,
I coming after you.

2010
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62:  Swan House Hotel.   Still in Cambridge – a night time atmosphere, by the river.  My mother wished to know why I took her sister’s married name in vein, for inclusion in my infamously sombre series.  Swan House Hotel is an actual place – the Garden House Hotel, to which I ran with Vera Moore’s music.  I stood here in the charcoal on a frosty night, bursting with fires of excitement;  this scene stood in my mind until I drew it.  It had a face and speech of its own.  The musicians of the light are unaware of the sentinels of the dark:  the life both sides of the veil.  Each scene, one after another, was a face, a place of meeting.  There is another very yielding doorway, near the car.

This picture could also be called “On the Edge”.  I hear those bluesy notes again – an echo of Elvis’s Heartbreak Hotel?  A house of ill repute?

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63 :  Darker, dark night.   All I recall of this one, is the repeated charcoaling, fixative-spraying and re-charcoaling, to roughen the key, and get a deeper and richer black.  This scene may have a London inspiration – in transit between Liverpool Street and Paddington stations.  I wanted a city like this to get lost in, a labyrinth which goes on for ever.

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(To view slides, click on any image and wait for Gallery to load)

THE RECKLESS FRUIT Book One, Chap. 8: School Roughbook Sketches

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Link to Book Two

A gallery of my schoolbooks 1965 – 1966 :  filling in GCE A levels French, English, Music and O level Italian.

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Gesture

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Folk Guitarist

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Mod in fur trim jacket

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Sensitive girl

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Street scene

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Young men watch the game

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Two women

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Sixth formers with satchels

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Young man with cigarette

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Courreges zip

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PVC dresses and boots

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Skater 

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Skier

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Square toe shoes

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Mature man in duffel

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Thoughtful man and fashions

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Leggy fashions

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Girls

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Pencil study, underwear

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More students

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More studies

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Ping pong player

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Tight jeans and net stockings

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Mr Rochester on Mesrour

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Sketch of Dick

Thin woman in beehive

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Follow the beehive in boots

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THE RECKLESS FRUIT Book One, Chapter 9: – You Really Got Me

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Link to Book Two

See, don’t ever set me free – I always wanna be by your side – 
girl, you really got me so I can’t sleep at night

The Kinks

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          MOD 1

“I said I’m quadrophrenic.
I got
four Faces.”

Hey, old son!
whose Face then on the wall?
Mods or rockers, it’s all the same, where we come from …

“I don’t want to be the same as everybody else,
that’s why I’m a Mod, see?
I might as well go jump in the sea
than live like that.”

 Phil Daniels/Quadrophenia

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            MOD II

See girl,
you really got me
in your soft basket
with the apple pie
and toast for tea.

You got me so I don’t know what I’m doin’,
groovin’ up your garden path
to meet your Mum and Dad up there,
up Firkin Way, where the roses are.

2010

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 64: You really got me.  This hit by The Kinks was like a rasp, raw, sexy and lawless.  It opened to my inner eye, an ocean of these alleyways;  they curve, they go up and down hill, they branch out, they cross enigmatic waste grounds in the city, which the planning authorities don’t know what to do with.  The young made free with these lagunas in the adult infrastructure.  In this drawing, I feel and see in myself the enticing twist of the alley onwards;  the heat of love and desire, in the gritty song.  She’s wearing a sloppy joe –  still quite fashionable from beatnik days – and she carries a basket.   He is Ray Davies of The Kinks.  She really got him!   The music and this drawing got me.  When the electric riff starts, they’ll be in a dark doorway, undoing.

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I’m not content to be with you in the morning,
Girl I want to be with you all of the time,
all day and all of the night, leave me never …

All Day and All of the Night/The Kinks

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52 SB Longhaired man on wall

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65: All Day, and All of the Night – Ray Davies’ genial whine, and the expressive wall in this drawing.  Songs about being together at night, were banned.

“C’mon love, spread ‘em a bit, let me get in.”  But it’s her game.  She’s staring out as if she thinks of England, or doesn’t care – she’s got the hots, but she won’t let on;  perhaps she’s into power, or the gestures of the mating game.  She acts hard as nails, because she didn’t learn yet, to trust, or open her flower.  Liberation from Victorian mores is slow.  For all the Permissive Society, many of those 1960s wildflowers were unopened, still trapped in attitude.

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 “… nowhere to roam,
I wander round, feet off the ground – I even go from town to town.  I said I think this rock is grand – Say I’ll be your MAN, don’t bring me down …”

The Pretty Things

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 … On the Ground

… he said to her,
I’m on my own,
she said to him, lemme go

sun scorch
cracks wall of brick and riffs
the sharp tart squirm, her electric shadow –

He laid her on the ground, he shook his hair,
her leather jacket white with dust, she spat.
The door in corrugated iron wails: I’m on my own, I want this chick

and in her eyes, the sky
with drainpipe serpents flicks  –
“LOVE ME AND YOU FOREVER” said the sign – for splintered wood talks.

He lay on her, she unresisting, and unyielding; and so hot.
Harley bike kicked into life somewhere
beyond the wall …

 1965

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 66:  Don’t Bring Me Down – The Pretty Things.  Partitions of corrugated iron, plaster and planks, talk as bodies do, in the places being torn down and not yet built.  These scenes were exciting for a fifteen year old to draw.  I was naive. A farm child knows that sex is functional for producing young. So whence the feelings?  What did people do?  I pictured a mutual and mysterious violation of souls.

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 I gave my heart to you,
the least that I could do,
When you told me that your love
for me was really true.

I thought this love would be
happiness for you and me,
but I found out the hard way,
and bring this misery.                             

Why did you break my heart running around
Why you destroy all the joy that I found
Why do you torment me when you know
That I never wanted to let you go?

Every time that I see you
going out with someone new,
you don’t know what I go through,
seeing someone else with you.

Wish I could find a way
to bring you back some day
but I know that you’d always
want to run away.

 I Found Out the Hard Way/The Four Pennies 1964/5

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67: She Was Untrue.  By now, we are in a “story sequence”.  One drawing led into another, and as many as five or six scenes or “shots” piled up ahead of me.  And I was suddenly forced here, to twist the viewer’s angle, dramatically.  The guy is Lionel Morton of the Four Pennies.  The tune and rhythm were engraved in my mind when I drew this.  It took me some time to track down the title and therefore the song.  His best friend dances away with his girl.  He is wrenched open:  the abyss yawns wide.

The composition along the diagonal, invites you, the movie director, into a private ritual being enacted.  Do we perceive our world in a four-square picture frame?  Yet are we turned, this way or that, and off the horizontal, to receive the infinite dynamic of life at the corners of our vision.  We are like a boat under sail.  An old seer called Douglas Harding described himself as a  “frameless window” – “space for the world to happen in.”

In my creative work, I rediscover the  “Tumbling Cube” – a life-enhancing perception.  The cube of space stands not on one of its six square sides to “look at”, but on its point, to be.  Buildings, roads and trees form dynamic angles.  The diagonal movement through the centre, dances from point to point.  This reminds me that the cube’s interior geometry has six directions of space, the six pointed Star of David.  And if you film the sun’s rays, they are …  a dazzle pattern of hexagons, six sides, the Star.

I do not just hold the camera;  I am the camera.  I am reminded again, of Antonioni’s enigmatic third-person angles, and the way he shot a scene full of bursts of movement or feeling, very slowly, probing layers of reality.  In the 1964 film Blow-Up, that gun pointing probably from the bushes, is a pun.   To draw or paint a picture in this way, invites you into its private heart, its stress and movement.  Feeling the people concerned – this way, I let them happen, their story leads me.

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“I am the little red rooster, too lazy to crow for day …
dogs begin to bark, and hounds begin to howl.
Watch out, strange cat people, little red rooster’s on the prowl …”

Jagger/Richards, The Rolling Stones.  Lyrics by Willie Dixon, or by Howling Wolf

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Rapunzel’s Tower

Night proud
rooster on the lamp lit stones
struts and fluts his wings.

Night cool
girl glides out from shade,
“see how i twist

my long, long hair
right round my little toe, which of you bad guys
is game to come up to my window, and try?”

There is an eye from other direction.
The movie maker takes long,
slow, intimate shots from places in the story
where no one stands.

My magic lantern shutter
is perched up here in the walls.
From me and into me
the picture wells.

“Hey, babe!
Let me
climb up to your sweet lips!”

 With mouth-organ cupped,
the crowing weather-cock
stayed on top of the game.

No wonder he became
Sir Mick.

2010

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 68: Little Red Rooster.  The girl with long blonde hair and bellbottoms is out.  She’s among the insolent, winkle picking, unused youths.  She prowls and laughs.  They are prowling.  This is a sexual fantasy.  I am seeing from above.  I tumbled through the dark abyss with “She was Untrue”.  The diagonals don’t touch the corners of the frame.  They probe elsewhere in depth, and into the night; and I as a corner of the Cube of space, reach back into my hinterland, my opposite corner, as light spills onto the pavement.  The raw, bluesy  Stones’ Rooster crows for me.  This picture was full of that sound, of Mick’s cupped mouth organ, Brian’s narcotic glissandi, and Charlie’s rock steady pulse.  I felt lawless, free and decadent.  I think there were meant to be people inside the window, dancing, but they were rubbed out, as they crowded the scene:  I can sense them still.

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154 SB Girl on wall

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69: Alley Kiss.    I had to stick more paper onto the bottom of this drawing, to give them more space.

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The Insiders

young death
a piece of money between his thumb
and first finger
awaits the e e cummming;

at the alley’s end,
turn right and push the door
where all day the darkness presses against the light,
and all night long, the inner light the dark,

juke box judders –
they lean on the wall inside
on heat,
drumming fingers …

young death has long, gaunt
bones beached
fingers spectral on thin crossed thighs,
pale hair twists down his back;

the subdued cynic shot
the shadow through his eyes –
in the expresso gloom
they all watched sexual gorgeous

young death put his arm
around a girl with a hood of hair
to wait her fate.  He doesn’t move his lips.

from Journal 1965

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70: The Insiders.  Again, the slanted, and therefore authentic view, as from “inside”.  To be kissed, was an erotic mystery.  The poem above is condensed from a couple of pages I wrote in my schoolbook – fresh from e.e.cummings.  In the coffee-bars I dared to enter, everyone waited and watched.  They are incredibly taken up with being themselves.   “Young Death” here, is Dick Tresilien, whom we met earlier.  It was rumoured that he was “married with a kid” – a strange anomaly among these apprentices to experience.  He seems now to presage the dope culture, to feast upon the young.  He was an early “dealer”, and a mentor.  The man in the foreground to Dick’s right, is wearing an earring – a daring, piratical touch.

The slanted viewpoint seems to give the room interior a depth of field, beyond the constraints of the page.  I am engaged with every person in it.

 

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39 SB Girl in bellbottoms

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February 2010
KISS OF LIFE

An idea came …

That right-angle of mars to venus is not just a secret of Life eternal. It is essential to relationship as a whole. Again, I look at society.  There are unknown factors.  Society appears at any one frozen moment nowadays, dysfunctional.  But I seem to perceive, to be shown in a flash, an organic growth curve towards relative health and wholeness  – not the snapshot, but the movie as a whole.

I’m concerned about the snapshot, but I need to put my energy into seeing a bigger picture, which means accepting that the larger canvas exists … whether I see it or not.  The larger canvas contains within itself those single “misshapen” frames.

In The Reckless Fruit, I am just now with Little Red Rooster, seeking a way to portray in my poem-rap there, this “sight from a different direction.” The idea is too metaphysical to more than hint at, in the context.  I am inspired by Antonioni’s long, intimate shots from places in the story where no one stands.  I’d better use that line…

In the movie “Blow-Up”, someone is shot and dies!  Or appears to…   The camera is a mirror.

The message is, the capacity to look in a different direction from the dream to which we are subscribed.  The capacity is timeless, and operative at every instant.  It is perpendicular to our conditioning.  In meditation and sex it flowers as “a little death”.   It is Death’s fertile strand through Life.

 “When we die, our conscious stream continues, but in that other direction.”

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Fox Brush Near the Moon

The reaper
sperms my ground of being.

Wherever I move and am
leaves a trail – unseen and unlimited –
to point my lens.

I am foxy.
I smell the magical mushrooms and
my feeling, all around,
but within the starry dew, life falls.

Death falls.
The comet tail
I trail by moonshine,
shines.

2010

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71:  Rain in Alley.  This is Pig Market Lane on a wet night:  outside the world of the Insiders.

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Rubbing Shoulders

I invite you
into the apple press:
with my arms
I touch the walls.

There are spills
of light, and pocket
handkerchiefs of night.

People live here
whose bodies press together
silent windows, doors.

Walking in between them, I am
warmed.  My
black carbon stick searches soft
hollows like a torch –

I hear
down the alley, Dave Berry play
The Crying Game
cloaking his face

let this
place never end,
as the velvet nascently
discloses shape and form:

foot falls among the bins
put out for pussy cats …

scrumpy palaces
behind the pockets
of  winter coats that blindly birth
my passage along …

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72 and 73  Pig Market Lane 1 and Pig Market Lane 2.  I needed a sequence of alleyways at this point;  so I expanded some details in my stamping-ground.   The second one has, like many of the drawings, been quite badly knocked around, and it has an extension along the top to heighten it;  you can see the old sellotape marks.

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I know all there is to know, about the crying game
First there are kisses (kisses), then there are sighs
And then before you know where you are
You’re sayin’ goodbye …

Dave Berry

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Screens

We live inside.  This is our home.
Foot passers paddle the brook
where we throw out
our daily news.

My front door is commonplace.
The shops tap to and from
the Parade to the car park
carrying umbrellas and the bags.

We’ve the kitchen table back inside,
we’ve a 1950s dresser, Radio Two, a clutch of kids
and a bedroom atop your close quarters  –
each, a private TV tube!

Our comet trails
of birth, sex, death extending,
fence your fields of life whose never
ending story tales …

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Wild thing
You make my heart sing

Wild thing
I think you move me

You make everything groovy,
Come on, come on, wild thing, shake it

shake it …

 The Troggs   1965

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74 :   On the Wall.  Another “slanted” view – an alley-cat at night.  This is a picture of desire … whoever or whatever might come along.   Many years later, I found this path in London, very near where I came to live.  It runs along the railway between Finchley Road & Frognal, (near the old Burgundian pub) and West Hampstead stations.  It is called Billy Fury Way.

Before the Burgundian got taken over, and it all got smartened up, this place looked, by night, very like my charcoal drawing here, with those strange lit houses ahead (approaching West End Lane).   But the my picture has no railway to one side, nor reinforced health & safety – only the feral night.

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