LSD/Ted Heath/39 Steps
+ For the first time in nearly fifty years I’ve played my LP of Pinkfloyd’s first album Piper at The Gates of Dawn. This is part of what is becoming a project to listen to ‘what was I listening to when I was prepared to spend £1 12s 6d on an LP all those years ago?’ (Since I never dispose of anything, I have all my old albums.) What was then (1967) known as The Pinkfloyd catered for a new class of listener, that is those adventurous types who were discovering the delights of LSD. Taking a tab (or in my first trip, half a tab) required music of an experimental flavour and listening again to The Pinkfloyd’s first album brings back happy memories (if not flashbacks). I am inclined to think that being 17 must be the most exciting time of one’s life. And if the music is good, the exhilaration of youth can’t be beaten. Now of course, what passes for music is usually some form of tedious dance routine rhythm which is helped along by drugs which only develop feelgood symptoms (as opposed to LSD’s transformative vision). Not that I’m into clubbing.
++ Given the current brouhaha about Brexit wouldn’t it be timely to have a biopic blockbuster of the life of Ted Heath? Isn’t he the one who got us into this mess? I’m not sure Gary Oldman, who did an excellent Churchill would fit the role, but I think Timothy Spall could easily do it. Ted Heath is undoubtedly one of our strangest Prime Ministers, a one off aberration. Looking back, and contrasting his record with today’s Tories, you could almost say he was a socialist (I know, I know). I have a soft spot for Ted. In the first 1974 general election, on his campaign visit to Scotland he popped into the Stotfield Hotel in Lossiemouth where we in the local RAF were having a leaving-do. Everyone was well and truly pissed when in walked the Prime Minister, and for a short while he was locked into a series of selfies with the lads. I was too rat-arsed to get up and get one myself, about which I am very sorry. But me and Ted did use the urinals at the same time. One of the things that struck me was that he carried on campaigning regardless of the fact that his yacht Morning Cloud had recently sunk with the loss of a friend.
+++ At the same time, I was taking an interest in politics (in so far as you could in the armed forces) and I went to what was my first experience of a party political conference. The SNP in Elgin in 1974, where anyone could wander in off the street. I was not a supporter you understand, just curious. What a bore. The infighting was evident. I also went to an election hustings where Winnie Ewing was speaking. The meeting was packed and I concluded it would be better to keep my Englishness under wraps, unlike Robert Donat in the famous election meeting scene in Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps. I’ve never forgotten the revivalist tone of that meeting, something I’ve never witnessed in England. Blair’s early messianic stump performances were always a bit different.
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