Monday, 16 July 2012

Life is a U turn..

Hmmm, well that's what I said when I was just going to be 21, and we were sitting around chatting as you do, on the back metal stairways of the flat in London's portobello district. Someone else had quoted ' Zoom constructively... which we all thought pretty cool to say. He was called Ryan and hailed from South Africa he said.. not wishing to be bested, we all tried to say something meaningful, and I came up with 'Life is a U turn' and felt very pleased that at least it was equal to his comment. #

Of course at the time I didn't really delve deeper into what it actually meant. We used to sit on the back stairs fire escape,, overlooking the stables where the market traders would store their big push along trolleys that held their wares in the market.  Each evening at a certain time you would hear the horses clip clopping and see them being pulled into the yard ready to put away for the night.. It was about the same time that the song by Ray Davies called 'Waterloo Sunset 'was out. I used to sit out there and we would be hearing the song from the radio inside the flat, and it all meant a good feeling.. being young, being free and just being in the moment.

That was the Summer of Love- as they afterwards called it..

I worked in London, but lived outside in the suburbs, but then there was a train strike, and  I took advantage of that.. I left home to move into the shared flat of my boyfriend. I had long hair, parted in the middle, wore a bell around my neck, walked around with no shoes on some of the time, and generally felt as free as a bird.. My boyfriend shared the flat with two of his school friends and an American boy who was slightly older.

 Many evenings were spent talking about all sorts of subjects dear to their hearts, existentialism, for instance, or the latest film or play or author.. I never said much as I didn't feel I was an intelligent enough to mingle my thoughts with theirs.  Of course my boyfriend never had any money as he was waiting to start university, and my wages didn't stretch far either... We would all often wait until Chris the American boy would come home with food he had bought on his way back to share with us..

 Sometimes we would have enough money to go to a Greek restaurant nearby who cooked the best sausage and mash potatoes and bacon to feast on with loads of sweet tea to swallow.. if we were really flash, my boyfriend would get us to meet up in a local pub nearby and we would be there from opening times to closing, and I hated that.

He and the others would get drunker and drunker and more stupid, whilst myself and the other girls would look at each other and just sit waiting until we could go home..  I should have realised then, that the drink would be a part of my future life with the boyfriend who became my husband a short while later. 

We would hitch hike all over the place too, and it seemed great fun to be able to travel far distances without actually paying for it.. Of course, looking back it could have turned out differently, but we were young, in love, and the world was all for us.. We truly did believe that love would change the world... that if we were kind enough and spent love around enough, all would be well, and wars would cease.. how naive it looks now, but at the time we really believed it. That summer too, was hot and ripe, waiting to be picked up and drained in one swallow. Which we did!
Discovering sex was amazing if a little surprising that there wasn't more to it!! I remember my first time thinking, is this what they all talk about, how boring it might turn out to be,,. of course I later realised that things can change and it all got a whole lot more exciting!

I think that it was the first time our generation had had the freedom to choose, to decide what they were going to do with their earnings, or which way they were going to choose to live. A lot chose the hardest way by dabbling in heavy drugs which certainly put them on a much different road to myself.  It was frighteningly easy to get hold of drugs to smoke or inject, and a lot of my friends succumbed to the temptation.  When I read about the famous rock bands who had a ferocious affair with drugs and who are now grandparents and SO sober, it makes me wince,  a lot of people followed their examples and did not live to marry or beget kids...

I think that the way to describe that summer as not only one of love and peace, but hope.. Hope that we could change things, ignore the rules and we could find a way that was more kind to each other...

 This however has resulted in anarchy, and feral children, and parents with a lack of responsibility.. We felt that love could be free  and shared all around.. mentally speaking, not physically for me, although others did take it to the farthest point too!  And actually what has resulted is a total mess for everyone...

What a shame all that youthful joy and hope was crushed under the no rules and drugs that got in the way.. 

Life is indeed a U turn, and one which comes to us , like it or not..  we are now losing our teeth, our hair, our strengths and our body is starting to fail us too...

 I shall never forget that I was part of a really loving, truth- seeking generation, that tried to change the world with love and peace and sharing. and if life is a U turn, then I am glad that I have rounded the corner almost intact- at least mentally, if not quite physically, and  that I still love people and still believe that peace should be given a chance!!


  1. It is really interesting hearing about this from someone who was actually there. It always looks like it was such an exciting time to be in London.

  2. It really was interesting Tracy,and the air was buzzing with hope and excitement,... its not true that you had to be on drugs to enjoy it all.. that summer was so perfect in a lot of ways.. discovering life and looking at the future ahead of us, was pretty amazing stuff..and all without splurging a lot of money on it.... We were the first generation that had choices, and the air was truly magical.. it was almost like it must have been on the Left Bank in Paris during the early part of the 20th centur.. the intellect was stimulated and you felt that anything could be achieved if you wanted it hard enough!!

  3. Lovely post. Took me right back to that time in my life. Albeit in Boise, Idaho - San Francisco - LA and India.

    But if you were in that time and had the same mindset, it didn't matter where you were. It was all Love and Peace

    Thanks for reminding me of a very lovely time in my life xx

  4. I came around on the tail end of all of this. But I saw myself with the hair parted down the middle and the bell around my neck too! I actually had a cow bell at one point. I am not sure what I was thinking or who i was emulating, all I really know now is that I was so young and this post took me back there, except on the East coast of the US.

  5. wow you brought it all to life for me! I missed the boat by being born in the mid 60's so my coming-of-age was in the worst decade in history~ the 80's, how I cringe! Thank you so much for your comments. I will send you my address too. I can't tell you how much your support means to me. You always manage to make me smile and pick myself up. Sally xxx