Queuing up the steps in that crush of people was a bit scary. I liked getting my hand stamped at the entrance. I sort of liked the music so loud it made my heart pound and my willy buzz. I loved the strobe light that made everything like a Charlie Chaplin film. I didn’t like Barry coming with us along with Jennifer and her older brother and his friends, and I didn’t like them calling me ‘pip squeak’. I loved the band. It was the afternoon still, and I had to be back for supper at seven, so I missed Tyrannosaurus Rex and Jimi Hendrix, but I personally think Dantalion’s Chariot are the best group in the world.
That’s what I was going to say when I turned round to Jennifer and there they were: her and Barry, tongues in each other’s mouths, kissing like mad.
I felt this sudden rush of adrenalin that made me feel like I might faint. So I just went - I set off walking around the Roundhouse and it was like one really long shot in a film – 360 degrees –walking through a haze of what I knew now was dope smoke, that patchouli oil, beer in plastic pots, those stalls in alcoves around the brickwalls, voices calling out through the din and the dark:
“Dyawanna score? Dywanna score?”
They sell incense and magazines like OZ and Zap Comix and Black Dwarf and Gandalf’s Garden and IT which Barry’s picture was in. Then there’s one room which is dark where they’re showing black and white movies of early cartoons: Mickey Mouse in Tugboat Willie, Felix the Cat, rubberlipped minstrels and ostriches grinning and boogying scarily to the sound of the band. I walk through the dark, stepping over and around reclining figures.
Then walk into the bar which is packed. Nobody seems to notice me or how young I am. At the bar there’s a man in a gorilla suit, his gorilla head under his arm, a pint of beer in his hand, talking to a woman who is drinking a Coca Cola, laughing with him, smoking a cigarette and wearing no clothes. Absolutely no clothes whatsoever.
Then I walk out into the sunshine. On the decking, looking down over Chalk Farm Tube and Marine Ices. A group of hippies are in a circle, drumming. I stand watching and a woman with big frizzy hair smiles at me and waves me over to have a go on her African drum. There’s someone playing a few chords on a guitar over and over, and we’re all humming, droning more like.
And I know: I am happening. Young Tim is happening. Oh My Lordship you’d be proud of me. I am Lord Tim in waiting, I am Tim, time traveller, drug taker, player on drum, naked woman and gorilla witnesser.
“You were ages. Where did you go?
You ok, pipsqueak?”
“Fine. Far out.”
“But I’d better go home.”
“Yeah? I might stay a bit. You okay getting back?”
I shrug. “Yeah. Of course.”
It’s only six oclock. I walk up the hill in the sun. I get home and do my homework. But I think maybe all that pot in the air has affected my concentration. I may well be stoned.