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About cookie queen

English/American

Strange Tales from the Cookie Kitchen

“This is England, we can chain you to the rail, this is England, we can kill you in a jail.” Joe Strummer/Bernhard Rhodes.

ENGLAND. THE FIRST FIVE HOURS.

I went home to England to stay for a month, sometime in a September, at the end of the eighties. Chris had never visited the UK and came over from Amsterdam to join me for my last week. It was in the days of getting buses and ferries, cheap flights were not yet a thing. As he was on a bus heading for Victoria Coach Station, London, I was on the bus heading to Victoria from Bristol to meet him.

I found him waiting, leaning against a wall at the grubby coach station. Thin, punky hair, eyeliner. Him, not me. Opposite him was a skinhead, with a wrench the size of a small dog in his hand. Chris said the guy had been there for the ten minutes that he had been waiting for me to turn up, just staring straight at him.

 

 

We rented a small van for a week and drove back to Bristol. We would bring it back up a week later and return to Amsterdam together. This was his first time driving on the right hand side in a car, although he had ridden a motorbike in Thailand. Apart from attempting to enter a roundabout in the wrong direction, we made it safely to King`s Square in Bristol. It was here that Chris needed to maneuver a tricky bit of parallel parking. As he pulled into the spot, and then out again to straighten up, another car zipped in straight behind him and took the space. Absolutely stunned that someone would do that he jumped out of the car and asked the guy what exactly he thought he was doing, in a fairly marked Austrian accent. The aggressive bloke looked straight into Chris´s eyes and said, “Why don’t you just go back to your own sodding country?”

(Over the years it has become a catch phrase in our home, and used many times in arguments, guaranteed to have us laughing and to end whatever bickering we might have been doing.)

ESCAPE TO WALES.

After staying in Bristol for two nights, we jumped into the van, along with sleeping bags, blankets, food and a water cannister, and took off across the Severn Bridge for Wales. Autumn is the season of magic mushrooms. The Liberty Caps are insignificant in their looks, a tiny parasol with a nipple-like point on top of the very thin stalk. They are found in grasslands, usually with sheep or cows in them. Hard to find until you spot a couple, and then the eyes tune into what they are looking for. They grow in many places around the world but if I remember correctly the British Liberty Caps are amongst the most potent.

 

 

We ended up somewhere fairly deep in the Welsh countryside, I cannot remember exactly where, but there were a lot of sheep. We parked up and had an early night, ready to go out hunting mushrooms the next morning. We struck lucky and within a couple of hours had a fairly full bag. Suddenly in the distance we saw a horse and rider galloping full tilt, heading straight for us. We quickly hid the mushroom stash. A woman started to yell at us that we were on private land and what did we think we were doing, and were we looking for mushrooms? Chris immediately spoke with her and said he had no idea that we were on private land, and that in Austria, even if the land is private, you are allowed to walk in the fields.

This time his cute Terminator accent, worked in his favour and she invited us to follow her back to her farm and invited us to share some the cider they had made. A long conversation ensued between her and Chris on how cider should be made and that his dad too made cider every year. She said that she had troubles every year with people stomping her grounds looking for mushrooms and that was why she had been a bit sharp with us. Nice tourists like us were always welcome. She sent us on our way with some homemade bread and a chunk of cheese.

We got back to the van and decided to spend one more night in it, and drove off a few miles to park up in a different place. It was at the top of a slight hill, sheep yes, but no farm, horse, or person in sight. We woke up around three in the morning, and heard some rustling sounds outside the van. (There were no windows in the back to look out of.) After listening on paranoid high alert, the rustling subsided and we decided that it must be the sheep, and went back to sleep. A few hours later we awoke and opened the back doors of the van, and stumbled out to see that we were completely surrounded by the army, and about fifteen of their tents. No vehicles, no noise. Completely shocked, and wondering if we were still stoned from the night before, we got into the van and drove away as fast as we could get our backsides out of there. Army manoeuvres at the crack of dawn.

 

We made it safely back to Amsterdam, with the fungi, and memories of Chris’s hearty welcome to England.

CQ of APJ.

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Strange (Music) Tales From The Cookie Kitchen .

“One shot, this is it, Did you delay?”  Click Click.   The Beat.  

1980 saw the Iranian Embassy siege in London.  My best friend at the time, let´s call her JM, and I, followed it for the five days, smoking weed and listening to music.  This included the Special Air Service of the British Army abseiling off of  the roof of the embassy and going in through the windows.  This was broadcast live, at peak time on a bank holiday Monday, watched by millions of people. We turned the music down and the sound up and watched what would become a defining moment in UK history, and the end of the siege.   Journalists from all over the world were gathered outside the building.  Exciting stuff back then.  The Thatcher years.

1980 also saw The Beat explode onto the music scene, with the album  I Just Can’t Stop It, to become one of the most influential bands of the British Two Tone Ska Movement.  It was a time of social and political upheaval.  Love and Unity was their message, set to a combination of soul and reggae, pop and punk.  The Beat came from the industrial, working-class areas of Birmingham, as did JM.  She had moved to Bristol early 1979, the year that The Beat’s first single, a remake of Smokey Robinson’s Tears of a Clown entered the charts.   JM had been and still was a friend of Roger Charlery, better known as Ranking Roger, toaster and vocalist with The Beat.

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When their tour dates were announced JM called Roger and we were on the guest list.  The show, first of at least twelve that we attended, was superb.

“Say too much war in the city, yeah, Say too much war in the city, whoa I sing I said a love and unity, the only way, And unity, the only way …. ”   Whine and Grine/Stand Down Margaret.  The Beat.  

Roger and a couple of the other members of the band, plus a few road crew, came  back to JM’s place after the gig, where we smoked and listened to reggae they had brought with them, until the small hours of the morning.

We joined them for a fair number of dates on that tour.  Sometimes helping on merchandise, sometimes with the catering crew, more often than not rolling spliffs, and always at the side of the stage during the gig.   We travelled with them to Belgium and Holland for a few shows too.   One of the happiest and most memorable years of my life.

As was the way back in the heady days of the punk scene, reggae music was played before the gigs would start, so heavy on the bass your inner organs would vibrate.  That was where I got my early reggae education.

The Beat played the album Heart of the Congos by the Congos before each show.  It was produced by the mad genius Lee “Scratch” Perry in his Black Ark recording studios.   An absolute masterpiece.  It was at the time only possible to get a hold of it on import, if you could get it at all.  Many of the Jamaican pressings came with a number of small potholes on the vinyl which although very authentic was quite annoying.  My memory is vague as to how The Beat hooked up with the Congos, perhaps I never knew, but they did.  And they then released the Congo`s album onto Go-Feet, their own label. so that everyone could have access to it.  JM and I were invited up into the studios in London for the laying down of, and mixing of the tracks.

We spent twelve hours in a dark studio, so much smoke you could hardly see through it, listening to the production of the album.  The Congoman, the mighty Cedric Myton, was in the studio with us, overseeing the production. This was a pivotal moment in my life, something so amazing and such a privilege that I cannot believe it happened.  Each track was shortened for the album, fading out the dub that each track would go into.  I was given a cassette of the original tracks including the dubs, but sadly over the years I have lost it. The album is an exquisitely spiritual and beautiful piece of work;  Roydel Johnson’s tenor, Watty Burnett’s deep baritone, and  Cedric Myton’s luxurious falsetto.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.  I have kept the album with me for the last nearly forty years.

I continue to play The Beat, their music as fresh and bright and politically on-point now, as it was then.   I closed my recent radio show with them, saving the best for last.

“Say goodbye everybody, Goodbye everybody, Goodbye everybody, yeah, I say I’m sorry to say but I’m on my way, I won’t be back for many a day.”  Jackpot.  The Beat.  

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Ranking Roger.  1963 – 2019.  RIP Rude Boy.

CQ of APJ   

 

 

 

 

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Strange Tales from the Cookie Kitchen.

“But today there is no day or night, Today there is no dark or light, Today there is no black or white, Only shades of gray.”   Shades of Gray by The Monkees.

I returned from the Dominican Republic to find MJ dead.  He had overdosed the night before.  My first love, my partner of eight years, the person I had moved to Amsterdam with.

My father died in 1971.  MJ´s father died in 1975.  No one teaches you how to deal with the pain and we both carried the scars.

College 1978.  I was sat in the common room, listening to Spirit’s The Twelve Dreams of Doctor Sardonicus, when MJ walked through the door.  Barefoot, ripped jeans, long curly black hair, an earring, and John Lennon glasses.   It was love on the spot.  Who hears warning bells at eighteen?

I was fourteen when I went to see Stardust. It was the 1974 sequel to the film That’ll be the Day.  It follows the fictional band, the Stray Cats,  who were David Essex, Keith Moon, Paul Nicholas and Peter Duncan.  Essex, a real-life pop star, playing the rise and fall of Jim Maclaine, fictitious pop star.  Managed by Mike, played by Adam Faith.   Kind of mixture between fiction and reality.

Spellbound from the start,  I was in the film every step of the way.  The music, the clothes, the drugs, the glamour.  I was living it.   Jim Maclaine, who had become a megastar and split from his band, was being used and abused by the business; and eventually goes to live in Spain in a castle, becoming a  recluse, his manager in tow.  No one has seen him for two years,  at which point he is talked into giving a live interview, in his castle, which he absolutely does not want to do.   As he sits in front of the cameras, he starts to talk,  but makes no sense.  Publicly there was triumph but privately disintegration.  Mike realises that Jim has OD’d, calls an ambulance and goes and pulls him out of the press circus.   You see him carried out and put into the ambulance on a stretcher.  And then he dies.

I was absolutely blindsided and started to cry.  I could not stop.  I wept all the way home, and as I went into the house, my mother came running, asking what was wrong.  I kept crying.  She told me it was only a film, but it was so much more than that.  I felt that I had known Jim, and my heart was broken.  I cried for the rest of the night, a deep pain in my chest.

MJ and I spent the next nine years together, the last two of them in Amsterdam.   A couple of busts.  A shitload of fabulous music, the punk years, the club years, the festivals years.   No TV but always a good sound system.  Music day and night;  reggae, punk, hippie, psychedelic;  Stooges, Velvets, The Clash, Stones, Talking Heads, Grace Jones, the music that accompanied the slow descent into a heavier scene.  Funny stories, sad stories and some quite terrifying stories.

MJ. 1959 – 1989.  I loved not only him, but his amazing family too.  And still do.

I had not been back in Amsterdam for 36 hours from the Dominican Republic, when I found myself on the way to the airport to meet his mother and brother. off of a plane.  I was in total shock.  It would be some time before I was able to cry, my heart so broken that the pain had not yet set in.

 

MJ

 

“It was easy then to know what was fair, when to keep and when to share, How much to protect your heart, And how much to care, But today there is no day or night, Today there is no dark or light, Today there is no black or white, Only shades of gray, Only shades of gray.

CQ of APJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Strange Tales from the Cookie Kitchen

I was brought up in a strong faith. However far I wandered from its teachings, the miracle of prayer has never left me. I was taught that I could pray any time, and anywhere, on my knees, or walking down the street. It is a habit that has never left me.

“Little boy kneels at the foot of his bed, Droops on his little hands, little gold head, Hush! Hush! Whisper. Who dares! Christopher Robin is saying his prayers …” Vespers. A. A. Milne

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February 1989 saw us heading back to the Dominican Republic for another few months. This time with two bikes. In hindsight I should have known that more than spelled trouble. We booked our tickets, Amsterdam – Miami – Port-au-Prince – Puerto Plata. The bikes went for free, unlike these days where you have to pay. (Yes, my husband still takes bikes on planes and I should have known all those years ago that it was going to be an ongoing thing. But let’s face it, I had no idea he would end up as my husband at that point in my life.)

When we disembarked in Miami, things took an unexpected turn. Chris had no visa for the US, which was OK as he was in transit, but he was taken off in another direction to me. I had to leave the airport and check back in again because I was British and did not need a visa.

Bloody Americans and their general paranoia and this was way before 9/11. So yeah, I did that, went back through passport control and sat down hoping Chris would appear again. But he didn’t. He had been made to board the plane that I should have been on with him, despite him telling them that I was not there yet, they seated him. Meanwhile I waited and missed the plane. Don’t ask, because to this day we do not know why they did not call my name. Chris and the two bikes heading off without me.

They put me on a plane to Santa Domingo, 232 km away from where Chris would be. He had no clue as to where I might be. I was exhausted, wired from no sleep and had been about twenty-four hours without a joint, and that is only half the story. I felt as gray as I looked. I had some pesos with me and travellers cheques. I got into a taxi at the airport in Santa Domingo and asked to be taken to a good hotel. It was ten o’clock at night, I was alone in what seemed like a rough city (it was), and I could not think straight. The first two hotels would not take me. A young white woman alone meant prostitute, which meant no, you cannot have a room. The taxi driver had waited for me at each hotel, thank goodness.

The third hotel he took me to let me have a room. It was an expensive hotel and I guess they took pity on me. I had to pay upfront. I was given a room and told that if I wanted room service I would have to pay cash for it, they would not let me put it on a bill.

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I knew where Chris was but had no idea of the phone number of the hotel, which was not quite as much of a problem as not knowing the name of it. We had stayed in the hotel the year before but in-between then and now there had been a refurbishment and that included a name change. The owner, a friend, had written and told us as we made plans to revisit, but damned if I could remember.

I was about at my wit’s end. (As I write this I cannot tell you how much I love the era of technology that we live in, all I would have to do is send a text or make a call. Unimaginable to feel that lost now.) I knew I had to get in touch with Chris, let him know I was on the same island and not back in Miami. (Hated Florida ever since, and never been back – two hours at the airport was more than enough.). It was around midnight. I called the operator and asked for the number of the Hotel ………, that used to be, but now had another name. Right. I burst into tears.

I knelt down by the side of the bed and prayed my heart out, begging for God to help me out of this situation. Bone weary, it felt like my only chance.

Does a prayer answered show there is a God? An unanswered one that there is none? I do not know. But as I asked for help, the name of the hotel was planted within my mind. I could see it as clear as day. Things do not happen by magic, and I had read the name in the letter we had received; I knew it was there somewhere, but I had absolutely no memory of it. An immediate answer to a prayer, when I had to have it. I was so thankful and it has never left me.

I called the operator again, this time getting one that spoke better English. I knew the town and the name of the hotel. And got the number. I remember my hands shaking as I dialled the number.

Within a few seconds I was talking with Chris who was as relieved to hear from me as I was to talk to him. He told me he was jumping straight into a taxi and coming to get me. A good three-hour trip on a less than smooth road, from the north to the south of the island.

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The right hotel in Puerto Plata

With utter relief, I peeled the small hidden piece of sticky black hashish off of the back of my watch…

“When troubled times begin to bother me, I take a toke and all my cares go up in smoke.” Up in Smoke by Cheech and Chong

Chris arrived around five in the morning and by breakfast time we were in a taxi heading back north to our original destination. Not only had he lost me, but the bikes had disappeared off of the plane in Haiti, when his plane stopped there for an hour. Thanks to an observant Lufthansa pilot and Chris not giving up looking for them, we got both bikes back three days later.

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Val with the hotel owner/friend.

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The trip had not started really well and little did I know that when we returned to Amsterdam three months later, my life would be blown apart.

CQ of APJ

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2018 From the Cookie Kitchen

 

“House is haunted, I just wanna go for a ride, Out and on, before I set this room alight, Left alone, Forever, and for crimes unclear, With my patience gone, Someone take me far from here.”  Gasoline by Audioslave

April, 2018.  Tara invited me to guest post for the time that APJ was out-of-action.  Little did I imagine that I would still be writing here at the end of the year.  I returned to APJ in the summer and after talking with Tara, remained here to start my monthly Strange Tales From the Cookie Kitchen.

Today I’m sharing some of my 2018 highlights from the spheres of film, literature and music.

MOVIES

 

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BLACKKKLANSMAN Spike Lee’s true story of the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department, early 19070’s.  And how he sets out to infiltrate and expose the KKK.

The Dawn Wall  The story of free climber Tommy Caldwell, and his climbing partner Kevin Jorgeson and their climbing of The Dawn Wall, a 3,000 foot rock face in Yosemite. Six years of meticulously plotting and practicing their route.  It had never been done.

 

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Widows  Anyone remember the ITV series?  It is based upon that.  The basic plot follows four women, whose criminal husbands are killed on a botch job, planning a heist to pay back a crime boss.  Directed by Steve McQueen, (12 Years A Slave) who has the ability to allow you to see into a character with just a single frame.  Superb.  Go see it.

 

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Isle of Dogs Wes Anderson’s stop-motion-animated science-fiction comedy-drama film.  It is set in a dystopian Japan, and it is the story of  young boy looking for his dog.   All dogs have been banished to Trash Island, to prevent a flu virus they have crossing over to humans.  It is a wonderful as every other Wes Anderson film.

 

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Taken Yes, the movie with Liam Neeson.  I knoooow is is from 2009 and not 2018, but I only just watched it.  No, I have no idea what took me so long.  Cult.

 

BOOKS

 

The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood

Chasing the Scream and Lost Connections by Johann Hari 

The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah – The Autobiography

How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys by Viv Albertine

 

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GYM TUNES

Gasoline x 1000, Audioslave.  Top Tune.

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Lose Yourself and Venom, Eminem


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 Wake Up, Brass Against

 London Calling, The Clash – the whole album.  Not one bad track.

 

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I can’t finish 2018 without thanking my amazing, kind, patient, seriously batshit crazy trainer, Eric.  He has changed my life.  And the incredible Crikey/Slowlight who has cyber-motivated me to push myself to the limits, as she pushes beyond hers.  Big love to both of you gorgeous things.

And eternal thanks for the enduring friendship with Tara and Vanessa;  who keep me sane.

CQ of APJ

Hop over to APJ if my top perfumes of the year are of any interest!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Strange Tales from the Cookie Kitchen

Roast Fish, Collie Weed & Cornbread

“Some plant coffee, some plant tea, So why can’t I and I plant collie?  If you stray from the root, Then you’ll never know the truth right now, Ca’ the war can’t solve no problem, love is the emblem, Instead of hate and malice, we should be sipping chalice, And giving praises to His Most High Jah Jah Rastafari …….”    ‘Free Up The Weed’ from the album Roast Fish, Collie Weed & Cornbread by Lee Perry 1978
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Kingston, Jamaica 1988

Our end destination was the Dominican Republic, way before the “package holiday and get shit-faced on all-the-free-rum you want” days made it popular for the masses.  We had friends there and were gonna stay for five months.

February 1988 saw us leaving Amsterdam, heading for Jamaica for a two week stop-over before continuing on over to the Dom Rep.   I don’t remember when we landed in Kingston but it was dark already.   We had specially booked a well known chain hotel, not knowing our arses from our elbows in Kingston, with the intention of seeking out somewhere else on the island to stay from there.  We hopped into a taxi, the driver assuring us he knew where the hotel was.

It was about a half hour drive into Kingston and we sat back.  As we thought we were getting close, the driver abruptly took a right hand turn down a road that narrowed quite quickly and street lights disappeared.  He pulled up in front of a bungalow, everything dark, and informed us that we had reached our destination.  It definitely did not look like the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Kingston.  When we questioned him, he said that this was his friend’s place and suggested we might want to stay there. Cheaper.  Chris yelled at him and said absolutely not and take us to the hotel now.  He turned around and proceeded to do exactly that.  I still wonder if we were lucky to make it.

Irie Vibes and Weed in the Trees

We took a walk into downtown Kingston the next day.  Reggae booming out everywhere. Dancehall, Ska, Johnny Clarke, Dub, The Congos, Mighty Diamonds, U-Roy, I-Roy and a hundred other tunes.  I loved – and still love – the reggae from the seventies and eighties. At no point on our way there or back, did we pass any other white people.  A lot of dreadlock Rastas.  And yeah, we walked through Trenchtown too, which kind of surprised the receptionist back in the hotel later.  Irie vibes and pounding loud music everywhere, bass to shake the foundations of the earth.

Heading back to the hotel we were stopped by a guy who asked if we might want some grass.  Mirrored shades, very cool.  We talked for a while before agreeing to take him up on his kind offer.  At which point he snapped his fingers and yelled something, looking up into the tree we were standing under.  We raised our eyes too and were surprised to see about eight dudes sitting in the branches and sixteen eyes looking down on us.  One of them threw down a package.  Deal.

Strawberry Fields, Robin’s Bay

We asked in the hotel where we could go to be in the real Jamaica, as far away as possible from the Montego Bay scene.   They sent us up to Strawberry Fields. How could we resist the name?  About a three hour drive, due north, through the Blue Mountains, in a taxi.  Beautiful.   The driver took us right up to a wooden hut, Bobby`s hut, where Bobby himself greeted us with a handful of weed and a Red Stripe beer.

We were to eat there every day for a week; breakfast and dinner.  Roast fish, cornbread, breadfruit, mangos, avocados, beans, plantain, ackee and a shit ton of ganja. Bobby cooked.  Bobby was the main man.  He rented us a bamboo hut down near the beach. Strawberry Fields was named in the seventies and supposedly became a popular tourist destination.  But when we were there, there was not another tourist, let alone white person to be seen. Again.

 

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Bobby’s hut

 

We met a number of the local guys that same evening, I have no memories of seeing another woman.  None of that mattered though.  We sat around having a smoke together.  A chalice was filled and passed to me to light (basically what we call a bong.)  I smoked the whole thing in one toke. My lungs as big as my mouth.  I was not showing off, we smoked huge pipes in Amsterdam and I did not know I was supposed to pass it on.

You have to picture this.  There were about six of us sat around, totally high, and it was time to introduce ourselves.  There was one guy, fat dreads, who looked up and slowly said  “I am the Bush Doctor”.  We became friends with him.  He was the only guy who had been out of Jamaica, and he had visited New York.

We paid one of the men a few bucks a day to keep an eye on us. He called himself a bodyguard.  We were told that a couple of weeks earlier some German guys had had a run in with a guy with a machete.  That may or may not have been true.

 

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The bodyguard

Two weeks up there saw us forming some friendships.  Some of the dudes took us deep sea fishing. We were out on the boat for a few hours.  Everyone was too off of their heads to actually catch anything.  Smoking with these guys was wicked.

One day we had the privilege of being taken on a long hike, up through the woods and into their hidden fields of green.  High point.  Pun intended.

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Chris and guide on the hike

 

We had our own beach, not another soul to be seen for miles. We were in bed each night by eight and up again with the first pipe at four.  I am surprised I remember anything.

 

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The beach

 

After eleven days living this free life, experiences too numerous to mention, the guys walked us to get a bus back down to Kingston.  We maybe left them with some LSD.  It was a minibus for 12 and there were 22 people on it.  Three hours, and winding mountain roads until we were back at the hotel for our last night.  I was so desperate to get off the bus I forgot my sleeping bag.

Dead Bodies and Valium

Next day we flew to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, with a two day stopover, before we would be able to fly on to Santa Domingo.  There was no straight connection between Amsterdam and the Dominican Republic.

As the plane came into land over Port-au-Prince, all you could see was slums. Corrugated iron shacks; thousands of them, right up to the perimeter of the airport.  A country with no tourists, and not because they were in Montego Bay.  There were none.  Well us and a bizarre American woman with her two daughters.  The five of us stayed in the Royal Haitian Hotel.  200 rooms, a full staff, and us.  Voodoo weird.

 

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As we left the airport, pushing our way through throngs of people, a couple of kids asked us if we wanted to see a dead body.  For five bucks.  Maybe that explained why you could buy Valium over the counter.  Most counters.

 

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About eighteen months later, we received a letter from Jamaica.  Upon opening it, a small piece of paper fell out with the words “More LSD” written on it.

“Nothing is real, and nothing to get hung about, Strawberry Fields forever.”  The Beatles 1967

CQ of APJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

All memories approximate, due to …..

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Strange Tales from the Cookie Kitchen

“A drug is a substance which, if injected into a rabbit, produces a paper.”  Otto Loewi

HOW?  

After my LSD post several people asked me how I had got into that world.  I have psychoanalysed myself on many occasions; there is no single answer.

Not everyone who gets into the drug scene has suffered a trauma, but in my case I do think a part of my childhood may have put me onto the road to the sphere of mind altering substances.

Everyone has the potential for addiction, but some people are more predisposed to addiction than others.

CHILDHOOD TRAUMAS

I was living in the Azores, 1969.  My father was in the USAF and we were stationed on the island of Terceira.

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I think I was nine or ten years old.  I was out biking around with a girlfriend, we were sharing her bike.  It was one of those chopper bicycles. It was my turn and I jumped onto it and went down a steep hill.  I have no memory of it.  I came to in the hospital, with someone putting a needle through my lip.  Funnily enough I can remember that, and one of my parents telling me to stay still, the doctor was going to sew my lip up.

I had fallen off of my bike, and as I lay unconscious,  the pedals kept turning and hitting me in my mouth.  They found a complete tooth, with root, in the street, one of six upper teeth that were badly damaged.  I had a hole in my lip you could put three fingers through.  I was so incredibly lucky though.  On the day that this happened, a plastic surgeon had flown onto the island, to visit with his family.  He came to the hospital and repaired my lip for me.

When I think of that now I cry, and wish I could thank him for fixing my face.  I still have a small lump and scarring on the inside of my lower lip.  I did not look in a mirror for many weeks. I would go on my hands and knees into the bathroom to avoid even passing one. It took eight years until my mouth had matured enough to finally have my teeth permanently fixed.  By then I was already smoking weed.

 

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My parents’ marriage had been in difficulty for a while but as a kid I did not know that. Perhaps subconsciously.  One day, three or four month after my accident, Mum packed us up, my two siblings and myself, and we boarded an Iranian C130 to London Heathrow.   My Dad waving us off at the airport.  I did not know I would never see him again.  I remember the flight really well, I shared my Enid Blyton book with one of the military men on board, and he showed me his book, which I had to look at back to front, and with letters I did not recognise.

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We went to live with my grandmother over the next few months, might have been nearly a year. I cannot remember clearly.   My father left the island and went back to California, where I do believe he hoped to take steps to repair the marriage. Daddy suffered from alcoholism, maybe partly due to his days when he was stationed in Korea.

 

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We eventually moved into our own flat with Mum.  One morning, December 10, 1971 as we got up to go to school, Mum told us that Daddy had died suddenly, the day before.  Diabetic complications; but I now know that you can add a broken heart to that.  She then sent us off to school.  That was it.   Honestly, as I write this I have no idea how we ever began to process this.  I wonder if we ever did.  I did not recognize how desperately sad this was until many years later.

I neither accuse nor judge my parents.

AN AVERAGE FAMILY

I do feel that these two traumas in my formative years might have played a role in my going down the drugs and rock’n’roll path. And the death of my father affected all three of us kids.  No one talked about stuff like that in the seventies, you just didn’t.

My brother got into extreme sports before they were called extreme sports.  Bungee jumping using cave harnesses and elastic, cave diving and cliff jumping.  We talk daily.

My sister climbed out of her bedroom window and ran away and became a polygamist, a plural wife.  Passed away at 43 with breast cancer.

Just an average family.

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I still love music of all kinds, and am at my happiest in the gym with the tunes up loud in my ears.  Perfume is my drug now.  Which is how I ended up here. And we have a bike shop.   A strange tale indeed.

I regret nothing.

CQ of APJ.

 

 

 

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Strange Tales from the Cookie Kitchen

COME TRIP WITH ME

“Gather your wits and hold on fast, your mind must learn to roam, just as the gypsy queen must do, you’re gonna hit the road.”  – The Acid Queen by The Who 1968/69

Lysergic acid diethylamide, more commonly known as LSD, was first synthesized November 16, 1938 by Albert Hoffman, the Swiss chemist.  However it was not until five years later that the psychedelic properties were found.

Just in time to celebrate its eightieth birthday, we find ourselves bang in the middle of a complete resurgence of interest in psychedelics.

LSD was distributed by the Swiss company Sandoz in the 1950s, given free to researchers.  The neurologists at the time were totally excited, testing the drug out for treating depression, anxiety and alcoholism.

And then the counter culture got hold of it and along with it came the bad trips, psychotic episodes, suicides and other scary stuff, killing all the excitement.  The scientific establishment proceeded to turn against psychedelics, pushing them underground.  But lately there has been a renaissance.  A new generation of scientists are returning to them, once again looking into what they can teach us, their effects on consciousness, addiction, depression and so much more.

CHANGING YOUR MIND

Psychedelics do change your consciousness and we all dabble in one way or another.

Every culture uses some kind of fungus or plant to change consciousness: coffee, tea, chocolate, tobacco, marijuana.  In fact we can read in Michael Pollan’s ‘How to Change Your Mind’, that the only culture that does not traditionally use anything are the Inuits and that is because nothing psychoactive grows where they live.

TRIPPING

We have dreams, and we forget them.

However hard we try to nag onto them, they fade. Psychedelics are different.  They open a door in your mind and it stays open, even if just ajar; it never shuts totally.  It is not possible to write about a psychedelic trip unless you have had one.  It is an internal experience and not one that can be participated in from the outside.  I can only try and recall a few seconds …

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THE GIRL WITH KALEIDOSCOPE EYES

A first-time user really needs to have adequate supervision from someone experienced with the hallucinogenic/psychedelic of choice.  Leaving what you know as reality behind, for a number of hours, is best done with someone who knows the way.

I was accompanied by three amazing people on my first trip, one of them being the guy who would be my partner for the next ten crazy years, of some amazing highs and terrible lows.  We dropped the acid in the apartment and as it started to work, they took me outside into the city, over the bridges and into the parks.

Every colour magnified a thousand times, colours with no names, every movement, followed by its own shadow trail of the same movement; an eternal stroboscopic effect, forever being replaced by the next.  You could follow the flight of a bumblebee in slow motion forever. I did not know where to look.

The most fascinating thing to me was finding that time as I knew it, no longer applied. There is no time.  Five minutes may take five seconds, or five hours.  As we returned to the apartment several hours later, there is a particular hallucination that remains with me.

We sat down at the table to have tea and as I peered, because you do peer at the seemingly never-ending kaleidoscope of movement and colours, everything melted across the table, and slowly dripped down onto the floor.  The cups, the teapot, the sugar bowl…exactly like a Salvador Dali painting.  You know it is not real, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.  wild stuff.

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Val trying to focus on a never-ending kaleidoscope

“Go ask Alice, I think she’ll know. When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead. And the white knight is talking backwards and the Red Queen’s off with her head. Remember what the dormouse said. Feed your head. – White Rabbit by The Jefferson Airplane  1965/66

NATURE TRIP

One of the most exquisite trips I took was in The New Forest. A camping weekend.
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Psychedelics taken out in nature are really quite beautiful.  It bears mentioning that you are of course, quite exhausted after about twelve hours of your brain being in overdrive, allowing you to see and take part in these intense experiences.  Like with any mind-altering substance, what goes up must come down.  It is not just hallucinations, the thoughts you have are affected too.  Things are most vivid at the highest point of the trip.

As four of us lay in our tent, we began talking to each other.  But we were all so high, we could not hear each others’ voices. The words instead were coming out of our mouths in sheets of vibrating colours.  We understood everything, including the secret of the universe – which we promptly forgot.  You come so close to grasping the meaning of everything and just when you have it, it goes.

“The golden void speaks to me, denying my reality, I lose my body, lose my mind, I blow like wind, I flow like wine, down that corridor of flame, will I fly so high again?”  – The Golden Void Pt 2 by Hawkwind

Tripping at the Stonehenge Free Festival,  sitting on the stones as the solstice sun came up, Hawkwind playing on the far-off stage, the music drifting across the fields.  The days before there no were wires around the stones and you could touch them.  Everyone so high, Druids standing amongst the stones.  It felt as though everyone was having the same thoughts and the same time, and maybe we were. Looking up into the blue sky, the white clouds, the rays of sunshine, a spinning psychedelic prism.  An uninterrupted stream of shapes and colours.

 

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“Some call it heavenly in its brilliance …….. Out here on the perimeter there are no stars, out here we is stoned – immaculate.  – The W.A.S.P Radio Texas by The Doors 1971

BEACH TRIP

We were tripping on a hidden beach in the Dominican Republic.  People say you need to be careful with psychedelics because you can lose control. Although that can be true, it was never my experience. When necessary you can bring yourself down in an instant.

We were in the woods, made up mostly of coconut palms, intently studying the beautiful, almost chiselled, trunks.  You can feel the life and the breath in the vegetation, when in this state of mind.  It was very early in the morning.

Suddenly there was what seemed like a tremendous crashing sound as someone came running through the grove.  A Dominican farmer appeared before our very eyes, waving a machete around.  Trust me, we straightened up in a nano-second.  I don’t know who was more shocked, us, or him finding a bunch of white tourists hugging his trees.  He introduced himself, in Spanish, as Jesus, and promptly shot up a tree and cut down some coconuts for us.  We were saved.

LSD MICRODOSING 2018

Meanwhile here we are today.  Microdosing LSD is the current thing to do; taking a “sub perceptual” amount, as a mental pick-me-up. Imperceptible, but making you more creative and clearer in your work. Very fashionable amongst the tech communities, including of course, Silicon Valley.

Eighty years.  What a long, strange trip it’s been.

“It gave me an inner joy, an open kindness, a gratefulness, open eyes and an internal sensitivity for the miracles of creation ….. I think that in human evolution it has never been as necessary to have this substance LSD.  It is just a tool to turn us into what we are supposed to be.  – Albert Hoffman.  Part of his 100th birthday speech.

 

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Of course this could all be a figment of my crazy imagination.  Who knows?

–  By Val the Acid Queen of APJ

 

 

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STRANGE TALES FROM THE COOKIE KITCHEN

Editor’s note: Many of you will already know Val the Cookie Queen from her perfume posts here and on APJ. She’s now going to be doing something a bit different for ABR on the last Friday of each month. She’s going to be telling us stories from her colourful past that are vivid, humorous and often moving.
So get ready to take a walk on the wild side…
PSILOCYBIN TEQUILA AND A MYNA BIRD
I’m up and down the Westway, in and out the lights,
What a great traffic system, it’s so bright
I can’t think of better way to spend the night
Than speeding around beneath the yellow lights.“  
 – London’s Burning by The Clash.

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April 2 1980 saw violent clashes with police after they had raided the infamous Black and White Café on Grosvenor Road in St. Paul’sBristol.
Police officers – including several members of the drug squad – had stormed the café, suspecting drug dealing might have been going there. It ended in bloody riots and twenty-one arrests, but no one was ever convicted of any crime. It took until midnight to get it under control.  The police had to be called in from surrounding areas. Although I later lived in St Paul’s, at this point I was on the boundary and not involvedbut the atmosphere was beyond tense and I could hear the noise, smell the burning cars. 
However, this post is not about the St. Paul’s Riots, but something that happened I guess because of themTensions remained high for months.
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Two weeks after the riots, I was alone in my flat expecting my boyfriend and some friends to turn up at any momentThere was a knock at the door and stupidly, I opened it without checking who was there. should have known better. Five drug squad cops came hurtling in through the door yelling, “We’re coming in.“ Clearly. I have no memory of asking them if they had a warrant or not, but it was too late by then anyway. They were never the friendliest of people. I was just twenty years old.
stood there holding my breath. They marched around the threebedroomed apartment, looking under chairs, lifting pillows and throwing bedcovers all over the place in a haphazard and disorganised search.  In doing so they completely buried from view a plastic bag with a few hundred blues (uhm ….diet pills) with the duvets.  I breathed out.
They regrouped in the living room after having thoroughly’ searched the rest of the apartment. There was a couple of grams of weed lying on the table, which they happily took.  On the mantelpiece was a bottle of tequila, with about two thousand liberty caps, magic mushrooms, psilocybe semilanceata, call them what you will, merrily brewing in it. It was about nine-tenths sludge and one-tenth clear tequila. On the front of the bottle we had a large sticker of a cartoon fly agaric mushroom. No one had tried it yet. The drug squad nabbed it immediately, commenting that it was the first time they had seen anything like that. They told me they couldn’t bust me with it but would take it away to be analysed and for my own safety. Right
I was charged with possession of a controlled substance and eventually fined eighty pounds. Whilst I was down the nick, the cops informed me that our Psilocybin Tequila would go on display in their little room of paraphernalia along with other stuff that had been stolen from people to help keep them safe. I wonder to this day if they still have it.  Had I been older and more secure in myself, I would have fought to get it back.  bet it’s well macerated by now….
My parents knew nothing of my double life.  Several weeks later the bust went into the newspaper, just a paragraph on one of the inside pages. 
My folks kept a myna bird in the Esso station they ran as their business.  Amongst other things that bird could mimic air brakes and trick us every time into running out to the pumps to serve truck drivers that weren’t there. When we cleaned the birdcage, it was lined with newspaper before putting sand on top. One day, my brother called me and told me he had been cleaning the cage out and after tipping the sand into the bin had seen the article on my bust, face up at the bottom of the cage. We still laugh about it today. I thought for a while I had gotten clean away with it and wouldn’t have to tell my parents.
A week after the myna bird incident, the bishop of the church I attended came up to melooked at the ground and mumbled about something in the newspaper.  Church, yes, I was brought up in a strong faith and although I chose to leave for a long period of time, I still went home most Sundays and attended church.  It made my parents happy and probably kept me from killing myself. I would comb my hair neatly over the few dreadlocks I had cultivated and off to church I would go. Really it was the faith that saved my life, but more on that in later instalments if anyone ever wants to read them.
I digressI told the bishop not to worry, it was all a big mistake and I’d had to take the rap for someone else. There was a party at my place and it was loud and the cops came and it was on the table and yeah, I was blamed.  He scuttled off never told a soul and I’m still friends with him.
However I did get totally paranoid that my folks would somehow find out, so took a deep breath and went to talk to my stepfather.  I told him the same party at my place story.  As far as I know he believed me and as far as I’m aware, didn’t tell Mum. He slipped upstairs and came down with eighty pounds. I never thanked him properly.
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Val’s stepfather and Barney the myna bird

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Val, age twenty

©CQ of APJ

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