DICKENSIAN DAYS

Walk from New Cross Gate to Greenwich High Road,
Via Deptford Broadway, my mind explodes.
Dickensian days, cold November nights,
Nationalist thug bullies picking fights,
“Oo you lookin’ at? You want some? Come on!”
Decades old slogans, same ignorant songs.
Closed down shops have rolled down steel shutters,
Freebie newspapers blow along gutters,
So called journalists write stories reckless,
Describe new poor as lazy and feckless.
Near Marquis Of Granby girl begs again,
Hungry, pathetic, her eyes filled with pain,
Traffic relentless each twenty four hours,
Hope dies slowly, democracy cowers……

Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom 29th November 2022

WTF IS GOING ON?

Scene Red jam in Harriboy’s Hut on Monday 19th December 2022

Everyone knows
Everyone knows
Everyone knows
What’s going on!

Nobody says
Nobody says
Nobody says
What’s going on!

What can we do
What can we do
What can we do
To show we care?

Who can we tell
Who can we tell
Who can we tell
To show we care?

Where can we go
Where can we go
Where can we go
When things go wrong?

How can we sleep
How can we sleep
How can we sleep
When things go wrong?

A little girl asks
Have you got a pound
Have you got a pound
Have you got a pound
Got a pound for me?

I live in this tent
I live in this tent
I live in this tent
Have you got a pound?

Everyone knows
Everyone knows
Everyone knows
What’s going on!

Everyone’s scared
Everyone’s scared
Everyone’s scared
What’s going on?

What’s going on?
What’s going on?
What the fuck is going on?

Young girls in tents
Young girls in tents
Young girls in tents
What’s going on?

All the world
Walks right on by
Walks right on by
Walks right on by
What’s going on?

No-one looks in
The young girls’ eye
Walk right on by
Walk right on by
No time to cry
No time to try
No food to buy
Walk right on by.

Seriously,
What
The
Fuck
Is
Going
On?

Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom 27th November 2022.

FAG END OF DEMOCRACY

London Beggars by Gustav Doré

Even staid comedians call out loud
For people to gather out on the streets,
No coincidence as ramparts tumble,
Petty bourgois lifestyles come under threat,
Neo liberal Labourites throw flames
At socialism on inside and out,
Nurses, lecturers, rail workers, posties,
All designated enemies of state
By those who allow their cronies to feast
On pandemic profits stolen from us.
Integrity lies besmirched in bullshit,
Brand new Draconian laws in pipeline.
In New Cross young beggars populate streets,
End of democracy almost complete.

Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom 27th November 2022.

BIG D

A Short Story by Harry Rogers

I was sitting in the Cricketers Arms on Sunday evening after a long day selling my pictures on Bayswater Road.  It had been a good day, I had sold well over £400 worth of kitsch to Japanese and American tourists for cash and I had three hundred and ten pounds and two hundred and forty dollars in my pocket, all of it tax free.  After expenses I reckoned that two hundred and ninety quid of this was pure profit.  This was brilliant for a late autumn day’s trading in 1971 and I was feeling pleasantly contented as I started into my second pint of Courage Directors bitter.  

The main door to the pub opened and a head full of dark black curly hair and beard poked through the curtains and stared around the pub.  Catching sight of me sitting by the window in the back of the long bar Joey Peacock pushed through the curtain and strode towards me in a purposeful way. There were a few old guys sitting at the bar who looked up as Joey passed them and shook their heads in a resigned way.

“Bloody ‘ippies everywhere, they ought to bring back conscription, that’d sort them out.” One of them muttered and the other old reprobates nodded their agreement and turned back to their beer. 

Joey was a challenge to these old geezers who were born before the First World War in his bell-bottom jeans, blue shoes with silver stars on and three quarter length women’s brown fur coat with a large silver broach in the shape of fully rigged sailing boat on the left lapel and a fresh red carnation on the other.  He was the epitome of the South London counter culture and as such a complete anathema to everything those previous generations stood for.  To make matters worse he reeked of patchouli oil and had a permanent smile on his face just like Jerry Garcia.  The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers could easily have been modeled on him.  He sat down at my table and immediately pulled a ready rolled joint from inside the fur coat and lit up.  I was used to such behaviour from Joey, at that time he didn’t give a shit about where he was, he would smoke reefers anywhere and anytime and had no paranoia about getting busted at all and so far he had managed to avoid the long arm of the law.He took a couple of long slow tokes on the joint and passed it over to me.  I took it and drew the taste of mellow Afghani hashish into my lungs.  As I did so Joey asked me “What are you up to for the rest of the week man?”

“I’ve not got anything major planned” I replied “Why?”

“Fancy a trip to Amsterdam?”

“Yeah, as it happens, I do.”

“Have you got your passport up to date?”

“I always make sure of that Joe, you never know when you might need it.”

“Good.  We will be travelling with Ricky and Kelvin.  I’ve already booked the firms blue transit van onto the ferry from Dover to Ostend and up to four passengers travel free so you won’t need to pay a fare.”

He took the joint back from me and took another deep lug.  As he did so I said “ Kelvin? I thought he was in Bexley mental hospital having a breakdown?”

“Oh he is” said Joey, casually “but he volunteered himself in for treatment after his girlfriend left him for someone else.  He felt it was for the best as he was feeling suicidal.  He is free to leave at any time.  He keeps ringing people up and saying that he can’t carry on much longer but I reckon he just needs his mates to help him get past this downer. So this afternoon I went round his pad in Lewisham and picked up his passport and a few clothes and a couple of other bits and pieces such as his pipe and stash box.  In the morning we are going down to Bexley to snatch him out of the bin and we are taking him on a little holiday to help him get over it.”

“Does he know we’re coming?” I asked

“No but he has open visiting allowed so I reckon I’ll just bowl in there and tell him that the van is outside and we’re taking him out for the day, and he will come with us.  We won’t tell him we’re going abroad.  Once he is in the van we’ll get him stoned and then he’ll be with us until we get back.  We’ll just tell him it’s a mystery tour.  It’ll be fine.”

“Ok Joey, if you say so, I’m up for it, sounds like we’ll doing him a favour really.”

“Yeah” said Joey “he needs to sort himself out.  Of course he ain’t got any money so we’ll all have to club together a bit of spending wedge for him but it’s a good cause in my book.”

“What time are we off then?”

“I’ll pick you up around 10 o’clock in the morning.”

“Great stuff man, I love adventures.”

 “OK I’m off to see Ricky now to make sure he is still up for it, see you in the morning.” And with that he got up and left the pub, making sure he walked as close to those old contemptibles at the bar as possible so that they got a good whiff of the last remnants of the joint he was still smoking.  They just shook their heads as he floated past and carried on drinking.

I finished my pint and wandered out of there and across the road to the Greenwich Steakhouse for a mixed grill.  I knew Monday was going to be the start of a crazy week, I ate my dinner and went off to my flat in Greenwich Circus, watched Burt Lancaster and Judy Garland on ITV in the psychological thriller A Child in Waiting on my portable Black and white TV before rolling a bedtime joint and smoking it whilst listening to the Floyd playing Atom Heart Mother on my bedroom stereo as I drifted away for an early night.  I knew I was going to need it to set me up for the coming journey.

I awoke at 8.00am and switched on my Roberts transistor radio.  The news reader was talking about Japanese Emperor Hirohito setting off on an overseas tour, I changed channel to Radio 1 and they were playing “Hey Girl Don’t Bother Me” by The Tams.  I switched it off and got myself a bowl of cornflakes and rolled a joint with the last of my hash.  I got a small travelling bag together with my passport, a spare pair of purple loon pants, a few t shirts and a hand knitted Arran sweater, plus my super lightweight high tog goose down sleeping bag.  I finished the joint, took a bath and settled back to wait for Joey to call round.

As I sat in my antique leather armchair I started thinking about how Joey and I had met and what an absolutely crazy set of people he hung out with.  He was part of what can only be described as an anarcho hippy business consortium set up to capitalise on all things underground called The Deptford Dynasty.  They used a psychedelic font design of the capital letter D as their symbol and it appeared on everything, letterheads, cards, clothing labels, packaging, tee shirts, their shops, and was painted very large on the side of their vans, including the one we were about to go off to Amsterdam in which had the nickname “Big D”.  They ran a number of shops in South London selling a range of goods, including drug paraphernalia such as hookahs, bongs and soapstone chillums, cigarette papers, scales, stash boxes, incense holders, temple incense, joss sticks, underground records and books, clothing and footwear.  They also ran two cafes and small bar.  All of this had been financed by a successful smuggling operation in 1967 when they opened their first shop selling Afghan sheepskin and goatskin coats from Ghazni province, situated between Kabul and Kandahar.  These coats had a very pungent aroma when first bought from the local Afghani traders and Joey had used this smell to great effect when he drove a truckload of coats back from Kabul to England underneath which he had concealed 1000 lbs of top quality hashish. That works out at 16,000 ounces, at a street value of £40 per ounce that is £640,000.  Joey had sold the lot at £300 per pound, after costs of £50 per weight (lb) the net profit was a cool quarter of a million pounds which was a substantial sum in 1967.  The customs dogs never came near this stinking heap of rancid clothing and the customs officers had just waved him on when he came through Dover as they did not believe anyone would be so audacious, but this was Joey all over, a total risk taker beyond belief. This half ton of dope had given them the capital they needed to set up their Big D empire.  Before I had become a card carrying member of the Bayswater Road Artists Association I had trained as a plumber and met them when I was asked by a mutual friend to carry out a small emergency repair in the kitchen of their cafe in Greenwich.  I had immediate rapport with Joey and from then on we had become good friends.

They owned three adjacent shops in Deptford High Street, a clothes shop, a record shop and a cafe, and they had converted the basements into a giant communal living area by knocking through the walls and strengthening them with RSJs.  This led to it becoming the major partying venue for that part of London frequented by rock bands, hippies, junkies, writers, and groupies and it was just the most fabulous permanently midnight tripping space south of the Thames.  I was an outside observer of the mayhem, having never taken up the offer to join the consortium but I knew most of what went on and was often included in the inner sanctum when special events were taking place.  The whole set up was based on using capitalist processes to fund a totally hedonistic venture and, somehow, their in house accountant was keeping the whole show on the road, or so he said anyway.  They had expanded into mail order clothing and were selling thousands of pairs of leather loon pants via full page advertising in the rock music press and had many famous rock and roll stars on their client list.  Life was cushty for the Dynasty and they lived like there was no tomorrow.

Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep, the sound of Joey pumping on the horn in The Big D transit van outside my flat pulled me out of the armchair and I grabbed my bag and a brown leather bomber jacket and left the flat.

Ricky Roach leaned over and opened the van door for me, I swung myself up onto the bench seat and tossed my bag over into the back of the transit.  As I closed the door Ricky handed me a joint with a grin on his face,

“Alright Frenchie,” he said.

“Yeah, I’m fine man. I’m ready for the off.”

“Ok then, next stop Bexley” said Joey and we pulled out of Greenwich Circus, turned left past Greenwich Police Station along through Burney street and into Greenwich Park. Joey had been to New York earlier in the year and had come back with an in car cassette player and stereo speakers, a truly innovative revelation to me as I didn’t even know such things existed, and this was installed in Big D and as we pulled into the Park the opening notes of The Changeling by The Doors from their album LA Woman started blasting into the cab.  I looked across at the Royal Observatory, the blue sky above the Chestnut trees and late summer sun shining on the big red ball above the domed telescope and I felt really happy, of course it could have been the Citrali dope that Ricky had handed me, he always sourced the highest quality narcotics and this gear was no exception.  I settled back into a mellow reverie as Joey drove us across Blackheath on the way to Bexley Mental Hospital where the unsuspecting Kelvin awaited us.  “Don’t You Love Her Madly” played as we headed up Shooters Hill Road, and we all sang along as this seemed the perfect lyric for Kelvin. “Don’t you love her madly as she’s walking out the door.”

Twenty minutes later we pulled off the A2 and into Dartford Heath and very quickly we drove into the grounds of Bexley Hospital and parked outside the Victorian administration building.  Joey got out of Big D and said “You guys wait here, I’ll just go in and get Kelvin, this shouldn’t take too long.” And with that he breezed into the main entrance.

“So how’s it going then Ricky?” I asked

“Oh OK I suppose, I’m not making a lot of dosh these days and things are a bit slow in the building game.  Still I’m hoping this trip will sort me out a bit.” He said

“Are you still seeing that girl, Julia?”

“Oh yeah mate, it’s the real thing with us I think, we’re probably going to get married later this year.  Probably going to have to when her mum finds out I’ve got her up the duff.” he laughed

“You haven’t?”

“Oh yeah, she told me two weeks ago and I’m very happy about it, not that I particularly want to get married but she does and if we don’t her mother will go fucking ballistic.”

I laughed as he said this.  Julia was a beautiful eighteen year old from Catford and Ricky had met her six months earlier at a party in the basement in Deptford.  They had shared some Mandrax and had retired to his bed where they stayed in stoned out state of mandied bliss for a full seven days.  I have to admit I was not really surprised that she was pregnant as they were obviously loved up to bits and also both enjoyed being out of it most of the time.

Ricky had originally been part of the Dynasty but he had a penchant for betting on the horses and playing cards and had got himself into serious debt in 1970, so much so that Joey had to bale up by buying out his company shares for £20,000.  Ricky used £10k to pay off his debts and spent the next month slowly frittering the other ten grand away culminating in losing his last £1500 in a late night poker game in a Chinese gambling den in a basement just off Gerard Street in Soho.  These days he worked for Dynasty doing bits of building work for them and also he worked with a couple of old mates doing dry lining and plastering jobs.  He was also a very strong opponent of the Tories and had a habit of veering off into long political rants about Ted Heath and seeing as they had won an election in June 1970 he was likely to go off on one at any time, especially if he had been smoking a lot of dope, which was most of the time to be fair.  He had a flat over the top of the Dynasty shops in Deptford High Street and so spent a lot of his time partying in the basement and recently he had started to learn how to play the bass guitar and was often found jamming with any musicians that were hanging out there.  I guess you could say that he had effectively dropped out most of the time and was doing less and less actual work the more he got into his white Fender Precision bass.

We were contemplating rolling up another number when Joey and Kelvin came out of the doors and down the steps towards the van.  It had taken Joey precisely 15 minutes to find Kelvin and convince him that he needed a holiday. So we left Bexley and got back onto the A2 Dover Road.  Joey handed Kelvin his stash box and pipe and Ricky said “Hello mate, make us a good old Kelvin special pipeful eh and we can get this journey going properly.”

“OK but can someone tell me just exactly where we are going?” he asked

“You’ll find out when we get there, let’s just say it’s a special surprise just for you Kelvin, a kind of Magical Mystery Tour.” Said Joey and we all started laughing, Kelvin looked puzzled but he opened the stash box and was very pleased to find quarter of ounce of Nepalese Temple Ball hashish wrapped in tinfoil in the box along with his lighter and a packet of his favourite Drum tobacco. “OK geezers, if you say it’s going to fun, then I’ll come along for the ride I suppose.”, and he started building the pipe.

It didn’t take Joey long to drive down to Dover and they pulled into the ferry terminal at half past twelve.  Kelvin was pretty much spaced out by this time having not smoked any drugs for a fortnight and so he was out there, somewhere, but not far enough gone not to recognise where they were.  “Where are we going?” he implored, “On to a ferry?”

“Don’t panic Kelvin, you’re going to be ok, trust me.” Said Joey

Kelvin murmured “OK man, whatever you say.”

As we sat in the queue waiting to embark I looked at Kelvin and thought about his chaotic life up unto this point.  He was half gypsy and found it very hard to settle down to any form of straight existence.  As a child his parents had been travelers, living in a trailer van, following fairgrounds from town to town and his school life had been totally disorganised.  He had left home in 1961 after reading Kerouac’s On The Road, and had found his way to Soho where he had started hanging out with Fred The Carpet and all the other London beatniks who frequented The Duke Of Yorks pub in Rathbone Place and this was where his love affair with Mary Jane (marijuana) began.  He never went home again and spent the next five years drifting from one sofa to another in bedsit land.  He learnt to play guitar and wrote a lot of stoned poetry.  Eventually he met a red haired girl called Candy who was the spitting image of Elizabeth Siddal (Rossetti’s Pre Raphaelite muse).  They got married after a whirlwind courtship and moved into her studio on a plot of land next to the banks of the river Quaggy in Lewisham.  She was as fiery as the colour of her hair and Kelvin and her were always arguing, mainly about his failure to do anything about making money.  She was a moderately successful painter who was making waves in the modern art world, Kelvin spent his time trying to write poetry and starting novels but was mostly just too stoned to ever get it together properly and she became increasingly disenchanted with his indolence, until she eventually walked out on him and moved to New York.  He was devastated by this and, as is always the way, finally realised that he had messed up big time losing the love of life and he fell into a deep depression.  He had contemplated suicide but was too apathetic even to carry this out.  He felt utterly rung out and this was why he had entered Bexley as a voluntary patient on the suggestion of his GP who had written a letter for him recommending this course of action.  He had taken a couple of empty notebooks and a few pencils into the hospital with him and had started writing the outline for TV comedy series based on the activities of two lavatory attendants called Poe and Lavvy who looked after the Ladies and Gents on a busy railway station.  Not smoking dope was good for him and he had drafted out the plot-lines for a pilot episode and in fact he was well on the way to recovery from his mini breakdown when we had picked him up, although we didn’t know this until later.

Joey drove forward to the ferry terminal window and handed over the travel documents and our passports to the bored looking official behind the desk. He looked at the passports and eyed us suspiciously before stamping the tickets and issuing Joey with the embarkation cards. He handed the passports and paperwork back and said “Head towards lane 20 for the Ostend boat and wait to be guided on board from there. Have a nice trip.”

“Thanks man, we’ll try.” Said Joey

“Oh so we’re off to Belgium then?” asked Kelvin

“Yes, to start with” said Joey and the three of us looked at Kelvin and started laughing.

Joey slipped a cassette of The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers album into the player and we sat at the back of lane 20 listening to “Brown Sugar” as it filled the van with Keith Richards guitar and Mick Jagger singing “Brown Sugar, How come you taste so good” and we sang along with him.

After 25 minutes as The Stones launched into Bitch we were ushered up onto the gangplank and drove into the back of the RoRo ferry.  Joey parked where he was told and we got out of Big D and headed straight for the bar.  We bought a bottle of Cotes de Rhone and sat by the window staring at the lorries waiting to be loaded on.

Kelvin said, “I’m going to get a cup of tea, I’m off the alcohol at the moment.”

“OK” said Joey

Kelvin stood there looking a bit sheepish and then Joey said “Oh I’m sorry man, you aint got any bread have you.” And with that he pulled out a wad of notes and peeled of a couple of fivers and gave them to him saying “This will tide you over for a bit.” And he grinned.  Kelvin smiled for the first time since we lifted him and we all smiled back.

He went off to the cafeteria and we looked at each other “So far so good” I said

“Yeah I know it’s amazing what happens when you reach out the hand of friendship, most of the time people are ready to take it and will go along with the idea of love man.” Said Ricky and we nodded as sagely as three twenty five year old freaks could and picked up our wine glasses and drank  away and as we did so the boat pulled out of the harbour.

We drove off of the ferry four hours later and as we cleared customs the Stones were singing “Sister Morphine”, we pulled onto the A10 and headed towards Gent.  Joey knew this road very well as he had been trading in second hand clothes from the warehouses near the flea market in Amsterdam for a couple of years for his high quality speciality clothing business supplying TV and Film production companies. We sped past Gent and Antwerp and crossing the river headed into Holland, the traffic on the motorway to Amsterdam was very light and the sun was just beginning to set as we pulled into the city at 8.00pm European time.  Joey headed towards the city centre and pulled off the main road near to The Milky Way (Milkweg) at  the end of Lijnbaansgracht but there was nowhere to park and after driving around for about ten minutes Joey spotted a yard with only one car parked in it and so pulled in there for a smoke.

Kelvin was asleep and I shook him gently saying “Wake up Kelvin, we’re here and we need you to build a pipe.”

He sat up and slowly rubbed his eyes, “Where is here?” he asked.

“Welcome to Amsterdam” said Joey “Now build a pipe for us before we go exploring.”

“Fuck me, Amsterdam, I love Amsterdam.” said Kelvin and loaded up his pipe.

We had just started smoking it and Big D was choc a bloc with Afghani fug when there was a knock on the driver side window.  Joey turned down the tape player and opened the door to be confronted by a Dutch police officer in full uniform with a gun and everything.

“Who is the driver?” he asked

“That is me.” said Joey, getting out of Big D.  As he opened the door a cloud of dope smoke enveloped the cop.

“You cannot park here. It is illegal and you must pay a fine now.” he said after the smoke had cleared away a bit.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” said Joey, calmly, “why is that?”

“This is a police station and you cannot park here.  You must pay a fine of 20 guilders.”

“I see, I didn’t realise, hang on, I’ll get some cash out of the van.”

He opened the door to be confronted by three quivering wrecks who were convinced we were all going to be arrested for drugs.  Joey calmly got his wallet out of his pack and pulled out a twenty Guilder note and handed it to the policeman.  He had written out a ticket in the meantime and handed it to Joey in exchange for the cash.

“There is a public car park just around the next corner, I suggest you park there.  Now please leave the police station and enjoy your visit to Amsterdam.”

Joey climbed back into Big D and we drove out of there very quickly.  The cop was smiling as we drove off.  We all felt very relieved and burst out laughing, it was like something from a Cheech and Chong album.  Joey parked in the car park and we tumbled out onto the side of a canal and looked at the reflection of the street lights in the water.

“God I’m hungry boys” said Ricky “Can we get something to eat and quick?”

Joey said he knew a Chinese restaurant nearby and we went there for a blowout.  Kelvin ordered more tea with his meal and we drank beers.  An hour later we were back on the canal side in jolly mood and Joey suggested we head for the Paradiso where we would probably hear some music.  After a short walk we were there and onstage was a Dutch band playing Pink Floyd style music, we paid a few guilders and went in.  We were immediately confronted with a guy selling hash. “You want to buy dope man.  I have good shit for a good price, come over here and try some.” We sat down at a table with him and he pulled a joint out of his shirt and lit up.  It was top quality pink Lebanese hash and he wanted 20 guilders for five grammes.  I liked it so I bought some.

We spent the next three days smoking drugs, drinking beer, watching bands, chatting up Dutch girls and talking with Kelvin about what he was going to do when he got back to London.  Slowly but surely his mood lightened and we could all tell that the black dog had left his side and that he was forgetting all about Candy.

On Thursday morning we were just about ready to leave for London when Ricky said “Hey boys, I’m going up the railway station for a bit, I’ll be back in a couple of hours.”

“The railway station? What the fuck for?” Kelvin asked

“I’ve got to report my stolen luggage to the station police.” He said

“But you aint got any luggage.” I said

“I know,” said Ricky, “it’s been stolen.”

With that he sauntered off towards Amsterdam Centraal station which was about half a mile away.

We sat it a cafe drinking coffee with two young Danish girls called Vibeke and Alana.  They were hitching a lift to Berlin and we said we would drop them off near the motorway.  They asked us whether we would like to smoke something with them and of course we said we would love to.  We left the cafe and piled into Big D.  Alana reached into her backpack and pulled out a small vial of white powder.  Vibeke was putting skins together to make a joint and Kelvin passed her a packet of drum and she loaded the tobacco into the papers, Alana sprinkled a small amount of powder into the joint and Vibeka rolled and licked it.

“What’s in the joint?” I asked

“Oh it’s just a bit of smack darling” said Vibeke

She lit the joint, took two tokes and passed it to me.  I had not smoked heroin before, I guess there is a first time for everything, I copied her and took two tokes as well and passed it on to Joey.  He took one toke on account of he was going to be driving soon and passed it on to Kelvin who took two hits and passed it on to Alana who finished it off with two more.  I settled back into the seat and looked out of the window at a beautiful clinker built botter moored on the opposite side of the canal.  Everything I looked at seemed somehow sharper, picked out in vivid relief and I had a feeling akin to being wrapped in the softest woolen safety blanket whilst at the same time I felt I could deal with anything with absolute clarity of thought.  This was dangerous for me because it felt too nice, so nice that I resolved then and there that I would never use Captain Jack ever again, and so it has been ever since that afternoon.  I can’t answer for the others but I could sense the danger for me as I knew that I would easily be won over by the delicious comfortableness of it and as I had already lost two close friends through the awfulness of junkydom I just knew it was too much of a risk for me.  We all sat there in a calm and chilled state and Joey put a cassette of John Lennon’s Imagine album on and we chilled out to it whilst we waited for Ricky to come back from the station.

As Lennon sang “And the World is so tough; Sometimes I feel I’ve had enough” in the penultimate track of the album Ricky opened the door to Big D to find a bunch of very subdued hippies lolling on the cushions at the back of the van.

“Look lively people and make me a joint, I’ve just had it right off.”

Kelvin opened his stash box and started putting three Rizlas together, I asked Ricky what he meant and he said,

“Well Frenchie it’s like this, I need a new Marshall bass stack to go with my new Fender Jazz bass guitar but I am short of wedge at the moment so this afternoon I have started an insurance claim on my stolen luggage.”

“But you didn’t have any luggage…..” I said

“Ahh you know that, I know that, we all know that but the station police don’t know that and they have just taken down a full statement verifying that I have had my large suitcase stolen on the station precinct whilst drinking a glass of old Geneva gin at the cafe bar there.”

“How does that work?” asked Kelvin

“Oh come on, get it together” said Joey, “Ricky insured a whole load of valuables before he set off, and now they have, unfortunately been nicked.” he laughed.

“Joey’s right,” Ricky said, “I went round all my mates and got them to give a load of receipts for some pretty valuable gear, I should get about a grand when I get back and put the claim in.  The assessors will check things out with the station police here and, ‘cos the Dutch old Bill are so efficient at bureaucracy they will have no option but to cough up.”

We all fell about laughing, Kelvin passed the newly rolled reefer to Ricky who lit up.

“It’s time we hit the road” said Joey and he started Big D.  We pulled out of the car park that had been our base for those three days of Hunter S Thompson style mayhem and headed for the Motorway.  We dropped the girls off at a service station, we gave them most of the dope we had left as we were wary about going through English customs carrying, and I gave them my phone number just in case they ever made it to London.  Of course we never heard from either of them again.

We got back to Ostende in four hours having had to stop for Kelvin to have another cup of tea and a final pipeful before we got on the ferry.  After an uneventful crossing we cleared Dover without any hassle and were back in Deptford by 10.00 pm sitting in the Oxford Arms eating cheese rolls and downing a pint each, except for Kelvin who had yet another sweet tea.

“Well Kelvin,” I asked, “are you going back into Bexley to carry on with the treatment?”

He looked at me and a beatific smile broke across his face as he replied “Nah Frenchie mate, I’m feeling a whole lot better, just like my old self again.” He looked around at all of us and said “You geezers are just the most far out friends any one could ever have, thanks for getting me back on the track, I won’t forget this.”

I looked over at Joey and he winked at me.

A month later Ricky duly got a cheque from the insurance company for one thousand and sixty five pounds and brought the amp and speaker cab that he needed for his band The Happy Acid Star Hoppers (The HASH).  Kelvin moved in with the wife of the manager of one of The Dynasty’s cafes and started writing a screenplay about fairies and dragons whilst eating lots of mushrooms.  Joey and the rest of the Deptford Dynasty carried on expanding their empire and spending money like it was going out of style.  I carried on selling my art on the railings for another eight years until Margaret Thatcher became prime minister, the exchange rates tightened up and the world on Bayswater Road changed forever.  I don’t know what happened to Big D but it was a great van and I wished I had it now.  I’m about ready for another trip to Amsterdam now that I’ve turned 75, where is my phone book……….. I must check those guys out again!

(Any resemblance to any events or anybody living or dead is entirely coincidental, know what I mean man!!)

5849 words

Harry Rogers, in the old study, Aberbanc 

PIGEONS TURN ON CATS

They’ve come knocking at the door
Of the desperately poor
To bale out their rhetoric.
We have seen it all before,
All in it together eh?
Their slogans come round again,
Slogans put out by liars.
It’s time we pissed on their fires,
For pigeons to turn on cats,
Turn these robber barons out,
We want our health service back,
Our patient records kept safe
From privatising jackals.
Cap wealth of billionaires,
All power to the people,
These Tories have got to go,
Whether they’re Conservatives
Or Labour Party traitors.

Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom, 21st November 2022.

JAKI THE LADETTE

Written in 2012 my response to the Jimmy Saville revelations. In 2016 I recorded this with my friend Andrew in his home studio.

Here comes Jaki the ladette
With the ladders in her tights
She’s been out speeding
For one too many nights

In a mirror through the smoke
Her mascara’s gone streaky
But she don’t see the joke
Staring back so freaky

Tries to roll a cigarette
Can’t see what she’s making
Drops skins down the loo
Hands won’t stop shaking

Ooh Jaki Jaki Jaki
Jaki the ladette
Ooh Jaki Jaki Jaki
Jaki the ladette

Wobbling on stilettos
She staggers to the bar
Empties coins on the counter
Can’t tell what they are

Orders a vodka and red bull
She’s teetering on the edge
Her hair looks just like it’s
Been dragged through a hedge

But here is the strange thing
No matter how stoned she
gets
She can’t stop remembering
Like an elephant never forgets

How that creepy disc jockey
The one with the monster cigar
Raped her in her fifteenth
summer
In the back of his Rolls Royce
car

Ooh Jaki Jaki Jaki
Jaki the ladette
Ooh Jaki Jaki Jaki
Jaki the ladette

Copyright: Harry Rogers, in the old study
30/10/2012

BIRD FREE ZONES

No wonder wild birds are scared of humans,
When we fill skies with drones, missiles and shells.
Research shows traumatic stress disorder
That lasts for decades where we create hell.
Once their habitats are violated
Birds steer well clear of two legged
destroyers,
Once bitten twice shy, inquisitiveness
Transforms into long term paranoia.
Where we’ve waged war it’s much harder to watch
Close up freedom displays of birds on wing,
Further we drive them away through battles
Harder becomes for us to hear them sing.
Why would any species coexist with us,
When all we do is throw them under bus?

Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom 13th November 2022.

PUPPIES DIG POPPIES

All those dogs of war have puppies
Puppies who scrabble Earth’s garden
Dig without thought amongst poppies
Poppies whose beauty must harden.
Delicate yellow, pale from Wales,
Gentle protection from lightning,
Mystical Himalayan blue,
Imagine those dreams that come true,
Scarlet from Ypres, those that we keep,
To honour those dead whilst we all weep,
Papaver black for objectors,
Who bravely stood proud against war,
White linen for peace and justice,
All of these seeds scratched to surface,
By puppies born from dogs of war,
Who don’t know what we’re fighting for.

Harry Rogers, in the Red Bedroom, 12th November 2022.

WILL CIVILISATION COME?

AFTER GOING OVER THE TOP

Waiting for civilisation to start,
Beyond contradictions of human heart.
Watch each generation tramp off to war,
Stocked with new bullets, grenades and much more.
Anger and hate instilled deep from day one,
Arguments sorted through barrel of gun.
Stand with sad silent souls in Whitehall rain,
Know this will happen again and again.
Generals, royals, complicit MPs,
Dish out medals to live and dead heroes.
Rewards for inventing smart weaponry,
Pound signs followed on by untold zeros.
Our planet burns whilst we drop more bombs.
Civilisation? Will it ever come?

Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom 12th November 2022.

PROPAGANDA RECEPTACLE

Cops stop car on M25,
Boot full of ropes and climbing gear,
This is how start of end begins,
Social media trawled each day,
Checks on thoughts behind what you say.
Protesters, strikers, greens, left wing,
Now “Enemies of the people.”
Brand new lies, analysis dies,
Gaslighters daily out scapegoats,
Channels carved for new Twitter trolls,
Spaceman shits in Pandora’s box,
Meta rhythms spar with TikToks,
Social now part of spectacle,
Propaganda receptacle.

Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom 11th November 2022.

RED RIPPLE

Red ripple peters out near to West Coast,
MAGA plants have failed, They’re now mostly toast.
No doubt spinners, busy writing reports,
Will claim that this one has been stolen too,
Spit feathers, throw more toys out of their pram,
But future’s not theirs, they don’t understand.
People see through fake alternative truth,
They know more lies won’t fix leaky roof
Donalds apostles run out of glory
Yet even now they won’t change their story.
Judges next on list of those under threat,
Hold all your horses, ain’t seen nothing yet,
Rats most dangerous when they are cornered,
Only sheer numbers will snuff out their rage.

Harry Rogers in the Yellow Room, Midnight, 10th November 2022.

ZOMBIES DANCING ON ASTRO TURF

In all red states AstroTurf has been laid,
Those MAGA zombies well and truly played,
Never so many drunk so much coolaid,
Spaced into joining Donald’s fake parade.
It’s a knife edge in many, many ways,
Gets hard to believe what media says,
Black painted white and a million greys,
Are these really democracy’s dog days?
In gun shops ammo is all but sold out,
Q Anon fakers strut proud as they spout,
If Jesus walked today he’d scream and shout
“You’ve got it wrong, that’s not what I’m about.”
He wanted love for all under the sun,
Freedom is not what you get from a gun.

Harry Rogers in Harriboy’s Hut 8th November 2022.

ILLUSORY DEMOCRACY

Life in illusory democracy,
Where minds are blown by falsification,
And crowds line streets for aristocracy,
Is hell for majority of nation.
Where criminals openly join police,
Sewage runs daily into our chalk streams,
Children are taught to pursue golden fleece,
And only knobs are free to pursue dreams.
Loan sharks and bankers win public plaudits,
Deemed more important than those who clean up,
Fraudsters ignore environment audits,
Cultural vultures strut as they preen up.
Out on our streets some march for election,
Whilst others call for blonde resurrection.

Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom 3rd November 2022.

CONCHY

https://www.ppu.org.uk/
The Unbroken Ponies recorded this version of Conchy in Llanon, Ceredigion 2015.

He wore a black poppy and a white feather
Every single day with pride
He wore the black poppy and the white feather
Every day until he died
Nothing they did could make him change his mind
Wouldn’t do what they told him to
They locked him up and even beat him up
He still wouldn’t do as he was told
Kept his head high never let them see him cry
Wavered not even as he got old

Conchy was his name
Waging peace his game
Conchy was his name
Waging peace his game

Black poppies
For Conchies
Sixteen hundred
Long dead and gone

They set him to work on the ambulance train
Treating dying and wounded men
Sent him near the front for the whole of the war
Again and again and again
British and French and even German soldiers too
Patched up those he thought would survive
Collected creased photographs of loved ones on swings
From those who were no longer alive

Young girls on swings
From London or Berlin
Daughters, mums and wives
All now with ruined lives

White feathers
For Conchies
Sixteen hundred
Long dead and gone

Took Conchy for his name he was born to disobey
Never did what others told him to do
Refused to go and fight he would never kill a man
No matter whoever wanted him to
Envelopes were sent to him with white feathers in
For week after week after week
He kept them, every one, wore one in his lapel
Waited for somebody to speak

Conchy was his name
Waging peace his game
Conchy was his name
Waging peace his game

Wear a black poppy
For Conchy
Wear a white feather
For Conchy

Sixteen hundred like him
Long dead and gone
Remembered here
To live on and on

Harry Rogers, in the old study, Aberbanc, November 11th 2014

DANCE, DANCE, REVOLUTION DANCE

Shine as brightly as eye of any day,
Dance in sunshine and take our breath away.
Shimmer in tune with afternoon heatwave,
On waterfall beach outside smugglers cave.
Like Isadora blend in with flowers,
Improvised whirlwind of danger is ours,
Pull down barriers, outside on our streets,
No place for royals, no kings, nor elites.
From Paris to London, Moscow, Warsaw,
Zephyrs of love will blow strong evermore.
Sands of time shift, mirage of long lost past
Appears as we tread her footprints at last.
Isadora knew there are no blueprints,
Dance revolution, it’s time now methinks.

Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom, 2nd November 2022.

HOW DARK THE SKIES…

How dark the skies as Rishi rules,
Home office run by racist tools,
Sad Molotov cocktail thrower
Highlights Braverman’s no-goer.
Her obsession with invasion
No kind words in her oration,
All we hear is desperation
To show how she saves our nation.
Things never been less chaotic,
As she presents patriotic.
She’s found that refuge, ironic,
Where scoundrels sup gin and tonic,
On terrace underneath Big Ben
There Enoch’s ghost spouts forth again.

Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom 1st November 2022.