5032111_f260The Last of the Hippies

By: CJ Stone.

88,685 words.

Dedication.

For John Pendragon 1946-1998. The last of the hippies.

Blurb

It’s hard to know where the hippie movement begins. It’s even harder to know where it ends. There were hippies before they were ever called hippies. And there were hippies long after the hippie movement was dead. There still are hippies. It’s a generic term really. It means vaguely fluffy and idealistic with a cosmic turn of phrase. It means naïve and optimistic and hopeless with money. It refers to middle-aged pot-fiends who sport dreadlocks and baggy trousers, and who look slightly lost in the world; or to men who’ve reached the age of fifty without ever having gone out to work. The hippie era was a wild, a visionary, a revolutionary time. Especially as you could claim Social Security while you were at it.

The author first saw Timothy Leary on TV in his living room in South Yardley, in the totally unhip British city of Birmingham, when he was sixteen years old. He was impressed. Timothy Leary had probably never even heard of Birmingham, let alone South Yardley, let alone set out to make his views known to a sixteen year old Delivery Boy; and yet here he was, in the author’s living room, telling him to “turn on, tune in and drop out”. That’s when the author became converted. He’d already turned the telly on and tuned it in. Now all he needed to do was to find the drop-out button.

That’s what this book is about. It’s about a generation of lost souls looking for the drop-out button. Part autobiography, part history, part travelogue, it recounts the author’s adventures in that marginal realm: the mythical hippie’s heavenly playground; where LSD is the drug of choice, where evolution is the pastime, where revolution is the rhetoric, and paganism is a religion. It’s a carnival of madness. Join it at your peril.

Acknowledgements.

I would like to say thank you to all of those people without whose help this book could never have been written.

To Julian Loose at Faber’s for commissioning it, and for putting up with my doubts. To Steven Andrews, of course, for being himself (whatever that is). To Jon and Terry from Espionage Films who, although they don’t appear in the book, were there at its inception. To Piers and Gill, for the wine and conversation. To Sue Rowley, for her well-being. To Graham Fowler, for remaining a friend. To Dave Westacott, for remaining a communist. To Nancy and Moffs of Groovy Movies, for the solar equipment (it never worked). To Des Moore for his candour. To Susanna for being a hippie. To Louie for being a closet hippie. To Simon Rogers at the Big Issue, for feeding me work. To Jeanette Page and Deborah Orr at the Guardian Weekend, for their continuing support. To Terryl and Joe Bacon, for the use of their orchard, and for their kindness and generosity. To Karen and Tony, for their back garden and their patience. To Judith Roe, a good friend, and a source of inspiration. To Chris Craig, for distracting me with Karl Marx. To Lissie Freewoman, for distracting me with other things. To the Library of Avalon and the Assembly Rooms at Glastonbury, for the use of their space. To Paul and Nik for the use of the room. To Simon and Bunny, for the lift and the squabbles. To Kevin and Roger of AD3000, for revealing what was hidden. And to everyone I met in the course of writing this book, whether you appear in it or not. It was better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick.

Contents

  • Chapter 1: “Dear Pete.”
  • Chapter 2: “Hippies, Heads and Freaks.”
  • Chapter 3: “Free Love.”
  • Chapter 4: “Oops.”
  • Chapter 5: “Rod The Mod Takes The Plunge.”
  • Chapter 6: “Druid Time.”
  • Chapter 7: “Huna Druzz,” or, “Another Failed Love-Quest, An Apple And A Cup Of Coffee.”
  • Chapter 8: “Enlicenment.”
  • Chapter 9: “Not An Earth Mother,” or, “Nasturtiums In Barbed Wire.”
  • Chapter 10: “The Rules Of Sensible Driving.”
  • Chapter 11: “And Another Thing.”
  • Chapter 12: “The Pilton Pop Festival.”
  • Chapter 13: “The Trouble With Hippies.”
  • Chapter 14: “Des.”
  • Chapter 15: “Glastonbury.”
  • Chapter 16: “PS”

Reviews

‘Tony Blair was. Half the Cabinet were. And so was your dad, probably. But these days, original hippies are hard to find. Despite the flares, hennaed hands and cheesecloth revival of recent years, only an ashtray-full of die-hards remain. Now C.J. Stone has endeavoured to expose them – and himself at the same time. A professional drop-out for the latter half of his 45 years, Stone’s new book, Last of the Hippies, traces the movement to its genesis.’ The Times

‘A touching memoir …. Stone writes with intelligence, wit and sensitivity about being a working-class, belated hippie who has been hanging out with assorted no-hopers in places like Cardiff and Birmingham. This is a book written from within the hippie phenomenon by someone looking sceptically out.’ Times Literary Supplement

‘Ambivalence rather than embarrassment is what fuels this engagingly candid memoir … Much as he likes to protest his disillusion, Stone’s commitment to an underfunded life spent in squats, at free festivals and Green Gatherings blazes, or flickers, at least, off every page.’ Sunday Times

‘In a converted ambulance, Stone traverses a refreshingly uncool landscape (Birmingham, Hull) digging out friends from a quarter of a century ago. They are his counter-cultural characters, but now they are living in council houses surrounded buy pictures of crop circles.’ Independent

‘C.J. is surprisingly engaging for a self-confessed hippie. Last of the Hippies is something of a diary of his life from the day he decided to grow his hair (centre parting not optional). You’ve got to love him just for the way he confesses from the off that the prospect of free love was what really sold it to him.’ Big Issue

‘Hippies – a word conjuring up a cool, far-out generation, beads and tin bells jangling around their necks, flowers in their tangled hair, the sweet pungency of joss sticks everywhere. Everyone knows, or knew, one – no one wanted their children to grow up to be one. But Where Are They Now? … Last of the Hippies is a sometimes sad, sometimes funny-whimsical look at a generation.’ Yorkshire Post

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