Where There’s Smoke continued…

Trinidad February 1978

The scene at the gate was chaotic to say the least. The combination of a snowstorm and an excessive amount of oversized luggage had delayed our flight by several hours. Babies were crying, then eating, then crying again. Older children were running around every which way. Adult family members seemed to be debating who among them was going to make the trip. There wasn’t even a semblance of security.

Had we known it was going to be like this, we wouldn’t have left the Thai sticks at home. But all was forgotten when we landed in Port of Spain and bounded down the mobile stairway, winter coats in hand, to the steamy tarmac under the blinding sun.
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Where There’s Smoke

United Kingdom October 1976

In those days, the cultural difference between Americans and Europeans was expressed in what are now called “delivery systems.” In the US we rolled up bud into joints. In Europe they mixed hashish with tobacco. I’d quit smoking cigarettes some years before. So when I made my first foray across the pond, I was prepared to make some exceptions. As they say, when in Rome.

In my case, London. My British friends had access to both of the common varieties: powdery tan Paki and gummy black Afghani. The Paki was smoother, the Afghani more potent. Mixed with their flavored loose tobacco, I found both to be somewhat nauseating. But that didn’t stop me from smoking. The things we put up with to get high.
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A Tale of Two Cities

The House on Hampstead Heath

It was 1976, I was 24 and between bands. I quit my day job, gathered up my guitars, left my Brooklyn commune and flew to London to visit my old mate Jeremy. He met me in the car park at Heathrow Airport. He had a friend with him. Turns out he didn’t live in London anymore, having just moved up north to Bradford. “Howard will take care of you.”

I crashed at Howard’s flat in Finchley for about a week. Then he found me a room in a 4-story Victorian on a circular road called South Hill Park Gardens, a block from Hampstead Heath. Quite the fashionable neighborhood.

Bill Oddie’s place. Howard had gone to secondary school with Bill’s then estranged wife. Estranged in an odd sort of way. Bill bought his wife the house next door after she said she wanted to move out. Bill hosted a children’s show on the BBC. Hung out with George Harrison and the Monty Python guys. Continue reading “A Tale of Two Cities”