Friday, October 31, 2014

Under the Portishead Bridge

After reading and watching a lot on ‘The Secret History of Magic Mushrooms’ at Gnostic Media, and listening to the guys on the Grimerica podcast, featuring Adam Gorightly, I recalled more from my childhood. These things seemed meaningless at the time, yet they’re still in my memory to this day. I’ll make this an intro to my already fragmented bio, that I started scribbling down in May 2010, segments of which have been posted to this blog previously.

…Back then, things were nothing like they are painted in American movies today. Our school had no ‘Breakfast Club’. The early '80s were a mixture of tame fun, colourful pop-music, Miami Vice, and racist bullying. At least for us country bumpkins, in our small town they were. The majority of kids had little or no experience of anything, let alone sex and drugs, even though they bragged a lot, unless they were the ‘abused’ kids that is.

Jennine was an abused kid. Well, there were rumours that her step-dad was abusing her. It’s weird now thinking back, how nobody said or did anything about it. Surely, if we knew, and her overly-sexualised clothing, causing all sorts of fights in school, seemed to shout it, no one raised a red flag. Not one teacher or student.

Kim (the cool girl that everyone wanted to be friends with) had a cousin Susan. She wasn’t at our school, but she use to hang out with us in the afternoons occasionally. Susan was an abused kid. Her uncle (Kim's dad) was a notorious drunk that use to make her take heroine every day, then he’d carryout the 'abuse' while his wife was at work. Susan told us it was a secret and not to tell anyone. Kim didn’t know about it, and no one told her or anyone else. Kim’s family were known to be the rough ‘council house’ lot, which meant you didn’t want to mess with them, because they might come round to your area, find where you live, and smash your windows.

If you wanted to hang out with the ‘cool’ kids, and be somewhere you weren’t supposed to be, you’d go down to the Rec. where they use to play football and rugby, at the back of the field. It was abandoned most of the time though due to excessive mud. You might find one or two twelve year-old boys sniffing glue and solvent sprays, which is all they could get their hands on. 

Apart from Kim’s cousin Susan, no one had admitted to trying anything more potent than smelling Tipp-ex, no stories of tripping, no highs and lows, nothing. Most of the time, all you heard about was the torture a guy called Ian had inflicted on his pet dog, and the latest 'Morrissey' lyrics.

I recall one time; it was on the journey back from a school trip to Stratford-upon-Avon. James remarked how it wasn’t difficult to find magic mushrooms, he knew where they were because he’d seen and tried them when his older brother took him picking. They were under the Portishead bridge. “Well, not really under the bridge,” he said, “you go under the bridge, and up a bit to the woods, and they were there. Easy!”

James insisted that he wanted to get off the coach at the next stop, whoever wanted to come with him; he’d show them where the mushrooms were. He wasn’t very adept to a capitalist system of entrepreneurship yet. At least school wasn’t teaching anything, except the history of the American West, the Second World War, and showing us cartoons about venereal disease. 

If you were willing to trudge up the embankment in the pouring rain, along the M5 hard-shoulder, then under the Portishead bridge, to pick magic mushrooms in the freezing cold at five o’clock, this was your chance. Not surprisingly, there weren’t many takers.

Lifes journey... just a strange trip?

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