Personal blog: Saturday morning with a 60s vibe

Sitting at the Oak refectory table I’ve known since childhood.

Sunbeams are lancing through the large window behind me, to my right, picking out the colours of the wood and the objects that occupy this room from my travels.  Mugs of tea sit on ceramic coasters printed with images of the characters from CLUDEO.  Steam rises. Music drifts.  Lovely moment.  Mild twinge of a red wine hangover from last night.

My friend R___ is here. Someone I’ve known since we were both 5. He flew in yesterday morning. He’s setting down notes for a book I’m going to write about his life: he should be dead, or on the streets. Instead he has become a remarkable human being. And he has a story to tell.

Last night I got to listen to a recording that is the missing piece. An audio recording made on old spool to spool dinner plates made in 1972 – by his mother, talking about what was really going on back then. She passed away last year. And here she is, talking from the past when she was younger than Richy and I are now. It was like listening to a scene from the Profumo Affair. The style of her voice: a wealthy, well-travelled, highly-articulate and intelligent woman who had turned her back on the “established way” for a woman to behave in the 1960s.

A profound story has come looming up from the 43 year silence of this recording – one that paints the picture of why Richy’s life was so unusual, and details that provide a tantalising glimpse of the police, politics and emerging drug culture of the time.

Traffic 1960 Photograph Norman Parkinson swinging sixties London woman with red London Bus

Traffic, 1960 Photograph: Norman Parkinson