It was a good time for name-dropping: how could I forget the time at Nigel's
when I came across Allen Ginsberg asleep on a divan with a tiny white kitten
on his bare chest? And wasn't that Mick Jagger visible through the fumes?
Look, there's Nigel's postcard from William Burroughs, who looks forward to
meeting him when next he visits London!
"Nigel and Jenny came into my life through 101 Cromwell Road, and Chris
Case, then working for my fascinating exasperating friend forever Robert
Fraser." (Film clip on the linked page shows Nigel and friends)
"Many histories of the 60s present the 101 scene as if it revolved around Syd
Barrett, who lived there at various periods, and perpetuate the perspective
typical of journalists and fans, namely that the most famous person in a group is
the centre of it, implying that the people sharing space with him at 101
Cromwell Road and later at Egerton Court were 'camp-followers' or 'hangers-on.'
Nothing could be further from the truth.
"Just about everybody there had his own thing; most were there before he came,
and some of them were his childhood friends. The creative atmosphere owed less
to him than to such residents as Nigel, poet John Esam (who co-organised the
Albert Hall Poetry Festival), photographer Dave Larcher, graphic artists
Storm Thorgerson and the others who formed Hipgnosis, visual artist Dave
Gale (Lumière & Son), poet-author of The Book of Grass George Andrews,
budding alchemist Stanislas Klossowski de Rola, etc, etc.
Other visitors to 101 included Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Kenneth
Anger, Donovan, Marianne Faithfull, Alex Trocchi, and various Stones and
Beatles. A much longer list could be made, but the point is that Syd was there
because it was a matrix from which sprang the 60s London psychedelia.
"A major factor in 101's significance was its geographical position in the city.
It was almost directly opposite the main departure terminal for Heathrow
Airport. For arrivals too. Hip American draft dodgers with the latest albums and
news of the new frontier, although there was a strong argument that it was
actually here, in Swinging London!
"But then we were busted... We were then aided and abetted in the court case by
the auspices of Sir Mark Palmer, who had been a page boy at the coronation of
the Queen and was soon to inaugurate a model agency called English Boy, in
Radnor Walk above Ossie and Alice's shop with its lovely Celia Birtwell
prints. Nigel was working nearby in the adjacent Shawfield House at Cammell
Hudson and Brownjohn's..
"Duggie Fields was there always, through whatever chaos, regularly at work on
his paintings on the floor of his room in his Ossie and Alice black satin trousers.
There was a summer when you could walk round London and everybody
seemed to be playing Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. That must have
been the Summer of Love. Missed it? Bummer!
|101 CROMWELL ROAD