The 'eternal' return of London's most down & dirty beatniks!

Going to my post box the other week, I found within my haul of letters a small collection of stories entitled _Chomsky And The Kultigato_r by Graham Nowland (Clear City Press). The title piece about a man who is mistaken for the linguist Noam Chomsky is very good, but another story called Some Of The Times I Have Died is even better: “How can I be writing this if I am dead? Well, I can think of at least three novels with dead narrators and I’m not even trying. Take it from me, you can write when you are dead..”
Graham Nowland is a name that will be instantly recognised by those familiar with London’s beatnik hipsters of yesteryear. He turns up alongside the likes of Grainger “Don’t Call Me Malcolm” Drake in newspaper pieces on ‘longhairs’ dating back as far as 1962! Nowland has been living in Australia for some years, and this is where much of his recent fiction is set, but he knows the hippest and most hidden aspects of the London counterculture of yesteryear the way only an insider can.
Clear City Press is not only the publisher of Nowland’s collection of short stories, it is also this hipster’s latest venture: and he plans to publish more of his own work as well as that of associates including R. Frederick Finlayson, anail nathrach and Liz Elliot. The latter’s as yet untitled book is being promoted with the following blurb: “A London poetry and prose writer, she is also writing an autobiography. She has long been active in London underground networks and her associates have included LSD guru Timothy Leary, novelist and king junkie Alex Trocchi, neurologician Brian Barritt, and archetypal London hipster ‘Grainger’ aka Malcolm Drake.” All of which makes Elliot sound like Liz Cooke’s double to me!
Moving on, one poem that has entered into oral legend from this particular circle of people, runs as follows:
I am a pot plant
That instead of being watered
Has been pissed on by a cat.
My impression is that Clear City Press are concentrating on quality writing, but I wonder if Nowland would consider doing an anthology of lesser unpublished pieces by people from within the circles Grainger frequented. The above poem is often quoted by those familiar with this milieu precisely because it is  funny, memorable, and thus ‘so bad it is good’!
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – – you know it makes (no) sense!


Comment by Michael K on 2009-09-12 07:53:45 +0000

Today I forgot who I am so dunno why I’m logged in here… maybe it was just left open by the last person in Cyber Sandwich!

Comment by raymond anderson on 2009-09-12 10:23:55 +0000

Have you ever heard about “contracts” being sold in the more commercial sides of the underground network? Apparently, one can retain a controlling stake in a territory, being called on as a “consultant” on commission basis. A hipster’s retirement plan… bidding wars for the westside…
The Underground is often seen as a young man’s game but history seems to indicate otherwise…a lot of talking with the dead..Ginsberg’s necro love for Whitman by proxy.
This piece almost recaptures that musty mushroom glow that initially drew this moth to the beatnik/hipster/head scene..the magical realisations in honest despair… knowing the dead still speak…being pissed on by cats…and “bad” poetry!

Comment by Scotch Alex on 2009-09-12 13:02:16 +0000

I’m not the kinda beatnik you take on the rocks, I take you to them instead and leave you beached there….

Comment by Jimmy Page on 2009-09-12 13:29:12 +0000

Plant is pot shaped and ain’t nobody ever pissed on this rock God, nor me… So all you cats out there listen up: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law… But if you try and piss on us then a hardcore and deadly current of Will is gonna drop on you from a great height.”

Comment by Michael K on 2009-09-12 13:52:04 +0000

I am a multiple identity
that instead of becoming embroiled in retro-neosim
has moved forward into the next century

Comment by Zen Master K on 2009-09-12 13:55:03 +0000

I am not a multiple identity
But a totally enlightened being
Who lives beyond the illusions of space and time

Comment by The Real Tessie on 2009-09-12 14:05:19 +0000

K’s not enlightened, he’s a dirty pervert who likes locking me in the cupboard of the Big Blogger House while he has threesomes with forty something runaway wives he’s picked up at Kings X station….

Comment by Chinna of Ladbroke Grove on 2009-09-12 14:39:06 +0000

It weren’t all longhairs down the Grove in the 60s &70s, there were plenty of skinheads too, and redskins to boot!

Comment by I Walk Like A Crazy Horse on 2009-09-12 15:49:27 +0000

down & dirty beatniks are a groove sensation!

Comment by Walter Paisley on 2009-09-12 18:40:36 +0000

there’s just so much going on behind that yellow door….

Comment by observer on 2009-09-12 19:32:41 +0000

stewart, stop talking to yourself

Comment by Michael K on 2009-09-12 20:55:25 +0000

But I like talking to myself, and besides I thought you were me, so you can’t tell me what to do coz you’re one of my many schizophrenic personalities I’ve just wrenched control of myself from…..

Comment by msmarmitelover on 2009-09-13 09:04:34 +0000

I too received a great book in the mail yesterday: ‘Sauces’ by Michel Roux.

Comment by Sara Benda on 2009-09-13 09:07:31 +0000

Je suis une rock chic, non à beatnik!

Comment by observer on 2009-09-13 10:05:56 +0000

I’m not you, you know who I am. We’re not one (alas). So I say – stop talking to yourself. Let your crazy fans do the talking.

Comment by Michael Roth on 2009-09-14 20:11:02 +0000

Looks like the press is still quite new. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with once things really get going.

Comment by Michael K on 2009-09-16 10:17:39 +0000

I am your automatic lover

Comment by Old Rope on 2009-09-16 10:51:30 +0000

My erstwhile pal and serial bloggamist John Le Baptiste also feels the need to share with the world of the living the nature of his numerous deaths.
These are recounted at The Many Deaths of John Le Baptiste:
Are his tales of multiple expirations part of a wider narrative tradition? If Nowland gets off on it too, then maybe this is so…
Your oldest of ropes,
Old Rope

Comment by Rick “the wanna-be situationist skinhead"Terror on 2009-09-16 18:14:23 +0000

Still waiting for my lsd embarkation from London.

Comment by Graham Nowland on 2009-09-21 08:24:59 +0000

I am sort of interested in your idea about the poetry but at the moment I am racing to get a long work to a publisher who’s shown a bit of interest. Clear City is not quite ready for longer works and I might as well explore this avenue before I lift the publishing game myself. However if anyone can point me in the right direction for finding a lot of cat pissed on potplant stuff all at once, that would be good. Right now I am too busy to search for and talk to lots of old hippy poets even if the prospect might be amusing. Likewise if you or anyone else knows any of Grainger’s stuff, he was quite good, I remember that much, mystic and sharp long before LSD arrived. He gets a lot of bad press for never being published but I recall his informal and somewhat magical recitations to friends in 61-2 around tables in the Milan, The Peace Cafe in Fulham, the Cafe des Artists in Chelsea and while we were smoking joints and later fixing to the grooves of Coltrane and Monk etc in various pads around west and central London. But it’s apparently all lost. Liz’s still got some of her own poetry but it is not really in that Young Ones type idiom you cited. The problem at the moment is not material but time and energy. Once I’ve got rid of this big one, I will be able to do more. Kind regards Graham

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-09-21 09:08:40 +0000

I know of no single good source for those poems… so much seems to be lost. Most of my mum’s poetry has vanished (although I included one that was published in another recent blog, Detta Whybrow’s as far as I know, and moving further away from Grainger’s circle (but not my mum’s) also Terry Taylor’s – which was great according to everyone who remembers it and has told me about it. I’d heard Grainger’s stuff from the early sixties was really good too… Interesting about the Peace Cafe coz obviously Phil Green worked there and we all know about the notorious 1962 bust (involving Green with his smack but not Grainger). Green was connected to Trocchi pretty early on, so I wonder if that is where Grainger got his connection to the man????

Comment by Graham Nowland on 2009-09-22 09:13:30 +0000

No Grainger wasn’t fixing during the Peace Cafe period. Phil disappeared reappeared in the Grove later. I heard Trocchi’s name a lot at Phil’s pad in 63-64 possibly and Grainger really did know Trocchi now. I never saw Trocchi there though. Tony Marchant was around all this time. He had something to do with liberatiing the Grove’s private squares, also some cooperative housing trust, but he dates right back. He eventually got sucked into the same cult your mother got involved in, minor official maybe. He might be a lead in your main quest. If you find him it would be good to make contact again.

Comment by Howling Wizard,Shrieking Toad on 2009-10-04 11:20:07 +0000

Eternal return (also known as “eternal recurrence”) is a concept which posits that the universe has been recurring, and will continue to recur in a self-similar form an infinite number of times. The concept has roots in ancient Egypt, and was subsequently taken up by the Pythagoreans and Stoics. With the decline of antiquity and the spread of Christianity, the concept fell into disuse, though Stewart Home resurrected it in his occult text, “The House of Nine Squares” ,on the grounds that it provides a reason for affirming life after the decline of theism.
In addition, the philosophical concept of eternal recurrence was addressed by Arthur Schopenhauer. It is a purely physical concept, involving no “reincarnation”, but the return of beings in the same bodies. Time is viewed as being not linear but cyclical. Home considers similar prisms in his mystical tract “The Psychogeography of Zeros and Ones”
( the central premise of which is rooted in Babylonian magic ).

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