Dad had a gig in Brighton with GBO and so we went and Dad and Mum went and stayed at their friends for the night. Liz, Howard and Moi were on their way on foot to the venue but unsure of its whereabouts having failed to get clear directions beforehand. But then my mother espied some splashes of vomit at intermittent intervals along the route and suggested they follow these, which sure enough belonged to Ginger and led them to the gig. This story is always told with humour but in fact it shows how established and accepted my father’s heroin habit had become. He had obviously had ‘a fix’ prior to the gig to help him play well; but was it also to mask stage-fright and the stress of coping with a social situation? After a fix, a junkie will often throw up and so there we all were already caught up in the dark myths of our own story.
I’m sure that many times drugs played a major part in the many arguments my parents had, though of course in my earliest memories it was just upset at ‘bad feeling’ I had no idea what it meant or what had caused it. Later I came to understand what would set off the carnage and that in some was ways was worse because I knew where it was headed and where it would end; in violence. Mum would get black eyes and use the old chestnut excuse that she’d ‘walked into a door.’ She sported other bruises too. Yet she says now ‘I gave as good as I got’ and fondly remembers an incident when they were beating each other with lumps of wood when naked. In fights with his current wife my Dad says, ‘it’s just like Liz and I’. To them alone it is some warped expression of love.
Drug problems were of course at the root of many disagreements and the use of drugs made everything more emotional and certainly darker. During the Graham Bond years, my father made his first of many attempts to get straight and took me with him ‘up to London’ to Wimpole street to see the doctor who prescribed to many addicts, Lady Frankau. We waited for the bus that day on Neasden Lane where a low brick wall borders the shrub filled garden of a square and wholly unremarkable apartment block.
Dad held my hand as I walked along the length of the wall, then sat me on his shoulders at the bus-stop where we sang ‘bus, bus hurry up’ together. He was excited at the prospect of collecting his script and getting high. Yet he maintains that after Lady Frankau had praised me as a ‘beautiful child’ he looked at my face and ditched the precious script on the way home. He then came home and attempted to do a tour of the North whilst going ‘cold turkey.’ When he returned he went back to Lady Frankau and asked for help to withdraw using a process he tried on every occasion he got ‘messed up’ again. The difficulties of withdrawal and stresses of running a band and dealing with family life only increased the conflict at home.