Cannabis is so much stronger than it was in the sixties?

Cannabis is so much stronger than it was in the sixties?

Short answer is: No, cannabis is not so much stronger than it was in the sixties.

Some sort of Weed

How do I know? Easy, I was there then and I’m here now. I started smoking cannabis on April 20th 1968 when I was sixteen. They say that if you remember the sixties then you weren’t there, so how come I can remember the exact date on which I smoked my first joint?

Easy – there was a gig starring Geno Washington and the Ram Jam band in the Glen Ballroom in Llanelli then – I found the exact date on the Internet. That’s the night I inhaled for the first time. It was a tiny bit of hash I bought for a few shillings and it had no effect whatsoever on me,

The next day I went for a walk in the countryside near my home and smoked the other half of my stash. Minutes later I was dancing through the damp fields like a demented hippy, smiling and laughing at the beautiful planet I was privileged enough to live on.

Over the next three and a half years I smoked a lot more dope and had my share of most of the other drugs that were available, and there were a lot, even in our town in the sticks. For a few months during that period I shared a flat in London with a bunch of blokes, mostly from Llanelli. Early December 1969, we bought a large bag of what we were told was Mexican Grass.

There followed three weeks of mayhem, when I often forgot who I was, where I was and even what I was. Time chopped itself into short sequences and rearranged itself so that the thing I’ll be doing 5 minutes ago came after the thing that I was doing in half an hour’s time. I was reduced to my essential essence of being a consciousness floating in the continuum of space-time loosely connected to a seventeen year old boy from Wales.

This hallucinatory surreal journey continued until Christmas Eve when most of the Llanelli contingent hopped into a hired transit and belted off down the M4 to reconnect with our roots and reassemble our splintered brains. As it turned out I didn’t go back to London after that. When the transit came to pick me up the day after Boxing Day I was too exhausted after the grass and a bit ill after Christmas over-consumption. Just over two years later I was married with a child.

I stopped taking any kind of drug, even laid off alcohol for a few years and didn’t have another spliff for more than a quarter of a century. By then the good quality hash and grass of the late sixties had turned into impure and probably toxic ‘soap’ and ‘slate’ – concoctions of cannabis resin and god knows what bulking agents,

Gradually better quality weed came on the market – mostly strains of skunk grown in someone’s attic in small batches. The quality of the drug continued to improve and become more pure. I continued to smoke, and later vape, on and off, until quite recently, and I can vouch that nothing comes close to the strength and effects of that innocent sounding Mexican Grass that altered the course of my life in 1969.

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A random bit of live writing (Feb 2016)

How do you choose which bits of your life to focus on when you write or attempt to write some kind of autobiography like this? What are the criteria? Hmm. I suppose it depends on who you are writing to – yes – because when you write, or at least when I write, I have a ‘reader’ in mind, even if that reader is just an abstract notion of myself – my future self. Like a diary I suppose.

But so much happens in just one day, one hour, one second even, if you drill down into the depths of your psyche and think out to the expanse of the universe(s). Continue reading

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Something New

There seems to be nothing there, but there are the uncountable billions of past experiences in this or other lives. Then there are the uncountable possibilities of future experiences plus of course the endless experiences occurring now.

And out of this nothing something new has to emerge . . .

 

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This is it

This, of course, is to no one. This is just me babbling in the dark, somewhere in the depths of the universe. This is no where. I am no one.

But – things go on, around me, inside me, in other places I can’t imagine right now but may become known, in a small way, by reports in the media tomorrow.

It emanates out and becomes weaker for every centimetre; it sends back small titbits for consumption to make stories.

We all live in the howling wilderness at the edge of the universe. Where else could we live? That is what life is.

***

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Pandora – a new acrylic painting 1000mm x 1200mm

Pandora – Acrylic on box canvas – 1000mm x 1200mm

Same size canvas as Namaste and Sister Liz

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Sister Liz – a new acrylic painting 1000mm x 1200mm

Sister Liz – Acrylic on box canvas – 1000mm x 1200mm

Same size and type of canvas as Namaste but different orientation

Also see Pandora

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Namaste – a new acrylic painting 1200mm x 1000mm

My latest painting – finished today – it’s quite big. I love it – it makes me feel good when I look at it, there’s something spiritual about it I think.

Namaste – Acrylic on box canvas – 1200mm x 1000mm

There are another 2 of the same size and similar style: Sister Liz and Pandora

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Dani Girl

Some Work in Progress

Dani Girl – Acrylic on Canvas – approx 8″ x 10″

There’s always a story.

I was sitting in the studio staring at the walls, feeling despondent. There was nothing there. No inspiration – no focus – no purpose. The universe was empty. All I had was some dregs of acrylic paint and 5 or 6 old failed canvases that had been painted in some form of pseudo-abstract meaningless squiggles and splodges.

In desperation I squeezed random bits of paint on the canvases and pushed them about with a brush until they each one was completely painted over in whatever colour emerged from the random scraps.

I left the studio for a couple of hours and distracted myself by eating, feeling even more miserable, and trying to catch up on some sleep. When I returned I picked up the same brush and the same dregs of paint and looked for some form. I chose one of the blanked out canvases and traced the shape of a head on the ridges of dried acrylic and found its features.

Thus Dani Girl emerged and the universe wasn’t empty any more.

Job done.

Update: the next day

Here’s the other 4 canvases

Continue reading

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Writing between the lines

Discovered this snippet in a ‘journal’ from 2 years ago

The other day I was reading something – or listening to someone on the radio – a writer who said that him/her/they write by hand in unlined notebooks because him/her/they don’t want anyone or anything to tell him/her/they, guide him/her/they where to write- i.e. between the lines.

Well Mr/Mrs/Ms/Mx ‘Rebel’ – ‘Free thinker’, whatever – you’re constrained/restrained by the page, by the pen, by the letters and words, by the language, by everything you’ve ever thought, felt or experienced in any other way – so shut the fuck up – if you don’t want to be constrained/restrained by the lines then fucking don’t be.

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Crime and Coffee at Cardiff Central Library

Coming up:

Friday June 1st and Saturday June 2nd 2018, Cardiff Central Library has organised this unique and very special event.

I’m very pleased that I was invited to take part and will be appearing as a panellist for the Friday lunchtime event at 1pm.

The Festival itself is spread over two very full days and features many amazing crime writers including two great local authors Evonne Wareham and Phil Rowlands who will be on the panel with me. We will be discussing our motivations and differing approaches to crime writing.

More about Evonne at: http://evonneonwednesday.blogspot.co.uk/

More about Phil at: http://www.philrowlandswriter.com/

More about the festival at: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/cdfcrimefest

 

 

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Poems for competitions

Impact
Delivery
Reception
That’s how it comes
That’s how it goes
As if from a parallel world where:
You are a Goddess
And I am not your lover
But I am
I am!

### Continue reading

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An Ordinary Bloke writes about knowing everything

So now you’ve got to the point where you’ve had enough, done enough, know enough. You don’t need to learn any more about any thing. Well, maybe that’s pushing it a bit, that’s a bit too arrogant. You still learn at least one small lesson every day, you will always learn. But all the rest of it, well, you don’t need any of that any more – you don’t need anyone else telling you what you need either, or telling you what to do and how to behave, how to think. No! Fuck them.

You are who you are. You know everything. You know it all. You know as much as you need to know anyway. Note – how much ‘you’ need to know, not what ‘they’ think is how much you need to know. That’s what it’s all about really – you know everything.

Up to this point what has been written was written ‘before’. From now on what will be written will be written ‘after’. You don’t believe you know everything anymore. In fact you believe you know nothing, Take water for example, you know nothing about water, truth is no one does, not even the most scientific scientists. Electricity – that’s another one.

We live in a world which should not exist, it’s so improbable it’s impossible. You are impossible. Yet you are, you know that at least, you are, you do exist – whatever existence is.

Can it all be true? Can you know everything and know nothing at the same time?

Who knows!

(Shrugs)

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Lord Harry for the ZX Spectrum

One from the archives – a game I wrote for the Spectrum in 1983

Might do a T Shirt or a painting or both based on this

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An Ordinary Bloke writes about Ordinary Things

Everything is ordinary, birth, life, death, flying, swimming, running, climbing. That’s what this world is. You can take any one of those ordinary things and zoom in and you’ll find that the closer you get the more it fragments, the more complex it gets. Zoom in some more and you get lost in the endless billions of sub-atomic particles. I mean, did you know that there are like 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms in just one grain of sand?

Now you have to admit that’s ordinary. It doesn’t get much more ordinary than a grain of sand; there are plenty of them everywhere. Nothing is really ordinary, in the sense that it’s banal, run of the mill, ‘normal’ – even those attributes ascribed to things or concepts are in themselves infinitely complex and interesting. Take a word like banal. I mean, what does it mean? Where does it originate? What are the other words that come from the same roots? In what context is it best used? Where is it best avoided? Does it have to be negative?

Sorry, I have a tendency to repeat, repeat, the things I want to say, maybe I’m subconsciously trying to build up a rhythm – I don’t know. I’ve also got a tendency to end up at the ‘10,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms in just one grain of sand’ thing when I get too analytical. But that’s OK really, because it’s ordinary. I mean even the most seemingly unaware human being, and I would probably extend this to all animals, has these kind of thoughts, even if not in the same word patterns; maybe they manifest as feelings, or emotions, or something that isn’t so easily defined as language is.

So the point is: All things are ordinary, but ordinary isn’t dull, or worthless, or unremarkable.

Ordinary is extraordinary.

Here’s a short video of something ordinary.

the river Taff from Fitzhamon Embankment in central Cardiff

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An Ordinary Bloke writes about the End of The Sixties

The Sixties are finally ending. The signs are everywhere. The characters that populate the sixties of our shared imagination are shuffling off their mortal coils faster than newly elected politicians shrugging off their promises. It won’t be long before finding a genuine sixties survivor will be almost as impossible as getting an honest Tory to open your village fete.

So, from our vantage point half a century in the future, what was it all really about? Well, it’s kind of defined my generation’s life, coloured it in at least. But did it really mean anything? Was there a cultural revolution? Did we achieve Sexual Liberation and Gender Equality? Did we Ban the Bomb and Make Love not War?

I don’t think we did any of the above, but did we at least stall the inexorable rise of capitalism? Nope, never got far with that either. But, the sixties were special, with the music, the art, the fashion, the technology, the social movements – weren’t they?

Maybe The Sixties was just an idea. Ideas are powerful, everything comes from ideas. I mean, the music, the art, the fashion . . . and all the rest of it, they all started with ideas and then they happened. But – so what? Nobody wears mini-skirts and hot pants now, nobody marches from Aldermaston to London demanding nuclear disarmament – yet the nuclear arms are still there, more than ever. The reasons to do all those things still exist.

So, what’s happened then? Maybe the sixties were about hope, and now we’ve given that up in this topsy-turvy post-Trump-election world. There are too many billionaires, there is more wealth concentrated in the pockets of a couple of percent of the population than all the rest of us combined. The sixties itself has been commercialised more than any other decade in history – it has become a product, a facsimile designed to mesmerise, and squeeze money from, naïve punters like you and me.

Now that The Sixties is finally expiring maybe it’s time to bury the last of its warriors or at least let them sink into the shadows in retirement homes. We need to get on with now – the future.

In the meantime if you can think of anything positive that’s stood the test of that half century then write it on a banner and parade it proudly around town – or maybe just make a jpeg out of it and stick it on Facebook – job done.

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An Ordinary Bloke writes about (not) being vegan

I’m just an ordinary bloke and I used to be a vegan. Is that a contradiction? Can you be a vegan and be ordinary? Can an ordinary bloke even be a vegan? What’s ordinary about being vegan?

Well, it used to be impossible to be thought of as being ordinary and a vegan at the same time. Everyone’s perception was that vegans were weird, far from ordinary, sub-ordinary if you like, not worthy of any respect or consideration.

But now, apart from the opinions of some knuckle-draggers in the comments sections of online newspapers and your auntie Betty, who still swears by steamed sheep’s brains on a bed of fried bull’s balls, being a vegan seems to have become accepted as quite an ordinary thing to do. So, that’s why I’m done with this vegan thing.

More than two decades ago I became a ‘vegan’ and long before that a vegetarian. Almost forty-seven years eschewing (not chewing) animal flesh, and you know what? I’ve had enough of it.

I don’t want to be a ‘vegan’ or even a vegetarian any more. I just want to be a normal human being who goes about their daily life without a big neon sign above their head declaring their foibles to the world.

It’s not just me. I was in Berlin recently and visited a small vegan supermarket. The company was all over the vegan grapevine a few years ago because they were opening, or planning to open, vegan supermarkets all over Germany and there was talk of them opening in the UK. At the time it seemed to herald the new golden age of veganism, at last there was enough of a market in providing for such a diet to make it commercially viable. Hooray!

Bu no, the guy in the vegan supermarket in Berlin said their plans to expand had fizzled out and their entry into the UK market never happened. Why? Was it because the vegan revolution itself fizzled out? Was the market smaller than they thought?

No, it was because regular supermarkets and shops started to stock the same ranges of specialised vegan products as they did. There is nothing unique about them anymore. Veganism has entered the mainstream, there’s unashamedly vegan options everywhere.

We may be a few years behind in the UK but it’s starting to happen here too.

So, I’m hanging up the label, I am no longer a vegan. I’m just an ordinary bloke eating an ordinary diet. I just don’t eat any animal products – but that is normal – right?

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wednesday, march 4, 1998

radical writers gather
at the dylan thomas centre
on wednesday night
in early march
during st david’s week
also known as ty llen
in the maritime sector
of swansea.
with nigel jenkins,
who says ‘i’m just a gower farm boy’
and ‘i make bugger all from my writing’,
others discuss cabbage soup,
and mike jenkins talks of majis,
and  spliffs,
we drink pints of cwrw,
and don’t live in red wine republics,
with sculptors’ sons,
near seven sisters rugby club,
published by seren,
or gomer,
or parthian,
or even honno,
and the university press
come barefoot
to see mike jenkins
and 2 women
one a filmmaker
the other an historian
look at the 1930s
and wives of miners
sheep roll over cattle grids
red-necks complain
while welsh nats
and painters
listen to stories of shop boys
who steal your breath
the writer sought three wild bards up a mountain
to make his name – alun richards
back to a muddy car park
past the books on sale
in daps
looking chic
down the m4
past the traffic lights
with our own agendas
to beat own drum
words like dirty snowdrops
at home a welcoming spliff
away the celtic warrior
and weasels of valleys
present voices of wales
bits of llais cymru
chasing arts council
vocational grants
why not try self-publishing
like roddy doyle
where’s irvine welch
on the internet
in a web
handing out pamphlets
to a welsh mam
she’s barefoot & still nuts
but, harry, he’s a poet

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Being 66

Today is my 66th birthday. Because of the conditioning we gather from the weird cultural sewer we all bob around in, that feels like something I should be ashamed of. I mean who the hell wants to be 66 years old? That’s old, really old, beyond doubt old. You can kid yourself you still possess some vestiges of youth as you pass 60 and edge up towards 65, but 66, hell yes, that’s properly ancient. You’re so decrepit that you start to notice different things about the world, like the way your fellow codgers behave when they use their bus passes.

Here in Wales you are entitled to claim a bus pass when you are a fresh-faced 60. It took me a few months after I passed that long-dreaded birthday to overcome my shame and get the necessary documents together to prove I was ancient enough for free travel but eventually I gave in and shamefully presented myself to the local council hub to get photographed and approved. I collected the magic plastic rectangle and left the building, head down in case I bumped into someone I knew and had to explain what I was doing coming out of that emporium of benefits and social needs.

Anyway that was nearly six years ago and since then despite the odd pang of shame I have accepted that I am a member of that gang still politely referred to by some as Senior Citizens and more honestly, usually under the breath, as Old Gits.

So the way it works, on the local buses at least, is that you enter the bus and place the pass, which is the size of a credit card, on a pad near the driver. There is a beep, you then thank the driver and board the bus. Sometimes, depending on the bus company a useless ticket is printed, which you take from the machine and stick somewhere or discard.

Now, what I’ve noticed is this.

When an eligible woman boards the bus she will use her left hand to put her bus pass flat on the card reading device, remove her hand, wait for the beep, and then use her right hand to retrieve the pass, before shuffling off into the guts of the vehicle.

When it’s a man he will place the magic card on the pad with his right hand, keep his hand on it until he hears the beep, then remove his hand and the pass together.

In practice it means that men take a few less seconds to go through the formalities.

What I want to know is: What does this mean? Is this significant? Are men more efficient or are women more artistic? Will the proximity of a man’s hand to the reading device when it beeps have an effect on their health? Is this the sort of behaviour that contributes to women’s longer longevity?

I haven’t got a clue.

These are the sort of things that preoccupy a 66 year old.

God help us.

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Time Revisited

(i)
As the planets roll
I am caught in a bubble
on the sub-atomic motorway
Trundling at the speed of light
there is only one view,
an overall that covers all
and warms this creature
All the magic of all the ages
is contained in my pocket.

(ii)
The balls of our vision roll
as I roll
bubble
beneath the lowest life form
So slow, the speed of light.

(iii)
There is light, there is love
There is no doubt
no sullied nag
no wind to blow
the sun away
no darkness deep
enough to stay

(iv)
Create, begin to live again
another flame-flash try
A gleaming clear stack of light
AAAAAAAAAA*

(v)
Undulating via carpets of cloud
I ride another tiger tail
catch a star and put it safe
for when I need
to get away.

(vi)
Survive – and when survival’s beat
when time grows longer
when the silent air
threatens to lay bare
the screaming of the soul
what remains but
self (expression).

(vii)
Garbled Gobbledy Gook
gooks garbled on my face
and many loving arms
wrap the long nights
in their comfort.

(viii)
More words spilling
falling perhaps
until my arm
is empty
and needs a fix
to stay
(alive).

And at the end
we all must ask all
the (same) question.

Inside the darkened life
it’s too weird
too much to cope
too little as it is
without you
going.

(ix)
So where will this creature find its rest
where it can make a comfy nest
where will it lose itself in joy
where in the world is its new toy?

(x)
It’s a night of sadness
of meditation
a night to forget
a night to sigh
again.

(xi)
Scratching dudes create the tunes
Caring hands caress the bands
All around the people shout
Let me out, let me out.

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There’s always Hope

This is something I wrote nearly 24 years ago after attending an event at the Hay-On-Wye Festival Of Literature.

Saturday May 21, 1994, 12:20pm

‘The First Novel’

A motley gathering of aspiring authors collect together under the grubby canvas of a  large marquee. Two hundred or so enthusiastic literary souls eagerly await the arrival of an editor from a famous large publishing house. She is to be accompanied by two of her latest discoveries – two brand new novelists just about to have their first works published. There is hope, it is transmitted by the excited breathing of the assembled scribes. Books from new authors are being published, despite the economic climate; someone with the power to rescue the diligent, lonely aspirants is prepared to take a chance with new writers.

Four smart middle-class women enter the arena and arrange themselves tastefully on the dais; the background hubbub fades, all eyes face front. A dedicated wannabe novelist, a cloth-capped round man is scribbling frantically into his filo-fax. An elderly lady with a limp finds herself a last-minute seat near the front and sits down with a tired sigh – it’s been a long road.

Let the lesson begin. The editor speaks first: OK, let’s forgive the carefully cultivated tones of her voice, the expensive haircut and the cigarette dangling from manicured fingers. Let’s give her a chance. The slush pile is dismissed immediately; nothing of any value comes from that. The audience fidget, embarrassed, thinking of their own contributions to that bane of the publishing world. OK, what is it then? That magic spell to get your first novel published.

Let’s have examples. The two new authors are discussed.

Writer A is an old friend of the editor, her father was a well-known poet and her mother is an accomplished novelist. Poor thing had a deprived childhood with her arty father, even had to slum it in the castle-like homes of her family’s aristocratic Mediterranean friends. The editor and this princess of words spent months, meeting for lunch and at each other’s houses, trimming and buffing her manuscript until it eventually emerged as a thin and delicately polished literary flower.

Writer B is a senior literature journalist with the Times. She was wooed by our editor (why?) until she produced a delightfully funny piece of work based in the offices of a gardening magazine. Wonderful gimmick – a free packet of geranium seeds with every book sold.

Both writers have got friends who are literary agents. So what is that magic?

The two authors speak about their work and read extracts to the sinking audience, and finally, a marketing superwoman from the publisher explains how new authors are launched with minimum expenditure and maximum publicity (in the literary sections of quality newspapers no doubt – ah! that’s why); but none of these discourses mattered, all hope had long vaporised along with the few quid each of us had paid for the privilege of a sharp slap in the face. Maybe that was the point of the event after all?

Go back to your kitchen sinks and your allotments, you’re a punter – not a writer; writers are smart cultured people with friends in the ‘write’ places.

There was to be a question and answer session afterwards. In the back of the auditorium, a disappointed and disgruntled working-class man stands up, touches his forelock to the dais and makes a quick exit. It is me.

NOTE (December 2017): I don’t think much has changed in the quarter of a century since I wrote the above piece. Maybe I should have concentrated on running my computer business. I was quite good at that until I walked away from it to focus on writing, a couple of years after that Hay session.

Still – that’s hope for you.

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