“I wouldn’t advise a haircut, man. All hairdressers are in the employment of the government. Hair are your aerials. They pick up signals from the cosmos and transmit them directly into the brain. This is the reason bald-headed men are uptight.” So advised Danny the dealer in Withnail & I.
This is Danny, played by Mr Ralph Brown.
I think this is a philosophy that would go down pretty well with the authors behind Alternative London. I picked this marvellous little book up at a second-hand bookshop in Balham. Basically, it might be described as a guide to living like a goddamn hippie in London. The edition I picked up was published in 1971. The editor and publisher was Nicholas Saunders, who I have just discovered from Wikipedia was also behind making Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden into a groovy and happening part of town – the warehouse where it all started is now a Holland and Barratt.
- Neal of Neal’s Yard (note to picture researcher – you’re fired)
The book, despite being the better part of four decades out of date (or perhaps because of this), is hugely entertaining. You’d be hard-pressed to mistake it for a product of any other era with its semi-psychadelic front cover and period-specific uses of terms like “bread” and “straight”.
It’s also quite depressing to be told that £5 a week is a good weekly rent in Central London and that the Tube charges two pence a mile.
What’s also interesting is to see how certain things have changed – whereas these days Scientology is seen as something of a big bad, back then it was just one of a number of offbeat religious/spiritual movements (albeit the author seems quite cynical about the expense of becoming “clear”). Private Eye is one of dozens of magazines recommended to radical types, and seems to be the only one still in business.
“Discrimination on account of race, colour or creed is illegal, but against children, homosexuals and long hair is allowed.”
“Action is not taken as a result of meetings or discussion but by the word of God given daily to one member and imposed by her husband, the founder. Cards lie around printed with the words, ‘EXPECT A MIRACLE.'”
“Meher Baba said in 1935 that he would keep 35 years silence before giving his disciples the secret of the world; he died after 34 years of silence.”
“Hatha Yoga classes are held at 7.45 at Gandalf’s on Mondays.”
“On this and other mystical meetings with space people, he has been told of a complex system of spiritual powers and spacecraft. Through him, the Aetherius Society say their purpose is ‘to propagate Vital Transmissions from the Master Aetherius, the Master Jesus, Mars Sector 6 and other Highly Evolved Cosmic Intelligences’… they also run a good health shop a few doors down the road.”
Despite the title of this entry, the author would like to make it clear that he in no way sympathises with Little Jimmy Osmond, his beliefs or aims.