13 January 2005

Hoffman Hi-Jinks


Reading this and this (I've appropriated Dave the Head's name for a script based on the Yeovil acid/slacker scene that I currently have in 'pre-production' - more on this later, when it's nearer being actually shot) reminded me of the First Annual Yeovi-Ley Anniversary of Albert Hoffman's LSD Bike Ride, which happened on a misty March evening sometime around the back end of the 80s.

The event starred myself and M, on our second ever acid trip (the first just featured a Big Train style staring competition, which M won with a devastingly sustained eye wag), attempting to circumnavigate the centre of Yeovil on bike's borrowed from K's sister (who was otherwise known as The Fruitbat, for a reason I forget now - I remember that the "The" was important, though).

The event was ostensibly a race and we got off to a decent start heading down Penn Hill towards the Police Station. M was in the lead; my gears were all wrong - they seemed to have reverted to their original state, just nuggety twists of metal that appeared to have no relationship to kinetic energy.

At the roundabout - pavements were strictly off limits; the dissolution of the Highway Code is the first sign of a depraved and Godless country - M was still in the lead, pedalling like an Eco-Energy convertor at Glastonbury Festival (9 hours of pedalling; one lightbulb twitch) and all looked lost when, inexplicably, he made his first and fatal error: hand signals.

The roundabout was almost empty of cars but M stopped and put out his hand, indicating a hard right, up past The Johnson Hall and The Butchers Arms, and into town. The race was almost over - the finishing line being decided at a later date - and M seemed to have blown it, radcliffed. I was gaining fast. Still he didn't move, perhaps struck dumb by the Monolithic splendour of the Avon and Somerset Police HQ (this was where, after all, he'd been arrested for drunkenly singing a frankly sick and ill-advised rendition of the popular children's classic 'PC Blakelock's got no head, doo dah, doo dah' - don't worry, he was rightly beaten about the head and shoulders without a hint of a law suit from his parents).

Something was holding him there and he was suddenly older than his 17 years, turned into that shaky old gent who used to be on the bike safety Public Information films, teaching us to turn right. I passed his grimly determined, though motionless, face and headed towards town; the fire's of victory already burning. On the grassy knoll above us, L and C and K shouted their encouragement but even from that distance they seemed to understand that all was not right.

I stopped. This was no way to win.

I called out to M, ready to concede defeat, anything, if he'd get off the bike and cut the hand signals but he seemed to look right through me, his eyes thousand yard staring (he'd definitely have won the Staring comp now - blinking seemed lost on him as an idea).

"What are you doing?' I yelled. I knew the others on the hill were echoing my sentiments, knew instinctively that they understood that a tragedy was unfolding before our eyes. By now he was clogging up the roundabout. People were beeping. Cars weaving around him, fists shaking. I was getting what Burroughs called The FEAR.

"M! Come on..."

Nothing. Any minute now the police statiom, just a matter of seconds away was going to open up and retch out bad tidings.

Behind him, cars zig-zagged crazily across the race track. A Sunshine Bus stopped like a Cuckoo's Nest impression. All seemed lost. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a squad car pulling out of the Police Station and heading Ms way.

"M! M!"

The Police car was just coming around the roundabout... You could almost see the yellow of their eyes...

"For God's sake..."

And then M, with all the stately grace of an well-oiled Tourer, completed the best right turn I've ever seen.

Autechre - Bike

Note: if anyone's got the Pelican Daughters song "The Bicycle Ride", you should probably play it...now.

1 comment:

Sleeve said...

Pelican Daughters... got it, love it, putting it on right now. Thanks for the suggestion.

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