Monday, February 26, 2007

Lord of Misrule

Anarchy Inaction.

(From The Lords of Misrule: unpublished book, May 2000)

Spiritual matters and economic matters cannot be separated. Economics too is a form of spirituality, though a dark form. The pain that the poor and the dispossessed feel is real, their hunger, their insecurity, the violence they suffer, all of this is fed into the World Soul, as it were: all of this feeds into our dreams. It disturbs our sleep. It keeps us awake at night. It haunts us like an unconscious ache. No one can rest easy in his bed any more. No one is perfectly happy. The comfort and security we feel is like a veneer over rotting wood. It cannot hide the infestations stirring beneath. The violence of poverty is the reality we can no longer hide from.

If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like this:

There would be:
57 Asians
21 Europeans
14 from the Western Hemisphere, both North & South America
8 Africans
52 would be female
48 would be male
70 would be non-white
30 would be white
70 would be non-Christian
30 would be Christian
89 would be heterosexual
11 would be homosexual
6 people would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth
80 would live in substandard housing
70 would be unable to read
50 would suffer from malnutrition
1 would be near death;
1 would be near birth;
1 would have a University education
1 would own a computer.

Small world, eh? That kind of puts it into perspective.

My friend Dave (an old Marxist-Leninist) gave me another illustration. He said, imagine that the whole world was lined up to pass in front of you in the space of one hour, all sixty billion of us. Now imagine that everyone is measured economically according to their wealth, so that the average wealth (total world wealth divided by total world people) corresponds roughly to average height, say 6ft. For the first 45 minutes the people passing by would be the size of cigarette butts, rising to matchsticks. That's the world's poor. After that their height begins to rise, to the size of small children. That's us, the majority of ordinary working people in the Western world. Only in the last ten minutes or so are people of average height and getting bigger. That's the professionals: the lawyers, doctors, university professors and the like. Then they grow to the size of houses and beyond. Those are the one's we think of as rich, the millionaires, the pop-singers, the film-stars, the Captains of Industry, the ruling elites of the Third World. No, not the Third World any more: the Forgotten World. And then, in the last 30 seconds it's the giants who are strutting by, the real rulers of our World, the size of sky scrapers, the size of mountains, brushing the clouds with their coiffured locks: the Pharaohs of our modern age, just as cruel, just as despotic, because just as separate. And these are the one's who, though physically the size of men, are economically the size of gods, who have come to believe that they are gods, and that they can do anything they like, no matter how vile, because nothing outside their Olympian World matters. No one matters but them.

The last century was the most violent in the history of the World. The present one is beginning even worse. The forces of genocide are massing. In Turkey, against the Kurds. In Chiapas, Mexico, against the Mayan indigenous tribes. In Columbia, against the U'wa. All over the world the forces of economic repression are in a feeding frenzy of greed. They want everything. They will have everything. They will own the Earth and all its store. They will patent Life itself. No one will stand in their way.

A war is being fought against the people of Iraq, while her Dictator is being strengthened. A war is being fought against the people of Serbia, while her Dictator is being strengthened. Wars are being fought all over the world, so that Dictators may be strengthened. Who can doubt the presence of fascism at the heart of our economic life?

No one can dare believe what they are told any more. The news is infrequent and brief and merely slides over the surface of things. No one knows what's going on.

Protest is the only answer.

Protest is self-empowerment. If everyone protested about everything they saw that was wrong - against child abuse in our institutions, against quackery in our health service, against crimes of the State against innocents around the World, against broken pavements even - there would be no more wars, there would be no more crime, there would be no more lies. Real protest is a sacred duty, no less. It is obligatory, for the soul. Real protest comes from a sense, at the deepest heart of the Universe, that life matters, that human beings matter, that all of Creation matters. A sense of the sacredness of Creation makes protest against its desecration inevitable and absolute.

I said that fascism is still with us. It is the face behind the Clown's mask. It is the eternal enemy of the sacred. It says that life does not matter, that human beings do not matter. It says that Creation - this gorgeous complexity, this profusion of living forms, this infinitely varied abundance of joy and expression, this Nature, our Earth - that all of this is no more than a commodity to be bought and sold on the stock exchange, to be privatised, fenced-off and owned by the few, to be packaged and patented, and sold for a profit.

At the heart of the Universe lies a Beauty so breath-taking, so awe-inspiring, so wondrous, that you would die for it. It has no Name. It has no Purpose. It does not tell you what to do. It lies beyond all categories, all forms, all explanations. It is just Love, that's all. Just pure, simple love. Like the kindness of a stranger who shares his bread, like the look in the Mother's eye when she first beholds her child, like a melting of opposites in a blissful sea of contemplation, like the breath of a cool wind from the ocean, that Beauty, that Love, suffuses all of Creation. It is God's Choral Symphony of all Time and all Space, and we are the choir.

The first act of the revolution is an act of consciousness. It is the act of recognising the sacredness of Creation, of recognising the Beauty that sings Life, Life, Life and more Life! Life is for all Life. No less.

MD2K was billed as a four-day festival of anarchist ideas and action. Later that got changed, to a four day festival of anti-capitalist ideas and action. That way perhaps other groups could get involved. Not that they did. It was a four day festival of anarchist ideas and action masquerading as a four day festival of anti-capitalist ideas and action, masquerading as a book fair.

Actually the anarchist book fair has been going for years. There's a lot of obscure anarchist literature out there, varying from the very strange, to the very boring, to the very perverse, to the occasionally awe-inspiring and inspirational. I'd been to one of these events before. This previous one had been billed as "Ten Days That Shook The World", the title lifted from an American writer's book about the Russian Revolution. His name was John Reed, and it must stand as a source of happy embarrassment to the US authorities, that the most famous book about a communist revolution happens to have been written by an American author. Who says Americans can't be communists? John Reed was.

It was at this previous anarchist book fair that I first met Ian Bone.

Ian Bone, in case you don't remember, was once justifiably famous as the creator and main contributor to one of Britain's most controversial newspapers, Class War. It was full of violent rhetoric about killing and maiming Rich Scumbags and the like. Actually it was very funny at times, being an exact send-up of a tabloid newspaper. Page Three was The Hospitalised Copper Of The Month.

Ian is a great tabloid writer. The methods he uses to further his own cause, are the same methods the Sun uses to further its cause. The reason he winds people up with his frenzied propaganda is cos he knows he can do it. He knows how the Sun reader thinks.

I was there to interview him for a BBC Radio 4 travel programme. The angle was supposed to be "Protest as a leisure activity".

We went to the pub. Ian likes pubs. So do I. He told me a story, about when the tabloid press used to follow him around. They were reporting things like, "Bone was holding strategy meetings with a variety of people in a variety of pubs."

"No we weren't," he told me. "We were on a pub crawl."

So while we were downing our pints, someone came in with the news that some squat around the corner was being busted. Ian banged the table with his glass and announced it to the pub. Soon there were all these spikey-haired punks marching out in a squadron to rescue the squatters from the massed forces of State Oppression. Only when they got there nothing was happening. There was no squat, and no State Oppression. So they all marched back in again.

After a while we went out to do our interview. It was in a shop doorway, scattered with rags of paper like leaves. I began a long-winded introduction, referring to Ian (as he was known by the tabloid press) as "The Most Evil Man In Britain". He interrupted me. He said, "I thought you were supposed to be interviewing me, not talking to yourself."

Obviously that irritated me and we began to squabble about violence as a political tactic. I have to admit that he out-manoeuvred me on every point, which irritated me even more. It was not a good interview.

Later I got to know him better. Just before the Notting Hill Carnival one year we met up. It was Ian and his girlfriend, Jane, and a few of their political associates. We were in a pub, as usual, and got completely sloshed. I got so sloshed I have no idea how I got home that night. That's all I remember of that occasion. Except that, despite our political differences (which were, and are, legion) he kept on making me laugh. As a politician he makes a great stand-up comedian. I've always got a soft spot for people who make me laugh. I'd probably have liked Hitler if he could have come up with some good jokes.

He's the son of Butler, so he grew up listening to people calling his Dad "Bone" while he had to refer to them as "Sir" or "Madam". That probably explains Ian's politics more than anything else.

Actually, his Dad was a communist. He used to hold his meetings down stairs in the kitchen, while the toffs were upstairs haw-hawing over cigars and the port. Ian saw a lot of demonstrations when he was growing up. He says he saw that the anarchists amongst them were having the most fun. That's when he decided to be an anarchist too.

There's something of the Restoration Man about him, something oddly old-fashioned, despite his punk following. Often he carries a stick or an umbrella, which he leans on in an 18th Century manner. That is his constituency: the punk movement. He knows how to talk to the disaffected urban youth in their own language. He holds his pint and leans on his stick and twitches his right leg while launching into obscure tirades on obscure subjects in the manner of some feathered freeman with a ferret down his pants.

There's even something faintly aristocratic about him. The true aristocrat is the aristocrat of the revolution. It's as if, in all those years as a bewildered child in the Great Houses of the Great Folk, hearing them talk down to his beloved father - so dignified in his politics, so servile in his duties - and having developed a hatred of their contempt and arrogance, he also, in some subtle way, absorbed some of their manner too. And now he turns their manner, their arrogance, their contempt back on them. All of his causes are steeped in this arrogance. Not his arrogance: theirs. It's the Aristocracy he loaths: the Monarchy, the Rich, the hunting fraternity, the jet-set - the champagne quaffing, ignorant, lazy people, who cannot see beyond their own limited world-view, so self-satisfied, so shrivelled by wealth that they cannot understand their own part in their own demise.

Watch out, rich arrogant folk: Ian Bone is out to get you!

Another time I went down to Bristol to celebrate his 50th birthday. Yes: he's a Granddad! The Most Evil Granddad In Britain.

He's in a punk band. So there's this little bald-headed, faintly aristocratic, middle-aged man with granny glasses launching into howling tirades about the blood that will flow in the streets come the revolution, while being backed by raging punk discordance. A bit like his conversation really.

Somebody bought him a dirty magazine for his birthday present. He promised he'd wank to it later.

I was living in a van at the time, which was conveniently parked in the pub car-park next door, so I could make my escape fairly easily. Nevertheless, I still managed to get excruciatingly drunk.

The following day I drove over to see him. His house was like a morgue. Like a morgue where all the corpses have hangovers.

Someone came blearily to the door to answer. He went blearily into the kitchen to make coffee. We sat blearily down to drink it. We had some bleary conversation. The party had gone on till the bleary wee hours.

Eventually Ian and Jane came down and I think we drank more coffee.

I was in the toilet when it happened. I was just having a quiet pee, listening to the jolly tinkle of piss against pot, looking up at the wall, when there was a commotion in the other room. Everyone was cheering. Then they were dancing round in circles holding crossed hands, like in a barn dance, singing, "Better red than Wed! Better red than Wed!"

"Wha'? What's going on?" I asked. I thought they'd all lost their marbles.

"It's Di," they declared happily. "Di's dead!"



"No. I mean - no - how? I mean, no it's not... it can't be..."

"Yes, and Dodi too. It was in a car crash. Serves them fucking right, the rich cunts. Ha!"

And then they danced around in circles again. The news was Ian's best birthday present.

After that we went to the pub to celebrate. I mean, they went to the pub to celebrate. I went to the pub to watch and to cringe. The pub was the Princess of Wales, aptly enough. I'm not even sure we didn't choose it because of its name, though it was the nearest pub. Either way, it was a singular moment. We sat under a photograph of Diana. The whole pub was in a state of shock, watching the news on TV. That's all there was on TV, just Di, Di, Di, and occasionally Dodi too. Various people's reactions to the event. The whole Nation dismayed. Funereal waves of desperate sadness and confusion. People crying on camera.

Meanwhile I'm sitting next to Ian Bone and his anarchist crew while they're laughing and making Dead as a Di and Dodi jokes and threatening to turn the photo on the wall around.

"Don't, Ian," I said. "You'll get us killed."

How does he do it? I mean, he comes out with all this violent rhetoric. He gets followed by the tabloid press who call him The Most Evil Man In Britain. Everyone knows who he is. And yet he can sit in a pub called the Princess of Wales on the day the actual Princess of Wales dies in a tragic accident, when everyone is a state of shock and bewilderment and grief, and he just openly laughs about it. And no one comes near to even touching him. Not even a cross word, let alone a punch in the eye. He's charmed. He definitely is.

Finally, and several pints later we got up to go.

Back at the house a record came on the radio. It was San Franciscan Nights, by Eric Burden and the Animals.

"Old Child, Young Child, feel all right,
On a warm San Franciscan Night

"Listen to that Ian," said Jane. And she began singing along with it.

Ian embraced her from behind, and then he was singing along with it too, his head on her shoulder. They were embracing and swaying and singing a sweet hippie love song together. Love and peace and flowers, not blood and death and the revolution.

"Wait a minute Ian," I said, mildly bemused, "you mean - have I got this right? - you were hippies were you? Not punks, hippies?"

"Of course," he said. "It was such an optimistic time. We really thought we were going to change the world."

This is the e-mail I got just before the events of MD2K were due to unfold:


A festival of anticapitalist ideas & action

The Resistance is Growing!

MayDay 2000 is a four-day series of events in central London exploring the diverse facets of our struggle against exploitation and environmental destruction. From Friday 28 April to Monday 1 May, actions, parties, gigs and discussions will take place across London. This will coincide with events all over the world generating solidarity and resistance to global capitalism... from Lagos to London, Sydney to Seattle.

Mayday has been a festival of life, renewal and pleasure since ancient times. Later as International Workers' Day, the 1st of May celebrated oppressed people rising against systems based on profit and domination. On MayDay 2000 we'll look at how these these strands are intertwined; a celebration of the earth, the ruled standing against their rulers for a vision of freedom and plenty throughout the world.

The emphasis of MayDay 2000 is on reclaiming our lives so we can thrive in a global community without politicians and bosses, based on equality and cooperation. It's about learning from each other and our past to create the future.

Events over the weekend include:
Massive Critical Mass (bicycle demo) on Friday 28th April
Film festival
Football tournament
Active open art exhibtion
Walking tour of the East End's alternative history

The debates are diverse as:
Internet activism
Capitalism and revolution in the 21st century
GM crops
The myth of globalisation
Workplace, local and international networking
Women speak out
Education, housing, sexuality, historical and recent world events
Banner and screen-printing workshops


Start planting seeds now for Mayday's Guerrilla Gardening actions in cities around UK. Transform the cities into places where we live rather than work to live.

I'd arranged to meet an old friend of mine at the conference on the Saturday before Mayday. I also wanted to meet Ian Bone, and maybe a few of my other anarchist friends. I get along with anarchists. Not always their politics, not always the divisions they seem to create whether they want to or not. I just like the fact that they can have a laugh. It's the sense of freedom they carry. That nothing much matters. That all the lies we are fed - and which other people take so seriously - are just chaff in the wind, irrelevancies, pointless issues of debate. I can relate to that, having endured endless pointless issues of debate at endless Labour Party meetings over the years. It's a particularly pompous form of personality who wants to sit in meetings and have his (or her) voice heard, on every issue, on every topic, at every opportunity. Sometimes you'd rather go to sleep. But there's a personality type who loves it. Who loves all the "Point of order Mr Chairman" type stuff. People who are addicted to a legalistic interpretation of what our role on this planet actually is.

The anarchists just subvert all that. They say, "This is what I want. This is what I will do."

Unfortunately it can also make them extremely stupid at times. It makes them unwilling to co-operate with other groups. They become pompous, but in a different sort of way. They start to believe that they are more important - because more spontaneous - than all the other dumb fucks who are only striving for democracy, for some sort of order or intelligence. They scorn the normal rigours of debate, preferring to go their own way. They set their own agendas, and meet up in private "affinity groups" to discuss tactics. Anarchist politics means that the "insider" always wins. It's who you know that matters.

But I wasn't here to discuss anarchist politics. I was here, like most of us were, to meet up with old friends.

The conference was taking place on the Holloway Road in London. I arrived at Holloway Road tube and - more by instinct than by judgement - started in the direction of the conference centre. Actually I was following all the sticky-up hairstyles and nose-rings and sloganed tee-shirts, guessing that they must all know where we were supposed to go. There were a few policemen about. I had no idea what to expect. It was a gorgeous sunny day, hardly a cloud in the sky. I was keeping my head down, pretending not to be an anarchist.

You could tell immediately where the conference centre was. All these colourful people lined up on the pavement outside, basking in the sunshine, showing off their tattoos. A few stalls set up. Mostly these were the Marxist-Leninist groups, relegated to the outside. I took a poster from someone from the Clean Air society urging me to vote for Ken Livingstone for Mayor (it was 6 days before the Mayoral election) and a Che Guevara badge from the Cuba Solidarity Campaign. Someone from the Socialist Party sold me a newspaper, while a car belonging to the London Socialist Alliance (in support of Ken Livingstone) ranged up the road with a huge communist flag floating from the window, shouting slogans. It sent a shiver down my spine to see it. I'm still an old communist at heart.

The conference centre itself was unexpectedly modern. Most anarchist gatherings take place in squatted buildings where dyed hair and piercings kind of blend in. But this was brand-new, all red brick and polished wood, with a reception desk and carpets and a bank of sweeping stairs. It seemed odd and out of place to see all these scrawled notices stuck with blue tack on the doors and walls, announcing various meetings, Zapatistas this way, with arrows to point the direction.

I was wandering around in a daze, not sure where to go. There were rooms all over the place, most of them filled with attentive people listening to activists from other parts of the world bringing fraternal greetings and highlighting the issues. The rooms were very quiet, and if you opened the doors, everyone turned to look at you.

Really I was just looking for a face I knew.

Evetually I found one. It was Warren from the SchNews collective.

SchNews is one of the most important resources the activist network has. It's a simple double-sided A4 sheet which comes out weekly (or when they can get it together), which you receive by sending them stamps, or by e-mail if you have access. All the work is voluntary and collective. There's no strict editorial line. The front page is usually a feature story, on events around the globe, or highlighting certain issues. Sometimes the politics is decidedly green, as when it reports on environmental actions; sometimes it has a red flavour, reporting on strikes and Labour issues; sometimes it is black, giving information about anarchist actions and events. It depends who's writing that week. There are a number of regular features, such as Crap Arrest Of The Week (usually very funny) and a regular update on all the parties and protests taking place around the country. The writing is straight forward and precise (there's not much room on an A4 sheet) but always witty and with an edge. It's a remarkable piece of work, professional, concise, readable and packed with information, most of which you would never read in your Daily Newspaper. It's all the more remarkable considering it comes out of a loose collective of individuals in the Brighton area - from all sorts of backgrounds - none of whom have been trained in any way. It goes to prove just what people can achieve when they are motivated enough. It has no regular income of any kind, is given away for free, and yet it contains more detailed information, more reliable news, more independent analysis and coherent debate, than all the newspapers, all the TV networks, and all the radio stations put together.

Warren was manning the SchNews stall.

I'd met Warren a few times, here and there, around the activist network. We've downed a pint or two together on more than one occasion. He's a tight, fit, skinny individual with a kind of gnawing tension in his bones. He's also down-to-earth and unpretentious with a varied and highly advanced sex-life. I get the feeling that most of the women even remotely connected to the activist network or to SchNews have been favoured by his attentions at one time or another. Luckily most of them know what they're in for. He freely admits to being a "tart" (that's his word, not mine). There's a kind of aggressive/dismissive quality to his manner, particularly when it comes to talking about the Trotskyite groups. He calls them "paper-sellers". "Fucking paper-sellers" is his usual disparaging line.

We exchanged a few words, and then I carried on with my circuit of the building.

Eventually I ended up in the cinema, where they were showing grainy sixties film-footage shot by the Black Panthers. Scary stuff.

It was some time later when I finally caught up with Ian Bone. I'd not seen him for a couple of years, not since his birthday, in fact, the day that Di and Dodi had died. His new enterprise is called Movement Against the Monarchy (MA'M), so his table was scattered with suitably contentious material with all the usual disparaging slogans. One of the posters said, "Queen Mum, Hurry Up And Die!"

"Controversial as usual, Ian," I said.

"CJ!" he said, greeting me with a hand-shake, while I kissed him on top of his bald head.

Kissing violent revolutionary anarchists is one of my many traits.

We arranged to meet in the pub later.

Someone else I wanted to meet was Paul. I've known Paul for some years. We've been involved in a number of subversive activities together, including masterminding a road-protest (along with several others) a few years before. I'd actually arranged to meet him at the conference, and had rung him before I'd set out that morning. Only he didn't seem to be here, so I went to the pub.

So I was sitting in the pub reading a copy of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! the newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Group. There were a number of other obvious revolutionaries in there. We were all members of the Revolutionary Drinkers Group. We produce no newspapers, rarely hold meetings (except in the pub), have no constitution, pass no motions, never campaign on any issue whatsoever, but our sense of solidarity is awe-inspiring, and boy should you hear the speeches. They usually involve questions of who's going to get the next round.

Two pints and a nice warm glow later I was heading back to the conference. And there was Paul, sitting on a street bench, drinking lager and smoking spliffs, dressed all in black and looking like some deranged undercover agent as usual. The way he looks can sometimes be a problem. Most people think he's working for the CIA, or for some other, even darker institution, so secret no one knows its name.

He's a taut, tense, excitable soul with a great sense of purpose: very direct, very pointed in his manner, with piercing blue eyes. There's something demonic about him. Not only his features - you can see all the bones in his skull - but also in his movements, like some fierce avenging angel with wings of fire.

His is my preferred wing of the anarchist movement, the spiritual anarchists: guided by portents and signs, by numbers, by wind-blown messages from the Cosmos, rather than by ideology or economics.

He's from South London.

He was with a friend, called Chris, also all dressed in black. I got a can from the nearby shop and sat down to join them.

So we're sat there on this baking hot late-Spring day, on a street bench in the middle of London, with anarchists of every variety passing up and down in front of us, the occasional policemen with yellow jackets, strolling along in twos, truncheons dangling; with a MacDonald's just up the road to the right, with a scared looking black guy on the door (they've obviously deployed him there for the day, expecting trouble), leaning around the doorway nervously and talking frantically over a two-way radio. One of the strolling police patrols stops for a chat.

A brightly dressed rainbow hippie passes by looking self-conscious and lost. He has multi-coloured dyed hair. He looks like he's auditioning for a part in the Teletubbies.

Chris, meanwhile, is doing walkie-talkie impressions, bringing his hand to his ear, thumb and little finger extended, and making cr-cr-crackling noises with his throat.

"Hippie alert, hippie alert! Hippies approaching at four o'clock, cr-cr, over!"

All of this goes on for quite a long time.

Later a very drunken woman passes by and asks for a light. Then she asks for a drink. We pass her a can. She's one of the Revolutionary Drinkers Group I'd seen in the pub earlier. There's a bloke following dutifully behind. You can see he's hoping that - in her drunken state - she might have some favours to offer. He's shrugging his shoulders and tutting at her flaunting state, but hopeful nonetheless. She's clearly not in the slightest bit interested.

But Paul and I catch up on our news, like the old-timers we are, remembering events from the past. I have a huge affection for Paul. For all his stern looks and aggressive South London manner, he's a true being. His talk is all of angels, and bringing the light back into the world, but cross-referenced with quotes from Monty Python and The Return of the Jedi. That's one thing I don't share with him, his affection for the Starwars trilogy. "Let's talk about angels again Paul, eh? I prefer angels to Jedi Mind Tricks."

But he goes on anyway.

We all agree that the conference is boring. So we get more cans and continue to bask in the sunshine on this revolutionary away-day city break in London.

London seems unconcerned at our presence.

Meanwhile, in the same month that all this was going on, in Sonoma County, California, an anti-biotech activist group calling itself the Petaluma Pruners was destroying grape plants grown by the biotechnology corporation, Vinifera.

Their communiqué stated, "With pruning shears in hand and a vengeance against GE and the patenting of living beings, concerned farmers called the "Petaluma Pruners" conducted a non-violent direct action against the grape biotechnology corporation Vinifera Inc. We snipped, snapped, and hacked up Vinifera's grape plant starts, fuelled by a vision of a safer farming environment, free of the runaway-train science of GE."

And in Bolivia, after protests following the sale of water rights to a private company (Aguas del Tunari, owned by International Water Limited) which then doubled water rates for poor families, Martial Law was declared. Several people were killed (including a 17 year old boy) and many more transported to a mysterious location in the Bolivian Jungle, for some nefarious purpose.

There was a Roma rights public meeting arranged in the UK, speakers to include Jeremy Hardy, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Ladislav Balaz (Europe-Roma Organisation), and Donald Kenrick (author 'Gypsies under the Swastika'), while all around the country different groups were preparing for the forthcoming MayDay events.

And in the US Bruce Silverglade of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest managed to get himself invited to a day-long high-level seminar on "After Seattle: Restoring Momentum to the WTO." Speakers included Clayton Yeutter (former US Secretary of Agriculture), Robert Litan (former Associate Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget), Lawrence Eagleburger (former Secretary of State), and Luiz Felipe Lamreia, the foreign Minster of Brazil. This is Bruce Silverglade's report:

"I was disappointed that only one representative like myself from a non-profit organisation concerned about the impact of the WTO on food safety regulation was invited. But I was pleased that the door had been opened and I looked forward to it.

"As it turned out, I got a lot more than I bargained for.

"The seminar turned out to be a strategy session on how to defeat those opposed to the current WTO system. Apparently, no one knew who I was (perhaps my greying temples and dark suit helped me blend in with the overwhelming older male group of attendees) and I did not speak up until the end of the meeting.

"The meeting was kicked off by a gentleman named Lord Patterson who had been Margaret Thatcher's Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. He began by stating that our number one job is to restore confidence in the WTO before embarking on any new rounds of trade negotiations. So far, so good, I thought.

"But he then proclaimed that non-profit groups have no right to criticise the WTO as undemocratic because the groups themselves do not represent the general public. (I wondered which groups he was talking about because organisations that are gravely concerned about the impact of the WTO on environmental and consumer protection, like the Sierra Club and Public Citizen, have hundreds of thousands of members). He then stated 'That we must never have another WTO meeting on US soil because it was too easy for advocacy groups to organise here and security could not be assured.'

"He added that President Clinton's speech during the WTO meeting in Seattle, in which the president acknowledged the protesters' concerns, was 'disgraceful' and stated that it was also disgraceful that delegates to the WTO meeting in Seattle had to survive on sandwiches and couldn't get a decent meal during three days of social protest. The Lord finished his speech by recalling better times having tea with Maggie, and stating that the staff of the WTO Secretariat should not be balanced with people from developing countries just because of the colour of their skin. After a few words with the chairman of the meeting, Lord Patterson added 'Oh, I hope I have not offended anyone.'

"The largely American audience of trade officials and policy wonks took the Lord's pronouncements seriously. The first comment by an American, picked up on the criticisms and asked 'How can we de-legitimise the NGOs (Non-Government Organisations)?'

The questioner claimed that these groups are usually supported by just a few charitable foundations and if the foundations could be convinced to cut off funding, the groups would be forced to cease operations. Mr. Litan, the former White House budget official, had another approach. He asked 'Can't we give the NGOs other sandboxes to play in and have them take their concerns to groups like the International Labour Organisation?' (A toothless United Nations sponsored-group). The representative from the US Trade Representative's office said nothing.

"Under the banner of rebuilding public confidence in the WTO, (former Agriculture Secretary) Yeutter concurred with his British colleague's suggestion that the next WTO meeting be held in some place other than the US where security can be assured. He further suggested that the WTO give the public little advance notice of where the meeting would be held to keep the protesters off balance. He said that the protesters' demands for greater transparency in WTO proceedings was a misnomer because the protesters didn't really want to participate in WTO proceedings - all they wanted was to get TV coverage and raise money for their organisations.

"The day ended with the usual Washington reception. During desert, the foreign minister of Brazil lamented that if the next WTO meeting had to be held in an out of the way place, he preferred that it be held on a cruise ship instead of in the middle of the desert. He then gave an impassioned speech in which he opposed writing core labour standards into the WTO agreement and defended child labour by describing how in one region of Brazil, more than 5,000 children 'help their families earn a little extra money' by hauling bags of coal from a dump yard to a steel mill. He stressed, however, that the children do not work directly in the steel mill.

"He was greeted by a hearty round of applause

I don't know how I got home that night. I never do after a session with Ian Bone. I was on automatic pilot, clutching a bunch of newspapers to my chest, bag over my shoulder, stumbling down the Holloway Road to the tube. Stumbling onto the tube. Stumbling off again at Victoria Station, and onto my train. Sleeping fitfully all the way home, then stumbling back to my flat. And all without a touch of intelligence or awareness. My usual state. How did I manage it?

I let my boots do the walking.

I woke up the following morning, in bed with my boots on. My boots had carried me all the way to my bed.


From The Big Issue June 2000

Carry On Up The Met!

Or: Oo-er MA'M! Get Yer Knickers off!

The latest weapon in the terrorist armoury of hate: anal exposure!
According to newspapers last week thousands of riot police are to be deployed to defend Her Majesty from the threat of naked buttocks. Such is the sensitivity of the Royal Personage that the merest sight of a bare bum can constitute the equivalent of "major public disorder". One of the Royal Family "may" be at risk.

At least, that is, according to the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir John Stevens.

In a series of interviews last week Sir John appeared to give credence to a number of allegations, suggesting that violent anarchists plan to target the Queen, implying some sort of physical threat, even a possible terrorist attack. Further newspaper reports suggested that Prince William had been spied on by a card-carrying member of the far-left anti-Royal anarchist group, Movement Against the Monarchy (MA'M). Sir John also predicted a series of confrontations, the first of which (at the opening of the Tate Modern on May 11th) has already failed to materialise. What both the newspapers, and Sir John, forgot to mention was the fact that the planned June 3rd protest outside Buckingham Palace - on which all the reports are based - consists of no more than a mass public mooning, the first of its kind in the UK.

An array of anarchist arse-holes, in other words.

Or in the words of the leaflet:

"Moon at the monarchy 2000. Drop 'em! It's going to be kecks at half-mast for Britain's doomed royals...

"We want 2000 bare butts to make the year 2000 an Anus Horribilis for the Windsors. Get your arse along there!"

Oo-er, what a threat! It's double entendres against the Monarchy! The police are considering a Ban the Bum order.

The Big Issue has obtained an exclusive interview with 52 year old Ian Bone, the man behind MA'M. Once labelled by the press as "The Most Evil Man In Britain", Bone is most famous for Class War, an anarchist parody of The Sun newspaper which, at its height, had a circulation of 15,000. Bone left Class War when the newspaper evolved into an organisation and began to take itself seriously. MA'M was set up 2 years ago, and there have been several marches and demonstrations since.

I asked him what he intended by this protest.

"What you see is what you get. It's a moon at the Monarchy. We want to do something which is fun, which is absurd, which would attract more than the usual politico punters, which wasn't going to be seen as an opportunity for a punch up, was just a good chance to use the Maori tactic of showing your arse to the Monarchy. So that's all it is."

So why did he think the Police Commissioner was taking this inflammatory line?

"Two things. One, there's a clear agenda to try and outlaw protest in central London, to push Jack Straw back a bit further cos I think he knows Straw's a weak Home Secretary and if the police keep saying there's a chance of disorder Straw will end up agreeing to ban demonstrations.

"I also think the Police Commissioner is talking off the top of his head, that he's made himself a laughing stock. I think he had the desecration of the Churchill statue in mind and he totally over-reacted, and he blew up this 'threat to Royals' to absurd levels. I mean, he didn't mention it was a moon at the Royals. It was an 'attack' on the Royals. The Royals were going to be 'targeted' and he's run with this ever since."

One of the stories (Sunday Mirror, May 14th) suggested that the Eton pupil alleged to have spray painted the Cenotaph on May 1st, Matthew MacDonald, has been spying on Prince William in order to "target" him. The Mirror describes MacDonald as "a member of an anarchist group plotting the downfall of the Royal family... The alarm was raised," the paper continues, "when he was found carrying a Movement Against the Monarchy membership card when arrested during the May Day riots." It then adds that "MacDonald would have been regarded as a key member of the anarchist group."

Is any of this true, I asked? Has Matthew MacDonald been spying for you?

"I've never met the geezer. No one from MA'M knows anything about him."

Is there such a thing as a membership card then?

"There's no such thing as a membership card. There's no such thing as membership of MA'M. MA'M's more a sort of attitude of mind," says Bone, chuckling: "But you can clearly see from the photo of him chucking whatever it is - if it is the geezer they allege with the black mask on - what he has got on is one of MA'M's Queen Mum stickers, so they've obviously used that. So did half the population."

Is this the beginning of the public relations exercise leading up to the enactment of the new Terrorism Bill, in which such organisations as MA'M - using bums instead of bombs - may be banned? We will have to wait and see.

Friday, February 23, 2007


“Not once have I thought of heaven or hell when facing my death – I’m going back to Spirit and can’t find anything to fear in that.

“And lately (as war rages and life gets ever more difficult) I’m hearing more and more from people about how they envy my journey and coming departure from the world. And when I think of the paradise we could have on earth, the joys we should be having in living, this envy is maybe the saddest thing of all.”
Jacqueline Memory Paterson, Exit Stage Left, Looking Cool, unpublished manuscript.

The last time I saw Tim Sebastion was in the King Arthur pub in Glastonbury on the evening of Jacqui Paterson’s funeral, some time in April 2004.

Some of you will remember Jacqui Paterson. She was the co-founder of the Glastonbury Order of Druids and the author – under the name Jacqueline Memory Paterson - of Tree Wisdom: The definitive guidebook to the myth, folklore and healing power of Trees. It is a book I would heartily recommend to anyone interested in the literary, spiritual and magical significance of trees. I would recommend it to you anyway, regardless of your interests. It’s a good book, full of fascinating detail.

She died of lung cancer. She was fifty nine years old: the same age as Tim was when he died.

I didn’t know Jacqui all that well. I had been introduced to her during the early stages of her illness, when she was still struggling to come to terms with it, still full of resistance to its pain and its indignities, still vigorous in her refusal to give way to its worst effects. At that stage she had Morphine pills available to her. She was able to take Morphine whenever the pain got too great. Generally, however, she was refusing to take it. Life was too precious to waste in a comatose state. Pain was less important to her than the sense that she had so little time left, and so much to experience and to know.

I think I met her about twice. We talked and laughed and drank tea and I smoked cigarettes and she smoked spliffs and she said she liked my second book, The Last of the Hippies.

I liked Jacqui Paterson very much, though we didn’t know each other really. With some people you just click. I think in another life, under other circumstances, we might have ended up as lovers. She was a very beautiful woman.

I asked her why she had called herself “Memory” and she said she wasn’t really sure. “It just came to me,” she said. “It seemed to convey something. It represents who I am.”

She was writing her second book at the time, an autobiography of her impending death, called Exit Stage Left, Looking Cool. I promised that I would try to finish it for her, if it turned out she didn’t have time.I still have the manuscript, though I’m not sure it will ever be published.

After she died I had the clear sensation that she came to visit me to say her goodbyes.

This was on the night of Tuesday 30th March 2004, I think. Jacqui had died the night before. Someone rang me up to let me know. I was sitting on the settee drinking beer and watching TV. I decided to have a spliff.

Now I don’t usually smoke dope, but I often have a little bit in, in case someone who does pays me a visit; so in deference to Jacqui’s departure (and knowing how much she liked a spliff) I rolled up a big fat one and dedicated it to her.

So that explains it then. It was very strong Moroccan pollen. I was stoned, that’s all.

Nevertheless the sensation was very clear. I felt that she was nestled intimately about seven inches behind my right ear, and that she was whispering kindly thoughts to me, about life, about death, and about the nature of the world. So she came to visit me. Or I started to think about her, and by some strange mechanism of the mind, I allowed those thoughts to be conveyed in her voice. However I put it, the impression was that I had been graced by her presence.

I had the curtains open. Across the road from me at the time there was a small park full of trees. I was thinking about Jacqui and feeling sad at her passing. And then it came to me, this quiet, intimate voice just behind my right ear. “Don’t feel sad,” she said. “Look at the trees. It’s spring. The trees are full of blossom, the earth is bursting with life. This is the time of life. Enjoy this time, for me.”

Well I know you’re not supposed to laugh when a person dies, but I did. I laughed out loud at that, a full, round, hearty belly-laugh full of poignancy and hope, full of memory.

That’s the word: memory. It was the word that Jacqui had chosen to name herself with. And I knew how meaningful it was then, as I looked across at the parkland trees sparkling in the lamplight, as I felt all those intimate stirrings of nature, both in the world and in me, and I knew that this is the great human gift, memory, the thing that we are entrusted with.

And that’s precisely what Jacqui did with her life. She drank in the world with her eyes and her soul and she committed it to her memory and to her heart, forever. And the question now is: is that memory gone because she has gone?

I think not.

The sense of her presence in the room with me told me very clearly to trust the world and to trust our presence in it. To trust ourselves. That we are gifted with memory for a purpose, and that God, or Spirit, or Nature - or however you want to name the Ground from whom we derive our being – experiences the world through us, and that we have a duty, therefore, to ourselves and to our humanity – to all of humanity – to do our best to make it good, and to commit it to memory, because in the end memory does not die.

She was a very earthy woman was Jacqui, a creature of the earth, who took delight in the earth and all its startling forms, in its abundance and its splendour. She loved life. She loved life with a fierce loyalty, like she loved her children. And she told me something else, too, while I was sitting there in my shadowy room, with my note book and pen, late at night. She said, “recognise our own children as all children and all children as our own children.” She said, “there is no justification on the planet – ever! – for killing a child.”

That’s how a very stoned CJ Stone thought that night with memories of Jacqueline Memory Paterson on his mind.

It was the following day before I took down a copy of her book from my shelves, and read the following dedication:

For Becky and Jody
And all the children of the world

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Do What Thou Wilt

That theatrical old fraud of the early 20th century, Aleister Crowley, had a slogan. It was: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”

Now what does that mean? Find out by following the link:

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Four Hallows of the Holy Grail

As you may remember, a few years back I co-wrote a book called The Trials of Arthur, about an eccentric English biker who changed his name to Arthur Pendragon, and who has been living the life of a contemporary King Arthur ever since. The co-writer was Arthur Pendragon himself. It’s a true story.

What appealed to me at the time was that the man, Arthur, didn’t seek to adapt his lifestyle to suit his new name. He was a biker before and a biker after. He just assumed that, as he was Arthur, whatever he did was what Arthur did.

And indeed, in the process of researching the book, I discovered that he was exactly right. There were several different Arthurs in the historical literature, constructed to serve a number of different purposes, but the earliest Arthur, the Welsh Arthur - as discovered in the Lives of the Saints, The Mabinogion and The Welsh Triads - grubby and fierce and only half-tamed as he was, would have been completely at home on a biker roustabout, and bore more than a passing resemblance to the rough-riding ex-Hell’s Angel that I was working with.

Coincidence? Well maybe. But it makes you wonder what is going on here.

Arthur himself is convinced that he is the reincarnation of the historical Arthur, but in the process of writing the book I was careful to avoid this assertion, mainly because it is too easy to make, too commonplace, and, in the end, too mundane. It is impossible to prove, impossible to disprove, and therefore completely useless as an explanation for anything.

As I said in the book, if reincarnation exists, then we are all reincarnated beings. But what does that tell us? Only that we are capable of making the same mistakes over and over again. And, in any case, while I may indeed have more than one life, there’s only one Christopher James Stone, born of Mary and Eddy Stone in Birmingham in 1953, and once he is dead and gone he is dead and gone forever, never to return. In this sense, however many lives I may have had or hope to have, there is only one that matters: the one I am living right now.

The problem with reincarnation is that everyone with a claim to it always remembers themselves as some exalted being: as Cleopatra, or Napoleon or Admiral Lord Nelson, say (or as King Arthur Pendragon) never as an anonymous Mrs Mop, or a factory worker or a drudge. Which implies that in the past the world was completely populated by aristocrats and heroes, and not one ordinary working person. This is reincarnation as fantasy, of course, and is easily dismissed.

However, I must admit, being surrounded by a bunch of oddballs and crazies as I was while writing the book - all of whom claimed some historical precedence for their current existence - I did find myself fantasising about my own role in history.

This is what I came up with, one very drunken night in Glastonbury. I was Chretien de Troyes, I decided, the first poet to write about King Arthur in the medieval period, and the man who popularised the concept of the Holy Grail. I had never met Arthur in the past, but only written about him. Now I was meeting him for the first time and writing about him as well.

I was lying on a bed at the time of the revelation, in a drunken spin, while everyone else was upstairs, still partying. In Chretien the Holy Grail is not one object, but four, called “the Four Hallows of the Holy Grail”: namely, a grail-cup, a platter, a sword and a wand or spear, and as I burst into the upstairs room, wildly excited at my self-discovery, I looked about me, and there indeed, were the Four Hallows of the Holy Grail, leaning against the walls, or resting on tables, or in the hands of my drinking friends, marking out the four quarters. Arthur’s sword, a chalice cup, a circular silver tray full of wine glasses, and a wooden stave propped up against the wall.

It was a Druid household, and these are the paraphernalia of their spiritual practice, so it was not unnatural to find them in that room; but at the time it struck me as awesomely significant, and I fell on my knees and had Arthur knight me there and then, as the reincarnated chronicler of ancient Arthurian legend.

People said that my name should be Sir Cretin de Birmingham, marking both my mental state and my place of birth. Which will do.

The following day - ouch! - I might have regretted my drunken excesses, but the funny thing about me - and Arthur for that matter - is that we can both believe these things while disbelieving them at the same time. In any case, as the writer of a modern book about a modern-day King Arthur, that’s exactly what I understood myself to be: if not the actual reincarnated chronicler of Arthurian legend, then a contemporary version of the same thing. Not Chretien this time, but Chris.

Later, however, I went even further, and came up with a list of other names that I have been in past lives, including John Bunyan, Hans Christian Anderson and George Orwell. All writers, you will note. All men. Which only goes to show how unimaginative I am when considering these things.

Orwell died in 1950, which means that his soul must have been hanging round in the ether for quite a while before it entered me. Either that or there was a short interval life which only lasted three years. As for the others, it has something to do with the quality of their writing and their subject matter. In other words, is this really a literary exercise, with me merely picking out writers I admire? And doesn’t this illustrate what I was saying earlier, about reincarnation as fantasy?

Well yes. But then, what’s the harm in it? And the fact is, even if I wasn’t about in a past life, someone like me was.

I may not have been John Bunyan or Chretien or Hans Christian Anderson or George Orwell – who knows? - but all of them were mortal and human like me.

In the end, what does it matter? We live. We die. Life goes on. That’s all anyone can say.

The Trials of Arthur


King Arthur Pendragon


Christopher James Stone

Published Price: £12.99

ISBN: 0007121148

Published By: Element Books

Publication Date: 02 June 2003

Format: Paperback, 256 pages, 23.4cm height, Ill.

Category: folklore

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Obituary: Tim Sebastion 1947-2007

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Fall of the Leaf
(Harvey/Sebastion, from "

You call me friend but seldom listen
But in the end you always whisper
"Please-tell me what I'm doing wrong"
You stand alone in naked friendship
Among the mists the swirling leaves slip through

Trees they do grow high-my friend
The leaves they will grow green again
Recalling all the life you've seen
Life will ascend to the trees-the leaves become the queen
And help the spring to love you
And call you home again

In ember lane the leaf has fallen
You never hear the silence crawling through
The clambering and learning grew
There is no need to hang so heavy
Just look around and see the steady sky
That changes with remembering

To now the end that's always calling
To everything in autumn's warring sea
Crashing over you and me
But if we can just stand together
The leaves begin to turn neverland

Trees they do grow high-my friend
The leaves they will grow green again
Recalling all the life you've seen
Life will ascend to the trees-the leaves become the queen
And help the spring to love you
And call you home again

More lyrics available at:

A Picture of Tim

My friend Tim Sebastion is dead. He died on Thursday the 1st of February at about 8 o’clock in the evening.

Typical Tim: a pagan to his last breath. He always knew how to make a dramatic exit. It was a glorious full moon, the night before Imbolg, the perfect moment for the founder and ex-Archdruid of the Secular Order of Druids to depart this life and to move on to whatever may await us next.

He was born in Southend-on-Sea in Essex on the 29th April 1947. He was brought up in a Catholic Monastery in Mayfield in Sussex from the age of 8 until he ran away at the age of 15 to seek his fortune in London, where he was a barrow boy in the East End. During the ‘60s Tim ran boutiques in both Carnaby St. and the Kings Road. He also opened his own stall in Portobello Road selling antiques, paintings and prints. In the early ‘70s he worked for the London Music Store in Great Portland Street where he was responsible for importing Melodiya Records from Russia. He was involved with the London hippie scene and knew many of the bands, including Hawkwind and the Pink Fairies.

It was during this time that he attended the first Windsor Free Festival in August 1971. He was amazed at the scene and became a regular at most free festivals from then on. In the mid-seventies, he started going to the Stonehenge festival. He always claimed to be an original Wally: that is, one of the associates of Wally Hope, who organised the first festival in June 1974. It was here, at the Stonehenge festival, that Tim must have seen his first Druids.

Who can say what drew him to them? In the early days of the festival the mainly hippie/anarchist audience were somewhat sceptical of the berobed and besuited, neatly trimmed and clean shaven figures who would drive in to Stonehenge on the morning of the solstice to do their rituals and then depart. In those days the Druids were definitely members of the establishment.

One of the jokes was that, as the Druids were intoning their incomprehensible, nasal mantras, the hippies would all chant back “ken barlowwwwwwwwwwwwwwe... ken barlowwwwwwwwwwwwwe” after the character in Coronation Street who was known to be a Druid and to attend these meetings.

So they were straight guys, middle-aged and middle-class. But then they were also dedicated enough to get up at some ungodly hour and to travel to the stones in time for the sunrise. And didn’t they, too, just like Tim and his compatriots, recognise the importance of the stones to the magical and cultural history of the British Isles? Weren’t they, too, caught up in the mystery of this place?

It took a few years for Tim to adopt the Druid ways, but the seeds of his later conversion lay in those early days: in watching the mysterious strangers in their robes and hoods, with their sickles and their staves and their oak laurels, processing into the stones to perform their arcane ceremonies.

It was also around this time, that Tim decided to move out of London – to “go west young man” – in the spirit of magical adventure, certain that out here, in the mysterious and still superstitious regions of the west country, he would find his true destiny at last.

He opened an antiques shop in Bradford-on-Avon. Later he joined the folk rock band Gryphon, as the lyricist, with whom he made two albums and six singles. (

It was during the making of their last album that he first heard the Sex Pistols. They were working down the hall, a just few doors away at the same studio, making the notorious and never-to-be-forgotten Never Mind The Bollocks.

That noise! That sound! It was an instant conversion.

He became a fan of punk music and a friend to many of the aspiring west country groups, including the Subhumans, considered by many to be one of the greatest of the British punk bands.

So how did he become a Druid?

He used to say to me that one day he planned to write a book called How To Be A Druid.

He said, “first of all you have to go to school in a Catholic Monastery. Then you have to run away to London and open a boutique...”

In other words, he saw the whole of his previous life as preparation for his Druidic role.

But undoubtedly partly it was a political response to the establishment attack upon the festival, which was shut own in a storm of police-led violence in June of 1984.

The Druids had a customary right to perform their ceremonies at Stonehenge at the solstice. Everyone had a customary right to freedom of worship, to freedom of movement, and to freedom of assembly. So why not: why not become a Druid? Being a Druid meant standing up for the rights of the British people to worship where they liked, and how they liked and in whatever manner they liked.

It was a political as well as a spiritual decision.

And so he set about creating his own Druid order, the Secular Order of Druids, sometime in the late eighties.

Typical Tim. Always a prankster. Read the acronym. It was a brilliant joke. But also, by giving it that name, by underlining its secular nature, he was making a political and a spiritual statement, about his reasons for making this move.

Secular, meaning not religious. Secular, meaning concerned with worldly as opposed to other-worldly things. Temporal. Down to earth. Mundane.

It’s a statement about the nature of true spirituality, and a reminder to all of those who would be likely to follow him not to try to make a religion out of it.

Just in case he got too pompous himself.

Not that that was ever likely. Tim was just about the least pompous man I ever met.

What I remember about him most was his grumbling voice, his booming laugh, his ribald and unrestrained sense of humour, and his ability, almost stretching to genius, to knock over any ashtray, any pint, any table or any tent that he was even vaguely associated with.

When Tim had an ashtray it was a purely symbolic item. No ash would ever stay in it. You might as well have told him, “just drop it on the floor,” because that’s where it would all end up.

This was the reason I referred to him in my book, The Last of the Hippies, as “the most completely useless person I have ever met”.

To quote, from Chapter 13, The Trouble With Hippies:

I had Tim with me. I like Tim. He's the most completely useless person I have ever met. Every time he puts up a tent, it falls down. If he has a drink he spills it. If he flicks his ash at the ashtray, the ashtray goes on the floor. Then he'll tread in it too....

“Actually I'd said that to him at the time. I'd said that he was the most completely useless person I'd ever met. We were sitting in the van at the Big Green Gathering, Tim and I, with a pint of that potent cider in front of each of us, smoking fags and chatting, when Tim flicked his cigarette at the ashtray. The ashtray was already surrounded by fag-butts and ash where he's missed it previously. He missed it again, but caught it with his knuckle in the process, and the ashtray went on the floor. He lent over to pick it up, and knocked his drink over. I said, ‘Tim, you're the most completely useless person I've ever met.’ And he laughed, his booming great laugh.

“So that was Tim, Doing His Own Thing. Knocking over ashtrays.

“He told me that he thought the hippie movement was like the Romantic movement of the early 19th century. And that's what Tim is really: an old Romantic

Later I found out that Tim had been upset by this description, so I would like to amend the record now. Tim was not useless. He was a tireless fighter for justice, an inspiration to us all, a model of courage and conviction, funny, generous, honest and a truly decent person to boot. Having Tim chant the Awen over you was to be transported to another, better world.

He was only useless when it came to knocking over ashtrays.

But actually, even this was endearing. I mean, no ashtray or cup or pint of beer was safe in his vicinity. But this was because he was always so engaged in conversation, so entranced by the person he was speaking to, that these ordinary objects just failed to hold his attention. So he would forget about them, and knock them over. It meant he cared more about people than he did about objects.

So here’s to you Tim, wherever you are. I’m sure you’ve already made a lot of new friends.

Following are two stories I wrote about Tim. The first is from the Guardian Weekend, featuring a certain pub in Bath. The second story is an excerpt from The Trials of Arthur, featuring a Morris Minor, a druid's staff, a young couple and too much alcohol.

In Memorium: Tim Sebastion

CJ Stone’s Britain

Guardian Weekend Travel

20th September 1997

Regency Stoned

Every city should have a Kaiser Bill to keep the dope-smokers off the streets. The other drug on offer is scrumpy

There’s probably not a lot I can tell you about Bath that you don’t already know. There are dozens of books on the city, and it’s one of the most visited tourist attractions in the country.

Deservedly so. It’s an elegant, ornate, civilised city, well planned, well proportioned, well built, a perfect example of the art of 18th century architectural design. Bath is a city built for people to live in, the way cities ought to be, full of trees and surrounded by wooded hills.

What makes my take on the city somewhat different is the fact that I’m being shown round it by an Archdruid....

Fourth Quest: Lammas

It was becoming a saga, a tale of true epic proportions. CJ was still looking for King Arthur. This was going to be his last effort. He was heading for Avebury once more on the morning of the 3 August, 1996. That's close to Lammas, for all you students of the pagan calendar, the pagan Harvest festival. He picked up a couple of hitchhikers on the way, on an obscure road in Kent. They'd slept in a field, having arrived from Germany the night before. They were on their way to the West Country. One was a hippie musician called Clive. The other was his German girlfriend. Her name was Birghit. They were very much in love. They kept stroking each other and looking into each other's eyes. But Birghit could make head nor tail of CJ's accent. He said, 'D'ya fancy a cuppa?' and she looked at him as if he'd just made an immoral suggestion.

They arrived in Avebury at 1.00pm, about half an hour after the ceremony was due to start, but Clive wanted a pint and so did CJ. They had a pint of Fruggles each. They chose it for the name. It was Clive's first English pint in over a year and you can't get a much more English sounding pint than 'Fruggles'. Clive drank his down in with liquid ease, making appreciative gurgling noises as he did so. CJ said, 'Well, we've not got much else going for us. The worst licensing laws in the Universe. And the most corrupt and dishonest government. But we still make the best beer.' Clive didn't answer. He was too busy making gurgling noises.

They went over to the stones. There was a hand-fasting ceremony taking place. A hand-fasting is a pagan marriage. It lasts for a year and a day. So much more civilised – not to say, realistic – than a lifetime. You re-confirm it every year. Or not, as the case may be.

CJ saw his friend Steve Andrews.

CJ said, 'Is Arthur here then?'

Steve pointed him out, and CJ went over to make his greeting.

'We meet at last,' he said.

'You look different without your beard,' Arthur said. Those were the first words that passed between them. It was a moment of great significance in the history of Western culture. Pretend writer meets pretend king. New Age Livingstone and drink-addled Stanley in the wilds of ancient Wiltshire.

CJ was very much struck by his appearance. He definitely looked like King Arthur, he thought. It wasn't only the robes and the cloak and the beard. It wasn't the shield either, nor the stave wrapped about with copper wire with a crystal on the top. Arthur has a huge brow, like some prehistoric tribesman, on which was perched his kingly circlet, made of iron with a dragon at the forehead. And he had long, dark pointy ears and a strange darkness about him. There was an indefinable blackness under the pale skin, as if the flesh itself was soaked in engine oil, thought CJ. But he couldn't see the sword. 'Where's the sword,' he asked, and Arthur brought it out.

'It's beautiful,' CJ said. And he meant it. It was beautiful.

After that they had the ceremony. They stood in a circle while a Druid in a wolf-skin cloak took to centre stage. It was exactly like that: as if he was performing for everyone on stage. Four Druids stood at the four quarters and made ritualistic gestures and intoned ceremonial phrases. There were obeisances to the guardians of the salamanders of fire – stuff like that. CJ wasn't at all sure. Arthur raised his shield and his sword and intoned to the Guardians of the South. CJ was struck by his accent. Pure Hampshire. A Celtic King from Hampshire: it's a contradiction in terms.

After that, a circle of children were blessed by the Priestess. Steve said that he'd been blessed as a child on one occasion. Someone wanted to know if they'd allow blessings of ferrets. So they did, and Frodo the Ferret was blessed too, along with all the kids. Meanwhile people were singing:

The river is flowing
The river is growing
The river is flowing
Back to the sea.
Mother Earth carry me
A child I will always be
Mother Earth carry me
Back to the sea.

It was a nice song. It went on for about 10 minutes, over and over.

Steve said: 'I arrived here last night. I had to walk from Chippenham. I slept by that stone over there and woke up soaked in dew. But I spotted 14 types of butterfly this morning.' And he brought out a list. 'That one there, Clouded Yellow, it's very rare. People would come from all over the country to see it.'

CJ spotted another name on the list. 'Hmmm, Painted Lady,' he said, 'that sounds nice. I could do with a Painted Lady.'

'Yes, very attractive,' said Steve, thinking that CJ was referring to butterflies.

There was a squabble amongst the Druids. The Druid with the fur stole had apparently forgotten a part of the ceremony. A Druid with a Panama hat (Rollo, again, but CJ didn't know it yet) interrupted him. 'You haven't consecrated the flowers,' he said.

'Oh, all right then,' said the other Druid, tetchily, 'go ahead if you have to.'

So, the Druid with the Panama hat stood over a bunch of flowers and consecrated them.

After that, they were invited to become initiated as Bards of Caer Abiri if they wanted to. Tim Sebastion – who CJ had met before, both at Avebury and Stonehenge – urged him to go. 'Go on CJ,' he said, 'it won't hurt you.'

'Oh all right then,' CJ said, and he did.

They made a much smaller circle inside the larger circle, but facing outwards. They made a vow to honour and justice and peace and love, and to care for the Earth. It was a moving moment. You see, CJ already believed in honour and justice and peace and love, and he wanted to care for the Earth. He'd just never made vows about it before. And then they were sponsored by an existing initiate. CJ was sponsored by Tim Sebastion. Tim Sebastion being an Archdruid, that was an honour. He placed his hand on CJ's shoulder and everyone chanted 'Awen.' It was said as a drone, the way that Buddhists chant OM: 'A-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-w-w-w-w-w-e-e-e-e-e-e-n-n-n!' The chant drifted and spiralled, rose and fell, and sparkled like diamonds in the shimmering air, while above sprays of birds arched across the sky.

CJ thanked Tim for that. It had felt genuinely sweet in that circle.

Steve Andrews went into the circle and sang 'Stand By Me.' Only no one did at first. Eventually Arthur joined him and one or two others. Then he changed the lyrics. He sang, 'Dance By Me,' and a few more people did. King Arthur was dancing marionette-like in his robes. It was a moment of startling illumination. King Arthur, the Rock'n'Roll King.

Then the five main Druids went into the circle: that is, the Druids of the four quarters and the one with the fur cloak. They had to vow not to squabble any longer. You see: the Druid movement is split between those who will consecrate trees, but never get up a tree to defend it, and those who will both consecrate and defend the trees. There's also a class division: between the one's who organise Spirit Camps and charge for it, where people gather to increase their spiritual awareness and learn about the ancient Druidic ways, who never drink or smoke or chase women; and those – led by Arthur – who do all of these things and never go to Spirit Camps and whose motivations are fundamentally political and radical.

One of the Druids read from a book. He said, 'There has never been a tradition of holding hand-fastings at those particular stones.'

And Arthur shouted back, 'Then we'll start a tradition.'

CJ turned to Birghit and Clive. 'See, aren't you lucky today? I picked you up in the far East of England, and brought you all the way to the West, where you wanted to go. And on top of that I brought you here to witness a Druid ceremony. There can't be all that many people who get lifts to Druid ceremonies.'

Steve came over to join the group and CJ introduced them. 'This is my mate, Steve. And these are my hitch-hiker friends, Clive and … er … I can't remember your name.'

'Birghit,' she said in her heavy German accent.

'That's right, Beergut,' CJ said.

'No Birghit,' said Clive.



And that was the last time CJ tried to say her name.

Well, there's only a certain amount of standing in circles and chanting and ritual observances a man can take before he starts to get thirsty. The Red Lion was calling. Steve and CJ slipped off to get a couple of drinks. Arthur followed a little later. 'Buy us a drink,' he said. CJ agreed. But people were lined up three deep at the bar. CJ said, 'Wait ten minutes, OK? Or, barring that, here's a tenner, get one yourself.' Arthur looked at the money as if it was poison. 'I'm a renunciate,' he said. 'I don't handle money. Not unless it's for petrol, that is. Then it's not money it's petrol.'

'Well this is for beer. So it's not money either, it's beer.'

But he didn't want to touch it. He drank CJ's beer instead, and smoked several of his cigarettes. He called it tax. They sat in the pool room and made conspiratorial plans.

Arthur said: 'I want to get arrested, only nobody dares do it. The last time, at Stonehenge, all the coppers were standing round wondering what to do. They couldn't arrest me. They had to call a Superintendent to do it. And then I arrested him, in the name of the Law. I told him, "I am the LAW." They won't put me in gaol either. They keep fining me. I tell them, "I'm a Renunciate, I don't have any money." Then I go to the back of the Court, and they um and ah and we make our deals, and they let me go. It's the same every time.'

'I have three personalities,' he added, 'to go with my three names. As a King I have to be concerned with the welfare of my Knights, and as the Pendragon of all Britain I have to be concerned with the state of the country: but as Arthur I can get pissed and smoke and chase women and do what I like. But, obviously, Arthur comes second to the other two.'

'So which are you now.'

'I'm Arthur, of course,' he said, taking another swig on his cider and pinching another cigarette.

CJ asked Arthur to knight him. He went down on his knees in the pub yard and Arthur placed his sword on CJ's head and shoulders in a dramatic fashion, swearing him to truth, honour and justice. Then CJ stood up and Arthur embraced him.

After that things started to get really strange.

Tim Sebastion came out very agitated. 'I've had it with your fucking Warband,' he said to Arthur. 'Orc has just gone off with my tobacco.' He was so angry that he took his staff (which had a crescent moon on the top), laid it on a step and stamped on it. It broke with a healthy-sounding crack. The joke here is that Tim regularly breaks his staff and then bandages it up with a pink scarf in between. So, he wasn't really breaking his staff. He was making a dramatic gesture.

Arthur went and got the Orc, a tall man in a long white robe, with a stud through his lower lip. Arthur made him apologise to Tim and give back his tobacco.

Then they drove to Bath. There was Steve, CJ, Arthur, Tim and the young couple in the car, along with all the Druidic paraphernalia – the shields and swords and robes and staves. It was a Morris Minor. It was very crowded. CJ was drunk and shouldn't have been driving. The car was swerving all over the road. Steve and the young couple were saying, very politely, 'Careful you don't kill us, we don't want to die yet, we're much too young to die,' while Arthur and Tim were shouting, 'Yes, go on, go on, kill us. Kill us now. We want to die!'

CJ didn't care one way or the other.

Arthur said, 'One of the reasons people hate me is that they all think I want to bonk their girlfriends.'

CJ said, 'Well, you can't bonk my girlfriend.'

'Listen to that,' Arthur said. 'Did you hear that everyone? He's questing me. He's offering me a challenge. You know I can't turn down a challenge. I'm really gonna bonk her now.'

CJ omitted to add that the reason that Arthur couldn't bonk his girlfriend was that he hadn't got one.

They all ended up in a pub drinking scrumpy cider. The young couple were very sweet. CJ kept telling the girl how sexy she was and then telling the man that he was very, very lucky. 'I know,' he said. Later, he found out that the girl was only 16.

CJ doesn't remember much more. They got back to Tim's house somehow, which seemed like a vast stately home. There was a huge hallway and antique furniture on the landing. CJ lay down in someone's bed until Tim came and got him. Then he lay down in the living room and went to sleep overhearing the young couple saying, 'And you know what CJ was saying to us in the pub? …' He was far too gone to listen to any more.

The following day he woke up and his hair was all standing on end. He looked very strange. He was still drunk. He drove Steve down to the bus station and they had some breakfast. After that CJ was going to go back and pick up Arthur so he could drive him to Newbury. Only they got lost in Bath. They were going round and round on the one-way system and CJ's petrol tank was nearly empty. He decided to give up trying to find Arthur again and they went back to wait for Steve's bus.

'What's Arthur's real name?' asked CJ.

'John,' said Steve and laughed. 'My friends are always changing their names. So Arthur was called John, and then he was Mad Dog and Bacardi, and now he's King Arthur. And my friend Pixi is really called Neil, but then he called himself Mordred and then Less Dread. He won't let anyone call him Pixi any more. It's very confusing. And Orc is Steve, and Llewch is Neil. It's such an ordinary name: Neil. Not as interesting as Llewch Lleawg.'

CJ said, 'Arthur is very vain isn't he? I suppose you'd have to be vain to want to call yourself King Arthur.'

'It's his true Aryan nature,' said Steve.

'Pardon?' said CJ, suddenly worried. 'But he's got black hair. I thought Aryans were supposed to be blonde.' He didn't like how this conversation seemed to be going. He'd never thought of Steve as a fascist.

'No: I mean Arian. He's an Aries.'

'Thank God for that,' CJ said, 'I thought you were going to start feeding me Nazi propaganda for a minute there.'

Steve lent CJ some money so he could get home. He'd spent most of his money in the pub the previous night. That's the trouble with wanting to write a book about people: they all expect you to buy them drinks. Then Steve caught his bus. CJ drove back along the M4. It was a very boring drive and he was hungover, irritable and with a tongue that tasted like he'd been licking the inside of a dog's bottom all night. He had no money left once he'd bought the petrol, so he couldn't stop anywhere. And then, about 20 miles of his home, he ran out of petrol again. He just managed to make it into a service station. He was going up to people and saying, in his most polite voice: 'Excuse me, I don't normally do this sort of thing, but you see, I'm nearly home. You couldn't let me have a couple of quid to buy petrol to get me the rest of the way, could you?' And it happened every time. They'd look him up and down, their eyes resting on his legs for a moment. He was wearing shorts. It was a glorious summer's day. But it was as if they were measuring his worthiness by the quality of his legs. And then a slight smile would play about their lips. 'Sorry,' they'd say, 'got no money.' It was humiliating.

Eventually he lost his patience. A camper van drew in. CJ marched up to the man and said, 'Give us a quid will you?'

'What for?'

'For petrol.'

'That's a new one,' the man said, laughing, and he reached in his pocket and brought out a pound, which was just about enough to get CJ home.

Well he couldn't help reflecting on this. He couldn't help remembering all those times he'd leant people money without ever expecting it back. In CJ's world, people help each other. Some people blag. Some people beg. Some people would talk the hind legs off an orang-utan for a pint or two. But people always help each other. But now he was beginning to see that in the real world, this world of motorway service stations and soulless Little Chef cafés, the opposite was true. No one blags, no one begs, no one talks and no one helps each other either.

Later, when he got home, he was watching The Blob on the TV. He was lying on the settee, exhausted, watching this little, flickering, black-and-white thing in the corner. The film is about a strange amorphous mass which is growing and swallowing everything in sight. A young man (played by Steve McQueen) is trying to warn people about a nameless horror which is about to consume their town. Nobody believes him: until they get eaten by the Blob, that is, by which time it is too late. The young man's name is Steve Andrews. Another little coincidence. CJ thought about his own friend Steve Andrews then. He thought about the Druids, and Arthur, at that point closely involved in the Newbury bypass road protest: how they were all warning us of a strange amorphous mass growing in our midst, threatening to consume our world. But it wasn't only a physical mass. It wasn't just a physical blob. It was a mental thing, a state of mind. An attitude. Something, even now, threatening to destroy our world.

What was it?


(Following is a proposal Tim and I made to the BBC for a possible Radio series. It is mostly Tim's work. All of the research is his. It's a pity the BBC never took us up on this as it would have been a fascinating series. I include it here as it is essentially autobiographical. It tells you as much about Tim, about his life and loves, as it does about the subject....)

More About Tim


A Musical Magical Journey down the Great West Road


CJ Stone & Tim Sebastion

And they felt old muscles travel
Over their tense contours
And with long skill unravel
Cunningest scores
Thomas Hardy.

From inner space to outer space, from ley lines to space-time, from Stone Age to Space Age, human beings have always sought to discover the sacred music of the landscape, and to express their feelings in ritual, in rhythm, in poetry and song.

CJ Stone and Tim Sebastion take a musical/magical journey from London to Bristol down the old Pilgrim’s Route, the Great West Road, In Search of Space and of a generation on the move, talking to poets, artists and musicians along the way about their relationship with the historic landscape that spans this most ancient of roads. At each stop we will tell the musical and curious history of the places we see, observing the rituals and listening to the tales, travelling by car, public transport, on foot or by horse-drawn carriage, visiting churches, pubs, cafes and people’s homes, stopping by hills and rivers, walking along forest tracks and droves, in an ever changing landscape, with a musical soundtrack spanning classical and jazz, folk, rock and reggae.


Tim was born a Cockney and spent much of his teenage years during the sixties in the Notting Hill and Shepherds Bush areas of London: which is where we will begin our tale, by examining some of the music and events that formulated Tim’s decision to “go West, young man”. Interviews would include: John Michell, guru of sacred geometry and father of the philosophy of the hippie movement, the organisers of the Notting Hill Carnival, the Pink Fairies and Nick Drake. We would also look into the legend of London’s lost Stonehenge and at the history of the hippie flowering in London, and at its demise with the birth of punk. Possible interview with Joe Strummer of the Clash.

We start the next section by taking a small detour to Windsor, where we will explore the early history of the festival movement. Interviews with some of the people involved, including Syd Rawles, self-styled King of the Hippies, Brig Oubridge, Green Gathering organiser and Green Party activist. Song from As You Like It, poem from The Merry Wives of Windsor, interview with Wild Hunt Morris.

Back on to the A30 passed Basingstoke (home of the ancient Tribe of Basa), and on to Andover, where we will meet Reg Presley of the Troggs to talk about the Troggs, the town and Reg’s interest in crop circles.

The next section begins at Amesbury where we will visit the site of a “Black Magic” temple and the Catholic Rectory, where we will meet Canon Thomas Curtis-Heywood, who took in the Wallies of Wessex in 1975, when Tim came to join them. Talk about the Wallies. Who they were, and what they can teach us now. Also talk to some locals about this period and to some of the musicians who were recording at the town studio at this time.

From there we will travel to Stonehenge to investigate the festivals, Druidic rites and hear some of the music that has been written about this most ancient temple. Talk to some involved in the Stonehenge campaign, including King Arthur Pendragon, self-styled Dark Ages Battle Chieftain and Pagan Priest. What now for the future of Stonehenge?

Interview with Penny Rimbaud from Cr@ss.

After this we take another detour to Salisbury to discover the old tune to the Salisbury Giant and uncover its real history. Interview with the local choirmaster of the Abbey and delve into the history of the famous Madrigal composer Thomas Weelkes. Poem by Betjemen, references to tracks by the Levellers and Kula Shaker.

Next we move on to Warminster.

When approaching Warminster look out for UFOs. There was a plague of them in the sixties. We will meet people who have vivid recollections of these mysterious happenings, said at the time to be communications from the Planet Xenestria.

Warminster is also the centre of ley lines and the birthplace of one of Britain’s greatest Punk bands, the Subhumans, who we will seek out and interview.

Then on to Longleat where one of the first great outdoor festivals took place, headlined by the Rolling Stones, and the scene of an early pop riot. On to Frome, an old West Country market town where the famous cheese blessing takes place and site of the infamous cucumber dance. Archive recordings of dance and blessing. Meeting with the Rhythmites, Frome’s most famous band.

The next part will start in Bradford on Avon in the oldest Saxon church in England, where we will meet with members of Jesus Jones, who were born and raised in the town. On to Troughbridge, home of the Village Pump festival, where we will talk to some of the people involved in this most English of English folk festivals. Also home of Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick and Titch, whom we will interview. On to Box to interview Hugh Cornwall about his move to the area.

The final part finds us in Bath, home to so many famous artists, including Tears For Fears, The Korgis, Peter Gabriel and Van Morrison, some of whom we will interview.

Although Bath is famous for a number of internationally recognised festivals, we will concentrate instead upon the lesser known Bardic festival held in December, interviewing some of the Bards involved.

Discover the famous Irish song written here, meet the Astronomer who wrote symphonies.

Finally on to Bristol via Stanton Drew - where it is said that a whole marriage party was turned to stone by the Devil. In Bristol we will talk to some of the stars that hail from the city (such as Massive Attack, Russ Conway and Portishead) and then talk to the organisers of the St. Pauls Carnival, second only to Notting Hill as one of Britain’s foremost West Indian street entertainments.

End looking across at the open spaces of Wales, and think about what lies beyond: Ireland, the Atlantic and the United States.

Possible interview with Nik Turner of Hawkwind about his move to Wales.