I was there ... Isle of White 1970

Our reluctant feet
move slowly towards the exit,
we're looking left towards the stage
as Hendrix' magic guitar fills the dark sky
and rolls across the silent crowd
in the festival grounds, surround sound
vibrating the air we breathe.

But we have to leave, it's Sunday night
and we're exhausted, stoned
and the last ferry will leave soon....
'Come on!' I say firmly,
again 'Come on', I'm dragging Dave,
stepping over feet, heads, bodies
backpacks, sleeping bags, billy cans.

and Hendrix is playing Purple Haze
as we reach the gate … no, no no, not that,
we can't go when he's playing that …
but we must get on that last coach,
to catch that last ferry to the mainland,
to catch the last coach to Wales.
We have to go... Dave, Mike!

We're outside the gates now, walking towards the coach
and Purple Haze is in our heads – 'all in my brain'
nothing else matters – 'scuse me while I kiss the sky'.
We've heard them all, all the British greats
except the Beatles and the Stones...
The Who, The Doors, Lighthouse, Jethro Tull,
Emerson Lake and Palmer. We'll miss Richie Havens
and Leonard Cohen, coming on after Hendrix.
Joni Mitchell was memorable 'You're all tourists' she'd snapped,
as can-throwers lobbed over the heads
of Hells Angels, employed to keep order.
Those idiots didn't want her pensive ballads,
they wanted the meaty rock bands only...
so much for 'peace and love',
enshrined at Woodstock.

It seems like eons since we arrived
for a baking sunny weekend, with
nothing but our thin summer clothes
- no sleeping bags, no cooking equipment, no coats.
- no money either, or very little.
We've slept for 2 nights in huge empty grain sacks,
which kept us from wind and night frost
and cost 10 bob each. We waited for each act
in our crowd of half a million, burning in the sun.

The playlist of the famous are a who's who
of the world music scene.
It's so badly organised
that some come on near dawn.
So late Saturday with dawn approaching -
see me with my fingers in my ears to block out
The Who, wishing they would
so I can get some sleep at last.

My foot's on the bottom step of the coach
and I'm looking back, Dave and Mike
are stalled behind and they're also looking back …
'Come on' says the driver tetchy now
'Get a move on …'
'Don't know if it's day or night' sings Hendrix.

Now we're sitting on the coach as it pulls away
we're looking across the dark sky
with its remnants of summer day sunset
pinks and oranges scattered across
the distant horizon. We can see the dwindling
festival enclosure – a distant glowing circle of light
in the rural darkness.

My boyfriend and brother watch with me,
we're all so young, so very young,
we're all silent, straining our ears
to catch the last silver riffs,
that high twanging note as he ends
by playing the guitar with his teeth,
'is it tomorrow, or just the end of time'...


'Yeah ... Thank you very much for showing up, man, you all look really beautiful and outa sight ... And thanks for waiting. It has been a long time, hasn't it? ... That does mean peace not this ... Peace ... OK give us about a minute to tune up, all right? Give us about a minute' - Jimi Hendrix addresses the festival crowd - Monday, Aug. 31, 1970



My new collection/pamphlet is called Heartbroke, it covers poems written over a 20 year period and it's published by Tambourine Press - so am going to put up some of the poems from the collection 1-2 at a time - here's the first one:

Hurling bricks

Each time we disagree,
fall out, row
you make me wrong
you make YOU right
then you save them up
all these wrongs
you ever thought I did
in a list
in your head
and when the next row comes
you hurl these bricks
to batter me down
until I sit

in a heap of rubble..


Performances coming up

At Golders Hill Park for
the Hampstead & Highgate Literary Festival
Sunday 15th September 2013
at 2 pm
Performers include some of the Highgate Poets ...