Sunday, July 24, 2011


Yes, my friends, this was the Dark Tower Of The Deviants where I ate many a Sunday breakfast in 1968 and 1969, mostly in the afternoon, and where most of the band and crew – with the exceptions of Russell Hunter and Sid Bishop – plus girlfriends, wives, passing concubines, deadbeats, and hard-to-define mutations, plus an ever-expanding compliment of felines, resided at one time or another. With reference to the photograph (recently taken by Kristian Nihlen and, much to my delight, posted on Facebook after he’d figured the location from my book Give The Anarchist A Cigarette) our flat was on the top floor, stretching from the turret for two more windows to the right and also included the balcony where many a tripping fool would have to be convinced that unmanned flight was beyond the capabilities of humans no matter the measure of micrograms. On the street, what is now a Subway was an off-license where Jamie Mandelkau actually obtained credit.
How we gained possession of such a sumptuous and gothic urban Gormenghast was a simple matter of Deviant blind luck. We inherited it from an on-the-lam cocaine dealer, which meant, now and then, we received visits from wiseguys wanting to kill him, but they needed little convincing, after seeing our squalor, that we were not their intended targets. Our neighbours were Swiss bankers who took one look at us and instituted protracted legal proceedings to get rid of us. The biggest irony was the building on the far right of the picture is the Shaftesbury Theatre, where, during our tenure, the musical Hair was playing. We grew very tired of tourist rubes thinking we were part of the show, and also the blatant rip of what we saw of our culture. So, by way of retribution, UK Steve our Master of Munitions, would set off air/sea rescue smoke flares during the second act. But we also met the lovely Sonja Kristina who was in the cast.
The rubes could never have imagined that reality of life among we stone freaks. Of the methedrine Middle Earth nights, and treaties brokered with the Hells Angels, visits from an epicene David Bowie, or the vampire princesses from the Speakeasy, or the strippers from the all-nite-ouzo Greek cafĂ©, who we lured back on the promise of Mandrax fueled debauchery, and who believed they had lucked into rich rock stars as they rode up in the antique cage-style lift, only to discover – all too late – the same squalor that had convinced the wiseguys. The rubes couldn’t imagine the underage psychopaths who would howl their loud and unrequited love for Steve Took until escorted from the premises by Psychedelic Ladies Auxiliary before the metropolitan scuffers were summoned, or how we watched the moon landing and Manson murders on a yellow TV with a speech bubble and the word “HELP” drawn on the screen in magic marker. Or how we had left the place for a hundred gigs, our concert in Hyde Park, the riots in Grosvenor Square, and even a dire North American tour only to find we’d been evicted on our return.

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The secret word is Nostalgia


Pissonyourdogs said...

I pass here every morning on my bike on the way to work and wonder if any of the other folk sharing the road with me what went on in that building forty years ago. Probably not; they're all too busy trying to run me over on their way to their jobs. I work in Bateman St and occasionally when I have my Deviants tshirt on I get accosted by grizzly looking old dudes asking me if I know what my tshirt's all about. So there are a few left in Soho Mick, although I expect it's a very different Soho from the one you lived in.

Mick said...

A Deviants t-shirt? Tell me more. I don't have one.

Pissonyourdogs said...

Er, Ebay. I think the fellow is selling them under the shop name "The Electric Circus" . Obviously they're unlicensed although the lord only knows how one would go about organising that sort of thing forty years after the fact. You could at least hit him up for a freebie though. He's lifted Barney Bubbles' image from the third album which makes a pretty fetching black tshirt.

If the idea of someone making a cheap buck off you guys (again) sits uncomfortably with you, please take solace in the fact that there are a hoard of people who come and get coffee off me that know about the Deviants solely because of that shirt... Apologies for the long windedness

Paulo Rodrigues said...

I work nearby and read the chapters about the dark tower while sat outside. Is that a little sad?