My father was in the communist party and like Eric Blair had met Harry Pollitt who told him to stop larking about and get out daubing revolutionary slogans on walls. At the time communism was where some clever people gravitated to, now they choose the Green party. He came from a family in Bordesley Green and had spent his war making parts for weapons in shadow factory's. Wanting to fight as his best mate had been killed in France before Dunkirk, his skills as a toolmaker and his poor health had consigned him to a war dodging bombs in the Birmingham blitz.

            My mother had come from a family of girls in North Wales, having been sent to a munitions factory during the war, where she worked as a supervisor. The war having ended, she saw an advert for jobs in a Birmingham Mail she found on a bus. They met at a dance and my father moved her into better digs, they got married in a blizzard at Wrexham cathedral in 1946.

            I was born on United Nations day 1950, my mother having been kick started in her fertility by a loved local doctor. Dr Mollie Barrow was a welfare rights campaigner and went on to found the Sparkbrook Family Centre, she was also in the communist party and a family friend. Father bought a large Victorian house in Small Heath opposite Victoria park for £280 and they opened a boarding house for theatrical boarders from the Birmingham repertory.  Born early and of low birth weight, mother having had a difficult birth, I failed to thrive and went into hospital where I caught gastro enteritis and was saved by the newly introduced drug penicillin.            

             Back in the community I was getting weaker until mother, crying quietly in a chemists was told by the kind pharmacist to try me on watered down cows milk and I began to put weight on. By now my father was working in the family tool and jig business, my grandfather having had a good war owning a gun factory. He'd started this by making pen nibs with fly presses in the back bedroom of his family home in Bordesley green.

            Attending St Benedict's infant school I easily learnt to read and write and with the family business booming, we moved to a new purpose built, large detached house in Sutton Coldfield. I found the countryside amazing after my time in inner city Brum and thrived, attending Leyhill primary school in Mere Green. Here although I was a third from the top of the top class in the school, I and the boy who sat next to me managed to fail our 11 plus, the only two in the class who didn't pass it. My parents seeing I was bright sent me to a borstal of a prep school in North Wales as a border.

             Here I galloped ahead in my learning and passed the Common Entrance exam in record time, being accepted at Rydal public school in Colwyn Bay. Unfortunately I was chosen to be sexually abused by the older boys and not wanting to be hurt persuaded my parents to remove me from the school and I began to attend Ryland Bedford secondary modern in Sutton town centre.

             At this school we were only meant to be factory fodder and it was a surprise to the teachers when our class managed to get enough O levels to make up it's first sixth form. I was falling behind and left having started to grow my hair, smoke dope and like many of my generation I dropped out, selling fine art from door to door, ending up in Glasgow, a city I came to love.

             Dossing about in Glasgow I hitched down to a music festival at the Bath and West showground and got in under the fence, being given a free tab of Owsley acid and having a wondrous trip. I'd got the festival bug and decided to attend these festivals during the summer and squat in the cities during the winter. I went on to go to Phun City Britain's first free festival, the Isle of Wight with Jimi Hendrix and a few others before ending up at Worthy farm in 1970 for the first Glastonbury festival.

            Seeing Mr. farmer hadn't much of a clue what to do and feeling sorry for him, as he'd lost a fair bit putting the festival on, I went to see him. I met him in the farmhouse and using my best selling spiel explained that I would find him the money to put on another festival and that the best place for a stage was at the bottom of the largest field which formed a natural arena, I was few pages ahead of him in the book of festivals.

            I hitch hiked to London and went to see Mick Farren who'd put on Phun City and ran the magazine International Times, he didn't know anyone and so I found myself in Kensington market watching Jimi Hendrix buying a pair of boots. Talking to a woman on a stall I told her my tale and she told me of a bloke called Andrew Kerr, who wanted to put on a free festival. Giving me some money to ring him he invited me down and so I went to see him. 

            Andrew was pretty laid back and let me have a bath and a hot meal before he rang Michael Eavis the farmer and arranged to see him the next day. After a good nights sleep we travelled down to Pilton in Andrews three litre, non coupe rover and seeing Michael outside the farmhouse pointed him out to Andrew at which point the 1971 free festival, the Glastonbury Fayre was created. I left to doss in Glastonbury and then headed back to Glasgow spending the winter signing on and smoking dope and generally having a good time. In the summer of 1971 I went back to Worthy farm and helped build the festival.

            The 1971 free festival at Pilton was the forerunner of the modern Glastonbury festival, though it was to be ten years before Michael got up to that speed again. Sadly I was starting to loose the plot and had got into a small confusion of the mind, thinking I could beam thoughts into peoples minds and control the weather. This was quite fun and only intermittent in its presence. I got caught when visiting my family attempting to steal a badge in Lewis's in Birmingham city centre and was bailed for £5, I jumped bail and headed to London only to make the psychosis worse, so came back to my family where I was arrested and held in the Green on remand. I saw a shrink there and on attending court was sectioned to a workhouse of an asylum in Erdington called Highcroft hospital. Nothing was explained to me and I escaped, becoming catatonic in a wood in Sutton Park. I then went home again and next day was carted back to the hospital.

           On entering Highcroft I was thrown to the ground and forcibly drugged, in this toxic state I was made to take electro convulsive therapy and after 9 treatments I had become a frightened man with my natural spark almost extinguished. ECT was the norm in this bin and was basically used to frighten you into submission, I was given no diagnoses and no history was taken from me. I was then given no choice and had to work a 50 hour week for a packet of fags and treated by nurses and psychiatrist as if you were considerably less than human, that said I settled down and got into the routine of the hospital and after nearly a year was thrown out with no support. By working backwards I found out my label was schizophrenic and was so low after leaving I couldn't even get it together to sign on eventually doing so and living in bedsit land for a few years on £1 a day. I lost a lot of benefit by not signing sick but slowly I began to get my mojo back.

           I saw Len my shrink every three months, he would ask me how I was and then hide behind my case notes and refuse to communicate. It took me some time to realize that psychiatry was a pseudo science and that he knew nothing, being just a paternalistic drudge. Though on looking back Len wasn't that bad, he freed me from seeing a psychiatrist and said that when I got older things would get better, which they have. With no feedback from the madness industry I came of my drugs and after three months voluntary work and feeling my old self again I got a job as an assistant manager of a community transport in London. Sadly I was becoming unwell and on going to the Glastonbury festival of 1978 or thereabouts, I smoked a spliff round a fire and became very psychotic, climbing a live mainline pylon in my bare feet in the pouring rain. How I survived I don't know but I did and on going back to the squat I was living in became catatonic and lay in my bed not moving for days, to be rescued by my brother and sister who took me back home.

            My health picked up a bit, but it was back to the bin for me, some police arrived and transported me back to Highcroft, this time I knew the ropes. More medication at least not forced but when it came to being plugged into the mains again I was treated so badly that one nurse left the hospital, I had no memory of this abuse other than a gag being forced into my mouth, it's a banal torture that makes you forget it.

            So called community care was all the rage, though in this parish it's never existed and consists of having your bedsit door stove in and a needle punched into you. They had no knowledge that I'd stopped taking medication and no attempt to mediate and stop me being sectioned again was tried. The nurses never talked to us as did the shrinks who would appear occasionally at medication time and ignore us, at least we weren't forced to work and after a few months I was back in the couldn't care less community. Highcroft as a workhouse/asylum since 1840 had destroyed the lives of nearly a quarter of a million men, women and children. No councillor, member of parliament or religious leader had ever spoken about the place since it opened for business and there is no mention of the place in the local library, this being one of the biggest employers in the area and holding about one and half thousand captive inmates. The old lags some of whom had been there over 35 years rarely survived beyond 60 and begged for fags in their washed to rags ward clothes in the long corridor. None of them knew why they where there and many had been working for no wages for decades. Their was no psychological or psychotherapeutic support it being the heavy use of major tranx, lithium or nothing. The whole place ran for itself and if you didn't like it you'd be forced into dumb silence.

        One of the rare positive things was being allowed to have a camera, it was a 35mm Fed Zorki 4 my parents had bought me for my birthday, I'd been taking photographs since I was 11 and I recorded what was going on, the first time I think it had been ever done. It was very therapeutic( Rose in the Crompton Arms, Lozells. ) and greatly helped my recovery.

        I stayed in a room in a friends house and after a bit got a one bed roomed flat, it was a housing association slum but to me it was heaven, I also got onto a reasonable level of benefit and joined a photography club (Weld) in Handsworth. Then by chance I met my future wife in a charity shop and Lisa moved in with me, but I needed to get my medication sorted out. I was sleeping for one week, normal for the next week and high on the third week. My quack was no help, as I thought going on daily tablets might level out the highs and lows of depo medication, so I got Mind in London to write to him and I got put on daily oral medication, I've not been seriously unwell for over 33 years, my idea worked.

          So I joined National Mind and got elected to their National policy committee with a friend, this was a senior management position even if it was voluntary and I enjoyed travelling to London, sadly the local Mind was back in the 1950's and wouldn't let us use their premises. We complained to National Mind about this discrimination but they wouldn't listen, so both I and my partner on the committee resigned. They didn't take my resignation seriously so I joined Survivors Speak Out and went to a few meetings before it fell apart through inertia and lack of  support. If Survivors was the left wing then its demise left a gap in the system and Sane (Schizophrenia A Nice little Earner) a right wing, no nutters please organization, filled the gap. All this left me free of my fear of the system and empowered me in the growing disability movement.

          Writing  poetry came to me as a bird taking its first flight, it just happened. About the late 1970's and early 1980's inspired by the poems of Dylan Thomas, a whole new world of words opened up for me and I've not looked back since. At about the same time I got into computers and have been on the web since 1997, when I bought my first Windows computer from monies I got from the criminal injuries compensation scheme, having been mugged for my camera. I have been to Laugharne and had a drink in Brown's hotel, said a prayer in St Hywyn's church, laid wild flowers on John Betjeman's grave, marvelled at the brevity of the librarian from Hull and welcomed the song of our poet laureate Carol Anne, all this and I have found my voice. I slept on a Welsh mountain, went mad and then became a poet, it is a great gift and I am immensely grateful.

          My father died and about the same time my image making moved up a gear and I began to take 35mm colour slides of Birmingham and my life and built a darkroom in my new digs, I also started writing poetry and put up my two webs. I began to ring Michael Eavis every year and went to two Glastonbury festivals '84 and '87 and the last Stonehenge peoples free festival in 1984, this time I had my camera with me. I got married and Lisa and I moved into a small terrace about the start of the new millennium.

          As for my image making it changed to digital and my photography web is attracting about 26,000 visitors a month, this poetry web upgrade is from the way I write, like photography the more you take the better chance you have of getting a good one, hence the fierce edit, less is more. Recently I had a photograph accepted for exhibition at Wolverhampton art gallery.    

          The BBC, a film maker and a writer have approached me about the Glastonbury story, but as I told the writer the magic of the tale is in the telling and the splits that have appeared since that long ago midsummer dream, the Glastonbury Fayre. The truth is the festival was created by all those that had a hand in making the 1971 Pilton free festival, the audience, the builders, the players and of course Bill, Andrew, Michael, Arabella and not least myself.  

           As for me I'm happy web making, photographing, writing poetry, living my life and taking heart in little things. Thank you for visiting my web I wish you well in your endeavours; regards,



I never saw the Beatles.