Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Flashbacks 1: The End

Listening to the Doors just now I was brought back to London in the late Sixties. Clanricarde Gardens in Notting Hill, mid-afternoon in the summer of 1967, to be specific. It's a gloriously sunny day. I call to visit some Irish acquaintances. Despite the sun the room is in semi-darkness - the light excluded by heavy velvet curtains. A few dim lights provide glimpses of the occupants and the disarray of the room. The Doors are playing 'The End', Morrison's Oedipal masterpiece - just released, my first time hearing it. Very trippy, heavy atmosphere. The air is pungent with hash. Coughlan (or Blue), Martin and Batt are lying around - too stoned to do more than nod and smirk. Batt (suave, plausible, cold, a natural con man, elegant, beret wearing, a Garda sergeant's son from Clare) died in a Montreal hotel room from a heroin overdose in 1970. Martin (strikingly good-looking, wasted, nihilistic, damaged) died in a London bed-sitter in 1973 - choked on his vomit. Blue (paranoid, Christian Brothers victim, permanently agitated, heart-breakingly vulnerable) was last seen begging on King's Cross station in the mid-80s - before that he dwelt in the Salvation Army hostel off Stephen's Green and could regularly be seen disporting himself around the Green in a demented fashion. Casualties of peace man.