Close encounters and a new family of actors had all of my attention. Days unfolded into longer and longer nights as we approached the opening of the show. HAIR was to be something of a phenomenon in 1969 - the declining popularity of Australia’s all the way with LBJ participation in the Vietnam war echoed the subversive, libertarian, draft-card burning themes of the show. The caste acquired minor celebrity status around town sometimes getting preferential entry to clubs and shows when management thought there might be some advantage in having the HAIR  crowd in. Initially most of us looked as ordinary as any other of the young punks wandering around in the Cross, but as the months went by and we grew deeper into the part, stage costume and street wear became indistinguishable. A bunch of us replicated the show’s tribal world, itself a dramatisation of the communard instinct rising among baby boomers across the planet, living together in a grand old dilapidated house destined for demolition. Six or seven of the household were on our way to the theatre one night walking along the main drag in King’s Cross when the Spastic Centre bus went by. It was packed with people hanging out of the windows, laughing and jeering at the apparently altogether outlandish and weird scraggy bunch of hippies. The collective feeling was good; we were fulfilling some cathartic function out on the streets at the same time as earning a living on the stage. And what a way to earn a living; every day bar Sunday I’d stroll through the stage door into the art deco Metro theatre and wander up to the dressing room for another night of fun and hard work. Maybe not hard like the kind of work I did in an eight hour day in the wool sheds baking under galvanised iron, but every night, for a couple of hours under the hot stage lights, I’d sweat buckets. One of the killers with any sort job is the sheer repetitive nature of a good deal of the work inevitably turning workers into machines and wounding their creativity. Consistency of performance and production ensures the paying public knows what it’s getting and so is more likely to support a long run. For the first months of HAIR we did in fact get a good balance between these conflicted demands. But as we went along there was an increasing tendency to extrapolate, invent, edit, and generally muck about with the details of the show. This made for a much more interesting performance for us on stage but a year into the run we were getting complaints of ‘uneveness’. The anarchic spirit so carefully nurtured in the caste was modifying the production and making management nervous - too many accumulating incremental adjustments and the show could deflate. But we didn’t feel like automatons pumping out identical material night after night and the high levels of spontaneous enthusiasm lasted longer than you’d expect from a collection of, at best, semi-professional actors. There wasn’t much to do to get ready, no make up and hardly any costume. All I had for the opening scene and most of the show was a lap-lap. A fine leather string around the waist supported a piece of leather which went between my legs. At the call we’d all go out into the auditorium and mingle with the incoming audience. As they were seated and the band mooned into its intro some caste would be standing on the backs of the seats, stepping over the audience as it strained to see the antics of other caste members all around them. This was the theatre of immersion. On cue there’d be a general slow motion gravitation to the stage. My starting position was centre stage, high up in the scaffolding which framed the proscenium arch. As the slow motion move began I would descend a rope, as gracefully as I could manage. Knots on the rope about a metre apart enabled me to hang with one hand locked above a knot while doing a rhythmic spiral gyration to the stage where we’d all congregate in a big circle for the first number. When the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars, then peace will guide the planet and love will rule the stars. This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius  or something along those lines. This routine continued for more than a year until one day, one of the other ‘tribe’ guys decided he’d like to try out the rope trick. He fancied the chance to show his muscular body to the audience, usually about two thousand people. I’d been mildly embarrassed a few times when ordered by zealous theatre ushers and their torch beams to get my feet off the backs of chairs so I quite liked the idea of getting among the audience at the beginning and having the chance to step all over the theatre seats. And in my very small lap-lap, it was good value for the patrons who would have come fully expecting some prurient visuals. The nude scene was after all a major promotional feature of the show. However all did not go according to plan for the hapless Colin. One night, not very long after he’d taken on the rope, just about the time when I’d slow-moed to the point where the rope touched the stage, an almighty thump jerked my head around in time to see his body bounce off the stage and collapse on the floor at the feet of the astonished parties in the front row. In slow motion I turned and went to check him out. He was slowly coming to and apparently hadn’t hurt anything more than his pride, so the show went on, still in slow motion as I tried desperately not to crack up and spoil the opening scene. He’d been lucky the stage was somewhat bouncy; the elevated structure designed to create a false angled floor on the stage proper had taken his weight and its flexibility had certainly saved his bones from breaking. The scene attracted the attention of management and I was called into the boss’s office. We’d made the arrangement without any consultation with the duty director – a private negotiation between Colin and I. As I came in Harry was passing his bandaged hand in front of a ray lamp, injured, not bleeding. A volatile individual at the best of times he was happy to express his anger with me for taking an executive decision allowing someone else to do my job. I wasn’t a ‘bloody executive’ and I should do as I was told. I objected to his tone, reacting with some detachment to his threats of termination. That really got him going and he called me an ungrateful bastard and I wouldn’t work in (his) town again. It all sounded a bit familiar, hadn’t I heard this grandiose delivery somewhere before? At the movies maybe? He’d been generous to me earlier in the run when I’d auditioned for a part in a film while still tied by the eighteen month contract to his show. The director of the film had come along to HAIR, ostentatious in his fox fur coat, and subsequently offered me the part of Steve Hart, the youngest member of the Kelly gang. Miller’s generosity was, unsurprisingly, entirely self serving. I had to agree to a personal management contract. These conventionally draw a fatter commission than your standard agent’s fee. In the event the movie was a joke and nothing came of it, well for me anyway, even though at the time it was a big deal for the Australian film industry. In retrospect it was clear the film was fatally compromised by the relationship the director, the late Tony Richardson, had with his choice of actor to play the lead role of Ned. Mick Jagger was never an actor’s armpit. As a pop-star he is undoubtedly cream, and playing a pop star in Performance he was convincing enough but his mincing gait just didn’t cut it for our Ned. Interestingly the director had difficulty with my propensity to skip. I didn’t have a great deal of control over the skipping thing, it just came naturally to me. When you wanted to go somewhere close and quickly it made perfect ergonomic sense to skip. But the gay director didn’t like it. Maybe one mincing character in the caste was enough. Correcting Mick’s walk would have been a lot harder. The Steve Hart character was evidently something of a flash character in his day. Horse riding was a qualification for the gang members but especially important for the Steve Hart character who had to demonstrate his 'flashness' by showing off his riding skills. This entailed one scene where he had to ride up to the Kelly homestead and jump a chest-high pole fence. We set up and on 'action' I'd drive the horse in towards the jump. Unfortunately the ground was a bit damp and on a slight downward gradient. As the horse approached the fence and I gave him his head to jump, he just sat down on his haunches and together we slid up to the fence. The director yelled 'cut' and told me to try again. I turned the horse around and trotted back to the mark and waited for my cue. "ACTION!" With great determination I drove him forward again giving him plenty of heel and a bit of stick I'd picked up to encourage him over. But the slippery surface and the slope just wasn't to his liking and he sat down again at the critical moment. Pretty embarrassing. I turned him around and was heading back for another go when the director called for the horse- master to come in and take the horse over the fence - obviously the actor just couldn't ride. But there wasn't anything wrong with the actor's riding as the horse amply demonstrated by sitting on his arse again as the horse-master had a go. Several gos in fact, but all to no avail. They abandoned the scene. Another scene in which Steve Hart's riding skills were on call involved him riding into town from the gang's bush hideout to find out what the police were up to. In disguise. The disguise was a marvelous full-length nineteenth century dress. Not sure what we did about the fake moustache - maybe Steve shaved it off for the day. But the scene obviously required Steve to ride side-saddle. I'd never done this before but as it turned out it wasn't so hard. You just had to have huge confidence in not only the horse but the girth strap. I had to guide the horse quickly down a rocky slope to a creek and up the other side. I let the horse have his head and find his own way through the rocks as I hung on, right leg hooked around the side-saddle and my body leaning backwards over the edge of the animal's quarters. Hoping, trusting the girth strap would hold...I don't think the scene made it into the final cut. They were heady times. The arrangement made by Miller had me working the four weekend shows of HAIR, two on Friday and two on Saturday; then on Sunday I’d be driven down to the Kelly set in Braidwood, on the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, for four days of filming. It seemed my acting career was picking up some serious momentum. Although I must confess to seriously offsiding the director and the producer one night when John Hopkins, a mate of mine who was working with the production crew, suggested we should check out the homestead where all the English production honchos lived, including Mick, and maybe have a smoke with the then not-so-old rocker. We located the redecorated stables where they’d put him up but the place was empty; lights on and it looked like he was around but he’d either gone for a stroll or he was hiding from a couple of noisy and uninvited locals. We dropped into the main house where the director, the producer and the rest were all finishing off their dinner. To their credit they didn’t straight away kick us out but rather invited us to sit down and have a glass of wine, and then maybe piss off. Which we did after having some fun and laughs not all at our own expense. Whatever favour I might have had with Tony Richardson seemed to evaporate after that. Maybe that’s when he started chipping me about the skipping thing. But there were always the weekend shows in Sydney to keep me from getting too concerned about the film and my part in it. The shows were tough, back to back high energy dancing and singing performances. I had to play Berger, one of leads, in the matinee shows to give the regular guy a break from the intense energy expenditure required, and although I enjoyed doing it, it was a nerve wracking business. Swinging across the stage on a rope, holding a microphone and singing all at the same time was tricky shit. Some times the performance was embarrassing, sometimes it was OK, but the power of the songs, the brilliance of the band and the mass of stuff going on would usually camouflage my efforts and I’m sure Keith was pleased to have the rest. Doing the much easier tribe parts there were some entertaining distractions from the drudgery of repetition. The show initially had attracted public attention for the prurient fascination amplified by the tabloids. There was a nude scene in the show. There were I believe some legal difficulties in the beginning until it was argued that nude photographs weren’t illegal so what’s the difference? Obviously moving about is the difference, with dangly bits moving in an independent and suggestive way. So the law decided it was all OK if nobody moved. To that end at the conclusion of Act One, whoever was on stage at the time, anything from five to fifteen people would be shrouded under a large parachute while we’d get naked. On cue the parachute would fly up to the roof and we’d all stand up, legs akimbo, arms outstretched and sing a bunch of stuff about flowers, beads and happiness....standing perfectly still. After a while Jim Fields, stud, lead black dude and hung like the proverbial, got bored with just standing there. His spot was downstage right, at the front of the stage; I was just behind him and slightly towards the wings so I could see past him to watch the bedazzled audience as Jim would gently swing his slim hips until his often slightly aroused pendulous pudendum would swing, hypnotic to the entranced front ten or twelve rows as they followed, some with opera glasses, the arc of its swing as though attending a miniature tennis match. Ah the little things that kept us amused. About half way through my HAIR contract the routine of eight shows a week began to sap my enthusiasm for the adventure. I decided I needed a motorbike for a bit of outside action– in spite of a fateful encounter with a brick wall on my first ride back in the Congo this exhilarating machine offered a ton of fun; perhaps the appeal lay in ancient memory, an atavistic urge, sitting astride a horse, moving beyond the horizon. The motorbike had long been a metaphor for freedom, along with the open road, so I picked up a second hand 250cc bike to test it. A month of so later, acclimatised to the noise and immediacy of this marvelous machine and holding a fully fledged license to ride I traded the trial machine in and bought another one. A new one this time with an engine three times the size of my learner machine. A mate of mine, an actor at the time enjoying national success not seeing around corners, had a shiny new bike, red metallic paint on the fuel tank, two stainless steel exhaust pipes angling up one side concocting the characteristic and probably now downloadable, Norton growl. The sound of a real motorbike. None of your whining Japanese high revvers here and except for the rocker covers, it was pure Brit genius. Try as I might I just couldn’t get the damn things to stop spewing oil all over the engine, my boot and trouser leg. Crap machining in the factory I was told. Nothing to be done except change the gaskets regularly. Motorcycle maintenance, very Zen. The oil spew had metaphorical significance; flaws in the construction phase need constant attention. Repetition naturalises the process until it’s finally unnoticed. The machine /person is then, to all intents and purposes unencumbered by dysfunction – but spending a good amount of energy on by then unconscious juggling to preserve operability. But the machine was a gem to ride. Under serious throttle, in the beginning, I had trouble just holding on to the handle bars. The day I bought the machine and boldly jumped on the kick start to get going, a novice’s technique saw my admittedly slight body bounce skywards rather than fire up the heavy compression spark. That was pretty embarrassing; the salesmen I think were all trying to look somewhere else. It took me another couple of goes before the big 750 fired up. A final brief humiliation on that first day came when I’d had to stop at some lights on a steep hill. I couldn’t keep the heavy machine and its shiny exhaust pipes upright and had to lie it down on the road. Plenty of fun for the other motorists waiting at the lights. What a wanker. The old demolition mansion in Edgecliffe we’d taken over became a production all in itself. Most of the show’s black US actors had moved in bringing with them their passion for parties. And drugs. One of the girls decided she liked the idea of a black kitchen. Black is beautiful; I understood the sentiment, but not in a kitchen. Kitchens in share houses are already under strain from lazy domestic practices, but when the place is filthy and black it was somewhere to avoid. I can remember going in there occasionally but for the most part I did my eating elsewhere. As a counterpoint to the pervading doom emanating from the kitchen and oozing its inexorable way through the rest of the house I painted my room white. Ceiling, walls, floor, the lot. White. I found a parachute in an army disposal store in Oxford Street to hang in there for a bit of softness and held the dark tide of chaos at bay as best I could. Others weren’t so self-protective and one young woman, an actor who’d done well for herself up till then in a television series had taken a fancy to the dick swinging Jim and followed him into a miasma of psychotropics. She died there in the house, swallowed by that rising tide. What a bloody waste. Jim, or Tomay as he became, sometime later apparently succumbed to the distorting influences of mind altering substances and fell to his death from a cliff in New Zealand when the show toured there after its Australian run. There were a few Maori in the caste too and one day they decided we’d do a big hangi in the back yard of the Edgecliffe house. The house was destined for demolition because the new eastern suburbs railway line was cutting through the area. So the fence around the property had to go too. Someone thought it’d make good fuel for fire. The big Maori boys dug a pit, threw in a few rocks and made the fire with the fence palings. So far so good. After a couple of hours of cooking the silver foil wrapped food was unearthed and opened to the starving and by then well pickled funsters. Maybe their taste buds were numb, but the first whiff I got of the food put me right off. There was some acrid, chemical stench coming off with the steam rising from the fabulous fish sitting on my lap. There was no way you’d put that in your mouth. We had to trash the lot. The fence palings had been saturated with creosote. When the walls of the doomed mansion eventually fell to the bulldozers I’d found another place for some communal living. A different and smaller crowd this time, perhaps more ordered, certainly more disciplined, and a definitely less tripped-out bunch. One woman lent some feminine moments to the place here and there, and for the most part we cared for the neat little double storey house and its surroundings in Paddington like tenants mindful of the bond. But the tone of its psychic space was about to hit the fan. We’d settled into a comfortable routine in the rented house; all of us with the exception of the one woman worked in the show and we all got on well enough; no financial strains combined with only a sixteen hour working week left plenty of time to contemplate the big issues. HAIR management had set up yoga classes for the cast and I’d started practicing daily - mostly. The idea that you could close your eyes and drift into some ethereal space somewhere beyond your head appealed to me immensely and along with maybe six or seven others we kept the teacher interested in the class he’d been commissioned to do on the stage at the Metro. The physical, stretching part of yoga was something of a challenge; I’d never had to sit on a floor for any extended time so sitting cross legged was initially a special kind of torture for my knees and back. But the idea you could apply attention and energy to a practice which could possibly connect you to another reality really did catch my imagination. This other reality had already been fringed after my introduction to the ubiquitous, entertaining and sometimes downright scary drug de jour, pot; unfortunately the drug was typically smoked. This was a practice I’d recently abandoned and found little pleasure in sucking hot smoke into my lungs. So a system of stimulating the brain and its deeper functions which didn’t involve smoking was very appealing. One day someone came into the house and said they’d scored some of the finest LSD on the market. I had no idea what the drug was beyond the simple fact that it was impregnated into a very small piece of ordinary looking blotting paper and you didn’t have to smoke it. There seemed to be a general vibe that it was an extraordinary experience and likely to birth the zeit geist right there in your living room, but the actual volume of active ingredient belied its intensity and I had no inkling of the seismic eruptions and tectonic plate shifting this innocuous transport could deliver. We set the house up for an all-nighter after the show on Saturday night. Stocked the place with requisite toys and knick knacks of a fascinating kind, vacuumed the carpet (nobody wanted to SEE any dust mites) and gathered together for the ritual ingestion. The thickness of the blood sinks quickly into your eyeballs and around the time your tongue starts to feel like it’s probably got some other function than simply filling up a space in your mouth things start to go rewired or is that weird? The minute becomes gigantish and the universal seems to fit quite comfortably in your pocket. Now you’re trippingman, a genus of late twentieth century homo sapiens in transformation. The night advanced at an alarming speed while simultaneously being completely stripped of time and space. Upstairs one of the boys must have encountered a fragment of tormented core because the still dark early hour of Sunday morning was rent with an unaccountably terrified scream. I later read about this scream. Called ‘primal’ it was reputed to release the screamer from psychic conditions buried for generations. How the moment transformed the life of the bloke upstairs I don’t know- we never discussed his intimate encounter with his demons. Maybe the experience facilitated his future success as an actor, maybe not. The night unfolded and folded in again on itself breathing towards a resolution somewhere around dawn, or so I imagined; before the sun could come up though an outsider insinuated his way into the house like a cold sharp blade. He seemed intent on getting me to leave the house. Then he wanted me on the back of his motorbike. My fellow trippers were concerned and clustered around trying to prevent me from being taken away by this apparently manic individual. We all knew him, he was also in the cast, played the Tourist Lady, nice enough guy, smart too, probably the only caste member who’d been to university. But that night something was in him and he’d decided I had to get away from the Paddington tripsters. Strange story really because even though I’d got on well with him over the course of the show there was never any suggestion we were especially good mates so it was mystifying as to why he would come around to the house apparently just to rescue me. My housemates eventually prevailed and he rode off in a fury as we watched from the footpath. The bike screamed down the road towards Oxford Street till he spun a U turn and dropped it on the road causing the headlight to slice crazily through the dark morning light. He picked it up and tore back passed us, his eyes lit by some far away dark and private fire. Later that morning, the sun still not up, inside the house one of the guys has fallen into some kind of trance. He sits next to me holding my hand and saying he loves me. He looks searchingly into my eyes and speaks as a poet might. The experience is more than a little discomfiting as I see he is possessed of an inner sense which I don’t share. He was a truly beautiful man, a Rudolph Nureyev-like dancer, about six feet four with long flowing blond hair, he played the lead in the show. Claude was the god-like centre of the plot; still and focused he embodied the dissident and implacable resistance to the spirit of war. As we sat there deeply influenced by the chemistry coursing through our brains and scrambling our senses I wondered at the nature of Wayne’s revelation and how it came to be that he loved me so. I had no answer to this quandary. Later, much later, this beautiful but troubled soul came out, confessing his natural sexuality which tragically, proved fatal – not the confession but the practice. But I finally had some clue as to what might have been in his mind that Sunday morning. We’d walked out into the dawn towards Oxford Street, marveling at the genius at work in the road metal. Exquisite were the stones which made up the surface of the road. A kind of blue grey with fine black striations, possibly from the bitumen layer beneath them. As we neared the main road a car flashed by in the gap between the buildings on either side of the small street we stood in. The car seemed to be pulsing with a dim yellow, foetid light and the people inside coloured with this sleazy light. As the car disappeared we recognised the people in it. They were back stage guys from the Metro, techies. But there was something unsavoury about them; Wayne and I looked at each other and wordlessly hoped they hadn’t seen us. No such luck. A few moments later, like a scene from a black comedy this frothing effluvium rappeared from the direction it had vanished screeching a hard left into our little street and bore directly down on us standing stunned in the middle of the now forgotten road. They poured out of the car and surrounded us with distortion and nonsense before getting back in the car and roaring away…We both looked at each. Wha…? On another occasion, the second of a total of five encounters with the psychmortar solvent lysergic acid diethylamide, my girl and I wandered into the Botanical Gardens, a popular park on Sydney’s waterfront, and on Sunday mornings crowded with families of every cultural persuasion under the sun, or so it seemed as I gasped and marveled at the mind-boggling hallucinations filling my brain and overflowing to saturate everywhere else. The entire city appeared to animate into a conscious entity, breathing, watching - waiting. There seemed to be something oppressive about its predicament. Its breath was coming in short uneven bursts, some blockage apparently stifling it. I concluded definitely and unambiguously the difficulty lay in a reflexed instinct to concealment and secrecy. The ground upon which I stood itself seemed to struggle with the effort to breath and cast off its burden. Julie had disappeared as I confronted the rising volume of urgency surrounding me in the flower beds. Suddenly it became clear that all I had to do, all any of us had to do to break the spell and emerge into an open and unencumbered world was to stop hiding stuff all the time…a spontaneous solution presented itself and I started taking off my clothes. Down to my underpants it occurred to me Julie should also join in this revealed strategy so I moved off, osmotic, in the warm sun to look for her. The good picnickers all became frozen moments of distress as they couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing pass before their eyes, children stopped in mid leap, ice creams dropped to the ground but didn’t quite get there; even the birds stopped singing. In this tunnel-like world I found my friend. She was clearly in some adventure of her own and seemed uninterested in my solution to the pressing problem of the dying city. For reasons that were not even remotely considered I decided an executive decision was in order and reached across space to the shoulder of her beautiful light cotton frock and gave it an almighty rip half pulling her dress off. This briefly exposed her breast till she screamed and clasped the dress quickly to hide her nakedness – apparently still comfortable with concealment. She ran away into the Garden. At that moment I realised I’d lost my marbles, and that I was quite mad. So deeply immersed was I in this hallucination I’d forgotten having ingested LSD and I wandered crazy as a bonafide lunatic in the colourful gardens until a large person in a uniform grabbed me and pushed me into the back of a van. Julie was already in there and as I arrived she recoiled into the corner, but the tense moment must have passed from my eyes because she soon relaxed as I played around in the back of what I thought was the ambulance come from the psych hospital to help. The van motored into the city and as we drove along, through the slats I watched the entire cityscape crumble into a heap. The realisation that I was going to have to rebuild it brick by brick was weighing heavily on my mind as we stopped outside the police station in Philip Street. Peering through the slats I could see this same big fellow who’d picked me up in the park emerge and approach the door of the van to let us out. Some devilry suddenly stirred in me and as the elderly crown sergeant began to pull open the door I leaped at it, grabbing and shaking the bars and shouting loudly, as a chimpanzee might, partly serious, instinctive, and partly in celebration of an exuberant spirit, the heavy prospect of rebuilding the city deferred. The old bloke leaped back against a car, parked about six feet away crashing all over the bonnet, and with fear and loathing in his eyes went back inside. We seemed to sit there for hours before they eventually tried again. This time I went meekly into interrogation. The police were aggressive and did not believe my story. By this time I’d remembered dropping some acid but I was still convinced I was mad and these people were doctors who could help me. They insisted I must have had something more illegal, nastier, more powerful than LSD. It was 1969 so sergeant Plod’s experience of psychotropics must have been negligible. Then one of detectives started threatening me for giving the drug to Julie and that if he ever saw me on the street he’d punch out my lights. I wondered which lights they might have been. There followed another totally inexplicable response when they asked me where I got the acid. I told them the name of a guy I hardly knew who was a professional photographer and who lived in a caravan. They went around and bailed him up until it was clear I’d given them a bum steer. Years later I met this same fellow and was able to apologise for the shock and inconvenience I’d unwittingly served on him. Enough years had passed, he was gracious and forgiving, and the event had slipped into ‘tales apocryphal’ storage. Back in the cell after the interrogation was complete, I’d refused to sign the statement they’d contrived on my behalf, not out of any especially perverse obstructionism but simply because I was still so warped with the acid that a signature implied admission of insanity, a conclusion I was keen to avoid. So they sent me to the holding cell for the next few hours while my mates in the Paddington house put together some cash to bail me out. The cell had a couple of old buggers sleeping off some public drunkenness. One remained sleeping or inert on his ‘bed’, a lightweight, low slung and easily moved wooden platform slightly raised at one end presumably to stop the unconscious from suffocating in their own vomit. The other old gumbanger was still pretty juiced up and took a shine to me, trying to grab and kiss me until I shoved him away into a crumpling heap in the corner. There was a toilet in the cell; just the porcelain, no seat and separating this piece of Duchampery from the cell stood a shoulder high half wall. This wall beckoned, I jumped up and began balancing along the top, it was maybe five feet long, all the while singing with some gusto into the acoustically bright world of the nineteenth century sandstone lockup. The little window in the steel door scraped open to reveal a perplexed eye and a muffled voice telling me singing was not allowed in the lockup. This proved fabulously amusing and served only to encourage more exuberance. When the bail money arrived I’m sure they were glad to see the back of me. We only had enough bail money for one so Julie got to spend the whole night in the lockup while I slept in my own bed mildly disturbed by my lack of gallantry, justified at the time by the need for me to organise our solicitors to handle the legals. There was no case for the prosecution. They had no evidence and my statement remained unsigned…My father arrived in Sydney around then for a Christmas holiday from Japan where he was flying DC8’s for Japan Airlines. The detail of his son’s descent into subversive ideas, antisocial behaviours and a Sydney lock-up combined with my translation of those experiences convinced him I probably had gone mad. He offered to fund the therapy I so evidently needed. It seemed to me he was simply afraid and unable to locate any resources in himself to deal with this strange boy; in a way his response reminded me of the reaction of totalitarian regimes to those whose ideas challenge or threaten – offenders are deemed psychologically in need of reeducation. Although I could sense I was way out on a limb, when the acid wore off there was never any suggestion of psychosis, perhaps a slight rearrangement of the deck chairs, certainly an awareness that the reality ship sailed upon seas vast and powerful and that those seas could not even see the ship, let alone the passenger, dot-like on deck, savouring the rolling swell and paradoxically, somehow, knowing the mighty sea was at the very core of my being. After my eighteen month contract to HAIR expired I was ready for a holiday myself. I decided to go to India and seek out the path of the Buddha as practiced by Tibetans. I’d read a book by a German who’d gone over to the high side Himalayas and was known as Lama Anagarika Govinda. His book, Introduction to Tibetan Mysticism, had captured my deepening sense of a spiritual path. On the back of the book was a small headshot of the scholar and the caption announced that he lived in the Kumaon Hills near Almora. This turned out to be the house occupied originally by that other European Tibetan specialist Evans-Wentz, author and translator of a half dozen heavily notated and studious books from Tibetan sacred literature. This series of works introduced me to some of the cultural heroes of Tibet including Milarepa, whose story, as rendered by Evans-Wentz, resonated profoundly in my nascent spirit dreaming. Now nearly forty years later I still take comfort from the Milarepa story. In his youth, so the story went, he’d done his mother’s bidding and exercised powers of magic to satisfy her need for revenge – the usual thing associated with malevolent manipulation of power: wind and storms invoked to crush and kill her enemies. He’d turned away from this folly but suffered considerable daily physical pain for his transgressions – attributed to the law of karma. An ambitious follower, jealous of Milarepa’s prestige and status challenges him for his place whereupon Milarepa warns him of the pain. The pretender scoffs at this so to demonstrate the nature of the pain Milarepa projects it into the wooden doorway making the door screech then buckle and crack… the pain I now live with is not as dramatic as to buckle solid wood (and probably neither was his), but the story of Milarepa’s equanimity has been an inspiration particularly since November 10, 1972.
No Man’s Land
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