Deep in a wood in a valley in the Marches of Wales, by an abandoned railway line, there lives a 75 year old man called Bob Rowberry. His home is an ancient school bus whose engine has died and whose wheels have fallen off.
A Hero For High Times is the story of how he ended up in this broken down bus, on this abandoned line, in this forgotten part of the world. It tells of how, along the way, Procul Harum were named after his cat, how he sold Owsley acid to RD Laing, of how he annoyed Saddam Hussein and the IRA, and how he was freed from jail in Mexico by a popular uprising of the peasantry who had come to know him as ‘El Maestro’
It’s also the story of his times, and the ideas that shaped him. It’s a story of why you know your birth sign, why you have friends called Willow, why Yoko Ono affected how we eat much more than Linda McCartney ever did, why sex and drugs and rock and roll once mattered more than money, why dance music stopped the New Age Travellers from travelling, and why you need to think twice before taking the brown acid.
It’s the story of the hippies for those who weren’t there – for Younger Readers who’ve never heard of the Aldermaston marches, Oz, Illuminatus, The Angry Brigade, The Furry Freak Brothers, The Divine Light Mission, the Little Red Schoolbook, The Pink Fairies, Throbbing Gristle, Sniffing Glue, Operation Julie, Crass, John Seymour, John Michell, Greenham Common, The Battle of the Beanfield or Swampy, but who want to understand their grand-parents’ stories of turning on, tuning in and not quite dropping out before they are gone forever. It’s for Younger Readers who want to know how to build a bender, make poppy tea, and throw the I-Ching.
And it’s a story of friendship between two men, one who did things, and one who thought about things, between theory and practice, between a hippy and a punk, between two gentlemen, no longer in the first flush of youth, who still believe in love.
A Hero For High Times is my new book, to be published by Jonathan Cape on January 4th, 2018.