The first issue of Militant and the first serious paper I read and identified with.
The Last issue of Militant. By this time I was in a more cynical place
It was in Mabel Fletcher Technical College I first met Ken Pimlett, severe of face and hair cut in a neat but spiky brush. He in turn introduced me to the Young Socialists, and in particular Garston Y.S., which met in the offices of the Boilermakers Union. I owe them a debt, which I acknowledge to this day, but more about that later.
Two things stand out: Ken Pimlett’s bedroom, which was covered from ceiling to wall with photos, clippings and posters. I thought it the coolest thing. Our bedroom was pale yellow emulsion with a single crucifix as its main decorative feature. The other was the spartan meeting room of the Boilermakers union in which it was easy to imagine ourselves as Russian revolutionaries.
Music and revolution seemed to go hand in hand, and it was at Kens I was first introduced to Rhythm and blues - John Mayall, Chickenshack with Christine Perfect. Sometimes we played along on air-guitar; sometimes I got criticized for my appalling rhythm on an empty four-pint beer tin. And once we all sat round and listened to a Paul Butterfield Blues Band album - Ken’s finger rising gravely when the bassist fluffed the note we were listening out for.
We met in Garston once a week and discussed Marxism. Sometimes we had speakers, one in particular, a Methodist minister who had been cynically invited to bond us in our vehement mockery of God. Within thirty minutes a smiling man had been reduced to banging his fist on the table, telling us we were all damned.
We were harmless and of good intent, but possessed of certainty.
I wasn’t. Not then. But that was about to be taken in hand
We were always short of speakers, most of the meetings based on one of us taking the floor and talking about an aspect of Marxism. That was easy for the likes of Geoff Fimister and Dave Martin, both doing their A levels and enroute to University, easy too, for Dave Galashan who lived and breathed Marxism, along with Clint Eastwood movies and small black cheroots. But what could I talk about. I didn’t know diddly squat - apart from making sausage rolls.
Talk about anything, they said.
My talk was on the lost continent of Mu. It was the first time I’d ever stood up and talked in public. Within ten minutes I had a roomful of Marxists in hysterics.
The talk began promisingly as I assembled the geological evidence (there was none) and the concurrence of myths that suggested the existence of a sunken continent in the Pacific. Mu, or Lemuria both are essentially the same, I asserted confidently to rows of disbelieving heads. They just stared.
The rot set in when I began talking about the Third Root Race
“How many Root Races were there then? “Somebody asked.
“Seven” I said. A serious question, a serious answer. “There were seven root races.”
I went on to describe the Third Root Race - seven-foot tall, egg-laying bipeds. I heard the first titter. The tittering spread as I went on to describe in detail a previously unknown race of bandy-legged reptilians who hopped rather than walked,and of how the Lemurians' mindless cross-breeding with mammals had angered the gods.
The laughter was becoming hysterical and I realized much of it was coming from me.
But still I continued, describing with passion Lemuria’s cataclysmic demise. Bodies doubled over. John Ward nearly fell off from his chair. This was deviating slightly from an analysis of Das Kapitol.
I was wheezing, infected by ribaldry, choking out the words in between giggles. What was I doing here? What was I saying? Where was the door?
But they had to know. They had to know that the survivors of Lemuria now lived in a network of tunnels beneath Mount Shasta in Northern California . . .white robed figures gliding over scree.
There were few questions. Somebody asked me about sources and I made the mistake of telling them about Madame Blavatsky and of how Tibetan wise men had revealed to her The Book of Dyzan, a pre Atlantean book. Confidence returning I told them of Alice Bailey with her stanzas of Dyzan, dictated to her telepathically by a Tibetan mage called Diwal Kul.
They never asked me back for a follow-on lecture on Atlantis. I don’t recollect them asking me to speak again.
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky has a lot to answer for