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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

Tales From The Cat's Whiskers: Have A Banana

By Charles Christian.

So last month I recalled my teenage dabbling with Rock ‘n’ Roll but what about the other two parts of the Holy Trinity: Sex and Drugs?

It was Paul Kantner, one of the original members of Jefferson Airplane, who is credited with coining the comment that if you can remember the 1960s, you weren’t really there. Which was fine if you were living somewhere trendy where the action was but I grew up in a sleepy little town called Scarborough on the Yorkshire Coast where they are still waiting for the Swinging Sixties to arrive.

For example, most of us still lived at home with our Mums and Dads, which distinctly cramped your style. Those few times I ever managed to smuggle a girl up into my bedroom, I could guarantee before any serious one-on-one action began, there’d be a knock on the bedroom and my mother would call out “I’ve brought you and your Little Friend some slices of cake and a nice cup of tea.”

There was always an edge to my mother’s voice when she said the words “Little Friend” and the cake always seemed to be Battenberg. It was as if my mother thought the way to prevent any gold-digging convent girls from getting their talons into her precious son was to fight them off with cake and marzipan icing.

Of course if you had a car, then you did have a potential mobile passion-wagon. Except this was England in the 1960s and in those days we all drove the original Minis, which were a lot smaller than the current BMW Minis. I went one stage further, I had an Italian Fiat 500. It was the smallest car on the road and rumour had it the only way you could have sex in a Fiat 500 was to roll back the sun-roof and do it standing up on the front seats. Not exactly practical when you lived on the bleak North Sea coast of England, where a howling gale blew off the ocean for nine months of the year and the rest of the time it rained.

It was the same story with drugs. We knew the theory: get drugs, get high. But we failed on the practical. We didn’t know any dealers who would sell us drugs. And we didn’t know how to grow or make our own drugs. This was in the days before the internet so you couldn’t just Google the subject.

However a friend of a friend of a friend told us he knew for a fact – so it must have been true – that banana skins contained hallucinogenic substances but he wasn’t certain of the details of which bits you used or how you extracted the drug. Fortunately, we had another friend of a friend who worked in a fruit wholesalers and he could get us large supplies of free, past-their-sell-by-date bananas. So we experimented.

We tried rolling up the banana skins like a cigar and smoking them. Useless. We tried rolling up the banana skins like a cigar, baking them in an oven and then smoking them. Equally useless, we couldn’t even light them. We tried scraping the pith off the inside of the skins, drying it out and then rolling it into joints and smoking it. Also useless. We even tried, with the aid of some equipment liberated from our school science labs, boiling up the skins and inhaling the vapour was given off, like a hookah or hubble-bubble. Once more, all to no effect. If only we could have found a local drugs dealer and saved ourselves all this trouble.

At about this same time, there was a hippy living in our town called Wavey Davey. We knew he was a hippy because, along with littering his conversation with plenty of “Hey mans”, “Peace and loves” and “Out-a-sights”, he also wore a full length Moroccan-style kaftan, so he totally blended in.

Wavey Davey had two distinguishing features. The first was his artificial leg. He liked to suggest he’d lost his leg in mysterious and dramatic circumstances although we all suspected the truth was far more mundane, such as a work accident or falling off a bicycle. He tried to hide the leg beneath the flowing folds of his kaftan. Quite why I don’t know, because the kaftan already ensured he stood out from the crowd – and the limp was a bit of a giveaway as well.

His second distinguishing feature was the tattoo he had around his throat. It took the form of a series of dots, beneath which were inked the words ‘Cut along the dotted line’. How he and his friends must have laughed when he first had that tattoo inked.

Unfortunately for Wavey Davey, one of his associates subsequently did follow these instructions – to the letter.

When police found his dead body, his false leg was missing. Turne out Wavey Davey actually earned his living as a dealer and kept a stash of drugs in the hollow cavity within his artificial limb. It shows just how naive were we: we must have seen him nearly every day but didn’t have a clue. Cue Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers singing the chorus of Into The Great Wide Open – “a rebel without a clue”

Charles Christian is a barrister and Reuters correspondent turned writer, podcaster, radio show host and award-winning tech journalist. The Urban Fantasist website is home to his tales of folklore, the occult, geek stuff, rock music and pop culture – as well as anything else that intrigues him. His best known book is Writing Genre Fiction - Creating Imaginary Worlds: The 12 Rules. He also writes and presents the weekly Weird Tales Radio Show  and the Americana Music Radio Show. And, a UK national newspaper really did commission him to go on a werewolf hunt!


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