Showing posts from 2023

Wyrd Times by Nigel Pennick

Nigel Pennick has written countless books, but only this one full memoir. The edition is the second in a series by Arcana Europa - ‘Wild Lives’. The first was Far Out In America by Wolf-Dieter Storl, which I review here.   The front cover of Wyrd Times is a montage which sums up a lot of the interior - Mr Pennick stands as a giant in a landscape of standing stones, a labyrinth and Hiberno-Saxon knotwork.  This is a life-and-times book, evoking that other country, the past. I remember much of what Mr P writes about as post-war London, being only a few years younger than him. This fascinating part of the book also introduces his eye for architecture and design, especially lettering. When we get into the 1970s much of the text is a history of his ‘underground’ publishing days, putting out many magazines of local (Cambridge) anarchist agitprop as well as an emerging theme of earth mysteries and local tradition. He

In Search of Smiles, by Andy Roberts

Hardback ISBN: 9781916266773 Paperback ISBN: 9781916266780 *OUT 10.06.2023* This is Andy Roberts’s fourth book of British psychedelic history and I think it’s his best. It’s a history of one Alston Hughes, more generally known as Smiles, the photogenic chap on the cover with his corvid friend. Smiles was a major distributor of the (excellent) LSD made by Richard Kemp and others of the ‘Microdot Gang’ who were busted in the 1977-8 police extravaganza known as Operation Julie.  The early chapters outline Smiles’s early life, giving a biography that adds depth to the stories we read of his later exploits. However, the book is carefully framed as an important bit of British psychedelic history, an area in which ‘Establishment’ narratives have dominated the discourse for too long. Andy writes about the directions his research for his earlier books on psychedelic history took him: ‘… one event repeatedly drew my attention: Operation Julie. This was the British government’s police-led init