The Afternoon I Met The Spirit of Brian Jones: A Happy Ghost Story Part One
I'm not going to tell you where it is. It's one of the most beautiful , least traveled parts of ancient English forest and I would like to see it stay that way. I had to search for days to get directions and a travel plan there so if I can do it you can too. My mom asked me before I left the States on my first journey to the UK in 1997 not to visit Cotchford Farm. That if I was going on even the slightest negative , scary rock dead rock star hunt that it would be disrespectful. Plus I had been having dreams of tall figures in dark cloaks coming out of the woods ala a bad Led Zepplin video . Mainly she was worried about me in a foreign country doing wacky things. "But mama thats where the fun is..." quoth the Boss.
I do not believe in ghosts and I really am a bit of an agnostic. My parents embraced many Eastern religions and at the same time gave me freedom of thought so I shirked the afterlife growing up despite knowing about the Tibetian Bardot and numerolgy etc etc. Don't get me wrong my mum's practicing of Zen Buddhism for nearly forty years is admirable, I just think many kids like to rebel.
And rebel I did. . The Bank Holiday weekend on the South Coast had seen me befriend Dan Hardie, a Gay skinhead, who took me to all the fun boy haunts in Brighton, Kent and Hove. We strolled at night under the promenade in near darkness when suddenly the sounds of Chuck Berry's 'No Particular Place To Go' was heard from a small cafe/dance spot where Teds and their gals danced into the late hours. The weekend was magical. Dan did not want me to leave for what sounded to him like a dodgy adventure but as I was already falling in love with him it was time to depart.
The veil of shadow and overcast weather descended once I arrived in Tunbridge Wells , the city nearest to where Brian Jones' estate lay.People were distant, I was given a nice room in a basement of a BnB with a door that did not lock quite right. With a rapist on the prowl in the nearby walk according to the daily papers I did not sleep well. HELLO magazines with updates on kids and folks connected ironically to The Stones, kept me company. By the next evening I was esconced in a B/B on the edge of the forest near Cotchford farm. The BnB was run by a married duo who had seen all four daughters become riding champions. Paddocks were everywhere and so were horses. Why was I here he asked "To see Pooh Stix Bridge and The Hundred Acre Wood and the house at Pooh Corner" I replied
I was told the latter was a 'private estate' and that 'the owner will probably shoot you if you trespass.' He said cheerfully.
I recalled this last bit months later. Nothing could stop me.
Why was it so important to me to see where Brian Jones died? The Rolling Stones had been the band of my puberty/early teenage years. The Beatles had been earlier and after The Stones would come the Who who remain the most important and influential artists in my life. I loved them all simultaneously from about age 9 or so. But because The Stones affected my in the most dramatic way at the most morphing time, I made a pact with myself to never forget that crazy, sexually free/Robert Johnsonsey deal with the devil vibe long after I had left them for The Who and the outer reaches of rock. I still have them in my blood as a performer very deeply, I just feel more effectual and commanding when I sing The Who's music. To sing the Stones songs I prefer(Some Girls, Let it Loose) is to get really intimate with an audience. I can still get sensual doing the Who but I have that undefinable facet they alone have as well as the deep voodoo behind me. And sadly my oldest brother, who lead a life similar to Brian Jones, had been murdered nearly ten years prior in equally murky circumstances. His 'friends' had claimed 'drugs.' But an autopsy and subsequent rumors would reveal otherwise. It remains unresloved to this day. So perhaps through Brian Jones I was tieing up loose ends with my late brother.
So I was paying my respects to the many. I knew how important Brian Jones had been in that trail blazing legacy and that he was truly the first modern media rock star. He had retired to a house that also resonated deeply in my heart 'The House at Pooh Corner' a distant second to Potter's Lake District (the world's most beautiful place) but still an important locale in the history of children's literature. As I made my way through the lush clearings and emerald meadows I hoped to feel the good spiritual prescence as opposed to the creepy tabloid rumors of murderous workers and apathetic glamorous deserters.
My lush forest path lead to one beautiful grove or home after the other. It not only looked EXACTLY like Shepherd's illustrations but it also looked like the Disney animation as well. I found the legendary Pooh stix bridge eventually. Rebulit with a historical marker and there I stayed for a time. The wind was quiet and then I started up the road after the bridge. The homes were larger now but still no House of Pooh Jones.
In the land of Pooh I am Tigger. It is a done deal , determined in one of those previous lifes I don't really believe in. Tigger just bushwacks on his own and asks questions later. He is so lovable/loving and so demonstative with that love. I started to feel really happy and the sun was back out as it had been since I arrived in England.
'Was this place just another home " I thought as I strolled closer.
I came upon a path by what looked like the front of some kind of large property and made my way into the bluebells. Like the lampost in Narnia I saw what looked like the first marker of my journey; large brick couch. A bit mossy but inviting . What greeted me next was a pile of rusted old wheel barrows. Could those 'killer workmen' have used these? I thought
Then almost at once there it was on my right-the swimming pool- creepy and crusty looking. 'Yuck!' I thought to myself. If i were this home's owner I'd cover it up with bricks or fill it in with dirt and make a garden out of it. So much starkness emanated from the water..it just looked wrong. But the I crept the more I realized there was a spirit nearby. Furthur up the path, standing at the crossroads. I quietly crept back to the trail and made my way deeper onto the estate. I could not turn back now or to rephrase that , the negativity would not be turning me back. i felt that a spirit wanted me to keep exploring and that the spirit did not want me to care about or spend time around the scary swimming pool.
I came to a large clearing a few minutes later and it was then that I saw the ones in my dreams 'those cloaked in black.'
To be continued