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The Memory Box is my memoirs, currently being serialised on Facebook in the Group of the same name, where readers are free to share their thoughts, memories and photos.


This resource will allow those not using Facebook to read the text and will be updated periodically. 

  • Writer's pictureJoolz Denby

Digression: Eyeball

Updated: Nov 25, 2018

Digression: so thinking about the Incident Of The Golden Eagle brought back another thing that happened at a party. Parties were the absolute thing in my youth, house parties that is, not formal events attended by your Nana in something from Berketex and smelling of Lentheric's Tweed and Max Factor face powder, and in my case by my mother smelling of Joy by Jean Patou and wearing a dress that cost more than the whole shebang. House parties, held in someone's parent's house, or in the shared houses of somewhat older hippies on the scene who wore the ubiquitous unisex Loon pants - thin cotton bell bottom trousers that touched the floor with no waistband, worn eye-wateringly skin tight - scoop neck shirttail t-shirts in dusty rose, faded blue or purple,  sometimes printed with stars, baseball boots and who smelt very strongly of patchouli. The smell of graveyard dirt and sex as I once heard it described. A perfume so powerful it could still be smelt when Tutankamun's tomb was first opened.

These house parties attracted all sorts of people: the wannabe cool chicks like me and my girlfriends, the lost, the broken, the slightly mad and the entierly mad, the  drug princes and their wide eyed courtesans, beautiful boys like Fred, beautiful girls like Annie Who Sews and beautiful transexuals like Habbershaw. We all went to the parties.

However. Like many another girl before me who had been brought up to care for the needs of others, in my case my mother's, I always bloody ended up in the kitchen with the freaks whilst my friend Bella danced in her black cobweb maxi on her teetering platforms that still only brought her up to his shoulder, with Fred and batted her false eyelashes fit to whip up a hurricane.

My first thought naturally on these occasions was where's the kettle, and I've brewed up in millionaires' marble kitchens and the hovels of the indigent hippie poor equally. I find a nice cup of strong black tea really helped me get someone down off acid or got me through a stoner's endless tale of their broken heart. So on this occasion, as Bella and the other girls were cutting a rug in the front room of a parental house, I was boiling water in the rather nice rustic pine kitchen with the big pine kitchen table littered with drug paraphernalia and the human detrius of the what was proving to be a very successful party.

I had companionship in the form of Pin, a very large, bearded young hippie guy a little older than me, who had the broad placid countenance of the Buddha and a very pleasant disposition. He was also notable for being the guy who accidentally set fire to himself when having squeezed into the back seat of a packed car taking a bunch of us to Leeds to the hip nighterie Le Phonographique, he slammed the car door on himself and his army great coat pocket containing a box of cheap matches, which slowly smouldered until we realised he was actually alight. He continued to wear the great coat with the burnt pocket and may still for all I know.

Pin and I were chatting about something or other as I made tea for us, he was stoned obviously but still good company. Then I noticed another guy seated at the other end of the table getting more and more agitated. He was muttering to himself and definitely tripping. I nudged Pin and he nodded.

I have to see everything, I have to see everything, I have to, repeated the tripper more loudly. Don't you get it, don't you? I have to see - I can't see it all - I have to see it all. Hey fella, I said in my calm-a-tripper voice. It's OK. You're with friends man. Everything's cool. Yeah, said Pin, don't freak dude it's all good.

The tripper looked up. He was a older than I'd first thought, with the bony, unshaven, unkempt looks of an habitual acid head. His hair was very long, dark and ratty and he wore an old blue kurta and dirty mirror-work waistcoat. His hands, long, blue veined and filthy, worked together convulsively. He's pretty gone, said Pin. Yeah, I said, downer.

The tripper buried his face in his hands and started rocking and moaning. I could only see the top of his greasy dandruffed head as he rived at himself. I was about to ask if he needed something and try and find some orange juice, when his head came up with a triumphant cry.

He was sitting with his eyeball, still held into the socket by whatever it is that holds your eyeballs into your skull, on a spoon just under his socket. He'd pulled it out.  I can see it all now, he shouted. Don't fucking shout, I shouted reflexively. Don't fuckin move, don't fuckin move! The tripper giggled happily, the glutinous glob of his eye balanced on the spoon. Christ Pin - Pin - go hold his fuckin arm, hold him steady, don't let go.

Pin, a sick, grey look on his face, went round and gently wrapped the happy tripper in his big arms, steadying the spoon. Others had come in when they heard shouting and I told them to phone 999 and then get their drugs and split. I heard the phone and the call, the party goer's wavery shocked voice. I saw Pin in his khaki great coat with the burned pocket and his face very white with red patches on his cheeks. I saw the tripper and the spoon with his eye on it. I saw it all clear and sharp and I felt nothing but a hard, cold calm.

I heard the front door open and people running out. I kept my gaze on Pin who didn't move an inch. Then in what seemed a few seconds but must have been much longer, I heard the ambulance pull up and then a man's voice ask where the emergency was. In here, in the kitchen, I said. Be careful, I said, just be careful.

The ambulance guy came in briskly, obviously a bit annoyed at being called to a party and ordered about by a girl. He blustered in then stopped dead, his crew mate bumping into him. Christ, he said. Christ, what - how long has he been like this? The tripper giggled. I can see everything now man, he trilled. Not long I said. We called straight away. He's on drugs, I added. I can see that, said the ambulance man.

Slowly and carefully they relieved Pin of his duty and he sat down heavily in one of the kitchen chairs. He was shaking. Ignoring us - we were just bloody hippie kids after all - the ambulance crew loaded the tripper onto a chair and wrapped him tightly so he could stay seated with his spoon. They took him away and I never heard what happened to him. Some weeks afterwards I asked a few people if anyone knew who Spoon Guy was. No one seemed to know him or whose friend he was. He was just another Kathmandu casualty.

As the ambulance left, the boy who's parents house it was came downstairs from where he'd been hiding with his girlfriend. Get the fuck out of my house, he screamed. You're a fuckin bitch everyone knows you're a fuckin bitch, chuntered the girl, you ruined our party, I hate you.

I pulled Pin to his feet. Come on, let's go, I said, before the coppers come. I didn't know if they would, but I wanted to put the wind up the nice, middle class young couple playing at being on the scene, in his parent's nice, middle class home.

We walked out to the soundtrack of the boy shouting about not the police, oh god not the police and went to an after hours drinking hole we all knew. I drank and drank and stayed stone cold sober. Pin drifted off and I got the first bus home. I saw Pin around a couple of times after that but we never mentioned what had happened. I was about 17. Pin must have been around 19 or 20.

I wonder still what the tripper saw.

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