I got this next pic at the same spot I took the previous pic, and as you can see, it's of some kids on some old-style fairground swings. I noticed a bloke with a professional-looking camera taking pics (compared to him, I guess I'm a point-and-press merchant!). He preferred to snap away in black-and-white ("the negatives don't fade as quickly") and we discussed the merits and debits of digital cameras alongside old fashioned reel ones. It was just then that I saw a bloke I knew of, but never really spoke to who lived in an old church down Kentish Town way that I'd go to quite regularly some years ago. Back in the day, he ran things in his own way and had numerous people running around, doing his errands (as you do, when you're an aspiring "don"). But looking at him now, eyes dulled, face slightly bloated and puffy ("Too much cocaine and other things," I was told by someone later),along with fingernails that were too long and grubby with it, I couldn't help but remember the closing line said by some actress from an old gangster film ('The Roaring Twenties', I think) with James Cagney and Humprey Bogart I saw years ago that went, "He used to be a big shot." Just seeing him sitting there behind me, I saw all too clearly the need to know your limits.


This next was taken in an area of the park with a cluster of tents. As you can see, there's plenty of people bustling about and enjoying the sunshine, late in the evening as it was. I had a chat with a bloke I got to know from the old Rainbow Centre just after it'd closed down called Simon, who lived down the road from my old house. He'd dyed his hair (and his beard!) a pale-ish green. He was there with some friends and a flatmate of his from Somerset who had his girlfriend there, and had decided to enjoy the day out, taking a break from setting up his very own webpage (amongst other things). We talked about various things (malfunctioning laptops and cheap internet access were two things that sprung to mind).


While Simon walked around, I noticed a tattooed and single-dreadlocked bloke nearby doing a spot of juggling. Not wanting to break his concentration, I took a quick snap which came out not too badly.


Walking into the 'Cannabis Action' tent with Simon (he wanted to know if hemp fibre grew naturally, or was it processed), I heard some infectious ska playing in another tent nearby, I went to take a peek and caught the closing moment of what was a v. energetic performance, it seemed. No-one was doing the classic 'ska stomp' dance they sometimes show in t.v. documentaries on black British history. Even more disappointing, I didn't see a single soul do the 'horsey-horsey' or the 'Lester Piggot' (a dance invented by my brother Joseph's godfather, Mr. James Thames - pronounced "femmes", in case you're confused - that he'd do whenever my dad played his old ska and rocksteady singles on our radiogram when I was little). Anyway, enough of my reminiscing, here's the pic of the crowd I got (another hand over my head one, you'll notice).


It was getting a little late. I only had one snap left, so I used it to capture the sunset over the festival (the sky in the original pic's much redder than it shows on the scan you see). I saw the same African drummers I'd seen when I first arrived at the festival, but by now, they'd gotten a larger audience. Some people accompanied them on musical instruments of their while others danced and let themselves go (I broke out my harmonica and warbled away, as only I can!). I saw yet another person I knew from a while aback, dancing away in front of me (a lovely young woman named Jo). As the local plods came to wind down festivities, we talked about old times, what we were both up to, and swapped e-mail addresses. I made like a Womble (even though I was in Brixton, not Wimbledon) and tidied part of the park with the aid of a French girl who saw me clutching a large black plastic bag, having volunteered to do so at the end. With that done, I left the park and headed back to Tottenham (someone has to do it!).


Go to the 1999 Clapham Common Ganja Fest pics