I was just lying here basking in the sun with Hansine cat, looking at the RuneQuest rpg rules. An illustration struck me suddenly, a line drawing by Luise Perrene or Lisa Free; as familiar as William Church art, something from the RQ2 rulebook.
Then it struck me: the hairstyles were not of some ancient mythical culture, not the beards. They were contemporary, the hip styles of the flower children of the Haight that had become mainstream 70s fashion.
I’m not remotely American: I’m Anglo-Danish, but I think the styles here were similar. I could imagine the people in the picture dancing at a discotheque getting down to some funk classics, or grooving to Southern Rock or maybe Jefferson Starship or Hendrix.
It tripped some nostalgic switch in my mind: I seem to have deep seated memories that make it almost as if I’d lived a previous life in 60s America. The psychedelic West Coast culture has always had a huge appeal for me; but I was born in 1969.
So why this weird affinity for things from the USA of that era? I was pondering this and then thought back to the farm; growing up in Suffolk, surrounded by USAF kids. Their parents worked on the airbase, they shopped, watched movies and went to school there, but a lot of them lived among us. My first proper friends outside of nursery school were Americans – a red haired tomboy called Didi, her brothers, and their huge Great Dane dog the size of a horse. I’m sad I can’t remember more of those first days at Lodge Farm; Belinda and Malcolm Brame and David and Diane Stennett’s family lived there much longer, and I went to school and we adventured across the Breckland.
Still however short the time I shared at Lodge Farm with the Americans, I have not forgotten, and Kool Aid, Mountain Dew, awful American chocolate and jet fighters screaming over the chimney tops are forever part of me; climbing trees, riding bikes and the sudden sand blows across the fields, the squawk of geese and the trickle of cattle urine, huge blue skies and massive pines, the shady boughs of a copper beech.
I recently read that the disreputable Prince of Wales stayed at Lodge Farm in 1901; handy to see his mate Euston I guess, but the occasion was a shoot. I think the King was there as well; they shot pretty much everything in sight by the sound of it, a massacre of pheasant and grouse that horrified still. Maybe their ghosts squawk there still in the sun, and one day the ghost of a small Dane denuded of sea sailing leaf ships in puddles will join them…