Thats what I’m thinking of. In 1991, January I was there, fresh faced and straight out of A’ Levels. My Granny had bought me a ticket to go and see the world, to go travelling, broaden my horizons, see how the world lives away from Bruntingthorpe. Bearing in mind I’d been away from Bruntingthorpe for 5 years which I’d spent at boarding school, so the only time I’d come back was the holidays and so drinking and bad behaviour was most likely on the cards. So Bruntingthorpe wasn’t real to me, it was merely a stopover before the big adventure began.
Watching some ridiculous you tube clip a friend sent me tonight featuring a chap called Goa Gil (look him up if you’ve got time, he’s an old hippy trance dj) and he mentioned a bloke called Eight Finger Eddie who lived in Goa on Anjuna beach. He was there in about ’67 or ’68 and was the man apparently. I travelled to Anjuna, in Goa in January and February 1991; on the really long unspoilt beach were 2 bars, right next to each other, you could throw a ping pong ball between the two of them in windy weather, they were the Blue Marlin and the Shore Bar. The Blue Marlin was newer than the Shore Bar and less intimidating to a fresh faced just 19 year old school leaver. We all had bad tie dye and our hair was tied up in a pineapple but we still didn’t look anything as cool as the hippies in the Shore Bar. There was one guy who seemed to have the same little terraced area every day; he was there when we came down to the beach in the morning and he was there when we left the beach at night. He wore a thong (a pouch to cover his tackle) and owned a sarong and a little bag which I imagine he kept some other possessions, christ knows what. I think he lived at the shore bar on that terrace, he was a brown as a walnut and wrinkled too, his skin like worn leather. Every so not so often he would stand up, stretch and hobble down to the sea edge to cool his toes after the hot walk across the sands. he would stand there in the sea, and walk slowly in to his shoulders, then he would dip his heavily dreadlocked head into the salty water, turn around and walk slowly back up the beach, his sarong held in his hand. His gait was painfully slow and I could see he was a really old man. This guy was called Eight Fingered Eddie, I can’t remember his hands but now I come to think of it having eight fingers is not unusual, and I’m sure he had thumbs, how would he skin up his joints otherwise? Opposable thumbs, essential for the stoner.
We only went into the Shore bar a couple of times and most people in there were fine enough, but they really didn’t seem to want to be anywhere else, every one was fucked on dope or LSD, there was no E at that time, everyone was truly fucked; lost, unable to leave, having pledged allegiance to the Anjuna way; get fucked and play hippy. An old school friend of mine went to Goa a year after me, stayed a couple of years to play the hippy and was never the same again, he’s not around either to tell the tale even if he could remember it.
I loved the 2 weeks I stayed there, I had my eyes well and truly opened and immersed myself in to the Anjuna life, but I wasn’t angry at anything, I wasn’t running from anything I was running toward countless global adventures I had no idea of their make up. I wasn’t a Hippy, I was a middle class boy, given a priceless gift by my Granny and although I probably didn’t show it I was undeniably grateful for this opportunity and wasn’t going to fuck it up like I fucked up my A’ Levels.
I wore tie dye, grew my hair and a terrible wispy beard of sorts (I barely shaved and so that came off sharpish), I didn’t wear shoes for about 6 months apart from a trek in Thailand and a walk or two in Australia. Life was good, I had no cares in the world and so at that time Anjuna suited me. Looking back at some of the grainy videos of the Anjuna Full Moon beach parties I swear I’ve seen people I recognise from those days and I wonder what some of them are doing, most of them, like me were just passing through and having the time of our lives, some getting far too philosophical, some far too earnest and some not having enough fun. By the early ’90s the Hippy Ideal had gone, the police were moving specifically down to Goa as they heard they could make some extra money from the openly brazen drug tourists, we met a few who had friends locked up in Indian prisons because they couldn’t afford the fine; some fun they were having.
I revisited 8 years later and from what I remember the beach at Anjuna had been turned into a Hippy style Theme park, it was awful, we stayed in a house where the husband came home drunk late and hit his wife, we were there for a Christmas beach rave; it was sordid and devoid of any sort of Hippy vibe, on the whole the feeling was of an over arching threat. We left, after sun up, walked back down the beach and had a Kingfisher Beer in a tiny shack over looking the Christmas day sea, I’m not going back there again, I’ll leave that to the dealers, scumbags and profiteers.