A Terrible Cult
"Haven't seen that Eddie Reynolds for a bit," said Balders, sitting in the Old Devil, putting away his fourth pint of the night, simultaneously shovelling home a triple chocolate gateau.
"Mmmf!" said Martin the Hippie, who shared a house with Eddie, and might have been in a position to give us a few clues as to his whereabouts, had his mouth not also been stuffed full of beer and cake.
"Mmmf!" he eventually managed, "He's gone somewhere. On a course, or sumfin'. Findin' his head."
I was unaware that he had lost it; but face full of beer, cake and dry-roast peanuts, I was unable to give my drunken chums the benefit of my wit.
"He's got an Afghan coat an' everything," said Martin the Hippie.
And we were none the wiser for at least one hour, when the pub door creaked open, and in walked Eddie himself, several stones lighter than the last time we had seen him. Not bad going either, for he was as skinny as a rake at the best of times. He was wearing what appeared to be a dead badger, a badger which had shuffled into the next life by a passing lorry several weeks previously, if the smell was any clue.
"Bloody hell, Ed - you've lost weight! Where the hell have you been? Prison?"
"I've been on a course, man," he said, without a trace of irony on his voice. "I've been finding my head."
Oh. God. No.
"An' I got this Afghan. I traded it for my guitar."
"*Bowk* And I know who got the better deal *bowk*."
And: "Hang on. That was my Gibson."
"Don't be such a bread-head, Martin. Possessions are for The Man, man."
Naturally, we had to find out more. This looked particularly serious as one of our beer buddies appeared to have been kept prisoner in a barn and starved for several weeks.
"So - where the hell were you?"
"In a barn, guy."
Right. This was going to be a long, long evening.
It turned out that poor Eddie had signed up for a course he had seen advertised in the back of some Hippie fanzine. It was all about finding your inner self, your place in the universe, and discovering that "We're all perfect, man, in our own imperfect way", a mantra that appeared to have been hammered into his head by some kind of brainwashing technique that involved sitting in a barn for a fortnight living on watered-down cardboard. The American government are using a variant in Guantanamo, we gather.
Cut to the chase: "How much did you pay for that load of bollocks, then?"
"Three hundred pounds, and there were twelve of us."
"Come to think of it, we didn't see much of the people who ran the course. I'm beginning to think they might be some bunch of chancing bread-heads. Know what I mean?"
We knew what he meant. The whole enterprise had been corrupted by the grabbing hand of capitalism, and it didn't take long to do the maths.
"Fucking hell's TEETH!" shouted Pat, "That's three and a half grand!"
And: "Let's do it!"
So, being a bunch of chancing bread-heads ourselves, we decided to set up much the same thing, and put some adverts in all the Glastonbury- and Avebury-based 'zines we could find, roped in a friend with a spare barn (you'd be surprised) and bought in bulk from Lentils-u-Like.
By shining a bright light into Eddie's face for several days, and copying out whole pages from all the Glastonbury- and Avebury-based 'zines we could find, we soon had a pretty passable Find-Your-Head, Man course worked out.
Result: half a dozen dreadful hippies, all, it turned out from extremely well-off, middle-class homes and showing classic signs of Hippie bread-head guilt, who paid us far too much money to sit round in a barn for a week, getting their heads together, man. We found repeatedly telling them "You're all perfect in your own imperfect way, guy" worked best.
We are certain that they are now all merchant bankers and internet entrepreneurs, and exhibiting very few lasting effects, and we only came close to burning down the barn on three seperate occasions.
Funnily, the four-figure profit we turned also went some way to getting our heads together. I got myself a) an Austin Allegro and b) outrageously, boot-spatteringly drunk. Easy come, easy go, as they say.