Cambridge happened

Jack Kerouac tells it how it beats from On the Road

For Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon and myself (William Pryor) it all started when the bourgeois curtains of Cambridge started twitching in the sixties: bohemianism was afoot. Again. In the war and its aftermath, parents knew where they were with their values and morals, until a new creature, never seen before, the teenager, emerged, blinking and often angry into the grey light. Some gathered in El Patio, the first coffee bar in Cambridge, others in Millers Jazz Club, the Criterion pub and on the Lammas Land by the Old Mill. Searching for some meaning, some light, some groove, something else man.

Some of us, like Fred Frith and Syd, formed rock and roll bands with strange names like Henry Cow and Pink Floyd, others put on happenings and read their own beat poems at events in the Guildhall and elsewhere, others still painted pictures, wrote plays, acted and made films. Some went on to the University, some didn’t; some were kicked out, some weren’t; some have since died, most have survived.

We were a meeting of town and gown, a flowering of radical creativity, a legacy by which the participants continue to be nourished.  Forty years after it all happened, we are gathering to happen, All at Once, improvising on the skeleton of things we did back then in the Cambridge Guildhall, the Union Cellars and the Red Cow.


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