Yes! Where were you, where were you, where were you, when we were getting high? The words of the title of this post were sung by the band Oasis. But then Oasis themselves were just a twinkle in their fathers’ eyes wile we were getting high. So now when you see me walking bent over, rheumy eyed and peering through glasses a bit too thick just don’t bother to pity me. We were the original freaks, streaking through the streets, wild hair flying, our robes scented with petunia oil. We were the flower generation, we were the dream painters who painted the world a flamboyant yellow and red after nearly half of century of wars and grey muddy rain. Yes! We put flowers in the barrels of guns! We were the hippies, we were the yippies, we were the original dippies laughing in the face of gloom.
It had to happen. The world had gone through the massacre and concentration camps of the Boer war, the industrial scale slaughter of the First World War and the conveyor belt to hell of the Second World War. It just had to happen. People could not take the oppressive memories of what occurred and the deprivations that resulted for near on 50 years anymore. Something had to give and we were the flower children who were born to bring smiles to this grey land. So give us some credit when you see us struggling pitifully in our beige jackets, when you hear our skeletal figures creaking on the dance floor. Don’t laugh! Because we brought laughter to this world so that the penny counters in their grey suits can resume counting their pennies again.
And it was not just laughter we brought to this world. We loved freely, we danced in daisy chains, we liberated the birth of babies from under starched white cotton sheets. We birthed in water, we birthed on trees; we birthed the English language right out of its Oxford fuddy duddy image. We painted our clothes, we painted our faces and had “love ins” in public parks. We “bummed out”, we “hung loose”, we were “far out”, we were “right on” we “turned on tuned in and dropped out”, we were the “love freaks”. We were the generation that swore never to give up, to keep on dancing till our skeletons crumbled to dust. Old Man Death sometimes takes a bite and we see our comrades suddenly disappear, but we are the freaks; we shall remain freaks deep inside. So don’t feel too damn smug when you walk beside us, your young bodies sinuous and proud with life and strength. We too once thought Death had forgotten us.
I look over the fence and see a world of people clothed in colourful garments starving or drowning or shot all to pieces; I look back at the screen and see a world in black and white a world of rags and bones celebrating its seventieth anniversary. Our fathers came back from the stench of wars to grow old silently in nursing homes; our children and are struggling to define poverty (“are we poor, or are we rich”?) and happiness (“are we happy or are we not”?). But we won’t go silently. We were lucky enough to be the boomer generation, lucky enough to have escaped the murderous wars behind us and the total annihilation to come which is still ahead of us. The outlook as I see it is bleak my friends; so raise a cheer for the flower children who briefly showered the world with petals and rainbow coloured smiles.
Yes, I wish my candy man would come again home. In the words of Donovan:
“Candy man, I love the man,
Yeah the Candy man, he gets me high
My Candy man, yeah I love the man,
And I’d give everything in this Godalmighty world
To bring my Candy man home”.
Split the skins you freaks out there!