Avebury Archive

21/22 June 1992

An om and we’re off. Yusuf and me, two purple in our pockets, standing by the A27 for 40 minutes until we get a lift all the way to Longstock, where the travellers partied last year. There’s no sign of any action: it’s two in the afternoon and we’re getting funny looks from the locals. We sit by a small stream and eat some of our packed lunch, then walk back to Stockbridge where assorted longhairs are look for festivals. The girl in the post office is too friendly to strangers for the locals’ liking. So we hitch to Salisbury, getting a ride with a dreadlocked block and his girlfriend who are towing a caravan and avoiding Amesbury.

At Salisbury we wander round the ring road, try to hitch to Amesbury with no luck and meet people coming back from there, where there’s nothing but police. We make an abortive attempt to get to Glastonbury and meet a man who’s had his car taken off him by the police on ‘suspicion of a stolen jacket’. I phone the police and tell them my 15-year old daughter has run off to a festival and ask if they can tell me where it is, so I can go and get her back. Credulous or not, they tell me what we suspected: that people are scattered all over the county.

A family of travellers in an ambulance with another caravan in tow give us a lift up the road to what we think is Stockbridge but isn’t. A mum and dad plus four kids, they leave us at a pub in Allington where we have a drink and phone Alastair. Then we set off walking the four miles to the big junction. We stop in a field and build a trilithon out of strawbales — it falls down. Night is falling, and the cars are going past faster. We debate whether to drop the acid. Eventually, the police find us, take our names, and serve an exclusion order on us.

By the time we make it to the junction with the A303, we’re ready to crash. Yusuf is laying down his fire blanket when our saviours arrive: a van looking for a site to go to. We’re of no use information-wise, but a little gentle persuasion and we’re in the van. Its occupants are Ed, with long dreadlocks and a ‘tache, whose conversation is liberally sprinkled with ‘spark’, ‘sparkle’ and their derivatives; Mike, an optical technician in a beret and a trenchcoat; and Jenny, an archaeology graduate. They’ve come from Walthamstow, having picked on the naïve-looking Helen, Simon and Liz, to drive them to Henge in Simon’s van. They have a look in Grately Woods, but again no luck.

Ours is only just beginning. We’re off to Avebury, an ancient Neolithic stone circle. Simon hammers the van and it breaks down. After a little row between Simon and Liz and the rest, we decide to follow Ed, Jenny, Mike and Helen, who are going to walk to Avebury, which we don’t know yet is twenty miles away. Yusuf and I — fuck it — drop our acid, and thirty seconds down the road we get picked up by a hippy and his mates in a little VW bus. One of his mates is a caned shorthair in a black leather jacket who rants in a deep Wiltshire drawl about the poll tax and how they get you for it in Wiltshire.

We go all the way to Avebury in the van, where we all pile out to look at the stones. The hippy’s mad mate climbs on one, keen to feel the electricity. We meet some campers from Leytonstone. Solstice night in a stone circle with sheep, glowing white paths in the moonlight… pure KLF territory. Back in the van there’s an om on the roof, a sticker above the window saying ‘convoy of one’ and we drive to the long barrow at West Kennett to wait for the sun to rise. Inside the burial chambers people are camping out with candles and a woman is placing strawberries as ‘offerings’. On top of the barrow we have a flirtation with acid paranoia, followed by wine and cigars. It’s too cloudy to see the sun’s shiny dome, and when we trek back to the road a man with a big stove on a trestle table stretched out from the back of an estate car is making hot pasta with sauce and he tells us to help ourselves.

We eat and then climb Silbury Hill where there’s a lute, a bodhran, whistles, and dancing to the dawn. After a while everyone rests, to applause. We go back to the hippy’s van and loiter. ‘Shall we shine him up?’ asks Mike, and we get a lift back to Marlborough where the hippy points out the road we came from. We meet a car convoy of ravers looking for Spiral Tribe, who’ve only found a scrapyard. The road to Simon’s broken-down van turns out to be seven weary miles long, through the Savernake forest. We sing bastardised James Brown as we come down: ‘I feel…. shit!’ Eventually we find the van just where it broke down, together with Simon and Liz who are less angry than last night. We pass the scrapyard, which has a painted sign outside saying ‘hardcore wanted’…

Simon fixes the van, but we only get as far as Hungerford before it breaks down again. We wait for the AA. ‘Is this where Michael Ryan killed your family?’ Mike asks a passer-by. Fatigue strikes, but we get relayed by AA van back to the M25, swap addresses and bid farewell with the promise of a James Brown tape, to hitch back to Brighton and hit Alex’s on Dyke Road to collapse, before heading home and to sleep at last.

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