A whistle-stop talk at my alma mater yesterday unlocked a few memories. Ain't it funny, the tricks that time plays.The University of Westminster on Upper Regent Street, a bottle of vodka's throw from BBC Broadcasting House, has been called a few things in its time. It was the Regent Street Polytechnic when Roger Waters, Richard Wright and Nick Mason studied there from '62 to '66, and where they conceived Pink Floyd.
I didn't even know that when I was a student there myself, years later, when a little gang of us (Derek from Ashby, Sandy Evans, where are you boys now?) would sit around at night wearing out our vinyl copies of 'Wish You Were Here' and 'The Dark Side of the Moon' and 'Meddle'. What sticks? 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond', their tragic tribute to band member Syd Barratt, the most beautiful, the inspirational, the one who didn't make it, whose mental collapse saw him wither from the group when they needed him most. 'Meddle's' curious 'ear-under-water' cover, I couldn't work it out for ages, and 'Echoes' denoting their musical shift from psychadelic to progressive, and 'A Pillow of Winds' my favourite-ever track title.
So the evidence is there now, for all to see. A plaque on the wall, as opposed to another brick in it.
Nick Mason barely remembers those days, he says. For the creator, so much with which to experiment, through which to grow, to drift away from, to deny. For the mere observer, the listener, the peripheral memories are more precious. I don't let mine go. I stockpile the thens and the nows, the milestones, the peculiarities, the twists and turns of the doomed evolution.Then, sitting scribbling my notes in dusty lectures in the very building where an everlasting rock legend was conceived. Now, seeing those same guys around at this event or that, as if that were normal. Then, in my navy school uniform, taking the 227 from Bromley Market Square to Beckenham and trudging up Southend Road in a sweat, off to doorstep (yet again) David and Angie Bowie for autographs, setting the template for what I would grow up to do for money. In a blink, there I was kipping at his house on Mustique. All strange, and yet not. And yet.
Where did it go? Where are we now?