What a year so far: Psymera Festival, the Hampton Beer Festival and the upcoming Boat Party…oh, and broken ribs.
June 8, 2022
“I waited nervously as the gates were opened and the festival finally began. I was concerned as to whether I would make any sales as it was the first time I had ran my shop at a festival. Especially after two years of cancelled festivals due to the pandemic. To my surprise and delight, many people made a B-line for my Hippie Utsaah shop and immediately started buying stuff. Within 20 minutes I sold 18 of my 20 hats, 7 copies of my Hippie Kushi book and most of my money hip bags; this was going to be a good weekend.”
But where is this? I hear you say. This was day one of the Psymera Festival!
I was very excited about Psymera weekender because not only was it the first festival after those two horrible Covid years but also the beginning of what is shaping up to be an incredible Hippie Kushi year.
My friend Louise (also known as Wifey) kindly agreed to drive me up on the Wednesday evening so I could set up my shop first thing on the Thursday. The trip was pleasant and we arrived around 7pm. it was quite difficult to find the event destination but we got there eventually.
We were instructed by Enzo (our host) to drive over to the crew area, which turned out to be by the river which had some lovely house boats moored on it.
Louise said her goodbyes (she was due to return on the Friday), and left me to put up my tent before it got dark.
After putting up my tent, I chatted a bit to some festival staff. There wasn’t much to do on this first night (the festival did not officially start until noon on the Friday). I decided to have a couple of beers and then have an early night.
As I drunk my beers a new resident arrived and put up his tent next to mine. I have sadly forgotten his name but this lovely Irish fellow then came and introduced himself and sat and had a beer with me. It turned out he was with a group called Psy-care who are a group of volunteers who come to festivals to help festival goers who have had a bad psychedelics experience and need to be helped into a better state of mind; a sort of counselling service. I really liked the idea of this and later on in the festival I went and sat with them around their camp fire to get to know them better.
PsyCare UK is a registered charity (no. 1167203) that provides welfare and harm reduction services at music festivals and events throughout the UK and internationally, and has been been operating for over 10 years. We provide a compassionate and sensitive welfare service that meets the needs of all festival goers but we specialise in managing psychedelic crisis. To find out more about the range of services we offer at events please click here.
We recognise that psychedelic experiences can have profound effects upon people and therefore that difficult psychedelic experiences must be handled with special care and consideration. We have developed a unique skill-set that enables us to effectively manage these challenging experiences in a way that minimises unnecessary hospitalisation or medication, whilst giving the individual the best possible opportunity to learn and grow from the experience.
Our mission is to provide support for people undergoing challenging drug-related psychological experiences, particularly in relation to psychedelic substances; and to provide education to reduce the harm associated with the use of psychoactive substances. In order to facilitate this we strive to deliver a sensitive and compassionate general welfare service to those in need at events.
Our vision is a world where people understand and respect mental health and consciousness; where individuals can easily access the support they require to navigate challenging drug-related psychological experiences; and where such experiences can be viewed as opportunities for growth.
Mutual aid – We believe in a world centred around mutual aid, whereby individuals share responsibility to look out for, and take care of each other, to the best of their ability and means. In our view, the well-being of each individual is integral to the well-being of the whole.
Integrity – We are open and honest. We strive to be aware of how our own belief systems, values, needs, and limitations affect our work.
Inclusivity, equality and tolerance – We demonstrate unconditional positive regard and offer relentless kindness irrespective of a person’s characteristics, background or beliefs. We turn no one away, and do our best to give what we can. We practice openness and respect towards people whose beliefs are in apparent contradiction to our own.
Safe space and consent – We create a safe space where closeness and touch are considered very carefully; our volunteers understand the importance of consent, especially when working with vulnerable people.
Growth and improvement – We are committed to improving and growing, both as an organisation and as individuals. We regularly reflect upon and review our practices, procedures and training. We are continually looking for ways to improve our service and actively seek the views of our stakeholders in order to do so.
Passionate and professional – Our team are passionate about and committed to what we do. We conduct ourselves in a way that is professional, and avoid unnecessary risks.
Non-judgmental, neutral and pragmatic – We offer non-judgemental services to everyone. We do not encourage the use of drugs or other risky behaviours, but we do recognise that some people will choose to use drugs and may experience problems as a result.
What We Do
PsyCare UK provides a peaceful, friendly sanctuary in the midst of the sometimes hectic festival environment. We are always open to provide information and support to anyone that needs it. From crisis intervention for people who may be in profoundly disturbed mental states, to support for the lonely with a hot cuppa and a chat, PsyCare UK aims to consistently support the wellbeing of all festival goers.
Although most drug use at festivals is intended for enjoyment, some drug experiences can cause a person to be physically and mentally vulnerable; to experience feelings of fear, paranoia, delusion, discomfort and even psychosis; creating the potential for people to be a danger to themselves and others.
Difficult experiences arising from psychedelic drug use may require specialist intervention due to the mental crises and altered states of consciousness they can induce. People on a strong psychedelic “trip” can become volatile and feel a wide range of intense and heightened emotions, potentially lasting several hours. In these cases, conventional medical services may struggle to find an appropriate treatment and once in the care of medics and/or taken off the festival site, patrons might not be allowed to return to the event. If the police or security are involved, the situation may escalate and the individual may be arrested or sectioned. Being taken to hospital or handled by security or police whilst undergoing an intense and frightening psychedelic experience can be incredibly traumatic and increase the risk of long-term emotional and psychological harm. We work closely with medical personnel to address the needs of those in distress, while aiming to prevent sedation, hospitalisation or detention. Our work over the years has demonstrated that these individuals often only require the type of engaged, empathic care we provide, to move from a place of crisis to a calm, positive perspective.
We believe that the principle of ‘set and setting’ is key for psychedelic support. This approach recognises the impact that the user’s mindset and their physical and social environment has on their drug experience. We provide a multidisciplinary approach, meaning that each volunteer will offer what they feel is appropriate for the individual they are supporting. This could be anything from massage or holding someone’s hand, to simply providing a listening ear and a calm presence. PsyCare UK works on the principles of peer education; being comprised largely of individuals who themselves enjoy festivals, we aim to be approachable and familiar, and to project a sense of calm, compassion and competence. We are akin to sitters rather than guides, but our understanding of the experiences our service users may undergo often makes all the difference to the outcome. All our volunteers undergo basic training in ethical and caring work standards and follow the principles and guidelines set out in The Manual of Psychedelic Support.
That first night was absolutely freezing and I was glad I bought my thick jumper with me, which I slept in. This crew area was also very noisy and sleep was difficult.
Anyhow, next day I woke up bright and early and went for a walk along the river, chatting to boaters as I went; it was lovely. One thing I noticed though was it was really windy and I had a gazebo to put up in order to set up my shop; no time like the present. After drinking a strong coffee supplied by two lovely hippie types in a camper van (a couple of very interesting fellows), I then began the process of trying to put up my gazebo.
I’m not going to lie, it was a total nightmare trying to put up my gazebo, I had help but the gale force winds kept tearing the gazebo apart. In the end there were about six of us fighting to tape down the sides so it didn’t take off; we finally did it after about three hours work (thanks Psymera crew for helping me, I really appreciated it).
As we were completing putting up my shop, another stall holder arrived; a lovely, spiritual lady by the name of Kira. All hands were on deck to help her put her gazebo up, as the wind caused her the same issues as mine.
Finally our gazebos were up and we began the process of filling the shop with stock. Kira was offering massage, sound therapy, face painting and other spiritual treatments.
I really got to know Kira over this festival weekend, she was kind, thoughtful and full of positive energy. She made me laugh, we danced together, she did my face makeup, she even washed my face in the morning, she made me and my friends coffee in the morning and was genuinely a wonderful person. Thank you for being you, you wonderful goddess.
As the day went on, more stall holders arrived, to my right was another lovely lady called Anita who was offering massage. Soon the whole row was filled with shops and food outlets, we were ready.
As there was not much to do on the Thursday night before the opening on the Friday, I decided to spend the evening in my shop (more space) and play some music and drink some wine. Kira joined me for a while but then Steve Tremmel, a good friend of mine arrived and after setting up his tent, he joined me for a party of two in my shop. We enjoyed the music and got a little drunk.
It was freezing cold again during the night, but also very noisy in the crew area, so I decided when all my friends arrived I would move my tepee over to their, quieter camping area. This old man loves his sleep.
The next morning I went straight to my shop ready for the official festival opening. The rest of my friends arrived and Steve and another helpful guy moved my tent with me to the other camping spot. This was a good move as it was nice to be near my friends and a lot more peaceful.
My crew, Louise, Las, Katy, Tracey and Neil were all now at the festival ready for it to begin.
I then went back to my shop and waited nervously as the gates were opened and the festival finally began. I was nervous as to whether I would make any sales at my first festival running my shop, especially after two years of cancelled festivals due to the pandemic. To my surprise and delight, many people made a B-line for my Hippie Utsaah shop and immediately started buying stuff. Within 20 minutes I sold 18 of my 20 hats, 7 copies of my Hippie Kushi book and most of my money hip bags; this was going to be a good weekend.
And so it went on like that the whole weekend. I bought with me 40 copies of my book, expecting to maybe sell a couple; I sold 37! Thank goodness I bought my card reader as most sales were by card. By the end of the festival I had sold almost everything; it was magnificent and I will definitely be doing it again.
But what about the rest of the festival? I hear you ask. Well of course I was not only there to sell at my Hippie Utsaah shop.
First of all something really nice happened; my friends would all bring their chairs to my shop during the day and so it became a social area. So many people came and sat with us and there was so much love it was beautiful. I met many wonderful characters and this was a very enjoyable part of the festival for me.
In the early evening I would pack up my shop and return to the camping area. We would all sit around and drink and get ready for the nights entertainment. Warm clothing was needed for the walk to the main stage as this was only May and it was really cold after dark. We would soon warm up on the dance floor though.
The selection of DJs was great and I really liked a lot of the music at this festival. I like the fusion of acid and psytrance that seems to be getting more and more popular and a lot of this style of trance was played. I’m no big expert on who is who when it comes to the DJs but the music generally was superb and I danced a lot. I especially liked Flo’s set. I also love drum n bass and the other stage had this music on the Friday which was fun.
I met loads of my whirly friends there and made some new ones. It was sometimes crazy and sometimes beautiful.
Yes, I have been to busier festivals and yes I prefer a bit more going on than just two dance stages but this was all secondary to me because the positive vibes ruled the day.
As I said previously, this event was filled not only with the hippie vibe but sooo much love and positive energy and to me thats the most important thing and why I would come again.
I’m sure there are lessons to be learned about this event, after all it was the first ever Psymera festival and learning from those lessons will create a bigger and better festival every year. I enjoyed myself and I know many of you did too.
Thank you to everyone who came to my shop and thanks for the wonderful hippie love vibe I experienced throughout.
I hope this event does return busier, bigger and better and full of that same wonderful positive vibes in years to come.
Before we knew it it was time to pack up our tents and make our way home; first festival of this summer of love; done! Here are some of the best bits; thanks for everything Enzo.
There was one downfall to this festival; I managed to break my ribs. I have chosen not to say how it happened so that I do not bring embarrassment to the person who was the cause. All I will say is after a couple of days I was in so much agony I had to go to A and E. X-rays showed I have fractured two ribs and ripped a cartilage. I’m always injuring myself, living life to the full sometimes means accidents can happen. I’m off work for a couple of weeks now to heal. One of my friends said: ‘what have you done now you crazy bastard?’
Immediately after the Psymera festival was the Hampton Beer festival. Its a local event near me and we went last year and enjoyed it very much. For a £20 ticket you get 6 beer tokens, an engraved pint glass and a t-shirt. After that its just £3 a pint so it always turns into a very drunken evening.
Last years event was very busy and the band was a tribute band that covered Oasis and the Jam, so the atmosphere was fun, with singing and dancing.
This year, because of the Queens Jubilee it was a lot quieter with an Irish folk band. We still enjoyed it though, as you can see from the below picture of me, Louise and the mad housewives, Tina and Diane.
I had not realised that the Psymera boat party was next on the list at the end of June. That’s always a fantastic event; especially if the weather is nice because you can stand on deck and mingle with all the whirly freaks.
So, my crew and I are very much looking forward to that, and it does not end there. The summer of Love continues in July with Noisily festival and then my big birthday bash at Louise’s house on 23rd July. Then its the magnificent Whirl-y-Fayre in August followed by Goa Cream festival in September, where I will once again be running my Hippie Utsaah shop!
I have also started writing my fourth book: Whatever Happened to Mad Mary and the Balloon Man?
A lot of people who read my first book said they enjoyed the autobiography parts but wish there had been more as I’ve had an interesting life, so, with the help of my lifelong friend Nick Wood, I am writing my full life story; here’s a snippet:
“Nick and I were getting very drunk, we had already had two pints at Retro Bar next to Charing Cross station, and now we had moved on to a lovely Italian restaurant down by Embankment. We were just starting our second bottle of wine and we were both laughing, tears in our eyes, because once again Nick had remembered some funny facts about our past which I had completely forgotten about; oh, what a life we have lived.
I have known Nick Wood for decades, since we were about 18 years old, maybe younger. We are now 58 (me) and 62 (Nick).
Even I can recognise that my life has been an extraordinary one, and oh what an adventure it has been. From my difficult, and violent childhood to my early years living on the street working as a rent boy in Earls Court. Happier memories of the old Brighton crowd and all those parties, and the years of Mad Mary and the New Romantics. Those exciting times when Nick and I moved to London, Seven Sisters, the BBC and discovering Whirl-y-Gig and becoming the Balloon Man.
And then the Cranworth Gardens years, Brixton, Heaven nightclub and that difficult druggy period followed by a move back to Brighton and then a year teaching in Africa. Hard times followed, and illness on my return to the UK and then those grey, full-stop years before I discovered Goa. My triumphant return to Whirl-y-Gig decades after we last frequented that magnificent club.
And now, these magnificent happy hippie years living in Hampton, West London, and India; it’s been a magnificent and eventful life.
I remember all those stages of my life, chapters if you will, but Nick remembers all the detail, and after that drunken night with my dear old friend in central London, I realised that this is a story that must be told. So, with a lot of help from Nick with those important details, this is my story. All of what you are about to read really happened, some details may be a little blurry and back to front, but a lot of time has passed, so I hope you will forgive me.
I hope you enjoy my life story as much as I have enjoyed writing it (and living it), if anything it is a story that doubles as a diary of the colourful decades that were the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and the 2000s (decades that have been full of big world events, both good and truly terrible).
Thanks, Nick for all your input into the writing of this book, and thanks for being my friend for all these years.”
There are some crazy times ahead and we are truly living the Hippie Kushi life once more. Oh what a year its shaping up to be and the Summer of Love continues…