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David May

Jonathon Green:
"What made 'Friends' much better than any of the other papers who were about was the arrival of David May in early 1970. This red- haired, rather small, West Country person appeared and said that he wanted to do news for us. The only proviso was that he had to be kept anonymous, and his pieces were to be signed 'Hack Typewriters'. That was no sweat and he started giving us these incredible stories which I, at any rate, was far too useless to cover: the Mangrove, the Metro, lots of police harrassment, black struggle, hippie angst: the proper Notting Hill scene."

David May:
"In 1970 I was working for the 'Kensington News', in Church Street, off Notting Hill. Notting Hill was a great place to be a local journalist. I'd go and see the 'Time Out' people, you'd just meet people in the street, we lived in Bayswater, friends lived in the Grove - Notting Hill was 'it'. And there were fantastic stories: all these houses collapsing, people demonstrating, and the whole scene was building up. Yet there was no-one to write it. The underground papers weren't doing it. They were talking about theory, in their own pop way, but had no real news, which I wanted to write. 'Time Out' didn't run stories then, so I couldn't work for them. 'OZ' I never really fitted in with, although I knew them. So I went to 'Friends'. It was all a bit dodgy for me to be working for the 'Kensington News' and to be writing freelance for the underground. So I had to have a name: I created 'Hack Typewriters'.

There was a very strong look to "Friends". And I found sympathetic spirits there. 'OZ' was quite different. Marcuson was always a very remote character who had incredibly good dope. Tibetan temple balls, things like that at £11 an ounce. I had to quit 'Friends'. They weren't paying and there was, in the end, a fair degree of coolness. I wasn't socially part of the inner circle there. So I took my act over to 'Time Out'. And when Pearce left and went to 'Time Out', that was a fundamental thing for me because along side the journalism I had this appreciation of design and he had been doing things with newsprint that nobody else was.

For a long time I was the real journalist in the underground press. People used to point this out and I didn't understand it. To me we were all in the same business. I was incredibly envious of people writing these incredibly indulgent 5000 word pieces about a pop star for 'Rolling Stone'. I felt very schizophrenic about going to 'Friends'. I'd walk down Portobello and go from this very straight world up in Church Street to this complete freaks world in North Kensington. It was two distinct worlds and I'd travel between them bringing the news from one and the news from the other. It did cross over once or twice. I wrote a piece on Quintessence, then 'the' Notting Hill band, for the 'News'. They got me so stoned I got back to the office and couldn't write a thing. The editor said 'Are you all right?' and I said 'I'm not feeling very well' and I had to go home."

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The interview texts are from
"Days in the Life: Voices from the London Underground 1961-71" by Jonathon Green,
used here with permission. Any reproduction is prohibited without permission from the author.
Days in the Life excerpts © Jonathon Green

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