"By 1971 Friends had become much more political and much less hippie. And that was James McCann coming into the office and that divided the office into two camps: the ones who were prepared to fight for their political beliefs and the hippies. I found I wasn't a hippie at that point. And we were totally taken in by McCann. He was quite charismatic, more than most. He was very forceful and we were absolutelty ripe for it, especially someone like me. He offered a chance to act - the revolution had come and we could go and do something about it, instead of pissing around being hippies we could actually go and do something important, fight the revolution in Ireland.
Alan, to his credit, was much more cautious. He kept saying "Don't go, you're mad to go", but I was keen to go. There was Joe Stevens - Captain Snaps - Felix de Mendelsohn, who was wonderful. He was very perceptive and writing very politically aware essays on Belfast, but for me it was an adventure, revolutionary tourism. Although I also felt quite passionately about it. Because I always felt that the revolution was coming but it hadn't quite hit Belsize Park so there wasn't that much one could do other than go to Grosvenor Square. And I was really ready to go and fight to change the world. To get rid of Vietnam. That would have been enough for a start.
I was only held in the cells for a day, then I was released and we went to find a lawyer to free the others. Everybody on Friends was really shocked when I did all that and Barney Bubbles wrote me a letter saying "How can you do this?". . ."
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
contact: Phil Franks (freax AT philmfreax.com)
Freax/Friends website produced by Malcolm Humes