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Jonathon Green

These pages on Friends Magazine wouldn't exist without the help of Jonathon Green and his permission to use interviews from the research for his book: Days in the Life: Voices from the English Underground, 1961-1971.

Jonathon talks about Friends:
[Cover of Friends Nº1] "We did the first issue from this wonderfully over the top flat behind Harrods, owned by Alan's friend Bobby Steinbrecher. Lots of secretive huddling, which Alan seemed to love: who was privy to the telegrams to Jagger, who was hip enough to get some of Bobby's coke. It was blissfully vulgar: the bedhead was wired with dimmers, stereo, God knows what else, presumably geared up for Bobby getting laid. The sitting room was green, but shaded so that one end was quite dark and it paled down almost to white by the time it reached the other.

There were no wages, of course, but Alan and I did cash a solitary advertising cheque for sixty quid or thereabouts and pop across the road to Harrods' Food Hall to get us all supper one night. In between all this Pearce and I laboured over the boards. Poor Pearce - two weeks before he'd been at 'AD' and I'd seduced him away to super- chic 'Rolling Stone'. Now he was working at a kitchen table, albeit in a smart kitchen, on something with the distinctly tacky name of 'Friends'. But we did put it together - and at some stage Alan presented us with these two hustlers, Eddie and Steve, who called themselves Famepushers."

"On the masthead it said I was the News Editor and what that really meant at first was that I spent vast amounts of time scanning the American underground press, rewriting the best bits and sticking them into a section we called 'Newzak', as in Muzak. We had a certain amount of local news and various people would emerge with axes to grind, which we would more or less indulge, but all too much of the section was me talking about 'the brothers and sisters', 'the pigs' and carefully spelling America with three k's: 'Amerikkka'.

I also wrote features - not very undergroundy in many cases, but as near as I could manage to emulating Tom Wolfe who was most people's non-fiction role-model at the time. I did interview Wolfe at one stage. He came up to a flat I was crashing in and I was very impressed that he carried our milk up six flights of stairs. He had on the white suit but wouldn't smoke a joint and talked about England as a 'museum of style'. God knows what he made of it all, but he was very charming.

What was best for me was that I got to write 20,000 words in every issue. The problem of this was that I was my own editor, not the best thing at 21. The thing I probably did best was type reasonably accurately no matter how stoned I was. I used to type straight onto the IBM typesetter and Pearce would just grab the repro all ready for design. I also employed - not that they got any money - various friends from Oxford, notably Jerome Burne."

- Jonathon Green

[Photos © Phil Franks]

Jonathon Green (left) and Stanislav Demidjuk
(Snapped by Philm outside the offices of OZ as the cops, headed by the evil Mr. Luff,
are waiting to serve a search warrant on Felix Dennis who is about to arrive in a taxi.)


Jonathon's WordWizard website is well worth a visit to see what he's up to these days. Following up on Days in the Life Jonathon's most recent book, All Dressed Up, was published in August 1998 and is available thorough Amazon.co.uk. "This account expands upon the author's previous Days in the Life to provide a fascinating and controversial overview of the cultural and political events of the 1960s. Green's starting point is the invention of the "teenager", Teds, Beats and CND; he finishes with the "Oz" trial, the women's movement and gay politics. In between, his focus is on the whole panoply of that extraordinary decade, from sex, drugs and rock'n'roll to student protests. He also surveys the anti-Vietnam movement, and the radical social legislation pioneered by Roy Jenkins - on abortion, obscenity, homosexuality and capital punishment. The underground press, the Arts Lab, "Swinging London", anti-psychiatry, the hippie trail, the festivals, the drug busts, all fall under an affectionate but critical eye, celebrating the prevailing optimism of the decade without being blind to its absurdities."

Words apart, The Language of Prejudice, another Jonathon Green book described by The Times as, "This compilation of thousands of racial insults from many languages is politically as incorrect as it is possible to be. It is also by Jonathon Green, extraordinary wordsmith and good egg...", was discussed on British television recently. Interesting to be talking again about "political incorrectness". 30 years ago talk of ecology, gay rights, feminism and so on were way off line and just something that us, then young and unwashed hippies, mumbled about in clandestine huddles in Portobello Road.

Yet another tome of real literary value by our ol' mate Jothanan is Dictionary-makers and the Dictionaries They Made, published by Cape. Once more to quote The Times; "... the only one-man wordsmith still in business now that Eric Partridge has left his seat in the British Library. He is an invaluable source for the slang that is too transient or politically incorrect or disgusting for other dictionaries to reach. And in the nature of slang he uses grunts and other oral sources too elusive for academic dictionaries. His history of the trade takes dictionary in its broadest sense as wordbook, and goes back to Babylonian Sumeria and other ancient word lists that we would not recognise as dictionaries in the modern definition."

As the reviewer points out, we can access "definitions" from our online dictionaries and search machines right here in cyberspace but only a human, non-robo, and better still "politically incorrect" scribe can create something that we can leaf through for fun, enjoying every page of it, as if it were a novel.


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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

All Images Copyright © 1969 - 2010 Phil Franks, All Rights Reserved.

contact: Phil Franks (freax AT arrakis.es)
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