"Jerome Burne was sorting out how to re-establish "Frendz" as a limited company which he called Echidna Epics. I never quite understood what Jerome was doing there but then he probably never understood what I was doing there. I never quite understood his politics. I did at that point genuinely believe that even if you couldn't overthrow everything, from the basis of print and the fact that media were reacting to it, that there could be another world. There was a definite us and them: the straight press and the underground press. And it wasn't limited to the press, it was what everyone was doing. There was also quite an elitist quality, the underground was terribly hierarchic, but I didn't see quite how hierarchic it was until "Spare Rib" started, and then "Spare Rib" was hierarchic too.
"Frendz" was supposed to be anti-hierarchic in that there was not much delineation of jobs except that it always turned out that girls were doing the typing, except that I wasn't because I'd never learned to type - which was a very valuable thing not to have done. I've always advised women never to learn typing. The boys were doing the editing and having the fun. But there was a great pitch-in level and it seemed to me that there was a bit of a melting pot going on. All sorts of people walked in which made you feel that you were part of a whole world, not just part of this strange little thing at the top of Portobello Road. That you were connected by lots of strands to California, France, Tokyo... There were lots of people who would come and be saying 'I want to share my experiences with you' but those experiences were real. And that gave the underground a sense of greater collective power."
"We had this slave who used to ring us up and then come along and clean the stairs naked. And there was Daphne, who came in on a bed of nails and gave us all that money."
"In some sort of odd way there was a redistribution of wealth. A few rich people did support a lot of other people, without complaining about it. It was a wonderful thing that you could live without money and it leant credence to your belief in the revolution. And when your parents said to you 'What are you putting in its place? If people don't go to banks then society is going to fall apart?' you could say 'We're doing fine' and in truth, in some ways, you were doing fine. You weren't on the dole - nobody I knew went on the dole, not at that point. I had a sense of tremendous pride against the dole. I wasn't getting any other money: my salary at "Frendz" was four to five pounds a week, plus the money you made out of dealing drugs and I made out of incredibly inefficiently dealing drugs."
Rosie Boycott is a former editor of Esquire, and recently left The Independent on Sunday where she began the campaign for the personal use of cannabis to be decriminalised. She is currently editor of The Express.
Update 25 January, 2001: Rosie Boycott leaves The Daily Express
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 arrakis.es)
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