I came up from the squatting scene in London (Camden, Portobello Road and Elgin Avenue / Maida Vale) and my connection with Norfolk was through meeting Pragito and Mazda (guitarist and synth players with Karma Kanix).
After forming the KK we went on the road as travellers (that's our bus parked on the street) but when my girlfriend Nisimo became pregnant and we were about to become young parents we decided to set up home in a house. We had a friend who lived at number 81 and so with Nisimo and baby Leela, just a few months old, we moved in. Most of the odd number houses backed on to a hill and they were very dark and damp so when we were offered a place on the sunny side of the street (literally) we took the offer and moved into number 24.
The street felt like a kind of paradise for myself and my new family as it was a cul-du-sac with a small play area at the end. So there was no through traffic and as most of the people there had young children there was a very big emphasis and awareness of children just running around freely in the street so we always felt safe to let Leela roam
The street itself, literally the pavement and the road, was painted with flowers and patterns like some kind of child's psychedelic out-door play room and although the paint was fading one could still sense the energy, love and beauty that it was originally painted with. The street lamps were also painted and the one outside our house was fashioned into a giraffe resplendent with papier mache giraffe head and spots painted up the body of the lamppost itself.
It was magical enough for the adults to like it there and one can only imagine how the children viewed it.
It goes without saying that, for the adults, there was always a trolley-load of drugs and a lot of partying. The police obviously knew about the crazy drug-fuelled inhabitants of the street but they generally left us alone and in that respect we felt like some kind of world apart, as if protected by some invisible force-field. It was a bubble of energy that we knew would not be there for ever and so we lived for the day.
Pictures courtesy of Kate Phillips
I'm racking my brains as to how we heard about Argyle Street in the first place and why we chose to move there but I guess it was just squatworld word -of-mouth and the fact that I did not want my Leela to be in London at that time.
Argyle Street once had a thriving housing co-op but by the time we moved in around late 1981 it was on its last legs and we witnesed the slow crumble of the street. I somehow felt and used the energy of this slow demise and moved in Karma Kanix and began to rehearse the band in readiness to go on the road to play the Albion Fairs.
KK did several gigs in the street during our time there and I remember the atmosphere of partying and freedom.
It was an odd atmosphere in the sense that we all felt that the situation was so temporary. All those people that came together and became very close friends for a very short time were soon to be scattered to different locations throughout the UK and in most cases would never be seen or heard of again. Odd, but in the same way, very ordinary -- as we all had been used to that way of life for so many years through our temporary existence as travellers and squatters.
I lived in the street for several years but by the time I left (1984ish) most of the friends that I had made had moved on and a whole load of junkie biker types were beinning to dominate the street. Very dark days indeed and I remember feeling very relieved to be moving out.
I felt that the street was also a coming together of a united force of both punks and hippies. We somehow managed to see through our differences and gained strength through our common ground to be allowed to live an alternative lifestyle against the corrupt rules of governments (think of the philosophy of a conjoined twin of the band Gong and Crass).
At one end of the cul-du-sac painted on the path was the quote by William Blake:
"The Road of Excess Leads to the Palace of Wisdom"