Reich, Terror Daddies and Trobrianders ....published in Disinherited #3
The Trobrainders of the Milne Bay Province in Papua New Guinea referred to in the above poem are renowned for their relaxed approach to sex and relationships which neatly brings us back to Tim / Ted. Pete continues: "I was thus put in the position of having to reassure Ted that I harboured no fears of, though I did not share, his sexuality. Caution, despite the illegality of homosexuality, was thus dispelled, and gradually he became known for who he was without prejudice from the society we inhabited, I later understood he had been dismissed from the RAF with the help of the (male) armed forces psychiatrist whom he had been sent to, and who later seduced him. His bisexuality became more than apparent; he was very popular and successful with girls." Why all this focus on sex goddamit! Well, Tim was a devoted Reichian and believed that sexual freedom, on an individual level, freed people from repression and on a political level from totalitarianism. In creating a morality out of pleasure Reich reconfigured promiscuity into a political act. Tim was perhaps the archetypal Beat poet, high on marijuana, existentialism and Reich reaching for an apocalyptic experience. Jeff Nuttall recalled, in his memoriam, Tim yearning in his performances for the "Cooosmic Orrrgasm" .
After studying at the Norwich School Tim entered the Air Force for three years leaving as a Senior Aircraftman. The poem below, one of Tim's earliest, published in Pete Hoida's Disinherited, expresses his dissatisfaction with military life. Pete Hoida says that Tim, who was known as Ted then, was dismissed from the Air Force due to his affiliation to CND (and he later found out homosexuality) and Tim handily escaped the full five year term of service. Ted / Tim pitched up in Cheltenham around 1963 where he and Pete met and shared "an instinctive interest in Samuel Beckett, Joyce, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, and the recently available American poets, Burroughs, Ginsberg et al." Soon they were sharing a flat. Pete remembered Tim "returning late one night in some distress he disclosed to me that he had a brief liaison in the park with a 'young law student'.
The Function of the Orgasm was published by Wilheim Reich in 1933 - from Doris #4, 1974, the Vietnam War is dragging on
Tim and Pete occasionally worked for Noel Woodin in his landscape gardening business. Noel had a sequence of poems read on the Third Programme in 1958 (it was the BBC's third national radio network) and Pete says he had "two less than succesful novels. He was struggling with a new novel, a young and despairing French wife, children, a quantity of booze and the difficulty of survival. This little gang of workers started late, working slowly until noon, broke to go to the pub until late in the afternoon. We then grafted like devils for the hour preceding opening time. From Noel we picked up information about the wider contemporary literary world, though we discarded his racing tips".
A Fine Frenzy (1960) . 'The high-spirited adventures of a young man who lives for girls, poetry, and drink - all together or two at a time.' Room at the Bottom (1963), judging by the cover, appears to be about unemployment and a spoof of John Braine's "Room at the Top" published in 1957.
Fed up with Cheltenham, Tim and Pete went hitch-hiking across Europe to Greece: "A difficulty with getting lifts saw us split in Switzerland. Tim turned up in Athens a couple of weeks later, having been delayed by an amorous adventure with an Italian. Athens was full of the long-haired youth of Europe en route or on return from Afghanistan, India, its mysticism and dope. We passed a few weeks of spring in Crete, Tim remaining mostly in Heraklion, at that time a ramshackle town with streets of knifegrinders and cobblers, where he worked in a youth hostel to earn his keep. His imitations of the ape who ran this kip, with his extortions to Tim of "arbeit! Viele arbeit!" were hilarious. Leaving Crete I headed for Istanbul, Tim staying on in Athens after we had met some writers and journalists on a CND march from Athens to Mount Olympus, the march a cover for the burgeoning dissent that was later to depose the Generals. I met Tim in Israel where he was happily working in the banana groves on a kibbutz on the shores of Galilee. Always a philo-semite he got on well with the older generations of kibbutzniks, but duly scorned back the ultra-macho "sabra" (those born in Israel)". Tim's experiences in Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967 were to appear in his booklet "The Great Speed War" published in 1973 and illustrated by Jeff Nuttall (as yet unseen by me) and his lesser known "Notes on a Beggar Woman" published in Norch #2 and confusingly dated to 1966.
On his return to Cheltenham, close to where he was previously based in the RAF, Tim became involved in the running of a magazine and a folk / poetry group called Whisper and Shout which travelled the country playing to varied audiences. He also had some work published in the West Country / Bristol-based magazine Imprint and more work published in Pete Hoida's Inherited.
It must have been around this time that Tim married Angel.....
It was at the Norwich Technical College where Tim spent a year on general studies that his interest in the arts really received an opportunity to expand. With Dave Glendining and Pete Chadwick he organised the college magazine "Our Thing" and it was about this time that he became interested in staying in Norwich.
Tim's connection with Giles Bristow started thus: "I was in Brighton looking around and I found the Unicorn Bookshop and I thought it would be a good idea to open a bookshop like that in Norwich selling small magazines and out of the ordinary things in the arts. New ideas were what I was looking for. I felt I had more energy than was reflected by Norwich at that time.
Back in Norwich I walked down Bridewell Alley and saw what used to be a butcher's was a bookshop. I met Giles and we started readings and general 'events' in the back of the shop."
At about this time the Wild Pigeon Press came into operation, so called because the recurrent phrase at the Students Union office at the Tech, "It's your pigeon" and the feelings of those involved that they were not so much "hawks" or "doves" but just (guess what) "wild pigeons."
In its time the press turned out at least four small books (the 8.15 murders, The Terrible Funeral, The Mice Don't Cry and Print Out) and the regular poetry magazine "Norch."
This was Tim's heyday when he was writing, performing and mixing with fresh, vibrant and talented people. It was also at this time that the Australian Dancers came into being from a meeting with Jeff Nuttall who used to work with The People Show, a spontaneous theatre group. They teamed up with Diz Willis to make up the Dancers and write scripts. Tim developed the concept of multi-media events as something more than self-expression. "It's the audience expressing themselves because every person in the audience is creative in some way...what is best is when you can start something and watch other people carry it on and develop it."
There followed a spell in London where Tim said he "mainly went to trad and mainstream jazz clubs." Pete says that his Notting Hill flat had Harry Fainlight above and Brian Patten (who would perform at the Norwich Arts Lab in 1970) in the basement.
On his return to Norwich Tim began to develop an interest for rhythm and blues-rock based music. In April 1970 Roy Bruder's new band, Kluster Kabbala, burst on to the music scene with their first gig at Yarmouth's Garibaldi club. Al Schmidt writes referring to the photo: "they were very much Tim Sillence's protégé's (God help 'em!). The frontman - seated - is Roy, a v. young Yarmouth tearaway. I remember him once using a bucket handle - bucket still attached - as a 'slide' for his guitar. They were real demolition artists, encouraged in every excess - as you can imagine - by their 'mentor'!"
They were Roy Bruder (lead guitar), Paul Wilkinson (bass guitar), Graham (Monty) Whitehead (drums) and Tim Sillence (vocals).
Wobbly, the well-loved love-child of the Yarmouth Arts Lab was Roy's band before he formed Kluster Kabbala mark one without Tim and a slightly different line-up.
Bubble and Miss Janeburger were published in Inherited #6 with this nice picture of Tim doing a reading. Although not dated there is a long poem by Lee Harwood in the magazine which has a note saying that it will be appearing with 350 other poems in Mike Horovitz's anthology of the Underground, Children of Albion, out in June. Children of Albion was published in 1969 so that dates this Inherited to early 1969.
Norwich's first free festival was organised by Colin Cross in July 1969 and it lined up an impressive list of names for the concert in Chapel Field Gardens. The music side of the day was looked after by Alex Atterson, Pete Ryder, Richard Nash, Mark Annison, Anne Holden, Peter Finch, Lindsay Spray, Martin Ellis, Rob Davison, Rob Smith and Mario Francesco Antonio Siano jun.
Mario Francesco Antonio Siano jun?
Yes, that's right. He was a seaman-cum-singer-cum-musician from Lowestoft.
The poetry side of things was the responsibility of Colin, plus Ken Harriman, David Mercer, Roy Howard and Stephen Harris.
The show started at 2.30 and went on 'til about 7 and all and sundry were reminded that accessories such a bubbles, joss sticks, fancy dress, etc, were encouraged.
Colin recalled that the Bubble poem was linked to the free concert and the attempt to get everyone blowing........erm, bubbles.