Flicking through the pages of the interweb the other day in one of those serendipitous ways that one does, I came across a website devoted to John “Hoppy” Hopkins who was, the website told me, “One of the best-known counterculture figures of London in the 1960’s, not just as a photographer and journalist, but as a political activist.” Well, I must have been after his time, I’d never heard of him but intrigued, I took a closer look.
Most of the site is given over to examples of his photography and scrolling through the photos I was suddenly aware that I knew those people in the photographs, well, some of them. No, not those actual people but people like them. I’d grown up with people who looked and dressed just like those people, I recognised them.
‘Old’ men in jackets, raincoats and hats, ‘old’ women in long coats and again, hats. “Why don’t people dress like that now?”, I mused and then was hit by the realisation that some of those ‘old’ people were probably then, around the age that I am now… Sobering.
A child in a crowd of other children watching a Punch and Judy show on a beach. I stared at that one, the photo caption said that it was taken in 1963, that child could have been me! Ah, but the caption also said that it was during a CND outing and as far as I know my parents never supported, actively at least, the CND, but that boy in the photo definitely looked like it could have been me.
I include here a link to the website; I’m not going to ‘share’ any photos from it here as there is a list of terms and conditions as long as your arm to contend with but it’s well worth a trawl through.
Amongst the photographs are several and varied portraits of, amongst others, musicians, political activists, politicians, writers, film makers, actors, novelists, and poets including a photograph of one Ernst Jandl, who was the caption told me, an experimental poet.
An experimental poet?
That was never mentioned to me when I was nearing the end of my school days!
No one sidled up to me and said, “Of course, you could always become an experimental poet, you know, if you keep up with your English work…”
Ah, another lost opportunity, or was it? I seem to have written a fair bit of dodgy poetry in my time, maybe I became an experimental poet and just wasn’t aware of it.