Altern­at­ive London 1969/​70

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I found this book in a char­ity shop. It’s a prac­tic­al guide to altern­at­ive living in London from 1969/​70 cover­ing a wide range of topics from rent laws, to sexu­al­ity, drugs and communes to join. This is the first edition, there were yearly updates through­out the 70s (here’s some choice quotes from the 1974 version). The author Nich­olas Saun­ders later went to set up Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden- in the past a court­yard of hippies, now as bland, expens­ive and sanit­ised as much in Cent­ral London is. You can read about his life here.

I’ve typed up vari­ous extracts from the book that I think will interest people. There’s lots of pages of stuff like direct­or­ies of places to buy Indi­an throws and bulk chick­peas and the like that I’ve skipped over.

My notes and comments are in ital­ics to make it clear­er which is which. A lot of the content is quite eye-open­ing when compared with current life in London- espe­cially the sheer afford­ab­il­ity of things for ordin­ary people/​broke hippies and how many rights tenants had.

A note on money- this was pre-decim­al money and still pounds, shil­lings and pennies territ­ory 

12d = 1s (d for denari­us rather than p for penny in those days too)

20s = £1

So £1 was 240d

A pound was worth a lot of money in those days, and most every­day prices are given in shil­lings in the book (often in the form 18/​10 so 18s 10d/​226d). The figures I can find for aver­age earn­ings for men were £28 per week for men, and £14 for women. So that’s 560s and 260s respect­ively.

Most of the renter’s rights in this book were repealed by Thatch­er in the 1980s.

‘Straight’ in this era is slang for normie, rather than relat­ing to sexu­al­ity.


“This is a book for London­ers, not tour­ists. It contains current inform­a­tion that concerns the more sens­it­ive and active people in London

The subjects I have dealt with are those where up-to-date inform­a­tion is gener­ally diffi­cult to obtain in a form which in unbiased yet easy to absorb.

The purpose of this book is not to push a way of life, but to give access to the ways in which you can express your indi­vidu­al­ity in a sincere way.”

Some­where to live

All the contact numbers given in this section are for Chelsea, Camden and West­min­ster. These are obvi­ously the boroughs where the author assumes read­ers will live.

“I’ve no solu­tion to the prob­lem of find­ing a place to live but I hope read­ing this will save you some exhaus­tion and expense. Flats are as season­al as flowers. In Octo­ber they’re both scarce and pricey because of the influx of students, but in the heat of the summer there are bargains to be found.”

“If you’re new to London avoid the homely digs with even­ing meal in the suburbs. Although largely offset by fares, this may well be the cheapest way to exist here, but you’ll miss out: everything that makes London alive happens cent­rally. And late-night trans­port is lousy. If you are shy, avoid bed-sitters. London can be a bitterly lonely place – it’s so easy to isol­ate oneself to the point of despair. Much better to share a flat with people you can’t stand. Seri­ously.”

(“Digs” means lodging with a family)

What’s avail­able:

Bed-sitters: Price: £4 to £7 single, £6 to £11 double (All prices weekly, typic­al cent­ral London). Pay one week in advance, small or no depos­it

What to expect: Basic amen­it­ies for sleep­ing, cook­ing, eating and wash­ing, everything but living in fact. Light included, heat and hot water usually extra (slot meters). Masses of restric­tions, includ­ing noise and visit­ors, not always enforced.

Secur­ity: If you share the sitting room or kitchen with the land­lord or if ‘consid­er­able’ service or meals are provided, you are not protec­ted under the Rent Act”

Shar­ing furnished flats: either join­ing an exist­ing group or setting up with friends. Price: about £4 10s each for larger self-contained flats (flats for two, about £6 10s each). Pay weekly or monthly in advance, depos­it of about one month’s rent (return­able on leav­ing in good condi­tion) and you may be asked for refer­ences.

What to expect: A bedroom (possibly shared), a sitting-room, kitchen/​dining room, bathroom/​wc, all exclus­ive to your flat (flats which share bath­rooms with other flats are slightly cheap­er). Furnish­ings would include blankets, fridge, cutlery etc. Some­times sheets, iron”

Unfur­nished flats: Price varies from the same as furnished to as low as a third. Advert­ised ones expens­ive, cheap­er through Estate Agents (not accom­mod­a­tion bureaux), cheapest passed on from friends. Coun­cil rates are extra (£1-3 per week) so are the fixtures and fittings (see Law section). In mansion blocks you some­times get hot water and heat­ing included. Rent is usually quarterly in advance and refer­ences are import­ant.

Secur­ity: You can’t be thrown out even when the lease expires, and the rent can’t be put up without agree­ment of the Rent Officer

The aver­age earn­ings of £28 for a man works out at £1456 per annum remem­ber. GLC was the London local govern­ment. They were seen as a rival by Thatch­er, and their powers were later devolved to a patch­work of borough coun­cils because they were basic­ally too power­ful for her tastes.

Buying a Lease­hold Flat: Price depends enorm­ously on how posh the area is- same flat would be three times as much in Chelsea as in West­bourne Grove: from say £5000 for new or newly conver­ted 3 rooms, k&b with cent­ral heat­ing. If lucky you can get a 90% mort­gage from the local coun­cil, GLC or build­ing soci­ety, which means you’ve still got to find £500 cash depos­it plus all your legal, moving and furnish­ing costs. Repay­ments over 20 years would be about £14 a week plus rates, ground rent and a ‘service charge’. Getting a mort­gage is diffi­cult unless you’ve got a secure, respect­able job. Even then the maxim­um mort­gage you can expect is 2.5x your gross annu­al salary before tax. Mort­gages are only ever given to one person, never to two or more jointly”

Squat­ting: If you manage to squat in an empty house you can’t be sued for rent but you are liable for rates and damage. But of course it’ll cost you a bit making the place habit­able. And although they can’t refuse to connect supplies, gas and elec­tri­city boards may ask for large depos­its.

Secur­ity: Poor! Soon­er or later you will either be (illeg­ally) thrown out or you’ll have a writ served on you to quit (see law). There are hundreds of empty houses in London – most belong to local coun­cils who leave them empty for years before their rebuild­ing scheme gets under­way. Many of these have already been broken into – look at base­ment doors and windows – so you can enter without break­ing and so without break­ing the law.

Behave as though you’d every right to be there: let the neigh­bours and milk­man think you’ve rented it, or are the care­takers: don’t do anything to upset them. This way you may get away with it for years, but be prepared for a visit from a coun­cil offi­cial. Invite him in, show how well you’ve treated the place, ooze charm and offer rent (they won’t accept). Really convince him that you’ll leave without any fuss when the time for demoli­tion comes but make it clear you’re not going before then. What’s more you happen to have a journ­al­ist friend on the Observ­er stay­ing with you who’s inter­ested to know how the coun­cil behave … In other words convince the coun­cil a) you’re not going to cause any trouble if left alone b) you’re going to make a big stink if they try to move you c) it would bring them bad publi­city – this is the most import­ant point

I write from three years of bliss­ful exper­i­ence of living behind hoard­ings in a block of disused houses in Chelsea along with vary­ing numbers of friends, a hedge­hog, two rabbits and five geese running wild – I flooded one of a fairy­land of seven over­grown gardens for them. But we were pretty care­ful – even about show­ing lights above hoard­ing level.”

Squatter’s Rights: The law protect­ing squat­ters dates from 1381: None from hence­forth make entry into any land and tene­ments but in case where entry is given by law; and in such case not with strong hand or multi­tude of people but only in peace­ful and easy manner.

It is thus a crim­in­al offence for anyone to attempt to evict squat­ters by force- a court order must be obtained. But in prac­tice the police and magis­trates turn a blind eye to viol­ence being used against squat­ters. Further, there is no crim­in­al offence in enter­ing and using empty prop­erty – unless you do so by force. And if you remain 12 years the place is abso­lutely yours to keep or sell.”

David Cameron’s govern­ment crim­in­al­ised squat­ting in 2012

Rent Acts: You can check with the Rent Officer wheth­er the rent for your flat has been registered, without your land­lord know­ing. If he’s char­ging more, you can get it put down. If you think the rent is unfair, apply to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau who will refer you to the Rent Officer. You can also claim a refund of any increase in rent of unfur­nished accom­mod­a­tion over the last two years if the rent has been increased since 1956 without the Rent Officer’s approv­al. This applies even when tenants change.”

Casu­al Jobs:

Note: The UK didn’t get a minim­um wage law until the 90s, however the rates quoted here compare very favour­ably with the rent and bills quoted earli­er

Market Survey­ing: If you look fairly straight you can earn £2 10s to £4 a day inter­view­ing people and filling in ques­tion­naires. It helps if you can say you’ve done it before, or worked as a report­er”

One day’s work pays most of the rent in the aver­age flat-share

Street Selling: You can sell magazines in the street without a licence though you may get nicked for ‘obstruc­tion’ (the hand­ful who sell Black Dwarf cause far more ‘obstruc­tion’ it seems than the hundreds of Even­ing News sellers) but the publish­ers pay fines as a rule. Try selling a magazine you like – or this book. You have to pay in advance, but what you don’t sell is bought back. Time Out small ads is where magazines advert­ise for street sellers and that’s where I’ll advert­ise when I need them.”

Busk­ing: Last summer saw a big increase in the number of busk­ers: there weren’t enough pitches to go round. The etiquette is that can play where you like until the estab­lished claimant of that pitch turns up. Money is good: even in a subway a single sing­er can make £2 an hour without much hassle except the occa­sion­al ‘move on’ from the police.”

Model­ling: If you’re glam­or­ous don’t try model­ling: there are others. Ads for inex­per­i­enced models lead either to model­ling schools who are after your cash, or men out to exploit you in other ways. But if you look odd, you’re made.”

Escorts: Agents like Norman Court­ney (493 5073) supply part­ners (mostly girls) for drag­gish even­ings out. You get £3 plus dinner, plus taxi home, and it’s strictly respect­able; no sex, no home phone number, and rigid hours. But…”

Pros­ti­tu­tion: is not illeg­al, but soli­cit­ing is. So it’s quite with­in the law to take up offers from the person who’s just spent £12 or so on you as his or her escort. The offers do come, but can be refused without any fuss because it’s strictly against the agency’s rules”

I looked up “Norman Court­ney” out of interest, but found noth­ing more than news­pa­per clas­si­fied ads from the era look­ing for “glam­or­ous girls”

Waiter/​Waitress: Go round bistro-type restaur­ants at about 6pm. Say you’ve done it before. Expect to work 6.30 till 12.30 for share of tips. Pay £3-5, often with a small basic pay or guar­an­teed £2. Avoid the places with ‘Wait­ress Wanted’ card always in the window rather than find out the reas­on the hard way”

Barmen/​Barmaids: Try the pubs you like the look of before they get crowded. Say you’ve had exper­i­ence, get £1 to 30s (ie £1 10s) an even­ing basic, extra on tips and fiddles.”

Brass Rubbing: About two hours care­ful work produces a £5 rubbing – if you can sell it. But you have to pay the church – often £1 – and in the summer you have to book ahead”

Every time I’ve taken kids on trips to cathed­rals for work I think of the lost riches I could have had from getting into brass rubbing at the right time.

Selling door-to-door: Encyc­lo­pae­dia Brit­an­nica (now Amer­ic­an owned) say all their sales­men earn over £40 a week: ring Mr Stimpson (930 5379) who will exude enthu­si­asm – or walk right up his garden path, 18 Lower Regent Street, at 10 any morn­ing.

Art: If you’re an artist, you can do very well with small works of art up to £10 going from door to door. Best areas are outly­ing rich suburbs like Rich­mond or King­ston. Etch­ings are in demand -and fetch as much as draw­ings. It’s the person­al touch that sells art – the buyer wants to be able to tell his friends ‘Yes, it is nice – the artist told me that…’

Incid­ent­ally, if you’re not an artist, a bit of artistry will produce quite sale­able works such as cut-out felt pictures.”

This gives me a fant­ast­ic mental picture of a load of hippies knock­ing door to door in Surrey trying to sell framed Fuzzy Felts

Con: Of course real rewards come from real enter­prise. A friend got ques­tion­naires prin­ted and sent them with cover­ing letters to would-be debutante’s mamas. ‘If you wish for your daugh­ter to be included in next year’s Debutantes Direct­ory please return the enclosed form with remit­tance of 3 guineas’. He did publish the direct­ory – by post only 15s (two duplic­ated sheets of names)

3 guineas was £3 3s ie 63 shil­lings

Type­writers: Service Type­writer Company (222 5425) hire port­ables at £2 a month, £10 depos­it; elec­tric £6-8 per month”

The phone:

In this era a lot of people didn’t have a home phone or had to share a party line with the neigh­bours. The phone was also hard-wired into the wall, and hand­sets were only avail­able direct from the phone company. The phone and postal services were the same company at the time- the GPO, who had a mono­poly on commu­nic­a­tion. They were split up and the phone company privat­ised as BT in the 80s

“In London this service has been getting worse but still isn’t as bad as in Paris. And long-distance calls are compar­at­ively cheap here.”

“I have been told that the manage­ment consists of army lay-offs, which may help to explain their crip­pling bureau­cracy and inef­fi­ciency.”

“There are a lot more extra facil­it­ies avail­able than publi­cised: almost an anti-sales policy. There are also many ways of using the phone which are prohib­ited – you are not even allowed to tape record your conver­sa­tion – though in prac­tice no-one stops you.”

“The system is wide open to cheat­ing: the oper­at­ors cannot even tell what number you are ringing from. Then there are the people who get oper­at­ors to connect them free by pretend­ing to be oper­at­ors them­selves, and others who use call boxes to ask distant friends to phone back reversed charges.”

“Instead of plug­ging these obvi­ous loop­holes the Post Office employs its own corps of private detect­ives to track down fiddlers regard­less of cost. For example calls made by someone using a false cred­it card code are chased up by a detect­ive who rings the same numbers and makes surrepti­tious enquir­ies about the caller.”

Answer­ing services: You can get compan­ies to take messages for you, like Adphone 734 5351 for £11 15s a quarter during office hours. You either give their number or get put on trans­fer service so that anyone phoning you is given their number by the oper­at­or. You then ring the company to find what messages have been left or they are posted to you daily for £5 per quarter extra.”

Answer­ing machines: The GPO only approve machines rented by a few big compan­ies- Robophone 603 4361 etc. They charge between 25s and £3 a week and you have to sign a contract to rent the machine for at least three years.

There are also unap­proved Japan­ese machines which have the advant­age of being port­able (they’re not wired in) for about £150 outright sale: phone Mr Kelly 935 1320”

So rent­ing an answer­ing machine was almost as much as rent­ing a room in a Zone 1 or 2 flat.

“To prevent others using your phone: Get a small padlock which will hook through a hole in the dial. The GPO also provide a phone with a lock at a ridicu­lous price: £3 to fit plus 6s a quarter”


These were the days before contact­less or Oyster cards – a lot more was in the hands of tick­et collect­ors

Buses: cost 6d a mile up to 6 miles, 4d a mile over, except Red Arrow buses which are 9d as far as they go. Bus fares go by the number of fare stages (indic­ated by black corners on bus stop signs) that the bus passes while you are on it, so you can save by walk­ing a stop to or from a fare stage.”

Under­ground: prices are simil­ar except for short jour­neys in Cent­ral London: 1s for the first mile, 8d a mile for three miles.

Many people cheat on the tube by walk­ing on without a tick­et: at their destin­a­tion they tell the tick­et collect­or that they got on at a station with­in the minim­um fare range. London Trans­port coun­ters this by occa­sion­al checks when no-one is allowed into certain stations without a tick­et, so those without tick­ets are arres­ted if they say they got on at one of them. So if you notice a few extra offi­cials at the barri­er, this is prob­ably what’s happen­ing. If you have lost your money, tell the tick­et office or bus conduct­or who will take your name and address and let you travel on condi­tion that you repay.”

“Suburb­an trains: Fares are about 4½d a mile for short jour­neys, 3½d for longer ones. You may travel without cash if you give your name and address. “ 

Trav­el­ling to the coun­try:

“Some idea of the cost of public trans­port: to Edin­burgh as example:

Air: day £10 booked, £8 standby; night £7 16s, £6 standby

Train: £5 14s

Bus: £3 from Victor­ia coach station

If you are out of cash, you can still travel by train if you say so and prom­ise to pay on your return: ask the book­ing clerk.”


“Suddenly, every­one is talk­ing about living in communes. And, although there are far more people talk­ing than doing, there is now a fair sprink­ling of thriv­ing communit­ies around the coun­try”

“A lot of unformed communes comprise city people who want to get away from the hassles, pois­ons and corrup­tions of the urban system. They hope to set up a completely self-suffi­cient unit, eating the food they produce with the aid of nature, not fertil­isers or machines; without any need for money or influ­ences from the outside world. This romantic ideal­ism is hard to real­ise.”

There is a lengthy direct­ory of communes to join. Here’s a few:

Eel Pie Island Commune: The popu­la­tion is around forty. They include sever­al couples, two with chil­dren, and intend to contin­ue by becom­ing an arts centre: mean­while indi­vidu­als acquire funds through busk­ing etc. The island complete with disused hotel is rented for £20 per week, but is due for demoli­tion. The police frequently search the island for miss­ing people, but not for drugs.”

The King­sway Community: ‘We intend to create a soci­ety, moved and sustained by the example of Christ in which we deal with each other as broth­ers and sisters’ – though they say Chris­tian­ity is not rammed down your throat. The thirty to forty members include three couples, a few registered junkies, a couple of alco­hol­ics ‘and incred­ibly, also quite a few straight people’. They want commu­nic­a­tion with other simil­ar minded people.

The Trans Sex Trip: ‘We used to be called the Chapel of Isis Commune, when it was more an idea than a fact. It consists now of four people living here who are all tran­sexu­als or nearly so”

“Visit­ors include tran­sexu­al people, kinkies, astro­lo­gers, Commune Move­ment people – and some actu­ally write first!”

“Polit­ic­ally we appear to be a heck of a mixture: one MOB/​CM type non-viol­ent anarch­ist and theo­soph­ist-garden­er (little me), a fairly straight Labour­ite , a rather conser­vat­ive believ­er in Armies and the Boss Man Answer (the Chair­man Mao) and a liber­al minded Irish RC.”

“As changes occur, I hope they will be in the CM-Gandalfi­an direc­tion, while retain­ing some­thing of the present tran­sexu­al basis”

The Rochester Commune: 9, Cent­ral Park Gardens, Rochester

This is a group of eight, mostly from art back­grounds – dress design­ing, illus­trat­ing, photo­graphy and fine arts- who work togeth­er in their vari­ous skills for money: they have had posters prin­ted and hope to go on to pottery. Their aim is to get a place far away from the hustles of straight life where they could be as self-suffi­cient as possible, grow­ing their own food.”

This is my homet­own. I was inter­ested to find out where it was, because the street name was unfa­mil­i­ar. Turns out to be an obscure side road off of City Way, about a mile from my dad’s house. The house is an ordin­ary 1930s terrace- I wonder what the neigh­bours thought of the commune at the time?

The Find­horn Trust, Find­horn Bay Cara­van Site, Forres, Moray­shire, Scot­land

About twenty people aged 20-70 (the men are mostly young, the women old) living in comfort in modern cara­vans and chalets: some­thing inbetween a holi­day camp and a barracks. They are in commune with the nature spir­its who help them produce nearly all their own food – in spite of the planes over­head from the RAF base next door.

Action is not taken as a result of meet­ings or discuss­tion but by the Word of God given daily to one member and imposed by her husband, the founder. Cards lie around prin­ted with the words EXPECT A MIRACLE.”

I looked them up and they’re still around.

Mystic­al groups

“The Aetheri­us Soci­ety, 757 Fulham Road, SW6 (734 4187)

‘On a Saturday morn­ing in May 1954, George King was given a Comand to: ‘Prepare your­self! You are to become the voice of inter­plan­et­ary parlia­ment’. Through him, the Aetheri­us Soci­ety with branches in Australia and Amer­ica func­tions ‘to propog­ate Vital Trans­mis­sions from the Master Aetheri­us, the Master Jesus, Mars Sector 6 and other Highly Evolved Cosmic Intel­li­gences.’

Power Circles are organ­ised during a ‘Spir­itu­al Push’, when the giant space­craft Satel­lite No 3 is brought into orbit of this Earth by that Great Cosmic Master- Mars Sector 6. The soci­ety holds frequent meet­ings. On Sundays they hold Divine Service at 11am and Spir­itu­al Heal­ing at 3pm at which all are welcome.”

They are also still around- Wiki­pe­dia page

Druid Order, 77 Carlton Aven­ue, Dulwich, SE21 (693 4748)

Run by Dr Thomas Maughan, a Homeo­path of about 70. Open meet­ings altern­ate Fridays at 7.15pm at Caxton Hall, also midsum­mer cere­mon­ies at Stone­henge.”

The Process, 2 Balfour Place, W1 (493 4741)

A wealthy reli­gious commune with a branch in Paris and two in the States. Members wear black with silver crosses and can be seen with styl­ish capes selling their magazines at Notting Hill and Picca­dilly Circus. Open meet­ings on Fridays with a Tele­pathy circle (10s), occa­sion­al lectures and film shows. Open til 4am on Friday and Saturday nights, with medit­a­tion at midnight cost­ing 5s a time.

The doctrine includes abso­lute person­al respons­ib­iliity: whatever you do or is done to you is ulti­mately caused by you – includ­ing your situ­ation if you happen to be born poor or black, which has resul­ted in them being called ‘fascist’. The object of life is to get back to the God-like state that we were once many incarn­a­tions ago. Some of the meth­ods were once based on Sciento­logy from which the name ‘Process’ comes”

There is a very lengthy and even creepi­er Wiki­pe­dia article about them here

Sciento­logy Church, 68 Totten­ham Court Road, W1 (589 3601)

An Amer­ic­an organ­isa­tion who attempt to spread reli­gious enlight­en­ment using quasi-scientif­ic meth­ods and terms. A range of courses is offered to ‘clear’ oneself – ie to reveal one’s hidden poten­tial. The also do ‘audit­ing’ – a meth­od of un-earth­ing the causes of one’s troubles using an ‘E-meter’ which is simil­ar to a lie detect­or. Their road to becom­ing ‘clear’ runs through some hundreds of pounds, though it is possible for impov­er­ished students to pay their way by teach­ing the meth­od as they climb their hier­arch­ic­al ladder.

They still have this shop. In the early 80s when my mum was heav­ily preg­nant with me, she was temp­ing at Senate House for UCL nearby. The Sciento­lo­gists were always stand­ing outside with bribes like free sand­wiches to lure people in, and saw a preg­nant woman walk­ing very slowly to get some lunch as an excel­lent target. They never did succeed. Of course in those days the Sciento­lo­gists were still an obscure cult.

School of Econom­ic Science, 11 Suffolk Street, SW1 (839 6415)

This insti­tu­tion advert­ises their two intro­duct­ory courses in Philo­sophy and Econom­ics (£3 each for twelve weeks – you may attend any day of the week you are free). Although the initial courses may appear to be gener­al, they have a strong lean­ing towards the philo­sophy of Ouspensky. The school is in fact a vehicle for his doctrine, and the courses a way of filter­ing out would-be follow­ers.

My manager at an old job grew up in this cult. He was in gener­al a very mild-mannered and kind  man, but he would always become really agit­ated and passion­ate against cults, and espe­cially seeing adverts from the “School” still trying to use cheap educa­tion­al courses lure people in to the cult he was still trying to pull family members out of. More details about the “School” here.

Exor­cism– Prac­ticed by Fr Neil-Smith, St Saviours Vicar­age, Eton Road, NW3 (772 4621)

Encounter Groups: The idea behind encounter groups is that in every­day life we suppress or distort our expres­sions of feel­ing so that they are accept­able to soci­ety.

In a group, society’s rules are dropped to some extent, depend­ing on the partic­u­lar group: they vary consid­er­ably

Intro­duct­ory groups can be quite exhil­ar­at­ing – the more so if you are excep­tion­ally inhib­ited. They consist of such things as trust-situ­ations, touch­ing and smelling people. From these loosen­ing up meet­ings two types of group may devel­op – sens­it­iv­ity and psycho­drama.

Sens­it­iv­ity groups are for devel­op­ing sens­ory awareness.They involve very delic­ate touch and sounds; silence, group feel­ing, medit­a­tion.

Psycho­drama means enact­ing a situ­ation that is real to one of the group. There are two tech­niques which help – the direct­or can ask two char­ac­ters who have got ‘stuck’ (repeat­ing the same argu­ment perhaps) to swap roles; an onlook­er in the group who iden­ti­fies with a char­ac­ter can speak for him or take his place. When psycho­drama works, the enacted situ­ation becomes a real situ­ation with the char­ac­ters doing what they feel. People are liable to break down or be viol­ent – it’s import­ant that the group leader/​director is both sens­it­ive and in full control.”

Encounter groups, and mammoth 24-hour mara­thon sessions were all the rage at this time, but people later iden­ti­fied seri­ous issues with consent and manip­u­la­tion with this type of approach

There’s a long list in the book as well of differ­ent campaign groups and under­ground news­pa­pers.

 Social Secur­ity

“Social Secur­ity is not just for the desti­tute – don’t think that because you’ve got savings you should be living off these.”

“You cannot claim any bene­fit before your 26th Nation­al Insur­ance stamp, but to get full bene­fit you need at least 50 stamps in the year ending five months before your claim”.

Here is the scan of the basic rates- this is the money you got ASIDE from rent. Unlike today’s unsur­viv­able payments, these are more reas­on­able when compared to the other costs in the book.


I’m guess­ing at the time this was the latest and most progress­ive think­ing on the topic. Times and mental­it­ies have certainly/​hopefully moved on since then. The whole thing comes across as a strange mix of being ahead of its time in terms of support­ive­ness, while being utterly clue­less and patron­ising. Note as well men vs girls.

There’s also a much more useful direct­ory of bars and restaur­ants and organ­isa­tions to contact.

“A small minor­ity of homo­sexu­al men are the obvi­ous camp queers we all recog­nise, and an equally small percent­age of lesbi­ans are butch. The actu­al propor­tion of homo­sexu­als among both men and women is one in every twenty, accord­ing to surveys carried out in Britain and other coun­tries in the west, and this applies to people in all walks of life.”

The ines­cap­able conclu­sions is that we must all know men and girls who are homo­sexu­al without it occur­ing to us: this was borne out by those I talked to when I researched this section.

I met a couple of lesbi­ans who were both very pretty girls of about thirty: one had been married with chil­dren without her having any idea that she was homo­sexu­al. This appears to be common among lesbi­ans – a girl can play the conven­tion­ally pass­ive role with a man without emotion­al involve­ment. It must be because of this passiv­ity that sens­it­ive lesbi­ans tend to be so cut off: girls in gener­al don’t go hunt­ing. Homo­sexu­al men are more fortu­nate in this respect, though it’s only the few who are happy with a camp image.

Like every­one else, their person­al­ity may be aggress­ive swinging, seri­ous or shy. And their rela­tion­ships may be tender, passion­ate, romantic or promis­cu­ous.

No-one is sure what makes a homo­sexu­al and there’s not much choice about it, they just are. They may suppress their feel­ings but that still doesn’t make them feel warm towards the oppos­ite sex. True bi-sexu­als, who can have emotion­ally warm rela­tion­ships with either sex are very rare, though of course anyone can have sex with anyone else.

The most common prob­lem among homo­sexu­als – partic­u­larly lesbi­ans – is isol­a­tion, where their emotions get completely bottled up, known to no-one but them­selves.

As a result of the Sexu­al Offences Act 1967, adult male homo­sexu­als are no longer punished by the law for their private sexu­al rela­tion­ship (Females never were). Some legal anom­alies still remain however. Of these, the most seri­ous is that men between 16 and 21 can still be prosec­uted for private homo­sexu­al beha­viour”

This legal loop­hole was only closed in 2000.


“The sexu­al revolu­tion has meant that we can enjoy sex without guilt or anxi­ety. But unfor­tu­nately this liber­a­tion has brought some bad side effects with it: the pres­sure to conform to have sex is just as bad as the pres­sures to abstain; secondly there is a tend­ency for sex to be treated as some­thing tech­nic­al and without emotion.”


“It’s not confined to dirty or promis­cu­ous people – gonor­rhoea is the second most common conta­gious disease after measles, and you may have it for years without know­ing.

Most VD clin­ics seem designed for unclean people who should feel ashamed: at the West London Hospit­al you are not allowed in the main entrance; you have to go around the back (along with the coal) down to a cramped subter­ranean room. There a man in a kind of box-office calls you in and firmly bolts a wooden hatch before asking your name in a semi-whis­per, ever so care­fully avoid­ing look­ing you in the eyes. He then gives you a number which is used instead of your name, so that only you and he need know who you are – I’m surprised they don’t issue masks.

There are one or two clin­ics that treat you with respect, like Middle­sex Hospital’s new James Pringle House or Univer­sity College Hospit­al. However all the clin­ics listed can cure you- some just add a touch of punish­ment as part of their free service.”

There’s also a long list of vari­ous STDs and their symp­toms much the same as you’d find in a modern guide. However of course this was the days before HIV.

Contra­cep­tion by Stephanie of Time Out

“Every­one knows about oestro­gen and proges­ter­one (some people can even spell them) and the vast waves of them which are drown­ing the coun­try, giving thou­sands of women scarcely out of school throm­boses, turn­ing men into women by contam­in­at­ing the water supply, and encour­aging fornic­a­tion and wife-swap­ping in the suburbs. But what a lot of people don’t know, and should, is how to get hold of some.”

“Depart­ment of Health policy is to make contra­cept­ive advice freely avail­able to all who need it, but in many cases doctors feel it against their prin­ciples to give contra­cept­ives to unmar­ried people, and refuse – which is fair enough, because for the govern­ment to be able to over-ride the indi­vidu­al consciences and feel­ings of the medic­al profes­sion would be an alarm­ing preced­ent. But never­the­less, the unsym­path­et­ic atti­tude of some GPs must cause a lot of worry, abor­tions and ille­git­imacies.

Contra­cep­tion is avail­able to anyone determ­ined enough, and a girl who is sure that she wants it, and of a fairly strong nature, will always manage to get it. But social pres­sures are often too strong for girls less sure of them­selves – and these are likely to be less mature and not able to cope with a preg­nancy”

There then follows a whole list of advice and contacts for getting hold of the pill or a cap if your GP is obstruct­ive, medic­al inform­a­tion about differ­ent contra­cept­ives, inform­a­tion and contacts for abor­tion and price compar­is­ons for condom brands.

“Pills cost from 11s 6 for three months to 8s 3 a moth. Basic­ally the high­er the cost, the high­er the dose of P and O, so if you are put on an expens­ive brand and either the cost or the high dosage both­ers you, ask your doctor if there is any reas­on why he recom­men­ded that one for you.”

The pill is now free in the UK, and formu­las are much milder than in the 60s.


Heroin is the drug with the junkie image. It can be eaten (tastes bitter) but is more often taken by sniff­ing or injec­tion … it is fairly easy to with­draw a user. What is really diffi­cult is to make life without the drug satis­fy­ing to him.”

Cocaine: … its illi­cit consump­tion is now very rare: it was once used to reduce the down effect of heroin”

Barbitu­ates: These are not as easy to get addicted to as injec­ted opiates, but the addic­tion is more danger­ous. In Britain about half a million people take them regu­larly of whom some 100,000 are depend­ent… Mandrax is simil­ar in its effects and rather more danger­ous.”

Barbitu­ates are no longer regu­larly prescribed as sleep­ing pills for exactly those reas­ons, and Mandrax is no longer offi­cially manu­fac­tured at all.

LSD: … baby-sitting for someone on a trip can be very boring so have a book or sewing with you. He may feel inde­pend­ent and super­i­or but in fact is suggest­ible and needs your secur­ity continu­ally”

There is a very weird assump­tion there that some man’s girl­friend has to act as the Acid Mummy.

There’s also a very thor­ough rundown of differ­ent brands of prescrip­tion amphet­am­ines like Prelud­in and Methedrine, which were widely avail­able in the 60s. Cannabis is listed at 20s per 8th of an ounce. Mush­rooms get a brief mention, but synthet­ic drugs like MDMA or Ketam­ine were virtu­ally unknown at this time.

The price list for alco­hol shows beer and cider as being very cheap- 2s 7 for a stand­ard pint bottle (ie 572ml), wine as more expens­ive 12s a 750ml bottle, and spir­its extremely expens­ive at 52s per 572ml bottle.

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