I’ve been meaning to write briefly about Mick Farren since I read of his death at the start of the week. Farren was something of a counter-cultural polymath; he was a music journalist, provocateur, novelist, and from time to time a performer as well. (His 60s band, the Deviants, spawned the Pink Fairies, who were as influential as they have been under-regarded). But you can read all of this in Richard Williams’ generous obituary.
I wanted to mention something from his first novel, Texts of Festival, which I read some time after it came out in 1973. My copy has long vanished, but it’s set in a post-apocalyptic depopulated world in which infrastructure has been destroyed and energy is scarce. I’d describe it as a “Mad Max” novel except that it predates the movie by six years.
Anyway, the settlement has a creaking music system held together now by string and sealing wax, and so old and close to breakdown that it can be played only in one circumstance – if they get attacked. In this eventuality they must put on the Doors’ sing “The End” and play it at maximum volume, all the way up to eleven, while hoping the sound system doesn’t collapse under the strain.
Spoiler alert: and so it comes to pass.
The image has stuck with me for more than thirty years. And how many novels can you say that of?
There’s also a fine obituary by Ian Fraser at Terracope.