Hippies and Gloomsters

ON A late summer's Sunday lunchtime the 'beautiful people' of Andover were not in San Fransisco with flowers in their hair where love was free and drugs plentiful.

They would brag to each other that they were about to leave — the only things stopping them was a passport, money and the fact that they had to be at work at 7.30 in the morning.

No, the exotic meeting place was the Seven Stars pub at Leckford [located at Fullerton and now known as The Mayfly] which opened from noon until 2pm on a Sunday.

To stand and lose yourself staring into the cool, clear expansive waters of the Test passing quietly, endlessly by was to allow deep introspective and profound thought. What is it all about, who am I, where am I going? We knew that the river was melt water from a glacier near Chute treacle mines and that it was destined to crash out over a cliff adding to a rise in sea level. But what of us? Could it be that if every person that reads the Andover Rag were to die that the sun would rise in the morning and the Test would be witness? Luckily this alcoholic remorse from a great Saturday party would pass after a couple of pints and all would be well in the world again.

Now amongst our crowd that day was the legend that is Maxie Lane.

Maxie Lane — poet, philosopher, artist and rogue in equal measure. A man of great talent and much insecurity. That day for some unknown reason he was dressed in a new fitted suit and was a storyteller. Children and their parents listened to Maxie's tales of sharks and pirates which regularly visited this part of the river. It became talk of the fish clearly seen below us swimming effortlessly.

The story then that Maxie told was of him being able to dive in and catch one of the fish in his mouth. I drifted off a few yards to speak to someone else when it got to the pantomime-esque 'Oh yes I could, Oh no you couldn't'.

Suddenly there was a huge splash and Maxie was in the river fully clothed. True to his word he came to the surface with a fish in his mouth to squeals of excitement from the children and laughter and applause from all.

Now the fish was still frozen and in it's plastic wrapper, Maxie had gone in the window of the pub kitchen and liberated it from the freezer. It must have been the landlord's supper because he was furious and barred us all from his pub.

Maxie the legend having the craic.

Brian Forrest, Maple House, Over Wallop