Out of the blue

カテゴリー Essays




So what is the real blue deal that IT comes out of? That is the question..

“It came to me out of the blue?” or.. ” I don’t know what happened I just got the job out of the blue!” or ..”She just showed up out of the blue.” Now we presume the blue is the sky, that great emptiness we all hang unaware of inside. Actually it is a brilliant metaphor for a not so obvious reason perhaps. The Heart Sutra uses the same Chinese character for Sky as Emptiness.  But we will get to that. One day we will, I promise…Here is a taste of emptiness..

Listen Sariputra,
this Body itself is Emptiness
and Emptiness itself is this Body…

And the opposite? A watched kettle never boils..in other words expectation is a two edged sword that more often than not decapitates your dreams. Expect the unexpected is the only expectation that works..

There is a truly shitty place in Kabul. Literally! Kabul in 1971 had a public shit square right in the middle of town as I remember. Never in my life, apart from the shit-lined streets of Katmandhu have I witnessed such a proliferation of excrement. And I was still recovering from the hammering my mind had taken at the border with Iran. I had snuck behind the customs post to smoke a joint of the newly discovered black Afghan hash. Figuring it would help me sleep through the long bus drive ahead..was a foolish decision. This was not the watered down shit they sold you at the pub in Aberdeen that you had to mix with three fags worth of tobacco in a phallic container of three skins i.e. cigarette papers. No this was of an entirely different ilk, like comparing champagne to methanol. And yeah, we did call hashish shit because, well take a look at the colour for one. Picture a turd that has waited a long time to get out, fully compressed and almost ready for mould to grow on it.

” Got any shit man?”

“Shit man I’m sorry but my parents gave me shit for having shit stashed in the shit house. I nearly shit myself when the shit came down that it was my shit. I shit you not! ”

You get the idea, the very richness of the term. By the time I had got through the greasy immigration inspectors’ check of my meagre belongings I was starting to feel the intense paranoia that only really good shit can bring, out of the blue. These guys all had guns strapped to them and they were annoyingly big and uniformly fat. On my way back to the bus I had stopped for a moment to admire the astonishing Pathan tribeswomen in their multi coloured dresses. Long hair was lightly wrapped in headscarves and rings glinted on their noses. They smelled of wild..

Out of the blue a rifle in my face with a large moustache attached to its far end. Raucous anger conveyed the idea perfectly. Do not look at our women! So within ten minutes of arriving in Afghanistan and with a long way to go before Herat I was juicing myself with adrenaline, fueled by shit THC and a bizarre set of customs belonging to the Pashtuns who had lived here and handled every type of enemy for forever. Think the Taliban on speed with a hangover and you get a bit of the vibe..

After having spent several more days on the road and finally landed in the capital i settled into a bare room with a candle and a bed and, of course my dear companions the bedbugs. So the bed went out leaving me with a pure zen environment to wait out the war with India and Pakistan that was keeping the Eastern Khyber pass border closed.

Days walking Kabul that inevitably led to shit square. No amount of googling has brought me back this image objectively. I checked! Public shitting Kabul. Shit square Kabul. Not one image. But it was huge! I remember it had planked walkways over the mounds of excrement that built up. Since most people wore baggy trousers or long robes it may not have seemed so public to the daily shitters who would casually breeze up to an open spot and let it all go. Yes, I used it too given the reality that Kabul had very few shithouses anywhere. If you needed to go in the capital shit square was the pace.

Or are my memories totally warped by the hash and later by the raw opium I took to control the dysentery? The dreams are by far the most never ending story dreams you can imagine. The taste of a raw opium ball is indescribably bad but I will give it a shot. An old marshmallow steeped in motor oil for a week. After throwing up your lungs several times over then the ecstatic dream sequences begin. Within a day your dystentery has morphed into shittable shit with shape and shine. Works a treat!

The wait had gone over a month. The hotel manager had agreed to let me stay with a daily meal included bless his good Muslim heart. But that was because he thought I was getting money sent from the inevitable rich relatives back in the West. I mean to him it was inconceivable that a nineteen year old Brit would not get the money for the bill at the end of this long stay in the bare room with that one candle..

We, the original and only hippies depended on the blue for everything. We had a faith that no amount of church would ever be able to give because the people who went there were clueless after all. Show any one of them shit square and they would summarily pass out from the shock.

Something will turn up…and it always did. But you could certainly have tasked the blue with its timing sometimes. The war was not going well. The border could be closed for years. I was marooned in Kabul and there was no way I was going back into Iran and the far East of Turkey with its woe begotten street orphans offering blow jobs on the street, their bare feet blue with cold, their skins pockmarked with disease, seven year olds in ugly 50 year old bodies . No way I was going back that road. I need money to fly out of here and pay my bill. The alternative was not healthy at all. Leave in the night and be on the run with the manager’s Pashtun brothers and uncles and fathers on my tail in the bare rock world outside Kabul.. heading into those mountains?

Something always turns up. That is the key tenet of the Holy Hippy Bible.

On the last night in the hotel, the ultimatum having been given by that blessed manager, I ran into a young Jewish guy from New York. Like many of the phoney hippies he had the backpack, the travelers cheques, the medical insurance up the yin yang. We sat round the candle and I shared my dilapidated journey with him and did not forget to mention the lack of finances. What was fifty dollars to him?

The next day I descended from the blue into Amritsar airport and immediately headed for the head. I was out of raw opium and the shits were back. Out of the blue..