David Gale, quoted by Palacios “When we moved from Cambridge, Syd and I shared a bedsit in Tottenham Street off Tottenham Court Road. "
"Seamus O’Connell was at school with Syd and his mother was a strange bohemian lady who read palms. And she used to read our palms in her flat on Tottenham Street. Syd and I got a room in this hideous block full of deranged people, and the rent tribunal practically insisting the landlord give it to us for free, it was so dreadful. Syd and I lived in the same room for a number of months before I moved down to nearby Earlham Street, near Cambridge Circus.” Seamus O’Connell: “He had a bedsit there. My mother had set up house in this place, and various friends had gotten bedsits there. An appalling place, but it had an atmosphere to it. And Syd was getting interested in the occult, which my mother was also into. She would do tarot card readings for him.”
January – December 1965
39 Stanhope Gardens,
Highgate, London N6
Mike Leonard still lives there.
2 Earlham Street,
Covent Garden, London WC2
Syd followed David Gale to Earlham Street, in the heart of the West End, where Charing Cross Road intersects with Shaftesbury Avenue. He and Lindsay Korner took the attic room. Peter Wynne-Wilson (the owner) and Susie Gawler-Wright also lived there.
The building Syd lived in has been demolished and replaced… the new No. 2 has the newsagent’s with the ‘Time Out’ logo on the ground floor. But the Marquis Of Granby pub is unchanged.
The Marquis Of Granby faces the Palace Theatre, currently showing ‘Spamalot’ for all you Python fans ! The area between the two is known as Cambridge Circus. Joe Boyd recalls encountering Syd there in 1967: “One evening in May I ran into Syd and his girlfriend in Cambridge Circus. It is strange to recall that early on a weekend evening there was almost no traffic in the heart of London. Syd was sprawled on the kerb, his velvet trousers torn and dirty, his eyes crazed. Lindsay told me he’d been taking acid for a week.”
Just around the corner from the Palace Theatre, on Old Compton Street, is the Pollo Bar (continue along Old Compton Street a couple of hundred yards to Wardour Street, home of the Marquee). A more distressing piece of history associated with Old Compton Street is that in 1999 it suffered a nail-bomb attack aimed at the gay community.
Nicholas Schaffner describes Syd and Lindsay’s early months at Earlham Street with Peter and Susie: “The two couples enjoyed a relaxed, bohemian existence, sleeping all morning, lingering for hours at the Pollo Bar in Old Compton Street over sandwiches, and often playing the Oriental board game ‘Go’ well into the night. “
Early 67 : 101 Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7 4DN
Syd moved to 101 with Lindsay. Also living there at that time: Duggie Fields, Nigel and Jenny Lesmoir-Gordon .
101 was a place of underground myth and legend well before Syd got there: when Donovan described the scene in ‘Sunny South Kensington’, he name checked not just John Paul Belmondo, Mary Quant and Allen Ginsberg, but 101 itself.
“Come loon soon down Cromwell Road, man,
A-flip out, skip out, trip-out, and a-make your stand, folks,
To dig me as I sing.”
(Hmm. Some people question why I have limited time for Donovan)
Palacios writes that ‘The Cromwell flat, since 1965, had been a critical nexus for underground (and illicit) activities of every shade and stripe. Painters, musicians, eccentrics, mystics and freaks mixed with film stars, pop icons and slumming hip young aristocrats. Duggie Fields remembers when Syd moved in: “The Pink Floyd used to rehearse in the flat and I used to go downstairs and put on Smokey Robinson as loud as possible. I just remember being surrounded by the Pink Floyd and hundreds of groupies instantly”.’
South Kensington, SW7 3HT
Late 67 – January 1968: Egerton Court is at the start of Old Brompton Road, directly opposite South Kensington Tube Staton. Syd moved there with Lindsay. Also there at this time: David Gale, Nigel and Jenny, Storm Thorgesen, Po Powell. It may not get a mention in a Donovan song, but if anything, Egerton Court gave birth to even more lurid tales than 101. David Gale told Palacios “We all embarked on an extremely acid-crazed period. We had this long thin flat, a long corridor with rooms off to one side only, just outside South Kensington tube station…” It was here that concerns first grew about Syd’s violence towards Lindsay, that failed attempts were made to put him in touch with R.D. Laing and where Jonathan Meades believes Syd was locked in a cupboard during a bad trip.
January 68: Syd moved to Richmond Hill, TW10 with Lindsay. (There is a road called Richmond Hill, but it’s also the name of the area, so there was no obvious location to photograph. What may have made this address attractive to Syd is that it was close to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, which Rosemary tells us he returned to visit even in the 2000s).
Rick Wright moved there too, apparently in an attempt to separate Syd from the ‘acid-crazed’ Egerton Court environment. Ironically, Jock and Sue Kingsford, who had passed through Earlham Street and Cromwell Road, followed. That’s ‘Mad’ Jock and Sue, as they were nicknamed, one reason being their psychedelic intake.
In Mid 68, Syd split with Lindsay, drove round England in a mini with Jock and Sue, then returned to Cambridge, where he was admitted to hospital for a period. In late 68 he returned to London and crashed on floors for a while.
Earl’s Court Square, SW5 9BH.
Syd and Duggie Fields knew each other from Cromwell Road days. They agreed to take a flat in Earl’s Court. Syd invited Gayla Pinion to follow. This is the flat that features on the cover of ‘The Madcap Laughs’. Syd lived here through the majority of the recording of that album and all of ‘Barrett’.
Yet, Duggie recalls this as a period of inertia: “We lived in adjoining rooms, and I did all my work in my room, and sometimes the wall between us was flimsy. I knew exactly what was going on that side of the wall and I presume Syd knew exactly what was happening on this side. It was strange. I knew that he’d be lying in bed doing nothing, and I knew that he’d be lying there, thinking that while he was lying there, he had the potential to do anything in the world. But the minute he got up he limited his potential, so he did nothing in the end.”
“I found him living up the road from Earl’s Court… Again he didn’t speak much at all. He was sitting in the corner on a mattress and he’d painted every other floorboard alternate colours. He boiled an egg in a kettle and ate it. And he listened over and over again to Beach Boys tapes, which I found distressing. We sat for hours and we may have touched fleetingly…”
“…He was completely self-indulgent with his thought processes, never trying to control or direct them within any bounds of reason. Reasoning was inconclusive and unnecessary to him, because one reason led to another indefinitely, like infinity. Surely reason should provide an answer, but as there was no answer, there was no reason. And I remembered all the beautiful songs he had written about gnomes and cats and stars and weird fairyland things. Then he looked straight at me and said ‘ISN’T IT BORING LYING HERE ALL DAY THINKING OF NOTHING’. "
The emphasis is Julian Palacios’, not mine, but I think he called it right: the wishful fantasies Jenny projected onto Syd were hers, not his. NO PICS FOR THE FOLLOWING PERIOD:
In Mid-70, Syd returned to his childhood home at Hills Road, Cambridge and took over the cellar. He was engaged to Gayla on 1st October 70. The couple also did some dog-sitting at Steve Marriot’s Essex house around this time. The engagement didn’t last. 1972 saw the ‘Stars’ era end inconclusively. Syd seems to have been hospitalised for a period at the end of the year.
Then, in 1973, Pink Floyd went interstellar with the Dark Side Of The Moon. Syd’s income began to grow, especially when ‘A Nice Pair’ was released in December 1973. He returned to the bright lights and the trappings of success.
December 1973 intermittently - 1982
Just around the corner from Chelsea Cloisters: it’s now a classy restaurant, but close in on the panel in the red brick wall to find the original moniker. Chelsea Cloisters doorman, Ronnie Salmon: “He used to drink in The Marlborough just around the corner… When I used to go round for a few beers with my mates, we’d see him sitting over in the corner as if in a dream. He was on his own all the time… always on his own. I’d try to get him to talk about his music, but he just wasn’t interested.”
Harrod’s is within a 5 minute walk of Chelsea Cloisters. A number of ‘classic’ Barrett encounters took place there. At various times, he has said to have been seen in Harrod’s with
a) A bulging carrier bag of sweets
b) Several pairs of trousers of different sizes
c) A Yogi Bear tie
d) Gayla Pinion
Take your pick ! In 1981, Syd was declared bankrupt and returned to live with Win in Cambridge, taking the smaller back bedroom of 6 St. Margaret’s Square. It seems that a spell in Fulbourne psychiatric hospital followed in 81/82. In Summer 1982. Syd made a brief return to Chelsea Cloisters, for a matter of weeks. He then returned to St. Margaret’s Square and resumed life as Roger Keith Barrett.