It was the pre-conference preparation session and as Lesly, Esteban and I had all registered as volunteers we set off across London in Esteban’s massive people carrier in the direction of the Greenwich Meridian. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and we spent most of the drive listening to Esteban indulging in his favourite pastime which was basically bitching about his arch enemy. It was a great way to pass the time, listening to a fascinating story told with such passion and comic ingenuity.
On our arrival at Greenwich University we found our way into the inner-sanctum of what was to be the room dedicated to more practical workshops during Breaking Convention. We were greeting warmly by people like Julian Vayne, Nikki Wyrd, David Luke and Ben Sessa and directed towards a group of fellow volunteers who seemed to have instinctively organised themselves into the hyper efficiency of the industrial assembly line, repetitively and robotically attaching “Lanyards” to plastic wallets containing name tags in the form of LSD blotter paper.
It’s strange how sometimes neither the eagerness to be actively involved in a process nor even the obligation, be it self-imposed or otherwise, are enough to warrant one’s smooth assimilation therein. Having said that, we eventually found our niche and after a brief period of silence got chatting to a few people we’d never met before who were there for similar reasons to us. It seemed like all we really wanted to do was hug each other and say things like “Aren’t drugs amazing!” but according to the collective unspoken rules of social interaction we managed to keep ourselves under control. The guy next to me and Lesly was from Finland and was there as part of a trip round Europe, he’d just been to Portugal and seemed to be a bit low on funds. He was staying at a hostel nearby but would really have preferred to stay at someone’s house for free, he said he had DMT which he could offer in return. We felt a bit awkward about not being able to offer him anything which he may have gathered through our total lack of response to the proposal so instead he recommended us a really nice Ethiopian food stall on Greenwich Market which we went to every lunchtime for the next three days.
Once we’d got through the nametags we organised ourselves in readiness for a short talking session about a few practical matters such as making sure people were who they said they were (i.e. by checking their nametags) and other things which I personally promptly forgot. A grey-haired gentleman who looked like he was probably quite posh opened the door next to where I was sitting and kept it ajar with an empty chair, we exchanged serious nods which at the time I found quite amusing. Lesly would later intimate that he was rude and unfriendly which at the time I just took as a clash between her latinness and his englishness however after further dealings with him I kind of started to understand what she meant! Sometimes psychedelic people really aren’t the happy-clappy types you might imagine them to be.