In his seminal socio history of Punk, “England’s Dreaming”, Jon Savage makes the bald assertion that “Charles Radcliffe laid the foundation for the next twenty years of sub-cultural theory”, referring in particular to his 1966 piece “the Seeds of Social Destruction’ that appeared in the first of two issues of Radcliffe’s co authored, insurrectionary street-zine, ‘Heatwave’ .
Teddy Boys, Ton Up Kids, Mods and Rockers, Beats, Ban the Bombers,The Ravers ( jazz heads) : Radcliffe argued that the bank holiday bust ups, the demos, the riots, the sex drugs n rock n’ roll, these were all part of a “youth revolt… (that ) has left a permanent mark on this society, has challenged assumptions and status, and been prepared to vomit its’ disgust in the streets. The youth revolt has not always been comfortable, valid, to the point or helpful. It has however made its first stumbling political gestures with an immediacy that revolutionaries should not deny, but envy.”
Radcliffe joined the International Situationists within the year, alongside (English founder ) Chris Gray, but by the time 1968 had ended, and youthful revolt had fed into wide pockets of political turmoil globally, Radcliffe had started to drift towards other poles of late 60s’s counterculture. He ended the 60’s in long hair and loon pants, banged up in a Belgian prison on hash smuggling charges.
This epic ( 900 + pages) book follows Radcliffes’ trials and tribulations from public school beginnings, into the 60’s underground and the Mr Nice style large scale hash smuggling years (his friend, Howard Marks, pops up throughout) , on to prison, divorce, remarriage and beyond. It offers up important first hand perspectives on 60’s / 70’s counterculture, and an intimate portrait of a man who seemed to face the slings and arrows that fortune threw at him with a never ending supply of equanimity. And high grade hash.