In 1982, Syd Barrett – the semi-mythical founding member of Pink Floyd - finally gave up on life in London and walked to his mum’s house in Cambridge.
Nobody can quite say how long he took to walk to Cambridge or what route he took – or indeed if he stopped along the way. Some people say he completed the whole trip walking on his hands.
On Monday (28/7) I’m going to walk ‘The Syd Barrett Way’ with a couple of mates (Andy & Lloyd) – or rather it’ll be our estimation of a way Syd Barrett might have walked from London to Cambridge:
I’m going to try as much as I can to tie the walk in to Syd (or Roger as he preferred to be called once he moved back to Cambridge) by referencing songs, incidents from his life and writings from fansites.
For example, we’re going to start our journey at the site of the legendary UFO club on Monday, close to a flat on Tottenham Street where Syd lived with an elderly palm reader who introduced him to the I Ching - and not far from one of the last sighting of Syd by a friend in London:
Around the same time, one of Syd's old Cambridge friends was driving along Oxford Street when he suddenly spied him loping along the pavement. Braking to a halt, the friend leaped out and scurried after the retreating figure of Syd who stonily ignored his greeting. His forward gaze did not falter, nor did he slow down. Finally the perplexed friend asked Syd where he was walking to. Barrett stopped, turned, and fixed his piercing green eyes on the pursuer. "Far further than you could possibly imagine," he said before striding off purposefully.
We’re going to end up at the chalk pits at Cherry Hinton where (allegedly) Syd experienced his first LSD trip, conveniently caught on film at the time. We’ll conclude with a pint of Syd’s favourite tipple – Guinness - at his local pub, The Rock.
Along the way we might try and make sense of some of Syd’s odder and more obscure lyrics that reference nature and the countryside. We’re also going to try and walk a bit like Syd – apparently he had a rather odd gait, and liked to bounce on the balls of his feet a lot. This may or may not have been a sign of mental illness and/or autism (allegedly).
Incidentally, we’re setting out on the anniversary of the day that Syd officially ‘changed’ – the start of a lost weekend in 1967 from which the old Syd never recovered (although to be fair this is another story about Syd that is much disputed. See this discussion thread for details).
I’m hoping to be changed by our own 'lost' three days of journeying along the Syd Barrett Way. The big differences for us, though, are that none of us had songs written about us by Pink Floyd (although Lloyd was called 'Pink Lloyd' at school), we're not that 'mad' or even 'madcap' (although I worry about Andy sometimes), and we will definitely not be taking any mind-altering drugs at all. No, not at all.
We may, or may not, bring a Scarecrow with us:
Track us and add your own thoughts about Syd using the hashtag #sydtrip on Twitter, Youtube, Flickr and Soundcloud.