I bumped into Rowley earlier tonight. I was walking home after a forced separation from my apple mac in favour of a couple of beers with an old friend. The night was warm and the Doors crooned in my ears as I saw the unmistakable silhouette of his wiry figure skittering, zig-zag fashion down the road towards me.
|It reminded me of ten years ago when stumbling home from town i saw the same figure thrashing around in the bushes, his combats just visible in the dark as he wielded a stick in search of wild opium poppies. At his side was a satchel stuffed with his crop.
I have no idea how old he is. Doctors say he should have been dead years ago. “A wonder of medical science”, others say. At least in his fifties, he looks older, much older than he did the last time i saw him.
Over four thousand Dexedrine have travelled down his throat since our last meeting. The same throat that has just recovered from cancer has remorselessly channelled his weekly prescription of 80 Dextroamphetamine.
There is talk of a trip to America in aid of medical research where he is the study subject. That’s if they let him in, or can even pin down his manic self long enough to get him on a plane. Fear and loathing in Las Vegas would have nothing on that trip.
Amphetamine therapy turned into addiction many years ago and Rowley understands the implications only to well. He understands an incredible amount of many things in-fact, as his I.Q. is high enough to baffle any mensa member. Tonight he was doing a very good job of explaining the reason behind his addictions, how they are directly related to the behaviour of his late Grandfather.
Originally a metallurgist, Rowley Ford’s life started taking a different turn when he took a trip overland to India with a chemist friend and a coke bottle full of liquid acid.
This event of which he only remembers two days is one of the few snippets I have managed to glean from Rowley’s psychedelic past as he talks faster than my ears can translate and is not the kind of guy you can pin down in a ‘normal’ conversation.
What takes me is his wit. As soon as a statement leaves your mouth he has a retort. Sometimes they are so clever you nervously laugh before it sinks in and you grin at the slowness of your mind in comparison to the rapidity of his.
Music seems to be his fulcrum and he has always moved about it. At gigs dancing like a shaman possessed, at the local studio mixing with the bands of now and gone. Even featuring with his statements, quotes and theories on massive selling records of the Spacemen 3.
Realer than real, he is one of the truly fascinating characters of this town, Rugby, and one day, probably sooner rather than later, a large piece of this town will die.
When that happens you will see amazing things. People you have not seen in an age, coming together, telling stories that revolve around an individual that single handedly maintained and lived within the counterculture of a local populous. A person that when he has gone will not have legends told about him. No. With Rowley Ford, the truth is far sranger than any tale our simple minds can construct.