A whistle-stop talk at my alma mater yesterday unlocked some memories. Funny, the tricks time plays.The University of Westminster on Upper Regent Street, a spit from BBC Broadcasting House, has been called a few things in its time. It was the Regent Street Polytechnic when Roger Waters, Richard Wright and Nick Mason studied there from 1962 to '66, and where they conceived Pink Floyd.
I didn't know that when I was a student there myself, years later. When a gang of us (Derek from Ashby, Sandy Evans, where are you now?) would sit around wearing out our vinyl copies of 'Wish You Were Here', 'The Dark Side of the Moon' and 'Meddle'. What sticks? 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond', their tragic tribute to Syd Barratt, the beautiful and inspirational band member who didn't make it, whose mental collapse caused him to wither when they needed him most. 'Meddle's' curious 'ear-under-water' cover, I couldn't work it out for ages, and 'Echoes' denoting their musical shift from psychadelic to progressive, and 'A Pillow of Winds' my favourite-ever track title.
The evidence is there now, for all to see. A plaque on the wall. Another brick in it.
Nick Mason barely remembers those days, he says. For the creator, so much with which to experiment, through which to grow, from which to drift away. To deny. For the mere observer, the listener, the peripheral memories are more precious. I stockpile mine, the milestones, the peculiarities, the twists and turns of the doomed. Back then, I sat scribbling notes in dusty lectures in the very building where a rock legend was conceived. Today, I see those guys around at this event or that, and have to think of that as normal. Back then, in my navy school uniform, taking the 227 from Bromley Market Square to Beckenham and trudging up Southend Road in a sweat, off to doorstep David and Angie, setting the template for what I would grow up to do for money. All strange, yet not. And yet.