I first met Hoppy through George Clark when the London Free School was being set up. I was a second year design student at the LCP and had been working with George art editing his community magazine People and Politics.
Hoppy was a magnet and a force for those who desired to make sense of the world through action. Paraphrasing Fluxus, Hoppy was a happening always in the making, a living performance questioning and transforming everyday experience into moments of enhanced passionate quality.
Hoppy immediately found a role for me at the London Free School applying design ideas for a symbol that could be applied to various forms of use such as a street banner, T shirt motif etc. I was also asked to organise and style paperwork for the school workshops, art edit The Grove community paper and propose a workshop class that I would take for the local community.
Design and production of the The Grove community paper took place on the floor of Hoppy’s appartment in Queensway. The job required a range of design and production equipment which needed to be brought out and packed away on the day of production so I had to design and manufacture a mobile studio case that would carry all the kit required. It was 1966 I was 21 and living in two worlds. One as a student of design in my second year of study at college, the other in Notting Hill Gate, a local world fast developing as a centre of community politics and countercultural ideas.
Hoppy’s appartment was the epicentre of this new world for me at the time. It was a crossroad for a constant flow of human traffic. Activists, poets, thinkers, creatives moving through from one side of the world to another from one london village to another. The phone was always ringing, a national newspaper calling to brief Hoppy on a photo assignment, a panic call from someone in the middle of a difficult drug experience.
I simply remember how a gleeful Hoppy appeared to be everywhere at once and when he wasn’t there people would talk about him not being there and wondering what he was up to and imagining what it could be. The phone would ring and it would be Hoppy, the next moment you would find yourself packed inside a mini going to meet Warhol and half the Beatles at a London hotel. The phone would ring and it would be Hoppy and you find yourself part of a chain of calls organising a demo at the News of the World. He never missed the opportunity to create publicity for the scene by using an event that could be turned into a happening. When I married in May 1967 the occasion was turned into a Hyde Park happening with live steel band music organised by Michael X. This attracted police attention and made it into the tabloid press the following day.
Through Hoppy I met a whole company of wonderful characters in a speed of connection that was dizzying. People would meet in various flats across town, a series of safe places for the experience of drugs and heightened conversation. The supply of drugs always seemed to be free and of good quality. The pace of talk and variety of ideas discussed was electric. Hoppy invited me to join the staff of International Times as Art Editor which opened another door of perception to a spinning world of issues, argument and sensory experience that I must admit I found hard to hold onto at times though Hoppy and Tom McGrath knew ways to make things simple with an accompanying whoop of delight.
Love was in the air and Hoppy married Suzy Creamcheese. I loved them both and danced at their wedding in the hall of St Pancras Register Office. He was very happy and having just served 6 months for cannabis possession his wedding to Suzy was a renewed celebration of life. They were a great couple, both shone and sparkled.
Things changed after the raid on the IT offices. I moved on after Tom left the paper and saw less of Hoppy. When he came out of prison I was living in Richmond developing spiritual interests and finding myself in a growing community of like minded artist, musicians and seekers. He was never far from my thoughts over the years and we met again in the late 90’s when he was living with Sue Hall in Goswell Road. Dinah and I went to meet, eat and speak at Sue and Hoppy’s place and they came to our place. He was the same Hoppy, a real presence in my world. I later met him for lunch with Jeff Dexter and the lovely Isabel when he was living in sheltered accommodation. By this time everything had slowed down in his life but it just made Hoppy look more deliberate.
Our final meeting came just a few days before this New Year. Dinah and I received a surprise call from Kate Archard that Hoppy was at UCH and had asked us to see him. On our visit the next day Hoppy managed to ask us on several occasions whether we had a car and proceeded to spend most of our visit attempting to raise himself out of the bed. Given the chance and the energy he would have left and returned home without a doubt using us as his escape team. We all tried to persuade him that he was in the best place for him at that time. But he still tried to escape.
I was asked the following question for an article in a creative website: ‘ Who is the most interesting person you have met during your career and what was it that they imparted to you’?. This is an extract from my piece about Hoppy:
‘He inspired and enabled young people of his generation to believe in their own ideas for active involvement in the world. Helping people understand that we should always be able to surprise ourselves and that without change we would simply rust away’.
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven! (Wordsworth)