A Year in My Life

For a Christmas 2008 feature The Times commissioned various writers to look back at a year which had changed their life. I chose 1967

Can I have really made so many decisions in one year? Looking back, it seems almost impossible. In April I left my job and life in New York and returned to England. In the summer, I started to write my first ever novel – not counting the one about the black stallion when I was fourteen. In December, just before Christmas, I got married.

I don’t think I’ve made any serious decisions since. It all started, as things tend to do, the year before. I was working for ABC television as a researcher in their documentary department. My subjects inclined to the gloomy, unless you count interviewing Timothy Leary (Tune in Turn on, Drop out) in his upstate New York mansion as fun. Actually, it was rather amazing to meet this icon of drugs on home ground. He appeared Deus ex Machina at the top of a sweeping stairway , dressed all in white and escorted by lovely maidens.

My more usual contacts were semi-toothless (too much sugar among other things) heroin addicts who didn’t have long for this world. Drugs were a big part of my life, not because I took them – alcohol has always been my addiction of choice – but because I was working on a TV programme on the subject. I was also doing research for some English TV companies who wanted to get a US perspective. Oh if only the mice hadn’t gnawed my beautiful posters of the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane.

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