Monday, 20 February 2017

False Claim Rebuked:: Dagga legalisation ‘could lead to long-term abuse’

Your headline reads "Dagga legalisation ‘could lead to long-term abuse’ and you list possible bad effects from consuming cannabis.

The word "misuse" means to use for a purpose other than for which it is intended.

I put it to you that most if not all people that consume cannabis do so with the intention that it makes them feel better - that is an intended use, irrespective of law.  It also includes a high number of people that use it with the intention of it easing pain, spasms, insomnia, loss of appetite and many of things; and they report, in very many cases, psoitively.

Like most beneficial and medicinal substances, those that find relief and especially those that have not found it in pharmaceutical drugs, continue to use it for that very reason:

their use does not become abuse, just like for people who use pharmaceutical products may continue to do so, often for the rest of their lives, because they are prescribed and because they want to feel better - whether or not the drugs work - do not change from "users" to "abusers."

If dagga becomes legal to grow, possess or even buy and sell, it must be remembered that the law is about people, not drugs.   If the law is meant to protect people then cannabis consuers deserve the same level of protection as people get when they buy other commodities (quality, cleanliness, packaging, safety) and that is only possible if the activities are within the law.

Is the law meant to protect us or simply try to control our choices?  Should it punish people who make the wrong choices, even if they do no harm?

Of, course on the other hand, if the law is meant to try to deter people from growing or uisng cannabis and force them to depend on pharmaceutical drugs, risk exposing them to criminal drug suppliers, limit their social consumption to alcohol, and keep criminal profits beyoind the reach of the taxman, then keep the law as it is.

Dagga legalisation ‘could lead to long-term abuse’

Research has shown that use among teens younger than 18 impacts higher brain function.

This will make the country the first in Africa to downgrade cannabis from a Schedule 7 banned substance to a Schedule 6 prescription drug, Springs Advertiser reports.
Dr Shaquir Salduker, board member of the Psychiatry Management Group says he believes the proposed legislation requires review and thorough research, which to date has not been done.
“Easing the laws to allow medical research and discovery is a good idea, but releasing it for general consumption opens the door to possible abuse,” he says.
He adds that a report released in 2013 by the SA Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use suggests that one in 10 people in SA have an addiction problem involving cannabis and alcohol, the most commonly abused drugs.
“Although there are some studies indicating cannabis is as effective as existing painkillers and does have some effect on nausea, appetite stimulation, anxiety and seizures, there are to date no landmark studies into its role in pain management that would make it a revolutionary agent in pain control.
“The trends in the countries that have legalised (cannabis) have led to fraudulent prescriptions and ultimately become an epidemic of abuse, especially among those younger than 18.”
Salduker points out that there are potentially many benefits that will arise from cannabis research, but there has to be a clear message put out that it’s not the same as the substance that is being smoked, eaten, vaporised or brewed in teas.
“The danger is that if it’s being used medicinally, we have no idea of what dose is being administered and what the potential side-effects are.”
Changes can occur in:
• blood pressure,
• pulse rate,
• paranoia,
• extreme anxiety, and
• panic attacks, to name but a few.
“There seems to be a belief that if the oil is used, it’s medicinal as compared to smoking the weed.
“We also don’t know much about its interactions with chronic medications, so until it hasn’t been properly researched, sub-types isolated, cleaned up and safety assured, it cannot be handed out willy-nilly and promoted as a ‘naturalistic or homeopathic’ treatment,” Salduker says.
He adds that excessive use of cannabis has dire consequences not only in terms of developing schizophrenia-like illnesses, which may require lifelong treatment of the disorder, but can also lead to the deterioration of existing mental disorders.
“Cannabis can provoke relapses in bipolar disorder and can cause chronic amotivational syndrome in long-term users.
“Research has shown that use among teens younger than 18 impacts higher brain function called cognition, which is essentially learning, memory, concentration and intellectual development, as well as motivation.
“I fear that if the misperception gets entrenched, we are going to possibly have an entire generation of ‘brain damaged’ adults before the penny drops.”
Salduker says cannabis is a common form of self-medication, like alcohol and codeine.
Due to its temporary effect on anxiety and sense of mood elevation, it can become quite habit-forming for patients suffering from mental illnesses.
“The historic pattern has been that youngsters start with alcohol and then cannabis and as time goes on they lose the meaning of ‘banned substance’ or ‘illegal’ and start to see all drugs as ‘having some good’, which can lead them to harder and life-destructive drugs,” Salduker concludes.
A Springs Advertiser reader had this to say: “All of a sudden so many young people are going to be ‘sick’.”
– Caxton News Service

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

"Myhat in Egypt: Through the Eyes of a God" by Alun Buffry

INTRODUCTION BY MYHAT Before I tell you my incredible story of my journeys to Egypt with Ed, I must explain that I am a hat! My first memories were from the early 1970's, although I know I am older than that. In those days, I spent a great amount of time hanging on a hook in a barber's shop in Thessaloniki in Greece and from there I had a very limited experience and concept of the world. The barber's name was Constantinos and sometimes he used to take me off my hook and put me on his head; then I could experience more. Let me tell you a little about myself. You see I am no ordinary hat. I am able to see, hear, smell and even taste through the senses of the person wearing me. In fact, I can often pick up on their thoughts, memories, dreams and even fears. But, from that hook, I mostly witnessed conversations between Constantinos and his customers, whilst he cut their hair or shaved their beards, which for me seemed to be a strange thing to do at that time. Their talk was about the weather, the people that ran their lives and a game called football. Constantinos used to say to his customers some words I always remembered and heeded: watch, listen and remember! That is how I came to write my books. It was on a sunny day in early 1972 that my life was to change drastically and mostly for the better, for on that day whilst Constantinos was standing in his doorway, there being no customers, and with me on his head, we spotted a small group of young people walking down the dusty street. Constantinos called over a young man and presented me to him, saying "You have no hat. Here, take Myhat." That is how I come to know my name as Myhat as before that I was called Kapelomou. My new head was called "Al". Al was travelling eastwards with his small group of friends and eastwards we went, through countries called Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Before that all I knew as my world was the barber's shop and the street outside. Now I was travelling the world. That is my other story: 'All About Myhat: The Hippy Trail 1972'. In 1989, I found myself upon the head of Ed, after Al left me behind one day, and I travelled with Ed for over twenty years until, one day, he gave me back to Al. When Al started wearing me more often again, I was able to somehow get through to him and write my accounts of our times together in 1972 and my times in Egypt with Ed and Ana. That is how I came to write this history. It took several years of trying before I managed to plant the idea of writing books into Al's head and even as I write this today, he seems unaware that I am, in fact, a sentient being myself. Al thinks it was all his idea! Most disappointing, yet even when I gave him the idea that I, Myhat, was the true author, when he mentioned it to his friends they seemed to think he was crazy! The main thing of course is that I managed to get my story published. One day, in 1989, I met Ed. Al had left me at Ed's house and Ed started wearing me a lot. Ed and Ana and myself visited Egypt in 1989, 1990 and again in 2010 and this is the incredible tale of those journeys and what happened to us, on our travels through space and time. In ancient Egypt the name Ana name meant Goddess. I did spend time also on Ana's head too. By 1989, Ana had studied many languages. By 2010 she could speak Arabic and read some Hieroglyphs. It seems strange to me that almost every country we visited had its own languages and often its own religions, politics and lifestyles; people had their own individual dreams and fears and even their own ideas and beliefs about what would happen after their bodies died and were disposed of in their various ways. I often wonder what will happen to me too. For me, my life has meant being passed round various heads I have experienced much more than anyone, I think, could anticipate. Now I know that I am a God, much more than a hat, for I have seen the world through the eyes of a God. Let me tell you how that came to be.

(more below)

Youssef showed them a rope ladder and how to attach it to pegs in the ground by the tunnel entrance. He told them again to be careful. He said that when they got back out, they should put the rope ladder back and cover the entrance with the door. Then they should phone him and go back to the hotel. He would hide the entrance again later. Ed climbed through the hole in the ground and started to climb down the ladder. It was only a few steps before he knocked me off his head and I went falling down into the darkness. Oh how I wished he'd get some sort of strap to keep me on his head at times like this. Before I knew it, I was alone at the bottom of this horrible place. Ed and Ana may well have been in places like this before, on rope ladders, but I had never enjoyed it when I was there. I remembered the time Al, my previous head, had climbed up the side of a ship that was bobbing up and down in the Mediterranean, the day he had left Antalya in Turkey, on his way, at that time, to Beirut. That was back in 1972. I was on his head, the wind threatening to blow me off into the sea, as Al had climbed from a small fishing boat and ascended the ladder. Al could not swim and, as far as I know, neither can I. Yet he obviously made it to the top. I also remembered Ed descending a ladder near the Great Pyramid twenty years earlier, down into the darkness, not so many steps, and turning back upwards, never to reach the bottom where the tomb was supposed to be. But at that time he had no good source of light, now he had a torch. I had hope.

My hope paid off, for it wasn't long before I sensed Ed was still climbing down the ladder and … standing on me! I was not happy about that, I can tell you. He should learn to be more careful! As he picked me up, dusted me off and put me back on his head, I realised, once again, that Ed was more concerned about Ana than Myhat. Now, with Ana besides him, they headed down the underground corridor. The tunnels were not high enough to walk upright. They did not have the feel of real ancient tunnels, being roughly hewn with wooden roof supports and a lot of rubble with trash on the ground. They were not level either. Of course they were completely dark without the torches. Ed drew arrows on the wall, pointing back the way we had come, as we passed more rough-hewn stone corridors on either side. Ed thought they may have led to tomb chambers, but he and Ana agreed to see how far the main corridor would go, first, seeing the side chambers on the way back. At one point they almost missed a tunnel which went off from a small chamber that they arrived in. There were inscriptions on the walls, some looking very ancient and some with names and modern dates. It was as they looked back behind them that they saw two tunnels going, seemingly, in the same direction. Ed was keen to mark the correct passageway to take on their return. He wondered where the other tunnel would lead but decided to “check that out later” as he said to Ana. They continued along the main corridor until they reached another chamber which was blocked off on all sides; the way they had come was the only way in and out of this chamber. It was blocked by what looked like a large bolder, put there almost deliberately, thought Ed, and on the bolder was an inscription. As the duo shone their torches on the inscription, Ana said that she would try to read what it said. “Something about danger of death from what has gone before... that the great must rise towards the skies but only the Just will prevail. This is Anubis, the jackal-headed god of the dead,” she said. “Look there is Ra, shining upon the king.” “There's not much else here,” said Ed; “let's head back and check out the side-rooms and corridors. We haven't been here even an hour yet,” I guess. “OK,” said Ana, “but first can we just turn off the torches and sit for a while, see what it feels like. I think that inscription could be thousands of years old, judging by the style.”

Sunday, 6 November 2016

JURY NULLIFICATION - Acquit victimless crimes

Michelle X has recently been to court - some may say that the judge let her off lightly (I put a link to the article in COMMENTS below) BUT she has a conviction thanks to the people of the UK that sat on the jury, probably ignorant of their DUTY and RIGHT to acquit IF they believe that the LAW IS WRONG, something that few judges will allow said in court or they tell the jury to ignore it.

It is called JURY NULLIFICATION in the US and has worked, turning the jurors to acquit even when the evidence is of "guilt|

It has worked in the UK too - this is ONE POWERFUL WAY to defeat the INJUSTICE OF LAW.

SO........ how many campaigners and activists will push their clubs, associations and groups to participate in this CAMPAIGN TO EDUCATE THE JURY by printing and distributing fliers, writing to the press etc - here is some more info and a flier to print

Woman who grew 40,000 UK Pounds worth of cannabis escapes jail after telling judge Prince Charles inspired her to do so

'I will carry on growing drugs' says cannabis campaigner convicted of having plants at home

MS sufferer avoids jail after she tells judge she thought taking Cannabis was OK because Prince Charles talked of its benefits on TV

Saturday, 8 October 2016

CBD Cannabis Medicines and the rest of us

On the issues of that wonderful plant that is not considered to have any medicinal values by the UK Government and others, yet contains two substances now classed as medcines, THC and CBD extracts.

Of course the THC and CBD extracts will cost more than on the "street" when extracted, purified, verified pure and delivered in standardised doses, BUT, as with all licensed medications, people will know it is pure and excatly what is being said on the label, if indeed there was one.

Sure, the price may be higher but the knowledge of purity will be there.

Now that the UK Government has decided to reschedule CBD as a medicine, those that have been supplying it on line and off-line, possibly with no real indications of purity or dose, will be less happy that the producers who will satisfy the medicines criteria, probably the bigger pharmaceutical companies such as GW who presently control the supply and profits of THC through its expensive and hard-to-get Sativex.

Yet surely this is exactly what the "endourpain" campaign that has been calling for more cannabis medicine, and exactly what the government minister promised last year at the farce debate ina side-chamber in Parliament which was supposed to be about all cannabis consumers.

We'll have to wait and see, but we know that the criteria for legal supply which has to be approved by the MHRA will come alongside an increase in price (sand supposedly, safety).
I have said all along, that a campaign based upon the demand for more "cannabis medicine" will be successful and result in more pharmaceutical cannabis roducts and extracts, NOT any change in law regarding cultivation or supply of the cannais plant or even possession.

The existence of such legally prescribable or approved extracts will also counteract any mitigation in court.

The way the campaign has been going, demanding regulations and medicine rather than fundamental Rights and Freedoms, is responsible for the changes we can see happening right now - those that have been thinking only of themselves, those that have been seeking profits, will be well-pleased.

It does nothing - it may even be a step backwards - from seeing the law changed for any of us.

Monday, 18 July 2016

The photo competition is heating up

The photo competition is heating up with one well in front, so I ask YOU ALL, take a look at the album of 'All About My Hat' Readers' Pics and give a LIKE or two and help somebody win a mystery prize; just follow the link and click wisely

Better still, get the book and submit a photo of your own, there is still chance for anyone to win. It's on Amazon or you can get a signed copy from me.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Readers photo competition - help by giving some pics a LIKE on Facebook: All About My Hat - The Hippy Trail 1972

Reader's Pic Competition - top scores so far - please share the link on your page and generate more votes:
VOTES SO FAR  ( 16/7/16  )
Paul FourTwenty Kelly 52 
Melissa Dawdaughter 41 
Sy Dignam 35 
Giuseppe Albero 34 
Frank Kirk 27 
Lesley James 21 
Emilio Napoli 20 
Elizabeth Clarke 18 
Nol van Shaik 17 
Jackie Woodchild 16 
Chris Philbin 15 
Phil Norwich 13 
Sharna van-Damme 13 
Kate Midlane 13 
Winston Matthews 13 
Jacqui Maklin 13 
Kevin Traylen 13 
Rocky van de Benderskum 13 
Give your friend's picture a like at:

ISBN 978 0 9932107 1 6

watch and listen here:

Sunday, 22 May 2016


Ever wondered what it's like to spend time in prison for helping not harming - this book may give an insight into the harm done by the system and how it could be changed to bring out the goodness.

Now at Amazon as PAPERBACK and Kindle

Time for Cannabis - The Prison Years" is a true-life story of the journey through arrest, time on remand, trial and conviction and time served in 4 UK prisons.
This book is a valuable comparsion of prison regimes and personal experiences of the damage and the healing possible, and how the treatment of prisoners can affect them upon release.                                           
All this in prisons that claim their aim is to treat inmates with humanity.

 This book is not meant to be humorous, although a certain amount of humour is unavoidable, partly because the nonsense and inconsistencies which I came up against during my time served, and partly because sometimes it hurts so much that one has to either laugh or cry. I fully intend to criticise the prison and the court systems, but not, I hope, unnecessarily, and, I also hope, positively.

This is not meant as a horror story, a fiction, or an analytical work, although I will admit in advance to colouring and flavouring events, changing names, and interspersing actual events with thoughts of the occasion. This is to increase the readability of what might otherwise be a very 'flat' book, considering the flatness of the system.

I consider myself very fortunate, even in this experience, as I have previously travelled to many different countries, and witnessed the different languages and customs therein, which I feel has enabled me to adopt a more detached and somewhat enlightened attitude to the strangeness which I constantly experienced. Many inmates are either the well learned ‘old lags’ who have been in and out of the system for years, or else are younger and more naive.

I was also fortunate to have already received an education, thus being able to further it using the institution's facilities and classes, able to write and read easily, unlike many of my comrades, and thus help the time pass easily and productively. I was also fortunate enough, for want of a better phrase although it may sound as selfish as it is, to have first arrived at a prison along with some acquaintances, and to recognise a few faces already there who I could turn to for help with day to day life. Once again I sympathise greatly with the young, scared and lonely convict or detainee.

Although it is only natural that I feel some anger and resentment against the way I have sometimes been treated, in particular by the courts, this emotion has never overwhelmed me.

I see so many things wrong with the world that Mankind has created, not least the way in which selfish and greedy individuals have polluted our beautiful planet and continue to do so, perhaps to the point of no return and the devastation of possibly all life. I fail to see how the Governments on this world, who often seem to me to be evil, can allow the future to develop in this way, ruining the chances of happiness and health for their descendants. In the sixties I grew up under the constant threat of nuclear devastation imposed by individuals so many miles away, whose identities would never be known to most of us. But this being bad enough, at least there was a chance of survival.

As the sixties have become the nineties there are so many problems in this world, any one of which will destroy us as individuals or as a race, including Aids, acid rain, radiation poisoning, the 'Greenhouse Effect', the ozone depletion, the pollution of the air, sea and land, space junk, chemical additives in our food and water, and on and on and on.

Add to this unemployment and the violence shown on TV, in video’s and in the press, to the point of saturation and ‘normality’, and it is less surprising what is happening on our streets. It has been said that by the age of twelve the average American child has witnessed several thousand murders on the screen, and doubtless a similar figure is true for British children.

In the East they say life is cheap, and death is all around, and certainly it seems that in many countries where overpopulation has become such an everyday burden, there are constantly civil wars or violent freedom fighters whom the various governments call terrorists. But do the governments and industrial bosses realise the terror which they daily cause us in our lives, through their greed? Is it surprising there is so much violence and crime in the country?

Advertising is a strange practice to apply to people who are unable to afford the goods or services advertised, and although increasing sales amongst the select few, causes nothing but unsatisfied desire amongst everyone else. Consider this story. It concerns a village deep in the heart of the Egyptian desert near Libya. I forget the name, but that is unimportant. This small oasis settlement had been there for hundreds if not thousands of years, the locals content to grow what they could, and keep their livestock. In years past they may even have profited from accommodating the occasional traveller. They were certainly unlikely to attract any tourists, unless some big archaeological discovery was ever made. Being short of power, having no electricity and little means of producing it, they were unlikely to attract much big industry.

The locals remained poor people, but never starved. They were basically content, having what they needed and most of what they wanted. This is the point: they had most of what they wanted, or rather most of what they knew about that they could want. Of course they may have wanted a better doctor, a panacea, a magic carpet, but these were merely dreams.

One day however, one of the locals had to traverse the desert to Cairo, for personal reasons. Suddenly, instead of being surrounded by friends and sands, he found himself in a huge city, some fifteen million souls, tall buildings, thousands of cars, buses, trucks, bicycles, people in all style of dress, restaurants, businesses and even more foreigners than the population of his home village. What did he see? Advertising. Somehow he managed to get hold of a television, battery operated, and having been shown how to work it, he took it home with him.

Fortunately, or maybe not so, they could pick up signals in the village and they were able to watch films, news and documentaries about a country and a world they never new existed. The children and young men were, of course, able to watch too. And what did they see? Advertising Young mini-skirted girls drinking cola, cowboys with their special cigarettes, the blond bombshell in the tight jeans, the fast car and the gorgeous lady who went with it, watches, stereos, holidays, household appliances and magical gadgets, and so on.

So, what happened to their simple needs and desires? They multiplied out of all proportion. They wanted all these things too, but of course they had no money so they could only dream on in frustration. Until one day three or four young men themselves set off to Cairo, where the streets were paved with gold and one could make enough money to buy some of the well and ‘successfully’ advertised wares. Unfortunately when they got there they found not thousands but millions of people in the same position, unemployment ridiculously high, the city impersonal and apparently uncaring, and their chances of even getting enough food for tomorrow rapidly dwindling. But not everybody was poor. Some people had cars, wore expensive watches and clothes, and drank cola, and presumably had many more modern goods to make their lives apparently easier and happier. So what did our young and impressionable brothers do? They stole. They broke into a house and took what they could. Unfortunately these men were nothing of the professional burglar, knew nothing of finger prints and forensics, and were soon caught. The result? Four more inmates in the hell hole of Cairo prison. Once again the advertising agents had done their job well, convincing the people that they needed the junk they had to sell!

Of course the situation in Britain is not as extreme, but nevertheless it is surely obvious that if one successfully creates an intense desire for something, in the minds of often uneducated and impressionable people, in a time of unemployment when their cash is hard come by, at the same time blasting them with crime on the TV, something somewhere is going to give. A percentage of them, being unable to earn an honest buck, will hit the streets, either taking what they want through robbery and theft, or dealing in drugs or stolen property, prostitution, or any of the many other ways of getting a ‘few readies’.

This is why the prisons are so full. Add to that the people who drink and drive, maybe take drugs steal to get money for their next hit to lift them out of their boredom and fears, everybody taxed beyond what they can afford, and the prison population begins to overflow.

Having stated that as my beliefs as to why so much crime occurs, I now have to say that this was only a very minor cause of my conviction. I will not in this book, attempt to discuss my personal level of guilt or innocence, but I would like to stress the view I had of my offences at the time.

My charges were concerned with cannabis, a so-called drug. Having consumed it for a number of years, and met untold people in nearly every country I ever visited, smoked with young and old, people new to it and those who had smoked very heavily for very many years, for social, recreational and also ‘spiritual’ purposes,

I did not and do not understand why it remains illegal! In its pure uncut form it certainly seems to have done me no harm, or anyone I have met.

No matter how much one consumes there is no danger for a reasonably balanced person. It has been said that the fatal dose is two kilos, dropped on the head from a great height! There is no heavy withdrawal, no side effects.

The real problems are that it is often cut with possibly damaging impurities, ranging from sawdust to barbiturates, solvents to boot polish and evencow shit, by the less than scrupulous illegal suppliers; that it is normally mixed with the legal and deadly poisonous tobacco; and that it remains illegal and therefore in the control of the underworld. The so-called controlled drugs are controlled not by the Government, who should concern themselves with the lack of purity of consumables, but by crooks.

Added to this are the many acclaimed medical benefits of cannabis to sufferers of ailments such as multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, asthma and arthritis, its pain-killing properties, and relaxing properties, and the uses of the plant - hemp, for the non-polluting manufacture of paper, linen, rope - all the old maps, Bibles, sails, ropes etc were made from hemp - its use as a food supply (seeds crushed to make gruel are highly nutritious) for humans and animals, and its use as a clean, renewable (two crops a year) and highly efficacious fuel, cannabis is probably the most versatile God-given substance on earth! Of course, it makes some people apparently lazier, but not all, and many of these become more creative even if only privately.

There is a vast amount of music and art forms produced under the effect of cannabis.

About 5% of the population admit to having used it regularly, and in private a great many barristers and other professional men. In private a great many individuals agree that it should be legalised, but are, like the majority of people living under Nazi control who witnessed the inhumane treatment of the Jews, too afraid for their own careers, and freedom, to speak out. The anti-legalisation lobby seems to be left, nowadays, with the completely unfounded statement that it ‘leads to other drugs’. True, 95% of hard drug users confess, when asked in a weighted question, that their first illegal substance was cannabis. But only 5% at most, of cannabis users ever take hard drugs. It is rather like using the argument that 99% of convicted armed robbers admit to owning water pistols as children, to bring about the prohibition of possession and sale of water pistols! Meanwhile, whilst those in authority and positions of respect usually remain silent, and the various campaigns for legalisation are left in the hands of often unemployed and outcast folk who have little or no experience of organisation, thousands of users and dealers remain in prisons, and millions risk their health by consuming street ‘crap’.

Let’s face it, even with the risk of incarceration, people still use it and will continue to use it, and continue to line the pockets of crooks, so it is really time that some government opened its own eyes, legalised it, took control of quality, gained revenue through taxation, and saved the time of police, courts and prisons. So, having said that, why was it suddenly made illegal in the 1920's? Some political reasons? Strange how the banning of cannabis and hemp suddenly created a vacuum in the supply of ropes and fabrics, shortly before the industrial giants put nylon on the market, and the huge petrochemical companies marketed their synthetics and polluting alternatives. I sometimes wonder if there was a connection.

I am not trying to excuse breaking the law. The law is the law, right or wrong, and the country cannot survive without laws. Judge Pickles, himself an advocate for the legalisation of all drugs, was correct when he said that people should not be allowed to pick and choose which laws to keep and which laws to break, that sort of freedom would be disastrous. Neither should such offenders be given leniency. In prisons there are many who would legalise all sorts of unpleasant things which they have been incarcerated for. Yet it is true, in the cases of the suffragettes and also the homosexuals, who sought to change the law by breaking it, that it can eventually lead to publicity and success.

I would, however, stress that very many people with similar experiences to me, never had any intention of hurting anyone, and mostly have never broken any other laws. Their preference for cannabis over alcohol and sedatives, has, nonetheless, resulted in their doors being kicked in, humiliating strip and personal searches, hours of solitude in filthy police cells and extended interviews often interspersed with secret threats and insults, confiscation of assets, collapse of businesses or careers, long periods in prison equivalent to sentences for armed robbery and often greater than for rape offences, and general alienation from their families, friends and society in general.

Why? All because they wanted to get high! Cannabis is used in prisons probably more than on the outside. The staff, I have been told more than once by members of that elite group, tend to turn a blind eye - it keeps the inmates quiet.

So, back to this book, like I say it is not the place to discuss guilt or innocence. Although I can hardly avoid ‘having a dig at the system’ and those who perpetuate it, that is neither my purpose.

Rather I want to present the prisons through my eyes, the eyes of an educated and travelled, non-criminally minded, and, as those who know me will agree, harmless forty year old male from Wales. I felt that by helping to organise contacts and introductions between suppliers and customers, I was helping people by enabling them to get a clean supply, by keeping them away from alcohol, hard drugs, and the dreadful tranquillisers and sedatives, benefited people.

Educated as a scientist at university, I was taught to examine the facts for myself, and not to blindly accept everything I was told.

This is all I ask of you the reader, to consider the evidence with an open mind; those who accept orders and laws without question are the true fascists.

The book is divided into four sections: the first will cover the nightmare of remand in custody.

The three prisons which I entered were category B, a maximum security, and a low security C category. I was on wings separated from the so-called vulnerable prisoners, as we call them, ‘nonces’, guilty of horrendous crimes which should not ever be even imagined.

Amongst the prisoners with whom I lived the hatred of the nonces was universal.

As for the others it seems that the longer the sentences the more respect the inmates had for each other. A man two or more years into a ten or twenty year sentence has an entirely different attitude towards his surroundings than a short-timers who is only ‘passing through’.

The main problems for the long-timers are the poor living conditions, being isolation from family and friends, and institutionalisation.

Frustration and helplessness, anger at the treatment of self and others, an authoritative hypocrisy, are what causes violence amongst these men.

This book is an attempt to portray what I saw and felt at the time.

Introduction to All About My Hat The Hippy Trail 1972 by Alun Buffry

Let me introduce myself.
I am called Myhat. I was also known as Kapelomou.
I am quite an old hat. I was made decades ago. I had been passed many times to different heads, yet had seldom found one that I felt really comfortable on.
About forty years ago, everything changed. I found myself upon a head that I had a close affinity with and I found myself seeing, hearing, smelling much through this young man, Al - and even picking up on his emotions and thoughts.
I was lost then for several years, stored in a cupboard until, once again, I found myself on Al's head and now I can tell my tales.
Al and I spent some nine months together on our first trip, visiting many big cities and several small villages, in eight countries, all different, all new to myself and my new head – an adventure of a lifetime.
I sat on Al's head and witnessed all sorts of strange places and events while we travelled to India and then to the UK.
When Al arrived back in the UK, he was quite ill, having suffered from a problem called Infectious Hepatitis and also dysentery. Al went to his parent's house in Wales and then to hospital. But after he was in that hospital, I was never on his head so often.
I didn't know what was happening. Why was Al leaving me? How long was I to be here? What would become of me now? Would I get a new head? Would I get more adventures? Would I be treasured or neglected?
Then one day, Al took me out of my box and put me back on his head.
That is how I came to find myself back on Al's head. I have been on and off Al's head for about forty years and now I can tell my tales. We have done a lot of travelling over those forty years.
I had always been able to understand any language spoken and understood by whatever head I was placed on - but never been able to utter anything myself – until now! I have discovered that I can help Al remember the places we had experienced together and somehow I managed to place the idea of writing my tale for me. Anyway, that idea came upon Al and here he is, writing this for me!
As well as understanding the thoughts, memories and feelings of my head – I felt as he felt - I have been able to see through the eyes, hear through the ears and even taste through the mouth and tongue of my head – Al – and over the days developed a strange connection so that so long as Al was nearby, I could watch what was going on around him – even when not on his head!
I watched, I listened and I remembered – and that is how I come to write this story through a head called Al.
Al had travelled from a country called Britain, a place I had never been to and knew little about.
Al, through me, Kapelomou or Myhat, is writing this account in 2014, forty-two years after the events of 1972.
For my younger readers, I'll say that as Al looks back he remembers there were no mobile or cellular phones out there for the public to be able to buy: no Ipads or Ipods, no digital cameras, no microwave ovens, no 'Sat Nav'. Life was slower, sometimes maybe easier, without the 21st century rush.
In some places there were no telephones at all. And mail was often very slow. Communication was often very difficult outside of the immediate area, especially in the villages and towns of the Middle East.
And Al himself was thinner and fitter if less experienced with the world. I know he doubts whether he could make the same journey now, as he did back in 1971.
Al will tell you, I know, that he feels that apart from the differences in technology and in himself, little has changed. Some things are better, some things are worse.
In his opinion most countries in the world are being run by members of elite families, or Secret Societies or Military men. And almost all of them live lives of luxury at the expense of the people they are supposed to both rule and look after. In even the richest countries there are poor and homeless people sleeping on the streets.
So, on with my account of my first incredible journey into the unknown. It is all about Myhat.
My first meeting with Al took place outside a barber's shop in the Greek town of Thessaloniki.
It was 1972.
At that time, I understood the Greek language, hence my name Kapelomou that means My hat, and I understood just a little English, but that was to change.
It seemed like months since I'd been left on the hook. I had been on the head of a local man who had come to the shop and left me there, never to come back.
During my time in the barber's shop, for long periods my vision and hearing had been impaired, but sometimes a young lad would come to the shop and place me on his head – then I could see and hear more clearly, and pick up on his thoughts and ideas to some extent. Later, of course, I realised that the lad's view of the world was very limited. Listening to the barber's shop chat, I learned about football and sport, politics and war, the rich and the poor – but I honestly considered the world to be quite small, and that everything that happened in it was within walking distance. I thought the rich were one side of the shop and the poor on the other and the shop itself was the great division. Much was still a mystery to me.
Most of the time at the barber's shop I was ignored, just left hanging there, waiting for my head to come back, occasionally being picked up and tried on by customers – always after a haircut!
Konstantinos, the barber, occasionally gave me a rough dust off. He used to sometimes put me on his head and stand in his doorway when there was no hair to cut. I cannot say I felt appreciated.
One thing that Konstantinos often said was the have great influence on my life: he used to say “Watch, listen and remember!”
My life was to change in a big way. I watched, I listened and I remembered.
One day, sun-shining, dusty and quiet, with no hair to cut and no chins to shave, Konstantinos was standing in his shop doorway watching the street. I was on his head. He did that a lot on fine dusty days – street watching was almost a local custom and what was seen was often the topic of barber's chair chat. I could see through the open door and some way up the street.
A group of young people was walking towards the outside of the shop, chatting and laughing. Four males and one female. As they approached I saw that two of the males had long hair; I wondered if they would come into the shop to get it cut.
Three of the young men wore hats – well I cannot say they were as well made as myself, but there they were. Whilst I had been left hanging there for months, those hats were out seeing the world.
Konstantinos shouted something across the road – he was calling over one of the young men. He said to one: “I see you have no hat!” The young man said that he did not have one – and suddenly I found myself taken off my head, briefly dusted, and presented to him by Konstantinos.
The young man, whom I soon learned was called “Al”, put me on his head. I saw the world through his eyes, a world I sensed was very different to my life so far, a world of mystery, strangeness and adventure. A world that Al was exploring with plenty of new experiences, new people and new ideas.
Brilliant! I had a new head.
I instantly understood the new language, English, spoken by my new head. I began to see with different eyes and understand the world in a way new to me.
The others were Keith, John and Mike and the female was called Marion. It doesn't take long to learn those things when all you can do is watch and listen. The fact that the humans did not know that I could watch and listen had the potential of being very useful to me as well as educational.
From the conversations I heard, I was to learn that they had all been students in a country called England, a city called Norwich and most had studied Chemistry. They had finished with schools and had set out to travel and explore, in a small van. At night they huddled together and by day they drove. We were, I gleamed, heading for Turkey – eastwards.
John, Mike and Al had been at a University together for three years, but before that had come from different places. John, Al knew, was from Slough and Mike from London; Al himself was from South Wales. Marion had studied Biology at the same University and Keith, the oldest of them, from Birmingham, was Marion's boyfriend. Of them all, Al regarded Keith as the only experienced traveller. He seemed much more confident than the others, although Al did not know much about him and had only known him for about a year. Al felt safe with all of them, feeling that they were honest and non-violent people like himself
So, I found myself saying goodbye to what had been my home for several months, wondering what the future had in stall for us all. Wondering how long I would be staying with my new head – 'Ed, now called Al. Wondering if he too would forget me, leave me on another hook, in some dark place maybe – or would I get to travel far?
It wasn't long before we all piled into the van – they had bought some of the local sweet 'Halva' and were saying how good it was, crumbling all over, getting in my brim. I did not care, I felt free.
We were heading for Istanbul, a large city in a country called Turkey.
That evening we pulled up along the sea front near the town of Alexandroupoli. Keith read from his book that this town was an important port and the capital of the Evros region in the Thrace region of Greece.
Keith read aloud:
“It was originally called Dedeagach Dedeagatsh . The name was based on a local tradition of a wise dervish who spent much of his time in the shade of a local tree and was eventually buried beside it. Dedeagach remained the official name of the city throughout the Ottoman period, and the name used for it in the West until the establishment of the Hellenic Republic. In 1920 it was renamed Alexandroupoli in honour of King Alexander.
“Alexandroupoli is about 9 miles west of the delta of the river Evros, forty miles from the border with Turkey, 215 miles from Thessaloniki on the newly constructed Egnatia highway."
Keith also read bits about the many wars this city had been involved in. We did not go into the city itself though, as it was getting late, so stopped and built a camp fire then everyone went to sleep.
The next morning, when Al woke up, Keith and Marion were already awake and making tea – which they all drank with milk added, unlike the Greek people I had seen. They were also cooking eggs for breakfast.
As Al was pouring himself some of this tea, along came a weathered and aged looking man with a donkey – smiling broadly, he pointed at the fire and the tea.
“I think he wants some tea,” said Al, and he got up and poured another cup, adding some milk and sugar, and passed the mug to the old man.
“The old man first said thank you, then sipped the hot tea – only to spit it out shouting “Baba, baba!” Clearly, he did not like it. Then he opened his bag and pulled out a bottle of Ouzo.
I knew about "ouzo", an aniseed-flavoured alcohol much liked in Greece and usually mixed with water. It's meant to be taken before meals but many people seemed to like it at any time of the day. Konstantinos had been one of them, but not on the days that he had to cut hair – people got very drunk and loud on that stuff, sometimes.
So the old chap offered the lads some ouzo. Al and Mike were the only two to try it – and both said they liked it. It had an aniseed taste and was strong is alcohol, making Al's head spin slightly – I had never experienced that before.