Her name was Helen—
from Australia—
and it was all a very long time ago:
the late 1960s.
Helen managed a shop
selling eastern ethnic goods
near the British Museum;
one of those shops which really stank
—very attractively, I thought—of incense,
fresh leather, animal skins and immersive
otherworldly exoticism. Why
bother going to Afghanistan, or Tibet,
or Nepal Bhutan Himalayistan
when you could wander around shops
like these, handling the goods, smelling
the patchouli and the distant dung, and hearing the
altogether unfamiliar sounds
of oriental yak yurt music.

Helen took a liking to me. Or, at least,
she said she did. Sales must have been a bit
slow that day. There were lots of people
looking at stuff, but no one seemed to
be buying. Did anyone ever ? Na na na
nana na (Hey Jude). These shops only lasted a short time
and then disappeared, only
to reappear somewhere nearby with a
slightly different name. It was hard to know
what to make of what this was
all about, what with these transient shops and their
otherworldly goods, offering us passing
glimpses of an extra-terrestrial

Helen said she really
wanted me to meet her guru,
a Tibetan Lama, who lived
in a mansion somewhere near Cambridge.
She said she’d call him by phone and arrange
a meeting.
But the conversation did not go well.
Helen was excited, and you could hear it
in her voice.
She described me to the Lama
as a ‘beautiful young man
who wants to meet you’—which was
kind of nice (!), though
quite a bit sugary as there was
no beauty in me, only adolescent androgyny;
and then, after an awkward silence, and
an obvious confusion, she
repeated ‘It’s Helen….I’m Helen; Helen’.
There you go.
So the all-seeing,
all-knowing Tibetan meditation master
—easily reachable by phone—
wasn’t sure who she was,
and probably didn’t get what
she was on about, and heard nothing
at all about the beautiful
young man.

A meeting was
supposedly arranged for
a small group of us selected ‘elect’ a
week later at the Buddhist Society,
but of course the
astral guy didn’t turn up; nor
was there any explanation for his
not being there. Too busy concentrating
on himself and his special mission,
is my guess. The rest of us were reduced to
chatting amongst ourselves. And
as part compensation Helen thought
she should introduce me to
the other regulars, but she had
forgotten my name, and so
had to ask me, um—
somewhat uncomfortably,
who I was. I enjoyed that;
bang on, a fact cat amongst the
fictional pigeons, it told me all I
needed to know.

I don’t want to be
unnecessarily cruel—to either
party in this stupidly theatrical
civilizational ‘culture crunch’ of nothingness –
but the sheer strength of the 500% overproof
pure Tibetan piss these
deeply spiritual Himalayan lamas were
wazzing determinedly down onto
our silly western heads, and straight into
our silly western mouths, and down our
eagerly gulping western throats, as well as all
over our secular westerner
materialist accomplishment bodies,
‘exactly nicely precisely’
matched the colour of their brightly
concentrated ‘overnight piss’ yellow
monastic and spiritual
Dalai Lama-wear.

So, as they say, G’day &
Namaste, my dear golden buddy
bath-time wash-down showering
‘never really noticed who
you were’ friend—
Helen – G’day &