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Syd Barrett returns home

In Music 20 June, 2021

Óscar Carrera

Óscar Carrera

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I give it all up. I’m really giving it up.

—Don’t listen to him. He’s loaded to the gills.

—But how are we going to go on without you, Syd? You’re the alma mater of Pink Floyd.

—No, no, Roger. I’m quitting. Say what you want to people. I can’t take any more.

 

Syd Barrett was crossing the green meadows of England by the side of the road. That morning he packed his luggage in a messy room in London, left an unintelligible note for a girl and started walking. He had arrived in London a couple of weeks ago, for the sake of memories, for a change of scenery and because he had heard that the city was the Mecca of a youth revolution.

On the side of the road there is a Ⓐ of anarchy and NO FUTURE in blood red letters.

It’s 1982, and Syd hasn’t liked what he’s seen in London. So he’s decided to pack up and head back, walking the fifty miles to his birthplace in Cambridge.

Where Mrs. Barrett, his mother, awaits him, awake.

—If any of you saw what I have seen… You would realise that this no longer makes any sense.

—What do you mean, no sense? We’ve only just begun!

—We’re already finished. Finished before we were born…

 

Syd Barrett, bald as a monk, was thinking about Roger. Roger had released a song a few years ago in which he denounced his overprotective mother, on that double album that received so much hype and in the end was no big deal. Poor Roger… Syd knew how it would end. He tried to warn him. But everyone, at the end of the day, ends up bearing their own cross. Syd knew that all sons have, sooner or later, to reconcile with their fathers.

He had little time left to do so.

In London, there was a lot of talk about the punk movement, the disco movement, heavy metal… He didn’t need to listen to all those new singles to smell what the film was about. There was a reason why he had left the scene almost ten years ago. He had just had a hamburger for lunch in a roadside bar with a French university student. The poor guy hadn’t understood a thing. We’re doomed, don’t you see? All we have left is emptiness.

The Frenchman looked as if he had choked on his snack.

Syd, you’re crazy. Crazy as a diamond.

 

Syd Barret

The last Syd.

In July 1841, the poet John Clare walked from a mental asylum in Essex to his home in Northborough (Cambridgeshire) for four days, during which he even fed on grass. He wrote a few pages about his experience, entitled Recollections on a Journey from Essex. He hoped to meet again his first love, Mary Joyce, whose angelic face haunted him day and night… He did not believe it when he was told that she had been dead for years.

In the second half of the seventies, Syd had been squandering his money in London, buying all sorts of superfluous and expensive objects in Harrods. He rented a flat in Chelsea Cloisters, and gave it all to the doorman within days of buying it. They say he once gave his old Cadillac to a stranger he met in the street.

But no one knew why he did it.

Emily tries but misunderstands

she’s often inclined to borrow somebody’s dreams till tomorrow.

Syd crosses the suburbs of Cambridge. We never knew who his first great love was. Rumour has it that his breakdown happened overnight, on a lost weekend in the late sixties from which he returned with a blank stare and ragged hands.

A 36-year-old Syd finally spots the house where he will spend the rest of his life. Mum is there, pruning the gardenias.

Young men dressed in gothic fashion, sitting in a nearby park, listen to The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” on a battery-operated radio. They, too, dare to wear eye shadow… Syd crosses the corner without noticing their presence. He has decided that, from now on, everyone will call him Roger.

Roger Barrett.

—I’m going to be a rock and roll martyr.

—To be a martyr, you have to be dead…

—What’s your bet?

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