Being Mike Oldfield

Mike Oldfield. He may not initially strike you as absolutely fucking fucked, but beneath the veneer of that seemingly inoffensive noodling of his 70s heyday, the fucker’s off the fucking scale.

A multi-instrumentalist known for taking full advantage of the studio, in his most famous work he endlessly multitracks himself, layering his pieces with overdub after overdub. The musical universe he occupies is therefore at once both a populous and a lonely one. It is inhabited only by him, but by so, so many of him. This is the very essence of his fuckedness. 

The promotional films that accompany his early output replicate this recording technique. Consider that of the single In Dulci Jubilo – the screen is divided into 9 sections, at times reduced to 8, each presenting a different iteration of Oldfield, his various selves simultaneously playing a variety of different instruments. 

Link: Mike Oldfield - In Dulci Jubilo (YouTube)

At this point though, this multitracked selfhood is a kind of Hell. I would go as far as to say that if the film Exorcist had used In Dulci Jubilo as its theme rather than the opening of Tubular Bells, it would have been infinitely more unsettling. Here, his musical gift is a solipsistic prison which he has punched his way into and sealed himself within. The many layers merge into one, thus becoming a world which is populated entirely by numerous identical selves. His name is Legion, for he is many. 

But sometimes of course we must travel through the underworld to attain that which is truly inspired. And indeed, Oldfield continues to multitrack and multitrack himself to such an obsessional degree that eventually he breaks on through to the other side. It is perhaps a similar principle as with a flotation tank, only so much more than this as well. In a flotation tank of course, the visions arise from sensory deprivation as we are left to commune only with our own minds. Oldfield however is faced with not just one but a myriad of the same mind to commune with, endlessly repeated and reflected back and forth between its manifold selves. And the vision that comes of this is truly astonishing. Put simply, it's beyond fucking fucked.

Oldfield comes multitracking back through the door in the wall with his next single, Portsmouth. In its video he initiates us into a strange, backroom-like metaworld that he has accessed, in which the many of him present are joined by a troupe of smiling female folk dancers, who presumably represent the muses (though they are of course ultimately also him in as far as they arise from somewhere within the depths of his own psyche). Thus he shares with us his achievement of a higher plane of Middle English consciousness, which I leave you now to enjoy.

Link: Mike Oldfield - Portsmouth (YouTube)

Above: Gallery of fucking fuckedness

Bagpipes - fucked up shit or what?

Came across this bagpipe guy on a morning walk through Leeds while absolutely tripping my nuts off. Just what is going on there? I think I follow in the footsteps of Huxley when I say: the fucker's fucking fucked.

That's a very strong look he's got going on - & watching his cheeks puffing in and out like a frog's throat pouch was pretty mesmeric too. Tell me though - if you didn't know what you know, who would you say was more fucked here?

MOTD on acid - full match report

13th May 2023 - Aston Villa 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1; Crystal Palace 2 Bournemouth 0

As a family man with small children, opportunities to do acid come few and far between, and on this particular night, I had an acid window. The problem was that my mother-in-law, who lives with us at the moment, just wasn’t going to bed. It was getting later and later and later and still there was no movement. Eventually I just thought ‘fuck it’ and dropped a tab. After all, leave it much longer and I’d still be tripping balls when the kids woke up the next morning. And surely she’d be going to bed soon. I had in my notebook a list full of music, films, artworks and poetry that I wanted to look at, read or listen to during the trip. But no. She was still pottering around in the kitchen-diner. In the end, I decided I’d just stick Match of the Day on in the hope it would bore her into submission.

The first unusual thing I noticed was that when the line-ups came up on the screen before one of the games, the players’ faces in the profile pictures were grinning conspiratorially back at me. They looked like they liked a trip themselves, if they weren’t even tripping now. They knew what it was all about.

Inspired by their knowing smirks, I threw caution to the wind, turned the sound down on the commentary and started on my LSD playlist - continuing to watch MOTD, of course. First up, Careful With That Axe, Eugene by Pink Floyd (the live version on Ummagumma, to be specific). This became the soundtrack to Aston Villa versus Tottenham Hotspur.

Link: Pink Floyd - Careful with that Axe, Eugene (Live version, Ummagumma)

For those who do not know the  song, it starts gently and celestially, lulling you into a false sense of security, before a sudden increase in intensity accompanied by some rather disturbed screaming (3:09 onwards). This corresponded perfectly with the frenetic and maniacal goal celebrations of Villa manager Unai Emery, vigorously shaking his fists in the air after Douglas Luiz’s 72nd minute free kick found the back of the net.

I think this marriage of image and sound captured something fundamental about the ultimate nature of football and I enjoyed it immensely. Perfection itself.

Meanwhile, in the action unfolding back home, I got an insight into the fragility of the acid-addled mind. Mere self-consciousness at the continued presence of my mother-in-law translated the noises she made as she lurked in my vicinity into the evil hiss of a malevolent goblin. This was the kind of uncomfortable moment that might once have transformed the whole experience into a pretty bad trip. However, on this occasion some calm and assured defensive work saw off the threat with relative ease. And this in fact turned out to be the point that she did head off to bed at last. Maybe I have Careful with that Axe Eugene to thank for that.

With her gone, and perhaps in gratitude that the potential infusion of football with hallucinogenic hell had been averted, I abandoned the idea of working through my ‘culture’ list to focus entirely on Match of the Day, commentary and all. The most striking thing I got from the experience was how fucking amazing Eze of Crystal Palace is. His second goal from the edge of the area was particularly stunning. There was no real perceptual distortion with this – it was just a heightened appreciation of that which is good as *very* good. In his post-match interview though, I was convinced his voice was dubbed. His lips seemed out of synch with what he was saying, but it was probably just the place I was in at the time. Whatever the case, it was no surprise when he was subsequently selected for England a few weeks later. It all led me to wonder if England manager Southgate uses LSD to help him pick the team. He always seems keen on the Trippier option.

All in all, a very pleasant evening on which, however individual teams may have fared, football itself was the real winner.


Trying to have a bracing rural stroll around a National Trust property can represent, at times, something of a challenge to the psychonaut. This antler guy fucker followed me all over the parkland at Wentworth the other week.