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Crash!
Crash!
Entry in Andy's gig diary:

"September 24th (1971) at Lewes Tech for 22. 1st half was really noisy, but 2nd half was pretty good, and the audience seemed to like it. Steve Barnes kept us well oiled. On this night though, music was not the most important part. After all the trouble in which Digger got beaten up, we had The Crash. Still it could have been worse - nuff said."

Now, I don't remember the details of the fracas in which my good friend Digger came off badly. I remember we clambered into the old Bedford van belonging to Pete (not his real name) who was very drunk. We all tried to persuade him not to drive and Andy offered to, but Pete was so leathered he thought he was fine.

We set off, with me and Digger behind the driver and everyone else squashed in somehow.  Pete's state of mind deprived him, not only of his common sense, but also of his sense of direction. We found ourselves in a cul-de-sac in Newhaven, which wasn't even on the way! Pete refused to listen to any advice we tried to give him.

He continued to waver across the road in the general direction of Hastings ignoring the worried and increasingly angry pleas of his passengers.

We found ourselves waiting for a late train at a level-crossing near Pevensey, and Pete appeared to be falling asleep. Before we could make any attempt at replacing him at the wheel, a loud goods train rolled past and woke him.

We'd almost got there - approaching Bexhill. All had been quiet as we climbed the hill after Little Common roundabout.  I realised Pete needed to be told of the Bexhill drop-off, so I tapped his shoulder.  Big mistake! Pete turned around to me and turned the steering wheel too, taking the van off the road, onto the pavement and headed for a lamp post. He couldn't avoid it and hit it full on toppling it into the road and bringing us to a sudden halt. Pete turned back to me and said, "I wish you hadn't done that, Jaffa!" Someone who'd been following us stopped and the driver asked if we were alright. I remember Pete gesticulating and replying, "Oh, f**k off!"

We were all a bit shaken but no-one was seriously hurt. The van was hissing, steaming and clearly a write off. Tone and I went to a nearby phonebox to ask his folks to come and pick us up. His first words were, "Hello, Mum. We've had a bit of a bump in the van"!

-Jaffa