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I passed acid test - smart kids do most stupid things


'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' by the Beatles. Photo: PA

'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' by the Beatles. Photo: PA

'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' by the Beatles. Photo: PA

I had a battle with my father in the summer of 1967. I loved Sgt Pepper. Loud. He didn't. He would tell me to turn it down and that The Beatles had gone weird. I was delighted they had. I sneaked the volume up. He took out the fuse.

I took risks to get Sgt Pepper. I had read the advance review in the NME. I loved Rubber Soul and adored Revolver but this was a mega leap further.

I was in boarding school and 'gated' for the term for generally being a smart ass. One weekend I scaled the wall and went out through the hospital on Harcourt Street. Grafton Street was the most likely place to be seen. I got to Dolphin Discs on the quays and back in over the wall with the vinyl. To have been caught would have been instant expulsion. This was in the drinking and smoking league of offences and slightly more serious than heroin.

No one sneaked, including some teachers who must have wondered how I got it, but wanted to listen. I played it most days for the next two years and still have the same copy. I still play the CD in the car when I can play the full album. Loud.

I read recently that very bright children are more likely to experiment with drugs. I identified immediately. I loved the Sgt Pepper drug references and have never bought John Lennon's story that Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds was not about, or influenced, by LSD. Of course it was.

My father eventually conceded that Sgt Pepper was actually pretty damned good. He was not best pleased when I told him how I had procured it. "You would have been expelled," he told me as if it was news. That was to come a few years later but we didn't know that, then.

The Beatles were still my soundtrack in Trinity. Like many psychology students, I considered it part of my education to get my hands on some LSD.

I took 'acid' three times, two marvellous and one a bit dodgy and decided that was the end of it for me. But I do believe I understood Sgt Pepper better and, if LSD was good enough for The Beatles, it was good enough for me. Then. Not now. A friend and I recently agreed that we would love to spend our old age trying out all the drugs we hadn't for fear of waking up dead and the embarrassment that would follow. "Well did you hear? Strychnine. The idiots thought it was ecstasy!"

I did get expelled for riding a motorbike without a licence, insurance or permission and I still don't know who 'sneaked'. It took a PhD in Psychology and getting a job as lecturer in Trinity College to earn the redemption of my parents.

The motto of this tale is that your children are probably influenced by their idols and that the smarter children do the stupider things.

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