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I first ran into the Big L in the spring of 1972. A grey, Notting Hill afternoon. So many were. Sporadically employed, and only twenty-three, the only thing I did have plenty of was time on my hands. Like most clients of the French style café called Zog in Kensington Park Road, the Big L was hunched over an empty coffee cup. Coffees were just another way of measuring the passing of hours.
Les Biggs, the Big L, Big Les or just plain Biggles, as some called him, was chatting with a couple of hippies. One a pretty girl, the other was a young guy with long, dark hair. I later learned he was a drug dealer named Ray. Sitting at a nearby table, minding my own business, out of the corner of an eye, I minded theirs.
In full Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young mode, thinning, reddish hair hung down beyond the Big L’s shoulders. He wore a tired, brown suede jacket over a leather waistcoat. A Zapata moustache, threatening to become a handlebar, couldn’t conceal the famous grin so many people found disconcerting. But it was his eyes I found most disturbing, especially when they fixed mine for the very first time. They told me he knew I’d been observing him, and now I’d have to pay the price. To all intents and purposes, they looked the eyes of a mad axeman on the run. Dark green irises, the pinprick pupils transmitting imbalance, burned into mine. They unnerved me, particularly as they were overshadowed by a smooth, expansive forehead that bore all the signs of Transylvanian surgical intervention. Read more.
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