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Going Abroad With Boomerpdx And Pink

On The Crazy Diamond’s Birthday


If you’re not George Washington, sit down in the boat

The knowledge base of an average Cambridge, England citizen grades higher than nearly everyone else.

This is no surprise to those who track smart places. The shocker is the intellectual foundation in Cambridge reaches beyond the university.

In America, Cambridge means Harvard. It’s a welcome brand.

What do you want to see on your doctor’s license, Dr. Yes from Harvard Medical School, or Dr. No from the Dominican Republic Veterinary Clinic. When we hear Cambridge, we think smart.

If our Cambridge means smart, England’s Cambridge means brilliant.

Where in America can you sit in the same pub as the men who explained DNA? World leaders go to Cambridge and later send their sons and daughters who will probably send theirs.

Class started in 1209 and they’re still open. There’s a reason.

Dr. Marion, one of Prince Charles’ former tutors, explains the makings of a Cambridge student:

“It’s the self-motivated who thrive here. Before arriving our students spend years of study on a particular subject. When they get here we guide them along their way. Cambridge is not the best place to find yourself. You need a pretty good idea to begin with.”

This was a man worth listening to, a man of power.

He proved it by inviting a group to walk on the lawn with him, by letting us stand at the front of his dining hall. It’s a big deal there, so it’s big.

In spite of the thirty one colleges in Cambridge, what lifts the collective brain power isn’t academic.

It’s Pink Floyd.

They grew up there, went to school there. A city renowned for elite education is a perfect breeding ground for a band that sings Another Brick In The Wall, (We don’t need no education, we don’t need no thought control…)

During a visit, Cousin Paul took us on the Pink Floyd home tour.

We saw Roger Waters’ mom’s house, where David Gilmour lived. I’m a fan but didn’t know their hometown. I mean, they’re not the Beatles in Liverpool.

This was better.

We pulled onto a dead end street to see the house on the left toward the end. Syd Barrett lived there with his mom. I’m a fan, but Syd Barrett didn’t register.

“Shine On You Crazy Diamond?” Paul asked. “Wish You Were Here?”


“They are about Syd. He’s the fallen angel.”


I got it. A trip to England means visiting plenty of castles and cathedrals. Now a fallen angel?

Pink Floyd shot to a whole ‘nother level. They were more than an eight track tape, more than a cassette. They were more than a CD. I walked on the same streets they played on, breathed the same air. I saw where they lived.

We were one. Coocoo Catchoo.

We turned and drove a main street toward the Sainsbury store.

A round guy on a bike pedaled the same direction. Looked like a regular guy.

“That’s him,” Paul said. “That’s Syd Barrett.”

He certainly ate his meat and got his pudding.

I read his obituary years later. It said Syd Barrett lived with his mother and stayed inside except for an occasional bike ride to Sainsbury.

He looked like a retired bus driver, not Mick Jagger or Paul McCartney. He wasn’t Cliff Richard.

But he was one of them, at least for a while. Then he left, but not all at once.

Every time a Baby Boomer dials up Dark Side of the Moon they feel an uncertain soul. They find Syd Barrett and pieces of Cambridge they will keep forever.

They feel smart, just like the rest of the city, thanks to Pink Floyd.

Today is Mr. Barrett’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Syd, from boomerpdx.

About David Gillaspie
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