On 11th September 1971, John Lennon appeared on The Dick Cavett Show, a hugely popular post '60s, Americana zeitgeist talkshow which was essential viewing due to its host's easy-going style and litany of A-list celebs.
Towards the end of the interview Cavett asks Lennon about the true meaning of the song 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds'. The myth was that the song and its title was a direct nod to the Beatles experimentation with acid - LSD. Lennon, however, maintained that this was completely untrue and in fact it was his son who had brought home a crazy painting from school; on being questioned about the image, Julian Lennon had replied that it was a picture of "Lucy flying in the sky with diamonds...." - and thus the tale was born.
Now whether this was Lennon trying to deflect any further scrutiny of the Beatles and their drug-taking, due to the critical reaction to Paul's open confession of consuming LSD, or whether it is in fact true, has been lost in translation over the years. Personally, I hope that there is some truth in both and some crazy cosmic connection and double meaning created by some higher power. Either way it doesn't really matter and like all art is up to individual interpretation and elucidation.
The other week I received an essential bit of kit with autumn rolling in - a Bleka long sleeve thermal jersey from Paria.cc. As you can see, it's certainly an eye-catcher:
Paria.cc, by their own admission, have a passion for the alternative, be it in design or attitude and they make no apology for it, even if "it means we've sometimes ended up feeling like the odd one out." Finally, a kindred spirit and a club I have the right shoes for!
The jersey is a long-sleeve looker packed with all the features you'd expect: body fit, full zipper, three pockets, elasticated cuffs, silicone grippers and reflective piping. The semi fleece thermos lining means you are snug on those chilly rides without overheating or unduly leaking sweat.
The shiny, geometrically patterned black works extremely well as a juxtapose to the slightly blurred matte white 'Bleka' print, and the overall look is a definite head turner. It won't be everyone's cup of tea - I'm mainly thinking of the Assos and Castelli purists - but we don't talk to them anyway!
Immediately on seeing the Bleka range, in fact within milliseconds, I had decided on what the design meant, stood for and was a nod towards. To me it had to be Jackson Pollock, the volatile, alcohol-fuelled abstract expressionist made famous for his unique style of paint-spattered canvases. I have always felt a strong affinity with Pollock and his work, which if I am honest was born out of an obsession with The Stone Roses and John Squire's album cover homage.
This is what I thought the 'Bleka' range was about; but was my interpretation correct, or was I - like those attributing LSD references to 'Lucy in the Sky' - just seeing what I wanted to see?
I asked Sam, Chief Commissaire at Paria.cc, about the background of the thinking and design of the Bleka range, and he was happy to oblige.
"It was actually a bit of a 90s throwback," Sam explained, "coupled with the fact that I knackered a Ralph Lauren polo shirt once spilling bleach on it when I was cleaning a floor!"
Now I can totally relate to this; only a month ago I ruined a pair of beloved Vans shorts in exactly the same way while cleaning our shower. I can also see the 90s theme with that tie-dye, bleached, stonewash thing going on - 'Bleka' is in fact Swedish for bleach. It is definitely individual, alternative and cool.
However, my Pollock theory seemed to have been debunked. Or had it? Just as with Lennon and Lucy, perhaps there was a double, unknown and hidden meaning which was only to be discovered once the range had been released on an unsuspecting public...
Without knowing what the word bleka meant when I received the jersey, and before speaking to Sam, I Googled 'bleka'. What came up only cemented further my belief that this design was based on the Pop artist, and as usual, ahem, I was right - in a way. Because 'Bleka' is also the Swedish name for an Atlantic fish, Pollachius pollachius - or, as it is better known, the pollock. Weird man.
So, whether by pure accident or cosmic connection, Paria.cc chose a name for their newest range which offers two completely different yet valid and inspiring interpretations of the design. Just as the Beatles have 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds', Paria.cc have 'Bleka'.
Now I'm not saying that Paria.cc are as big as the Beatles - you know what sort of trouble that lands you in - but it's worth pondering what forces were at work that day long ago when the bleach hit the polo shirt. Trippy dude.
I think the only conclusion we can draw is that this is yet more scientific proof that cycling and all that goes with it operates on a higher plane than other mundane pastimes. Was it not Buddha who said, "Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, man cannot live without cycling."
(It wasn't, by the way.)
Bleka Long Sleeve Thermo Jersey, £69 from www.paria.cc