Brushes With Fame #2: Laura Huxley

It was 1987 as I recall, and I was on a British Airways flight from Los Angeles to London. I don’t much like flying, and I was really pleased to find myself in one of those great seats you sometimes get in a 747: Economy Class, but upstairs in the ‘bubble’ where First Class usually is. Because of the curve of the roof up there, they can only fit two seats in on each side, which means extra space and even a little shelf area next to the window seat. Quite comfortable. It’s a pretty long flight and I was hoping I wouldn’t get some really boring or obnoxious person sitting next to me.

The elderly lady who sat down was very elegant and well-spoken. We exchanged pleasantries as you do, and I settled myself down with my new portable CD player.

After the plane had taken off, I must have dozed, and when I opened my eyes, I noticed that the woman was looking at a film script. Being the nosey kind of person I am, I couldn’t help but notice words like ‘mescaline’, ‘LSD’, and ‘Timothy Leary’ on the page she was reading.

“Are you a film producer?” I asked, by way of conversation.

“Oh, no,” she laughed. “I’m just reading a script for a movie that people want to make about my late husband.”

“Oh,” said I. “Who was your husband, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“His name was Aldous Huxley

I had only just finished reading Jay Stevens’ Storming Heaven one of the most informative and absorbing accounts of the influence of psychedelic drugs on the culture of the 1950s & ’60s. My mind leapt to his moving description of Aldous Huxley’s death from cancer, and how, on his deathbed he had asked his wife Laura to administer to him one final dose of LSD. And how she sat there and held his hand as he died.

The gracious woman sitting next to me was Laura Huxley.

I chatted to her in awe. I let her listen to my portable CD player – she had never seen one (they were relatively new then). She wrote her number in my diary, and urged me to look her up next time I was in Los Angeles.

I never did.

But I still have that diary page with her telephone number.