Things became more frantic toward the end of the visit [to England]. Even then, in 1958, they [Ginsberg and Corso] had numerous English supporters and imitators, and a reading that took place at New College was a disaster largely because it was invaded by numbers of them. The hosts, the college poetry society, were understandably exasperated. One hairy young man with large, bare, smelly feet ambled in and stretched himself out on a sofa. There he rolled a marijuana cigarette. The ceiling of the room was low, and to the astonishment of everyone else present he placed a match between his toes, struck it on the ceiling with a careless sweep of the foot, and lit his cigarette.
Quite apart from the uninvited hordes, the reading itself was not a success. I had forgotten to advise Allen and Gregory that New College was a stronghold of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. When Gregory began to read a poem about the aesthetic pleasures of a nuclear explosion, his hosts were outraged. There was a great deal of heckling, and finally the New College poetry society, led by Stephen Hugh-Jones, the editor of Isis, took off their shoes and threw them at the poets. Allen and Gregory packed up their poems and left. They were tight-lipped and silent, with hurt eyes, like children who have been chastised for the first time. (67)