A Beat in Bracknell
From The Guardian:
When you think of the Beats, you think of free sex and flaming sunsets, of bulbous ’49 Hudsons easing towards the horizon on dusty highways that seem to go on for ever. You don’t think about roundabouts, recycling centres and Rover estates. But that’s what you get in Bracknell and it’s in Bracknell, near Windsor, that one of the last surviving members of the Beat generation lives.
Carolyn Cassady opens the door to her pretty green cottage with a lipsticked grin and a shy handshake. She’s 87, but looks a decade younger, dressed neatly in a lavender fleece with matching moccasins. The second wife of Beat muse Neal Cassady – the man immortalised as Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac’s 1957 classic On the Road – Carolyn moved to London in 1983, and relocated here 10 years later. “I was brought up English,” she says. “My parents were anglophiles and we had a whole lot of English customs at home. I made the break and I much prefer it.”
Her knick-knack-filled Berkshire home has now become a regular, if unlikely, stop on the Beat trail. Walter Salles, the Brazilian director behind the new movie version of On the Road, is her most recent high-profile visitor. “He came four, five times,” says Carolyn, with a twang that betrays her Tennessee childhood. “We’re good friends.”