Billy and the magic mushroom: an update

Three months after writing the blog post Billy and the magic mushroom, I had a text from my dad:

More info re Billy the painter... Surname Hinks. Mom ninety pc sure. Came in a flash over breakfast :)

The image of mom “having a flash over breakfast” and saying “Hinks!” to my dad, and then dad rushing to send a text, made me laugh. I wrote back “Ha ha! Thank you! I shall add it into the blog post today.”

But then curiosity got the better of me, and I googled. And googled and googled and googled. I couldn’t stop.

I followed several trails and found the area where Billy probably lived – or at least had lived, a few years ago. I googled some more. I took some educated guesses. I sent a Facebook message to someone I thought might be his daughter. I emailed a woman I guessed might be his wife. The messages included a link to the blog post and some apologies for, you know, being a bit stalky.

Within half an hour, I got a reply.

Hi Emma how amazing to hear from you! Billy and I are still together […] Billy painted loads in the 70’s he’s more into gardens now, but remains artistic and creative. I am sure Billy will email you. We aren’t into face book! Thank you for this blast from the past! Viv

How cool is that?

We emailed back and forth throughout the day. Viv remembered my parents (which is how I know she wasn’t pulling my leg!) and Viv said she would try and get Billy to write to me himself.

And, indeed, a couple of days later, I received an email from Billy:

Hi Emma,

What a wonderful surprise to hear from someone who had not arrived on planet Earth when I was working on something that I hoped would give them joy. I was privileged to work on your room, thanks to your Mum and Dad.

I am so happy that you liked the picture. It gave me so much pleasure to paint, I feel a little guilty as it was painted to give you a sense of wonder, not for me.

When I get over the shock of this I will sort out the pics I have and send you a bit of background info etc.

Glad to hear you have a “hippy” gene.

Many Thanks, Billy

I’m not ashamed to say that I shed a little happy tear when I got that. The fact that he had given me a gift before I was born, and that – through the wonders of the internet – I had had the chance to thank him… I think it’s OK that that makes me a teeny bit emotional. Hippy that I am.

A few days later, I received a couple of Tweets from another Hinks – one of Viv and Billy’s children. The first one said:

just wanted to let you know that I was speaking to my dad last night after reading your post, he said it was great to read!

Then, a minute later, one of the questions I’d posed in my original post was answered:

and yes he did paint our bedroom walls :)

I waited to see if Billy did send me any more pictures (which is why I didn’t blog this update straight away), but he didn’t. And that’s fine! I’m not going to press for more information. Honestly, I think I’m incredibly lucky to have found him at all – and privileged to have finally been able to say “thanks”.

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