My encounters with Jesus Christ… and the reason I could say Yes to heroin

In yesterday’s blog – drink.

Today – drugs.

Tomorrow, who knows?

If you are lucky, maybe even sex.

I was 13 when the Beatles hit big; I was 17 in the Summer of Love. Prime druggie material.

I once spent a long time in a kitchen in Clapham with a close friend of mine and the boyfriend of one of her friends who, let’s say, was called Susan. We were trying to persuade him that Susan did not really want to see him and that he should get the train back to his home town in the north of England. The problem was that he knew he was Jesus Christ and this kept getting in the way of the discussion. He kept telling us how he could change anything by deciding it was changed. We eventually persuaded him to go with us to St Pancras station and we did put him on a train north, but he was of the opinion he did not really need to travel on trains as he was the Messiah.

The second time I encountered Jesus Christ was a couple of weeks after a plane had crashed on a crowded rural area in (I think it was) Holland. The person who had done this was prepared to make a plane similarly crash onto the Thames TV building in Euston Road, London. He told me (the person who said he made the plane crash) that he would do this unless Thames TV issued an on-air apology because one of their programmes had offended him and I should pay attention to what he said because his father just happened to be God and he himself, as you will have guessed, was Jesus Christ.

I have never taken any non-medical, so-called ‘recreational’ drugs though, at one time, I would have done.

The only drugs which ever attracted me were heroin and LSD.

Marijuana in any of its forms never attracted me. It just seemed to be an alternative to drink, though less self-destructive than alcohol and spirits.

I lost count of the number of times I sat in a room in the 1960s or 1970s while other people smoked joints and talked utter drivel.

The next day, they would go on and on about what a great, deep and meaningful philosophical discussion they had had the night before and I would think:

“Nope. I was there. You were talking utter drivel, like five year-olds after eight pints of beer.”

Hellfire – forget “I sat in a room in the 1960s or 1970s” – I have sat in rooms throughout my life listening to stoned people talking drivel.

Amiable drivel. But drivel nonetheless.

It is rubbish to say weed has no effect on anyone in the long term. Not if you take it regularly in significant quantities over a long period.

Neil in The Young Ones TV series was not a fantasy character.

That was social realism.

I have worked with real Neils.

I remember a very amiable and well-meaning but totally brain-groggy and decision-incapable head of department at a regional ITV company in the 1990s. His entire brain had been turned into semolina by twenty years or more of weed and pseudo-philosophical befuddlement. If he had been an alcoholic, he would have been dribbling saliva out the sides of his mouth; as it was, his few remaining brain cells were almost visibly dribbling out of his ears.

I might well have tried hash in the 1960s or 1970s but it just seemed to be a milder version of alcohol with less aggressive effects and there was also a seemingly tiny but actually rather large practical problem: I had never smoked nicotine cigarettes, so the whole technique of smoking and inhaling was alien to me. If anyone had offered me hash cakes, I would have eaten them; but no-one ever did.

To me, marijuana in whatever form was and is a mild and uninteresting drug. If you want to be relaxed, then I recommend you just eat a marshmallow, don’t stuff one inside your brain cavity.

A friend of mine told me in the 1970s: “You just don’t understand what weed is like because you have never taken it.”

But, in the 1980s, I vividly remember standing in Soho with a long-term alcoholic I knew as he looked lovingly into the crowded window display of Gerry’s booze shop in Old Compton Street.

You could see the tenderness and nostalgic thoughts in his eyes as they moved from bottle to bottle and from label to label.

I was not an alcoholic, but I could see objectively what the drink had done and was doing to him.

In a sense, to see the real effect of a drug, you have to not take it.

I was always very strongly attracted to LSD.

It held the very major attraction to me of mind-alteration and making surrealism real. But the attraction and alarm bells over-lapped and, in any case, LSD was not available in my circles in my middle class area in Ilford, East London/Essex in the late 1960s.

Yes, I went to events at the Arts Lab in Drury Lane; yes I read International Times and went to Blackhill Enterprises’ free rock concerts in Hyde Park before the sheer scale of the Rolling Stones’ appearance in 1969 ruined them. But life in Ilford at that point was not druggy.

By the time LSD was available to me, I had read enough about people freaking out on it, read of Syd Barrett self-destructing in Pink Floyd, seen other people’s minds gone wrong. And then there were the Manson Murders in 1969. Not acid-induced as such, but not totally unrelated to druggy people’s minds going haywire.

The logic of LSD, as I saw it, was that you could alter the chemical balance inside your mind and, as it were, temporarily re-arrange the inter-connections. But if you felt, as I rightly or wrongly did, that perhaps your mind was potentially ‘near the edge’ to begin with, then there was the obvious danger that LSD would tip you permanently over the edge.

So I would have taken acid during a short window of opportunity but it was not available to me until after that window of acceptance had closed. I never took it. And reading about Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s mind being sent spinning over the edge by one drink spiked with acid did not change my opinion. He spiralled out of control after that first acid trip of course but, the way Rolling Stone told it, the whole spiral began with that one tab of acid.

With heroin: the same thing. When I would have taken it, the stuff was not available to me. When it was available I no longer wanted to take it.

When I was in my late teens, a close friend of mine married someone who was ‘an ex–heroin addict’. But, even then I knew that being an ex-heroin addict is a bit like being an ex-member of the SAS. You can never be too sure.

Years later, when the first anti-heroin ads appeared on TV, a close friend of mine said to me, “They make smack look bloody attractive, don’t they?” and I had to agree with her. If I had been an impressionable young teenager and it had been available, I would almost certainly have taken heroin. The first anti-heroin TV commercials were almost, but not quite, as good a commercial for smack as Trainspotting which felt to me like a positive Jerusalem of an anthemic hymn to the attractions of smack.

That first injection of heroin may, as I have been told, give you the biggest high – the most gigantic orgasmic leap – you have ever had. But it is also a drug for nihilists.

So that’s the one for me.

I think, with heroin, the potential lows can be as attractive as the highs – something the anti-heroin ads never seem to have realised.

Whereas cocaine seems to me to be the drug of self-doubting egotists who want to prove to themselves that they are as special as they hope they might be.

But that is another blog.


Filed under Drugs, Music

7 responses to “My encounters with Jesus Christ… and the reason I could say Yes to heroin

  1. I took LSD in India when I was in my thirties as everyone went on about how brilliant it was. It was one of the most tedious experiences of my life, I was trapped in a tacky fluorescent perception of the world for about 8 hours.

    I spent 4 of those hours trying to find a caff where i could have a croissant as I was obsessed with that being the only thing that could ground me again. When I found a caff I couldn’t actually speak.

    It was very very strong, where I didnt feel I was in my body at all. The normally beautiful south India Sea was now like one of those ‘blue lady’ woolworths paintings. Someone painted my face green and I came stumbling out of the jungle to encounter a party of schoolgirls on their way to morning school. My Higher Sensible Inner Self was trying to regain control all the time and felt a terrible pang at how terrifying I must appear to the girls, but I couldn’t formulate the explanatory reassuring words of apology.

    The croissant, once purchased, did indeed help to ground me.
    The ‘trip’ had begun at a jungle party where a french girl seized me by the hand and said ‘I am going to take you to the dark dark heart of the party where the trippy people are’. In reality this was just the middle of the disco, but it felt like the claustraphobic third circle of hell. When I needed a wee I couldnt negotiate my vietnamese boat persons trousers with their complicated ties and was stuck in the trees trying to do them up while avoiding a nest of imaginary snakes that I knew luckily were imaginary. Everything kept swinging round like being on a roundabout and my higher self all the time was saying this is really silly but it can’t go on forever.

    Much later, when it was milder and I found some of my friends, I saw my bestest friend as a yapping cavalier king charles spanniel who did not have my best interests at heart, snapping at me, and in that perception I had truly seen her as she really was. But with everything else, the real world is so much better without going through the moronic doors of perception.

  2. Caution is my middle name. I did smoke far too much dope at one time but that was mainly as a cigarette substitute after I’d given up the fags .

    Anything Ive ever had to make me more gregarious has turned me into a completely uncool twat, I talk too much anyway and I couldnt bear the anxiety and depression the next day.

    In my younger days I tried most stuff but it was all weak so I don’t count that. I used to pick magic mushrooms but even then I’d only have about 5 and once I gave my friend some I’d dried out myself and she had a fit, I mean she went over like a felled tree and started twitching. Things like that made me think ‘is this really worth it?’

    I got stuck in Northumbria one Christmastide night in a snowy field with all my friends unable to move because we’d had dope cake and were completely paranoid, with one person shouting ‘we’re all going to die’ because we were sledging on trays. We were only 100 yards from our rented farmhouse but every step seemed steeped in danger and menace.

    The last time I had a joint was on my fiftieth birthday and it was skunk. I spent the small hours (yes we’d all gone to bed about 2pm) shaking David awake in my paranoia about how we had forgotten to pack the remaining birthday cake away before we left the venue and the waitresses might nick it.
    Now I drink unglamorous beer mostly.

  3. I once had a 4am encounter smoking Heroin in SE London. It was after the Pull The Other One cabaret night in Nunhead and I went back to play chess with a now dead comedian (yes that fella – RIP)… What really struck me was how innocuous heroin was, there was no great orgasmic high that I expected, just nothingness like a very clean marijuana mong out with zero paranoia… how bizarre…

    The next day I spoke on the phone about the experience to another comedian friend, (one who is still alive), who had managed to kick heroin some time earlier. I asked him how it could ever be addictive. He put the phone down and came straight around to my flat. He told me in no uncertain terms that by being so unthreatening is exactly how heroin grabs people. Drugs like Acid, Ecstasy, mushrooms etc. which produce the biggest high are quite an event and yet are not really addictive. Whereas Heroin feels so harmless that it seeps in. That massive low of nothingness becomes the most desirable thing in life, physically and mentally. As my friend told me using heroin is the happiest you can possibly be… but when heroin starts using you its beyond the biggest depression that you can ever imagine. Thankfully after this warning my encounter was a one off. Just say no kids!

  4. I have been drinking and smoking for most of my adult life. In the short periods when I have laid off it for a while I get more productive and then for whatever reason, usually a feeling of hopelessness I jump off the wagon and use that as an excuse not to take my life forward in a postive way.
    However, these days it is becoming really boring and I want to quit both for good so that I can get up in the mornings without a groggy head or feeling lethargic which would enable me to spend my days constructively instead of critisicing myself for my behaviour and lack of self control.
    Reading this and the last post (esp StuWho’s comment) have encouraged me to make that decision. Here is a song that sums it up nicely.

  5. Billy a good start is to try and reclaim some alcohol free days and see how you get on, working up to three on the trot which should become your rule. Make those 3 days absolutely sacrosanct, no ifs or buts, no exceptions. You may find that is all you need to do to gain a bit more control over your days or you may find you need to go all the way.I don’t drink any alcohol at all during the week – dinner at someones house/edinburgh or glastonbury festivals might be an exception – and as a result I drink much less on a weekend than I used to.

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