they’re a bunch of fucking natives, and they spout all this hippie shit about self-discovery and journeys into my soul and what-not. i nod politely and agree, but just so as to be polite. i don’t want to offend them, but its all a load of crap as far as i’m concerned. i’m here for the trip of my life. i’ve heard about these mushrooms, ever since i started taking drugs. the most powerful hallucinogenic on the planet. the trip of a lifetime. they are legendary and until now, i wasn’t even sure they existed at all.
i look at the pile of goo the old woman spits onto the plate. i understand why she has to chew the mushrooms first. she has been doing this for years, and there are enzymes in her saliva that will break down the mushrooms and prevent me from vomiting too much. novices have died, choking on their own puke, from not understanding this. i have travelled thousands of miles for this trip. i have done acid and psilocybin and peyote until i could go to work tripping on all three. i need more. i need the ultimate trip and, if what i have heard is right, this is it.
i hold my disgust at bay and swallow the muck on the plate. the actual flavour revolts me, and its not her spit, its just the ‘shrooms, they taste like the bitter flavour of hell. they all smile and mutter some dumb native prayer. within minutes the nausea hits me like a tsunami hits a beach hut. they have to hold me up over a large bowl as what looks and feels like everything i ever ate explodes through my mouth and nose. my head erupts and my body shakes and i vomit with such force that i am barely able to hear their stupid prayers. suddenly it stops, as violently as it had started, and almost immediately the hallucinations begin. they are like acid hallucinations at first, shapes forming from random patterns. i see dragons and belly dancers form and disappear from the smoke bellowing from the old man’s pipe. i see a forests grow and die in the plaids of the old woman’s hair, and then the hallucinations take over my vision completely.
i am no longer in their disgusting mud hut but in a large ballroom in a great mansion. expensive and beautiful things glisten all around me. i can still hear the old man’s voice, and he is asking me, with some urgency where i am. i tell him i am in a house. “what kind of house?” he asks.
“a huge house.” i hear my disembodied voice tell him, “a fucking castle.”
“you are both lucky and unlucky.” he tells me, “this is your soul. some people’s souls are tiny little apartments and their subconscious, nothing more than a damp basement, but castles have dungeons, not cellars. you need to go down there.”
‘whatever.’ i think, i’m here to get off my tits, and across the room from me are ten of the sexiest women i have ever seen. they are barely dressed and are dancing and beckoning me to join them. my cock throbs with anticipation. i knew this was gonna be good and i hope that i don’t wake to find that i have wanked off in front of the silly old natives. fuck my subconscience!
“you won’t be able to hear me for much longer,” the old man’s fading voice rattles in my head, “you need to go downstairs. you need to enter the dungeon of your mind. you need to face your demons. you won’t get another chance.” there is something in the urgency of his voice that makes me hesitate.
‘maybe a quick peek’ i think. what harm can it do? these girls will still be here when i get back.
the door is locked with a large padlock. it crumbles at my touch and i imagine that i think i hear him say
“that is all i can do for you.” the door swings open and i am hit with the darkness and the stench. it smells of fear and hate and anger and ugliness. i step into the cold dark horror. almost immediately, terror grabs me by the throat and threatens to choke me. i turn back, but the door is no more. panic smacks me in the face like a cricket bat, and i realise that i have no choice but to descend.
the stairs are rickety and feel like they want to throw me into the unknown abyss below me. i find a candle and light it but its almost like the stink of fear prevents it illuminating anything other than the next few steps. its like fear itself has blinded me. as i descend and explore, doors creak and some slam, inexplicably behind me. i am too consumed with fear to even look back in case those doors too have disappeared. i curse the old man. i scream “you cunt!” at the top of my voice. the echoes ring in my ears for minutes, until I believe the words are for me, and far below me i hear the snarl of a hungry demon that i fear i have woken.
i work my way down the stairs, at times treading on and crushing things that feel horribly human. i dare not look down to see. then i tread on something that squeals in pain and i start. i fall backwards and plummet, god knows how far, and land with a soul-shaking thump on what feels like bones. the candle is gone. pitch blackness, and terror surrounds me and closes in on me like a gang of satan’s hungry children. the howls of desperate rage and pain from the demon become my only direction, and as i crawl away in an attempt to cower, i feel my knees cut open. there are shards of glass all over the floor. i pick a particularly long and sharp one and attempt to regain my courage.
i edge my way, blind, around the wall until i find its door. i piss myself literally as i swing it open.
it is huge and has its back to me but i can see it is horrific. it spins and snarls, and if there was anything left in my bladder it would have fled my body in an attempt to flee. i see the demon is chained but as it turns and faces me, the rage in its eyes has such fury that it breaks its bonds without a single thought.
it knows me, and i know it. trembling, i hold my pathetic shard of glass in my hand. knowing full well that i can never kill such a monster. our eyes meet and we see each other. tears stream from the demons eyes and its chest heaves with decades of non-stop sobbing. i see that despite how horrific this beast has become, that it is me. a forgotten me, a neglected me. an innocent, child me that has been hidden from even my view. giant, grotesque and locked away. growing more ugly by the day.
i drop the weapon, not from fear but from pity. this monster doesn’t need slaying, it needs to be hugged, and nurtured and freed from his prison of lies and hurt.
i wake to find myself still in the hut. the wise old folk absorbed by breaking bad. they hear my sobbing, and without turning, they smile.
So, the rooms we live in are provided by the charity we work for, the rent is very reasonable. they do keep nagging us though. about smoking pot in them. “please smoke your joints outside?” they keep asking, “that’s our property and we are legally liable”. of course, they have a good point, and of course, we ignore them and keep puffing away like octogenarian grannies on a the 25th mile of a marathon. thing is, the job is stressful, all that bum-wiping, and lifting, and bed-sores, and feeding, and death, and boredom and stair climbing, and caring. you need an outlet and weed was ours. well, that and e, and acid, and ska, and football hooliganism, and speed and uk surf: a genre of music that has sadly not survived.
eventually the bosses do what they got to and call the fuzz. i’m watching the box in the communal area and supping on a pint of shepherd neame, when i see four burly looking blokes and a german sheppard stop outside my room. i know instantly what has happened, and rather than panic, i get up and walk calmly into my fate of being a homeless and jobless criminal. i even manage a smile.
i lead them into my room and just point to the weed on the table next to the bong. they say “all very well and good sir,” all of them staring at my sorry little bag of grass, “but we will need you to strip.” so, i go through the humiliation of a strip-search (wishing that there had been at least one wpc there, to see my dong), and then they let the dog have a good sniff around. she is well trained and loves me, or at least how i smell. there is no other puff in my room and the only point that grabs her attention is my laundry basket. there are socks in there that, if you threw them at the wall, would stick to it, and the cops ask if i have anything in there.
“not that i know of.” i lie, knowing that the cop will have to rummage, very thoroughly through them all.
As they take me to the cop shop i think of doug.
doug and i have rooms next to each other, we smoke a lot of weed together. we score from the same geezer, every thursday, on payday. just like we did today. only difference between us is that i cycle and he walks or grabs a bus. i always get home quicker. he was just arriving, as i was leaving, which means… he’s like half an hour away. he ain’t back yet. there may well be a chance for him to avoid getting busted, if only i can get hold of him before he gets home.
the cops aren’t rough with me or anything, after all, they have what they want, and we almost have a laugh together. all the time i’m thinking of doug. “am i allowed a phone call?” i ask.
“sure.” they smile, “who do you want to call?” i tell them it’s my mate doug. “come with us.” they beckon, and i follow, assuming they are taking me to a telephone. all i wanna say to him is
‘get out of the fucking house man! the pigs are coming!’ they lead me into a room where i see doug, sat, being interviewed by two other cops.
“here is is”, says one cop, “what do you want to say to him?”
“get out of the fucking house man!” i say, “the pigs are coming!”
Hackney is one of the poorest boroughs in the country, and the neighbourhood I live in is pretty rough and run-down, even for Hackney. We see more than our fair share of crime and inner-city depravity: just this morning I walked past a drunk woman taking a dump in a phone box. Nevertheless we were all horrified when we learned that the local library was being used, after dark, as a brothel and crack house. The police raided it around three AM, arrested 30 people and seized a stash of drugs and weapons. We were flabbergasted, we had no idea that we had a library.
I used to go to the Stone Henge rock festival, before they closed it down. It was more of a drug festival really, everyone was just so totally trashed. It was wonderful. I once saw half of Motorhead play with half of Here And Now because the band members were so wasted they couldn’t find their way to the right stages. Alpha, beta, gamma, hubba-dubba.
I never took to Glastonbury: way too commercial. The Henge was free and wild. The police left us alone, the Hell’s Angels took it on themselves to do the security. I watched once as they repeatedly rode, bumpily over someone’s tent. “I hope there’s no one in there.” I said to the guy next to me.
“They think I am.” he told me.
I spent my 19th birthday in my birthday suit. I met this Welsh girl called Alex and she taught me how to do back flips and stand sideways on a lamp post and how to juggle. I can still do all those things today but not very well. We painted each other’s bodies, and she painted double yellow lines on my dick, to stop anyone double parking. We were in love all afternoon. She had the most amazing boobs.
There used to be a sign, at the entrance, it read:
“its never too late to have a happy childhood”
i am so sentence right now,
that i can’t even string a stoned together.
i am so high today,
that sense makes any nothing at all.
i do worry sometimes,
that i might have brained my damage.
but who fucks a give
as long as i’m having a ball?
Mary had a little crack
Whose fleece was white as snow,
And everywhere that that Mary went
The kids were sure to follow.
She took some to her school one day,
Which was against the rules.
It made the children laugh and play
To smoke some crack at school.
And so the teacher turned her out,
But still she lingered near
And waited patiently about
For the children to appear.