Along with a few other writers (DBC Pierre, Howard Marks, Sebastian Horsley etc) I was asked to contribute some of my few surviving tattered memories to the current issue of Hot Press. The issue is a wonderfully exploitative and tacky DRUGS!!! special, with a coke-smeared model on the cover who happens to look a bit like the young Irish lingerie model, Katie French, who died recently after her coke-fueled 24th birthday party.
My earliest experience of drugs was as a member of a small tribe in Galway.
We would collect magic mushrooms in the traditional manner, on the sacred golf-course of Knocknacarra. Every season, Joe Seal, a priest of the tribe, would make magic mushroom wine. My first trip, the young men of the tribe gathered in a holy place in Salthill and drank deeply of mushroom tea. A heck of a lot of mushroom tea. Then we went to the Warwick. The night lasted several years, and I sank into the floor several inches whenever I lay down, which was often. Then it started raining in the Warwick. Then tribes of pygmies wandered across the dance floor.
It was unnerving, and many of our tribe fled. (Days later, we discovered that a busload of dwarves on holiday were staying in the Warwick: and that the place was so packed the condensation had been pouring from the ceiling.)
Some of us ended up in Spar, where one of our number demanded that the shopkeeper slice his Mars Bar into many slices with the bacon slicer. However, his urgent request was not understood, and our tribesman fled. Soon many of the tribesmen were in flight, through space and time. Several walked a number of miles out of town. One slept in a field. Another was found at dawn, still walking, past Spiddal, and was brought home by the forces of law and order.
They were the best days of our lives, and they destroyed many of us. Over the next few years, some of us achieved enlightenment. Some of us died. Joe Seal died in India. A girl I liked killed herself. A girl I loved lost her mind and never found it again, and is still lost. Quite a few of us ended up in psychiatric hospitals, or with terrible depressions… We didn't know what we were doing, we didn't take it seriously enough. As Philip K. Dick said of his friends, and of mine,
"They wanted to have a good time, but they were like children playing in the street; they could see one after another of them being killed - run over, maimed, destroyed - but they continued to play anyhow."
I have two very strong opinions on drugs. Those who are against drugs should take more of them: those who are for drugs should take less of them. Most societies make sure that their young people take dangerous drugs in controlled circumstances, very rarely, and with an experienced guide to make sure they come back with new knowledge of themselves, and of their relationship to the universe. We neck anything that's going, head down to Abrakebabra, and fight. Few achieve enlightenment in Abrakebabra.
A note on the images in this post:
The second image is of Yapa, Joel, JJ, Posen and Albi, visiting London from the island of Tanna, at the southern tip of the island nation of Vanuatu. It is from the acclaimed Channel 4 documentary, Meet The Natives.