Customs & Excise

Today I met a Goddess. She had no teeth, skin the colour of boiled and beaten fish, hepatitis A, B & C and probably HIV. She came all the way across town to rob me of 55 euros – I'm a lucky man. Normally she won't get off the toilet for less than a hundred, but today she must have been feeling extra charitable.

The Goddesses name is Sonia. That's her real name, no fucking around with her. She gives it straight. She tells you “You pay double and get half!” All I ask is that she don't dip into the 'half'. Nine times out of ten she does.

If it wasn't for Sonia I'd either be dead or sober. For the last two years, ever since David was sentenced to 4 and a half years in St. Joseph's prison, she has been supplying me in methadone and heroin. Only once has she ever let me down.

When I see Sonia, I see beauty. I'm blind to all her tricks and scams and cons. It's like I'm in love. I sit waiting for her for hours, send her desperate texts asking where she is and convince myself that she will stand me up. And then I see her. And she looks so wonderful and I suddenly feel whole again.

In france it is the custom to greet one another with a kiss on either cheek. Sonia and I don't care a fuck for customs. We do it with an old-fashioned hand shake. Sometimes we even say “hello.” Mostly though she just says “It's really small but strong!” Then she turns her back and is gone.

For the next 12 hours she is no longer a goddess, but rather a “fucking robbing junkie whore!” and someone “I'll never see again! Nah, that's it, I'm sick of that bitch... really, I'm fucking serious this time!!!” Come morning the smacks all gone and to feel only slightly shitty I swallow three times as much methadone as usual. Before I know it I am withdrawing money I don't have and paying my rent with a cheque that will bounce into orbit when the landlord tries to cash it. But so what, I've just hit the redial button and Sonia's phone is ringing. In just under an hour my Goddess will come, rob me again, and then I'll feel a whole lot better.

My fondest Wishes to All and a huge thanks to those who have sent mails and continued supporting Memoires through the rainy season. Something beautiful will surely be posted soon...

Until then, All My Thoughts, Shane. X


Wildernesschic said...

Beer goggles, opium specs... they are all the same
take care Shane xx

Sarcastic Bastard said...

I think this was beautiful, Shane.

I have been thinking of you, and I love you always.

Stay safe,


Malcolm said...

The moment I read this I thought of "The sisters of mercy" (Cohen), a strange but very compelling parallel.

SB is right, this is beautiful

Love as ever

piggyinthemiddle said...

I used to know girl just like this. I would wait hours and hours and hours for her. I would get so wound up that I would swear I was going to punch her the second she came into sight.

And of course I felt just like you when she finally showed. Find another connection Shane. You need to blow this one into orbit like your bouncy cheques :)

Dusty Rose said...

I guess we've all had one like that;
without them we would be up a creek,
and they are really bottom-feeding
abominations but we love them
because without them we'd end up,
Mine was a boy, he had a lazy eye,
or so I thought,
but after years of knowing him I finally found out the eye
that lolled freely
was actually made of glass.

all the beast,

dogboy said...

Shane, i'm so happy for you and Sonia. It's good to have someone stable in your life, man, that's rare. You could write a song baout her. yesterday I saw someone on the street, and i swear he looked like you and he looked at me as if he recognized me, even though, this is impossible in our case. But...maybe there;s some fuck-up in the universe and its space-and-time coordinates?
I can't wait for more, new and excitign adventures.
Love To you, sire

The Total Impostor said...

I sit here waiting now for the bell to ring too. 'Half an hour' he said, over two hours ago. Runny nose, goosebumps, bowels turning to jelly, head full of fog. Like you, I hate this person I am waiting for so much, I tell myself I will beat him to death if he ever arrives. When he actually arrives, I will smile and do the business. What have we learned: that demons are angels, that sadness is happiness, that consciousness is a lie, that it all comes to nothing - so why not pay for some more sublime nothingness.

Anonymous said...

your form is back my man....

Anonymous said...

Very practical post, Shane. You wrote of what you saw. I like that.

Bar L. said...

Hi Shane. I'm getting caught up here, haven't been by in a while.

My son went for nine months without H and used again. Of course not just once. He had to spend a few days in jail for testing dirty.

Its sad to see how any substance can have such control over one's life, but I understand it.

JoeM said...

You make such a great case for the junkie way of life.

(Wait a minute, there can't be two Sarcastic Bastards here...)

JoeM said...

To look on the bright side...

Yes she is stable, which must be a million times better than having to seek out new contacts every time.

And the mobile phone must be a godsend. Before they came along I presume you had to hang around public phones for hours (if you could find one that worked).

For some reason I thought you got Methadone from a government program. But then I don't think they allow you to take H at the same time.

I sort of think this would feel like a cute short story by a New York druggie from the 60s, but it's realness makes it seem sad - the hand to mouthness of the existence.

I wonder if all those stories really were as bad and they just sanitised them by fictionalising them.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Joe,

The stability, yes you picked up on something very important there, and she is that. Seeking out new contacts is a tricky business and ALWAYS costs a lot of money. You have to pay for that information and then maybe after a month you'll be given a new number.

I started using heroin (properly) 1999, so mobiles were about even then. I said on a comment on DC's blog a while back that the main difference between now and Burroughs day is the way we actually score the dope. I know some users who were pre-Orange and yes, it was telephone boxes, or more than that certain meeting points or bookies or bars. They lingered around until they caught site of their man. It must've been really terrible, and risky.

I do get methadone prescribed, but not enough. When I came to france I was on 150ml a day (that's around average for someone fresh of H). But in that first year I had a half go at sobriety and each week I cut down by 10ml. When I started using heroin daily again I was left on 20ml of methadone, which is nowhere near enough once your opiate levels have been raised by H abuse. Now, i am still prescribed 20ml a day, but need at least 40. I buy the rest on the street. It is no easy thing to have your medication heightened. Asking that can only mean one thing and there is a huge chance your entire script will be stopped. So thats why I must stuill see Sonia for methadone.

I'm still trying to write a piece on the good side of heroin, but I can't really think of any good side. Certainly none of the lifestyle is good. In fact it's scary as hell. More the risk of disease than anything else. And for me, it's very difficult to be around people I know have killer blood infections and wouldn't give a fuck if they passed one on... sometimes they even try to. I've this really interesting post I'm writing which compares what some junkies do, to the fraggin' that took place against officers in Vietnam. So the lifestyle for me is scary and something I've tried very hard never to descend into. Of course, I must walk through it, but thats all I do.

As for the drug, it's pleasure used to come in relief, but now I'm not sure that holds any more. There is still a certain amount of release I feel (and it's wonderful) everytime I take a hit, but that's more having a break from myself now rather than a break from life. I think also that heroin allows one to control there moods, and of course there is still a little bit of bravado involved. I am really against that, but i know I also do it myself... just having this blog surely prooves that. I think its got to the point where life is more normal after a hit than it is sober. I feel that. As I send once before it kind of balances me out, and I still really feel that. Its like I withdraw the syringe and I am ME, Shane... I feel entire.

When I'm not using so much, like these past months, I have other addictions. Writing is one. I can literally write 18 plus hours a day, everyday. After 2 weeks that becomes incredibly exhausting and I feel I need a huge break. A fix in that moment is like heaven. But as I've said before, heroin stops all output, so then I have this internal struggle between heroin and writing. Sometimes writing wins, sometimes I settle for heroin and ideas but no actual work. I sometimes feel like I'm caught between obsessions, and neither is good for the other, but all benefit me in different ways. I think if I tasted a better life than what I know under heroin, then i would quit. That better life would involve some kind of success. But those around me, who have watched me, they say if I had success I would blow all the money on smack. If I am absolutely honest they have a valid point. It would be a 50/50 chance I suppose.

cont'd below...

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Going back to the lifestyle... I can't really see anyone enjoying that. Its not a nice existence, and its not romantic. I think many writers have stuck a foot in the door or smoked heroin once or spent an hour in a shooting gallery. In that way one can always kind of move things around, show us hope in the hopeless, even happy endings. But from what I see, there are no happy endings (or its very rare) and even the happy endings are not really that, because quitting junk with a liver that wont get you past 50 is not a success. People forget that. They think just the act of quitting is a success. For me it's not. One can be more successful not quiting and doing something worthwhile or memorable before one gets sclerosis of the liver. I don't know. It depends on a lot of things and to what degree you use heroin. Real daily addiction is not fun, but not hell either. It's a trade off... it allows one to escape, even if its just until the fix wears off, to a better place.

Excuse the huge comment, and all/any spelling mistakes, and the subject jumps, etc – I was really typing on auto.

All My Thoughts, Shane.x

JoeM said...

It does seem that Heroin is different from user to user- like Math on DC's can do it for a week -and dance! - and just stop, not even want to go on.

I think anybody on any drug has to work out what's best for them. Like I said, the alcoholic writer Jeffrey Bernard went off drink for 2 years to give it a good try and decided life was just too boring, went back on it and died earlier than he would have done but not exactly young.

I know it's not an excuse but the fact that so many writers are alkies and junkies must imply a correlation. I mean I too can write in big chunks but I find it hard to 'come down' and just take some Horlicks and go to bed. I suppose rock stars say the same thing.

I don't know if you've had doctors check ups but surely you're not automatically doomed to a death by 50 liver.I mean long term users like Keith Richards seem to be going on and on. Though I know the needles make it worse.

I suppose if you got some big money you could do full on H for a while - knowing you were going to stop.Then do a full on rehab - in a place, away from dealers etc and not writing, until all the physical addictions stopped. And take up marijuana or something to 'replace' it.

Maybe people like Static and Tony O'Neil on DC's, who were long term users, would have some advice. But then we're all different.

I suppose this moment, when you're getting all the writing done, is a difficult time to 'rock the boat'.

Joshua Nilles said...

i never went vein but i was on a massive oxycontin kick for a couple years, with coke after awhile. i can say that the good side is that where your mind goes, before and after (like that moment you know you want opiates but virgin-esque and when you're two years off) is different then most people. during it's just like "ah. 15 min to an hour if i'm lucky.")
there is a kinship that forms with not only people who have used heroin/opiates in the past, but those who have ever had an interest. i can still feel my mind kind of shutting down now and then, like i wanted it once, but so far gone from active abuse, it's like i am able to use that desperation/need/will to better become the mood i wanted to convey instead of being under it's burden.

the way i look at it now is not like the sins were given to me or passed on (my dad was also an addict but yours is a special case) but more like the "gnostics" and other tribes said, you're always living two lives (sometimes more) the one in the past and the one in the present and both effect each other in ways only you know. like yeah, what i do now effects today and tomorrow, etc. but when i look back three months from now, it could be anything, as long as it's important to that moment. probably best to look further then three months ahead though.

i hope this isn't sounding like advice. i know i'm in no place to give it. take it easy.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Syreearmwellion

I think not going vein probably earned you 30 years of life (if you do't get hit by a truck o somehing). I don't regret it, it's done, but it would have been nice to have remained smoking it. For reason though, I knew from about the age of ten (maybe even earlier) that I'd end up on the needle.

Yeah, you're correct about the virginesque thing. There's nothing like a hit when completely clean (not that i've ever been completely cklean, haha, but I can imagine).

I think with heroin I lose a lot ut gain different things. Things which are also very important. In many ways I don't think I would have ever found myself or my voice without heroin It's an experience andthrough our life experience we discover ourselves nad who we are Under extreme conditionsd that is even more true. I learnt an awful lot about my true, true self in the throws of absolute addition. I was and am very proud of som of the decisions I made, some things I turned down, some places I wouldn't/couldn't go.

I'm not sure I agree we're living two lives, though I know what you mean. I think that we live a very momentary life where the exact millisecond that all our pas has led to is all that i important. We are a sum of our pasts, and th future does not ever exist. We all understand what is meant by the future, but something that may or may not happen cannot be a part of our equation. I suppose I believe in the now (but not in a rock n' roll sense).
But that doesn't mean we cannot plan ahead, we can, we just cannot see ahead.

I'll take it easy... you do the same, and we might both survive the next few seconds or hours or weeks and meet up here some time again. all My best, Shane. x

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...


Maybe you misunderstood a little... she's not a lover. i wuldn't fuck that thing for the only water in the desert. She just brings the drugs around. x

The Total Impostor said...

"Its like I withdraw the syringe and I am ME, Shane... I feel entire... When I'm not using so much, like these past months, I have other addictions. Writing is one. I can literally write 18 plus hours a day, everyday. After 2 weeks that becomes incredibly exhausting and I feel I need a huge break. A fix in that moment is like heaven."

Shane that was like looking in the mirror. Ditto. I'm BAD, so I was wondering, do you think its possible you are BAD (bipolar affective disorder)? Not sure where that will take you, but its great to finally get a label: I'm BAD. BAD BAD BAD all the way thru, like a stick of rock. Yum

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hi Heftman,

No, I don't think I'm BAD... I don't think I have any underlying mental condition. When I first picked up a full-blown habit I suppose I was depressed, but that passed.

I'm happy without heroin, but even happier with it.

I think that probably means I'm screwed! lol

Hope you're well, Shane. x

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...


In my saner moments (which is normally just after I've scored) i think about deleting her number, sometimes I even do it. I'll delete everything except her last call, and of course even if I done that I still know where she lives or where to find her. Sghe had her downfalls, but as Joe said, she's reliable andthat counts for a lot.I'm gonna gt robbed, I know that, so I just order double. its not perfect, but neither am I.

Hope you're keeping well & excuse the delay in replying, Shane. x

Reeny's Ramblin' said...

Your writing is quite captivating.

Gledwood said...

I used to know someone like that.

When she died I cried my eyes out.

Silly fucking cow. Why did she go and DIE??

Tonyoneill said...

hi shane

just popping by to say hello, glad to see a new post up.

will drop you an email. but i loved this piece. made me nostalgic for tj, my old connection in hammersmith.

deleted his number the last attempt at getting clean. made a big deal of it. regretted never saying goodbye to him. he became a friend over the years, in a weird way. he used too, of course, although we never got high together. i met his mum once, we had to wait around in his house for his higher ups to deliver the gear. never ripped me off on a deal, which is rare. he was definitely one of the few gentlemen junkies who never stiffed me on a deal... i'll be in paris in april, and will email details when i have them...

Anonymous said...

This was a very disturbing read for me. So much so that I feel a pain of withdrawal while writing this. I lived the life of an Oxycontin addict for well over 5 years and I knew someone like you describe. Shane, please get help. A life without addiction is full of beauty. I pray that you allow yourself to discover this.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Tony,

Yeah, TJ hammersmith. As I told you once in a mail I'm not familiar with the name, but there's hardly a junkie around west London I don't know, so I bet his face would bring back a few memories.

yeah, April. I'm gonna be in Paris to see Coopers theatre piece so hopefully that will coincide with your visit and I can ruin my myth twice in one day!

take care, T an all the best with the book. I must really put a post up here about it... I think I will until I post again.


False said...

wow this.
thanks for your comment.
haha you are funny. this blog is amazing and tragic and insane and funny! do you really do heroine or is that a fiction liscense thing? you def create this sphere around my head of weirdness or out of body experience.
are you british? is everyone british? that would be cool.


False said...

oh ok you are british and you are a junkie! is it rude to say junkie or what is the right respectful term? sorry i always read comments after i comment. i hope you are ok.

False said...

ok i admit the only comment i read was above mine which is yours. :P

ok my poetical death threat for u:

hey you i wanna kill
its such a thrill
like burning a mill
or knowing a chill
so take this death pill

sKILLz said...

Dam double the price half the shit?
Fuck! Come on over to Brooklyn! I don't know if ours is as strong but sounds cheaper..

Glad your alive and well.
Wish I could jump on a train or a bus and be at your crib and chill out with you..

Stay Up!

Anonymous said...

I have been blog surfing for about 3 weeks, steady, but no one has blown me away like you have with your incredibly amazing blog/art. wow, just wow.

Im absolutely HOOKED (no pun intended) and you have just gained a loyal follower <3
I have struggled with drug addiction for many years and I have been sober for 4 years tomorrow :)

You story has made me cry.
Shane, I think you are an amazing person for letting us in to your complex world. Thank u so much.
I look forward to reading more and more.


Scott said...


You must be on quite a roll! You have mentioned in the past that when you are using , you don't tend to write. No posts for quite some time... Been to Lyon once and really enjoyed your adopted city. Hope you are doing well. Your writing is phenomenal. Can't wait to see what comes out of your psyche next. You have such a way of describing things that seems to hit people right between the eyes. Keep it up!

peter said...

like ghostly birds
your haunted words
sing out to me from deep inside
and warn and cry that life's a lie
and all that counts is how you die

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya PanicMnster,

Thank you, that's very kind! X

The blog is in a bit of a transition period. At first I thought I was gonna pack it in and leave it as it stnds. Then I thought I would write more of an online journal in the scond half. Now i think I will carry on as always. But i wll carry on with it.

Thanks for all you say, and that's great that you're clen, keeping clean and happy doing so.

All My Thoughts, Shane. x

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...


Hey ya!!!! Fuck, I must mail you, but I'm fine. X I will mail... that's a junkie's promise!


Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Scott,

No, this time it's not what it seems. i've actually been very busy writing a book, well, two or three...

One is a secret online thing (fiction) and the other two are kinda half ideas that I'm trying to forgeand mould into something meaningful.

The online writing will be revealed in December.

I am still using, but due to finances in a limited way. I fall off the wagon once or twice a week (jump off actually... it's a decision I make).

The other 5 days I stick to my methadone program, smil at the doctor and tell him "life's just fucking great!"

Take care Scott...

All my thoughts and wishes, Shane x

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...


Oh, that's beautiful! If you wrte it then you're a true poet... maybe onlythe third I've ever met.

Thanks for reading and commenting, it means a lot.

Thoughts, Shane; x

Scott said...


Glad it is other projects that are keeping you busy. Keep us posted about them. I know everyone of the folks that follow your blog would be willing to pay for a book, etc... Might help pay the rent for a month or two. It's raining here in Germany, hope the weather is a little nicer there. Everytime I cross the border, it gets just a little bit better.

Syd said...

I'm sorry Shane that Sonia or whoever has such power. To me, these people and the junk they sell are sick and bad. Sorry...just how I feel.

Anonymous said...

Wow this is so sad do you ever want to get clean

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