The Argos Catalogue

.
The toughest thing about being poor was having no curtains. It meant the other kids could see in, could see the bare floors, the beat-up TV, the mouldy sofa, the wallpaper torn back and hanging loose, the crazy dog of bones which shit as it spun cartwheels up at the window. But worse than what they could see was what they couldn't see: no video, no furniture, no lampshade, no ornaments. We had no nothing. And when the evening came, and the light went on, we had even less.

On page 24 there were curtains : thick dark red ones.
Above all else they were my biggest ''want'
That was my thing, you see, covering up what was going on inside.
I jabbed my finger at them on the page and shouted “WANT!”
My brother and Sister followed
eager to point out their picks
“Want!”
“want!”
“Want!”

Dad sat in the middle holding the Argos catalogue
He'd wet his middle finger before leafing over each new page
You could smell the glossy print and the glue of the bind
It smelled like commerce itself

And Dad was good
He didn't understand, but he knew what to do
He said that on Monday he'd go and look at new wallpaper
That ours wasn't very nice
He said we could even paint the skirting boards AND the window frames
Then we were all excited
Suddenly the game was on. The Catalogue became our hope for a better life.

“Washing machines aren't too expensive,” I said
“I'd go without pocket money if we could have a washing machine?”
My brother said that he'd like a dryer
That once his friend dried his football top and it came out as soft as spring and smelling of it too
So Dad agreed that he'd look into getting a washing machine AND a dryer.
Then Dad said that it was possible to buy flatpack bookcases that you assemble yourself. He said that if we didn't mind helping to carry it home that we could get one AND a matching TV cabinet!
Rachel said that our TV was too small
That if we had a new TV cabinet it would be nice to have a new TV to put in it
Dad nodded. He said you could get decent TVs on the monthly
Daniel said “And a video!”
Dad said that videos were expensive and the films cost dear too
I said that the video player didn't need to work, just be there
My sister agreed
Daniel pulled a face that made him look like he does now
Dad scoffed, like I was a little him or something.
He said:
“There's always video players dumped 'round the back. We could go and get one and clean it up!”
Rachel said that as much as anything else we needed a carpet
I said I'd like a white fluffy one, like what was in Mum's room... Only new, and not stinking of vomit and stale Martini.
Dad said that white carpets weren't a good idea with three shitty children AND a dog
Then he said that every Wednesday Gypsies knocked around selling carpet and he'd see how much one'd cost. BUT (he warned me) it wouldn't be white and it wouldn't be fluffy, and it may not EVEN be carpet!
That didn't matter so
Our eyes were gleaming with dreams now
And as we pointed out our 'wants' on each page we began talking of what friends we'd invite around and who could sleep over
That got us to our bedrooms.
The evening was in for real then
That weird time where the city is done for the day and late night baths are steaming up
Dad licked his finger like people do when counting bank notes
He rifled the pages back until we saw duvets and pillows

I wanted bunk-beds.
That's where my finger went.
“!!WANT!!” I shouted with everyone else
We all had the SAME idea. It must have been that film we'd seen:  ET or some other hideous picture, showing us everything we didn't have 20 times its size.
I said I wanted the TOP bunk as I didn't want my brother “to piss on me!”
Dad said, “Don't say things like that!” and circled the catalogue numbers
Then we got to study desks and table lamps and globes of the world
Each of us creating a space where we could read, do our homework, and cast low shadows around the room
Dad even let us pick a computer
All the kids with everything had a computer
I imagined mine dropped right in the middle of my desk, surrounded by containers of pens and pencils, and fruit smelling rubbers. On the shelves above there'd be books, encyclopaedias and a telescope.
After planning our bedrooms and the bathroom and the kitchen and the hall, we picked out accessories, getting really extravagant then
We chose lampshades and light switches
Floor tiles and door knockers
Toilet seats and covers
Brass taps
Cushions
Candlesticks
Magazine racks
Matching towels and dressing gowns
Fancy numbers for the front door
Pictures
Clocks
Crockery
Cutlery
Bathroom scales
Fans
Hatstands
and a WELCOME mat for the doorstep
Dad said it was ALL possible
That if we did up one room at a time we could have the entire house done in a month
A month! Oh, how happy we were!
As long as we hid Mum we could have our friends around
Prove to everyone that it wasn't a lie
That out back we had the same riches as they had... even MORE
Dad leafed the pages over
Then we were at the toy section. He looked at us
He wore a serious expression which wasn't serious at all
Like he was sucking a sweet
We all shook our heads:
Toys weren't important
Still, on Dad's insistence we allowed ourselves a look and one or two wants each
After the toys there was nothing -
diagrams of furniture and people surrounded by arrows and measurements
Dad closed The Argos Catalogue
He said “Things have never been so cheap and so disposable.”
We didn't understand that
“And on Monday you'll really go and see about new wallpaper?” I asked
“Well yeah,” he said  “Monday or Tuesday.”
We all smiled; only just a little less.
But Monday IS Tuesday if you stay awake long enough!
Dad put the Argos catalogue away and said it was time for bed
We climbed the stairs without a moan, wanting to be alone to talk more of our new house and what it would be like...

 I suppose it was about midnight when dad shouted up the stairs
“Now stop all that talking and GO TO SLEEP! If not you can forget about MONDAY!”
We froze in terror with fearful grimaces pinched on our faces
 Rachel shouted: “Sorry Dad!”
Then we all shouted: “!!SORRY DAD!!”
“Alright, now just be quiet and go to sleep!”

From then on our words became excited hushed whispers
Sometimes so low that we were talking to ourselves
In a series of diminishing reports questions hung longer, finally only receiving the occasional murmur inbetween periods of dreamy sleep
Then I WAS talking to myself
My words evaporating into the deep silence of the night with nothing coming back
I sat up and peered into the dark
“Dan, are you awake?”
“ … …. .... ….. ”
“Rach, you still awake?”
“ …. … … … ”
Nothing.
My kin were travelling distant and fantastic worlds and I was left alone in this one.

I lay in bed looking at the bare windows with the night pushed up tight against them. I closed my eyes on all those thing we had seen and chosen, and thought of how Dad had promised to fix up the house and really seemed to have meant it. But something of the night was upon me, bearing down and magnifying the loneliness of being the only one awake. Now other thoughts came to me... darker thoughts, sadder thoughts: images of Dad's broken and walked out shoes; his rag of a jacket hanging on the bottom banister post; the bare kitchen cupboards crawling with flour grubs and larvae. Something undefined troubled me, was seeping into my last thoughts of the night. I tried hard to get back to the Argos catalogue, the smell of the print and how each new page had brought fresh waves of excitement. But it was no good: the dream was gone before I'd even got to sleep.
I thought of Dad, directly below, sitting on the floor with his legs stretched out and his bald head reflecting the late blue light of the television. And then a new sound hit me, something I'd never heard before: a low throb like the house was groaning and dying.
I lay there in the dark, withdrawn and scared, listening
And in that night
In this terribly unjust world
Trapped somewhere between sleep and awake
I swear to God
I could hear my Father crying.
- - -
Thoughts and WishesTo All... Shane. X

51 comments :

charlie pie said...

You certainly paint a picture with words. I can totally relate to the argos catalougue been the book of dreams too, we used to pick out all our favourite things and get excited at the prospect of all the lovely new things. But of course, we never got them. U r a really brilliant writer.... have u written any books yet?

Charlie

Chef Green said...

That was so heartbreaking, but beautifully written as always. I enjoyed the stream of consciousness style you employed to capture the dreamlike mood of childhood nights.

Thinking of you tonight as the Queen's Jubilee carries on. I actually expected you to post something about homesickness for London, but this is certainly another gem.

Best,
CG

Absolut Ruiness said...

As beautiful as an honest tear. Absolutely beautiful...

Wildernesschic said...

Oh Shane this made me cry, a wonderful post as always..
I love the part "As long as we hid mum ..."
xx

bugerlugs63 said...

Fucking heartbreaking. Crying now for you kids that were x

criticalbill said...

Brilliant

karl said...

Hi Shane,
Nice work !
It caused me to do what all good writing should do, it made me think. I thought about my own childhood & of course my childrens childhood, which has now come to an abrupt end as they enter the murky world of adulthood. So now I wonder about my grand daughter whose childhood has yet to unfold & I think about ways in which I can be there for her.
Thankyou X

Stacy said...

This was such a poignant post, Shane. And, as always, beautifully told. Thank you! XXX

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Charlie Pie...

I've written one book which is online. It's called Waiting For John and you can find it here:

http://waitingforjohn.blogspot.com

That was written daily over eight months. To put between covers it'd need a few changes and I've been too lazy to do it. But that's a full 200 page book there. Other than that I've started quite a few, sketched out more, but really, before I get down to that I need some publishing guarantee. Without that I'd rather carry on as I'm doing... writing here and there and gradually building up a body of work. X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Chef, you know what... I didn't even know it WAS the Queens jubilee! That's how out of touch I am over here with no papers or contact. But even if I'd have known, the Queen would never make me nostalgic... she comes from a rotten line and sums up just about all that is wrong with England. That's not to say all the Royals are bad or horrible people.. they're not, and some are kinda charming in their own idiotic way... but come on, it's 2012 and we really don't need all that pomp and pretense. Seriously, it's a weird family when not one of them is remotely fuckable... it means somethings gone badly wrong (or been kept in-house for too long!)

XXX

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

hey Stacy... You get to jump the queue! X

Thanks as ever for all you say and for remaining one of the longest and loyalist readers to my words. Love as Always, Shane; XXX

Chef Green said...

Yeah, you've got a point about the fuckability factor, although I'd have a go at Harry. I can't name a single female with such charms in that family.

I did kind of wonder why everyone was out celebrating the event, as all the Brits I know have views similar to yours on the monarchy.

Let's not let this little aside detract from your gorgeous words. I am still a lackey in good company!

Best,
CG

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

I'm not too sure about harry, Chef??? He always looks like he's been scrubbed raw by a washer woman... and, er, that he's been blessed with a ridiculously small penis (the colour of lard). But I could be wrong... I hope so... for his sake... and possibly yours!

The Queen I found was very beautiful when she was younger. Age is such a tragedy. And it's even worse when it's happening to you.

That brings me on to William: what the hells happened to that boy?!!! When I left England he was in pretty good nick, touted as one of the worlds most eligible bachelors... now, seven years of hard drug abuse later (not even his) and the boy looks like just about the most unfortunate Royal since Prince John!

Drink or take as many drugs as you like, nothing fucks someone up as much as nature itself. Ask Abigail Winthrope... she'll tell you just as much. X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Absolut Ruinesss... fake tears are much more beautiful than honest ones. Real grief is an ugly thing. XXX

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Ruth...I don't think I've ever cried reading words... only saying them. That's probably why I write. X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Bugerlugs... Oh, we adapt and survive and it's much sadder as a reflection than it was at the time. When these things are going on you learn to cope and to make do with what you've got. If you've got nothing you try to make it somethingX

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Karl... I don't like seeing people with regrets and I don't like seeing the other side of that which is bitterness towards those who brought us up and were maybe struggling with their own demons and problems. For all I experienced it was only luck, bad sex and The Pill which prevented me from being a terrible parent myself. But I think it's OK to be a terrible parent, just as long as your not sadistic and cruel with it. X

The Pseudo-Impostor said...

Shane this piece reminded me of my own chilhood, full of neglect and that pubescent awareness that the world is not fair and some people are thrown into better existences than others, all so random, so laughably chaotic. I don't usually shoot gear, I smoke it, but after reading 'The Argos Catalogue' some desert of sands shifting inside me and my childhood was trancingly looped up my adultood, to where am I now, and I felt and smelt and dealt so many things. Just knocked over the bong swamp onto my key board and sandwiches and oddly I don't even feel pissed off. Some times you get little clues that things are coming to an end - extinguishing or changing, it doesn't really matter in the end. I am glad I read your words

Anonymous said...

sorry but these posts have nothing to do with heroin! so what if you sat looking at an argos catalog? this blogs got well shit.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

OMG, I didn't know pickled onions could type. X

JoeM said...

I agree with anonymous – not only was there nothing about Heroin there was nothing about heads! (Apart from one paltry reference to a head reflecting the light of the TV). If the words are in the title I expect to read only about those words all the time!

With us (my mother and me) it was the Littlewoods catalogue. I think you really illustrate the sadness of all this:the way the post-war/post-American consumer society family attached all their values and happiness onto material things.

Yes the smell, the unwieldiness of the huge catalogue, (almost doing yourself an injury flapping from page 30 to 980), the underwear pages...

To keep up appearances we painted furniture and fabloned over everything.

Fablon

(This is beginning to sound like Monty Python's Old Northerners sketch – You had a bath! Luxury!)

Daniel pulled a face that made him look like he does now

I might steal that. Or modify/steal.

Seriously, it's a weird family when not one of them is remotely fuckable

I love that. But I too have a thing for Harry. And the reason he's the only remotely attractive one is surely because his father isn't Charles. He's that red-head Diana was seeing at the time.

Harry's real father?


Ask Abigail Winthrope

Would that I could. She occasionally contacts me but I have no idea where she is. Though funnily enough she did just contact me about this very comments page!

As a dear friend of the late Barbara Cartland, (Princess Diana's step-grandmother),Abby is outraged that you should libel her step-great grandson Prince Harry.She says:

As every English bishop and male royal servant worth his salt knows

Harry was not small!

She seems to know EVERYTHING that is going on.

Take heed...

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Imposter, yeah, I think a lot of people, even more the further north we go, experienced pretty much the same thing. I'm not fond of the title of this piece but I kept it in place as I think many people reading from the UK will know exactly what the Argos Catalogue is and the junk dreams that are peddled within. Yes, childhood loops into adulthood and those earlier things which held no meaning at the time then become hugely significant. I really always try to take positives from all these things and not look at them as apocalyptic. It just figuring out a way whereby we can make our past work for us. I think if I didn't write or had no artistic urges I may look upon it very differently. But as it is these things are like rare fuel and serve me well in these lean times. X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hi Joe,

Oh, I know you only come here for the H count! Heroin, Heed, Harry and Head! There are just some words that do it for people i guess.

We got onto the Littlewoods catalogue later, and in a way, that was even worse. Because you could buy everything on HP it meant that many poorer families had spent their money (and three times more) before they'd even got it. Once you're working to pay for what you've already had it's the end. These catalogues also allowed people with very meagre means to dress up and walk around like the middle classes (though with empty wallets inside their Gucci shoulder bags). I've seen people in my own family live their lives in debt to these catalogues; live a huge lie that they then become afraid will get out and which eventually isolates them, lost somewhere between two classes. It's very sad. But of course, I can understand how someone who has had nothing then wants everything... the same kind of thing happened when the Berlin Wall came down.

Oh yeah, the underwear pages! The lowly levels men will descend to attain a hard-on! But in many ways it made actual sex much more intense... not knowing so well what was underneath.

Our house was so rundown that it couldn't be painted, Joe. My step-father was someone who wouldn't buy things and instead took what he could from the streets. He was also a very messy (not dirty) person and the house just piled up with trash and fell to pieces. It really needed renovating. Years later it was condemned by the council surveyor as a death trap.

"Daniel pulled a face that made him look like he does now

I might steal that. Or modify/steal."

You can steal anything from me, Joe... I nicked bits of your writing for WFJ.. I owe you. That line actually came very late in the day. I was doing the final rewrite and hadn't been happy with how I had described his face but couldn't come up with anything else. Suddenly that line came and seemed perfect. I knew you'd find that.


OK, you've got me on Harry... for a Royal he's blessed! (With an extra leg too going by one of those pics!!!) Jeez, you're so right, he is certainly Hewitts! I'd never given it a thought after all the talk years ago and now looking at them, the nose especially, there's really no doubt. Ok, you guys can have Harry... just don't rip him apart too much (and try not to ruffle his hair). X

JoeM said...

We bought everything from catalogues. And usually the thing was gone before it was paid for. I used to have to go to the door to tell the man/woman who came round for weekly payments to 'come back next week'. It gave me a lifelong aversion to getting into debt. If I can’t afford it I don't have it.

There was a great Adam Curtis film on recently in which he showed how giving the masses 'credit' started the whole culture of consumption and mindless Capitalism/consumerism.

I think that Harry photo may have been photoshoped. But who knows? (Only his girlfriends and man servants...)

We won't ruffle his hair. He will be crew-cutted first. That was always my favourite Harry...

Anonymous said...

by the time i got together enough money it was too late for a trip into the City.. Im flopping around in bed like a fish out of water .. every nerve in my body screaming for relief.. sitting up in bed I finally Give up on sleep .. 4:30 A.M. Sneezing and watching infomercials Nose is running eyes are watering and That Fucking Lump in My throat wont go away.. 6 am Im on the train .. fighting my way through the subway crowds of suit and tie people on thier mourning commute.. Past the college through the tunnel and on the other side is a different world. empty baggies and used condoms litter the street (Im getting Closer)stop at the corner store for a 25 cent water. And once im out the door finally the man is in view.. (SCORE) now its back through the alley and into the abandond building .. I saw a corpse in there once.. Needle still in his arm. i rip a piece of cotton from a fresh cigarette and dump the contentse of two bags into the water cap. draw back and BANG !! Thats what i Live for.. This is My Life evey day..That is if i dont get picked up by the cops or get a dummy bag.. Beautiful isnt it ??

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Anonymous you're indulging in the kind of nonsense, lies and discolouration of the reality that I detest.

You start by saying that "by the time i got together enough money it was too late for a trip into the City" - that means you usually get your money earlier, get into the city and ARE NOT SICK. Then you make sure you get in a 'horror story': "I saw a corpse in there once.. Needle still in his arm" - which means that 99.9% of the time you DIDN'T see a corpse. Then you talk of laying there sick until 6am, but by your own admission you're only sick because that day you didn't manage to get money in time. You end by turning that crap on us: "This is My Life evey day".

Well, we've just deconstructed your nonsense and it's clear (even by your own words) that that's not your life EVERY day. Maybe think before you write and cut out all the bollocks. So:

Every day you are NOT SICK. Every day you DO NOT TRAVEL INTO THE CITY at 6am. Every day you DO NOT SEE A CORPSE in a building.

What you've done here is typical anti-drugs propaganda or pathetic self-pitying. You've focused in on that tiny 1% of horrific things that can come an addicts way during twenty years of addiction and made out that it's like that everyday (when in your text it's clear this is not how it usually unfurls).

Why are you exaggerating that one percent? Lying that it's your life EVERYDAY? Why didn't you focus on what happens 99% of the time? Something like:

I got my dope money, went into the city, scored and was back in half an hour. It's so easy! That's my life everyday. beautiful isn't it??

Of course you don't say that because then you don't get any attention or concerned pitying.

Why are you so intent on not telling the truth of it? Why talk of abandoned buildings when you've obviously a secure place with a computer and internet access?

Stop the scare-mongering (or at least do it with a little more finesse). And if you're really an addict, don't come here under an anonymous pretext and ask us if your life is beautiful. Ask yourself that question (which you've obviously already done) and if it isn't then do something about it.

You're an arsehole and I only hope that for a while your scaremongering bullshit of addiction actually materializes and does become the norm for you. If it does, I guarantee you one thing: you'll not be online fucking whining about it!

All My Best, Shane. X

Bee said...

This is brilliant, thank you.

Sailor said...

Wow anon, your junkie lifestyle sounds exciting! I'm going to chime in with my version. I think others should follow suit, I'm interested to know if my boring existance is an anomaly.

Today I woke up at 10am, decided I was going to have an 'off' day and not score, choked back 4mg of valium and sat in front of my desk to attempt to finish a story. By 12am I am bored and irritable and I don't think the valium is working. I have weed but I can't smoke it unless I have gear. By 12:15 I have dialled my guys number and am waiting for him to pick up.
"Hey S. Usual?"
"Yeah J, cheers. How long?"
"Gimme 15. Park corner."

Half an hour later he picks me up in his black Mini Cooper, drives me around the block and spits 2 wraps out of his cheek which I clench in my fist. He drops me off at the converted factory I live in and I hurry back upstairs to my room.

I deposit one bag into my spoon, add citric or preferably vit c, cook up and extract through filter. Next, I perch under the reading lamp beside my bed, tie up and aim for one of the good veins in the crook of my right arm. If I can't hit one of those, I try the back of both arms. If I still can't hit, I let out a shriek of frustration, decant my gear into another pin and shoot into my hand which stings like hell.

I clear away my works, light my pre-rolled joint and watch music videos from before I was born on Youtube. I feel sad that I was born 20 years too late but the gear takes the edge off. I try to write for the rest of the day but at some point I buckle and shoot the bag I was saving for the morning.

This is my life everyday. Well, 99% of the time anyway. Sometimes something unusually seedy or horrific happens but it sure as hell isn't a daily occurance. Maybe I need to get out more.

Great entry Shane, beautifully evocative. I used to go through the catalogue and write huge lists of everything I wanted. My favourite Christmas was when I got the desk I had asked for. I still feel lucky to have my own desk.

S xx

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey sailor... XXX

I was just thinking about you yesterday, and there you are, paddling by in this virtual realm (which is more real than the realm of certain Anonymous dope fiends we have in-house). We've some unfinished business... I haven't forgotten, just brought it up at the wrong time and wasn't in a position to start on another endeavour.

I've never had addict friends Sailor. Mostly beause I never needed that group support (finanially or emotionally) but also because I just couldn't lay there quietly listening to everyone's bollocks and mythmaking and made up tales deaths and overdoses and how scummy they'd got to try and show how far they had descended. Jesus, I just can't handle that crap (everyone with a twist on the same old stories).

You're right, the odd depraved thing happens (and way more than if you're not living this life) but it still makes up only a very small part of our lives... and such a small part that they do stick out (even to us) and beome stories. Someone who sees such horrors all the time, a soldier say, stops even registering them... it becomes normality: one death, one bloody baby, merges into all the others and becomes nothing memorable. So just by the 'junkies stories' we kinda know that they were either one offs or just someone else's tale told as if it was our own. And the real screwed up things we experience, of course if we start writing them down without seperating them by hundreds of blank pages, going from one fucked up thing to another, we'll make it look like some kind of high-wire balancing act done with an amputated leg and no safety net... but we all know that isn't the truth. This life of addiction, for 95% of the time, runs a smooth circuit... that's the nature of addiction. It's a cycle, and needs to be a cycle, and even stops working if there are too many breaks in the routine. That's when people scramble to get out... drag themselves to rehabs: when the cycle is broken too frequently. We have three or four potential daily dramas (money, police, scoring, etc) and our life is geared around making sure they don't become actual dramas. That's why the real junkie often doesn't look like a junkie, isn't running around the street pulling knives to old ladies throats, isn't shooting up in doorways... because the real key to getting on in this business is to become an unseen, non-squeaking cog in the grind. Part of out job is to pass the police and look like anyone else... rundown by work, love and life, but nothing more. The last thing a junkie scoring wants to do is look like a junkie scoring. Most junkies stories revolve around the things above (along with the traditional best-friend-dying-in-arms weepy and the ol' dead-baby horror story). And some of these things do happen, but come on... most junkies lives, most the time, are so dull and uneventful that they end up crying for sobriety!!! Mine is. I fell for this exciting life thing once, and it was only when i got around to actually writing a diary of my days that I realized nothing was happening. Every entry was the same:

woke up. took a shot. went to work. phoned T; picked up. used. wrote two words of that important letter. hardly seems worth it. phoned T again. went to bed. woke up at 3am. had a fix. slept. woke up. woke up. took a shot. went to work. phoned T; picked up. used ...etc etc etc.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

But I don't bemoan that, for me that's what the junk life is, and it's eventful not because of things that happen but because of the world you pass through and the underbelly of life and living you get to see. That's what makes it eventful, and these things only happen to you because you are there... but we must be careful not to turn all these things we see onto ourselves, make pretend that it was our body that took all the meteor strikes. It wasn't. Maybe we get hit good once or twice or three times, but it's not so much more. And between those strikes there are those blank blank pages I mentioned.... ... ... Oh fuck, I'm on auto and must stop... that's my problem now: I've too much to say and not enough time. When I had all the time in the world I had nothing to say... I suppose creeping death makes us all talk. No-one's timid with a gun to their head.

Is that me finishing or starting anew??? I've learnt when it gets like this just to stop... just say GOODBYE, type the kisses: XXX, and just stop...

Sailor's ghost said...

:)

I forgot how much I needed your words Shane. I just read half of your first comment aloud to the boy who is tweaking on the couch next to me. About the cycle and how it needs to be broken for the junky to seek a way out. You really are very astute. I often go broke purposely, in order to have one of my few 'off days'.

I recently avoided a huge potential drama. I moved out of a small town a week or two before everyone I know who was vaguely involved in the local scene got busted in a ridiculous crowd pleaser the police called Operation Laser. A great friend of mine was jailed for 3 years for 'conspiring to supply'. Rapists get less than that. I helped with some running a few times and he was asked to identify me on CCTV for a reduced sentence but feigned ignorance. I am eternally grateful to him. I'm writing to him regularly and sending him CDs and money for cigarettes, I'm sort of his only link to the outside world since he's South African.

Anyway, thankyou again for blowing the cobwebs from this unglamorous and repetitive genre. There's never any need to rehash the same old myths, there's far more truth to be found in the mundane. This entry is a perfect example.

I keep thinking of you when i'm sitting on the overground looking out of the window at the angrily impotent graffiti and the grimy flats and tired old warehouses. Reminding myself that London is beautiful in it's own way. I will get around to sending you those postcards, same as you'll get around to that other business. I understand how it is.

It's nice to be back here!

S xx

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Again Sailor.... it's great to have you back! This comment section only remains worthwhile if the words given to it are enlightening or relevant in ways that the main writings are not. That's reliant on the commenters and what they have to say or criticize or praise or demand...stuff that pulls responses from me and the texts, and also involves some kind of real interaction whereby the words that are written can be influenced and can become 'ours' rather than 'mine'. That's not easy to explain... but one day, when these texts are maybe taken from this place and ordered and put out properly, it'll become more clear.

I think the problem with most of the genre dope writing is that it focuses too much on the instruments and fetishes of addiction... it zooms into the junkie and the plunge and the hit and forgets about the existence which is performing the act and what compels it to do so. In a way it's like a freak show, taking you around all the spine-chilling sights when the real horrors are the motivating factors behind the attractions. The 'FIX' is salvation... the 'Homeless shelters' are salvation... the unconscious drunk laying in his own mess' is salvation... the 'Social Security Offices' is salvation... yes, they're all horrific one off sights but in a way it's an end to the real pain and horror of the journey there and who you are once you reach salvation. I'm more interested in that. In history. In the build-up. The actual cooking up of the gear, the suck, the prick and the plunge have very limited appeal to me and get pretty boring pretty damn quickly. But the hit becomes much more interesting and humane when you know the journey which brought someone to that point. Then it becomes interesting again... it becomes interesting because of the kind of tragedy it portrays: the highest high, someone's salvation, is also someones lowest low. Though that of course changes... as the reason we are still doing that ten years later is very different to why we first started. But nevertheless, most the genre writing focusses in on the wrong subject and addicts become guilty of stereotyping themselves because they relate the 'act' not the motivating thought or action.

Growing up I saw such beautiful yet tragic things... and though a lot of it was sad and should have been depressing, the people weren't depressed and the memories aren't sad. They're a part of me and a part of this time, our time, our moment of existence and our journey to nothingness. And even if what surrounds us, impotent graffiti and grimy flats and tired old warehouses, should logically be ugly, they never really are because those things are US: our histories and memories... They lit up or shadowed all our loves and lovers our highs and lows. We exist through these things and find ourselves and our lived lives within them. When people ever ask me for advice about dope and the life of addiction, I tell them to do whatever it is they have to do, but watch it as it happens... take it all in, every ounce of ugliness or joy, every missing tooth and crooked deal.... because the only real tragedy is coming out with nothing, not even the knowledge of how you went down. We pay with our health and lives for this knowledge Sailor, and to have remembered may one day be the only hope that's left. XXX

Sailor, adrift said...

It's a wonderful gift to observe the journey to salvation, whatever that salvation may be. To drag yourself up, dust yourself off and eloquently process all these broken puzzle parts that make up a life with a childlike fascination. Not many people live with their eyes wide open, totally aware of their failings and their hurts and the witty tricks life plays on you when you think you've seen it all. So many people are terrified of their humanity. They think life should be neat and wipe-clean and linear, that the jagged pieces that don't fit the puzzle must be filed down or cast to the back of the mind to be buried in a box. Or they sink into wretched, sordid depths with some kind of perverse satisfaction at living out a sterotype and being beyond aesthetics or happiness. It's a wonderful thing to still be shocked and moved and hurt by life and to take it all and to do something with it. To reach out in empathy instead of holing up in self-indulgence.

It's easy to see when someone is writing "please love me!" as opposed to "I love you, and I know where you're coming from."

I'm just expanding on the other comments made on this post really.. I think if all art was so human we would all feel less lonely. What you do is important. The shit you've been through and your ability to mine it for gold. Fool's Gold perhaps, of no value to the Queen or her cohorts but I always thought it was prettier than the real thing anyway ;)

I don't know what I'm writing really, I'm sort of floating in a world of benzos and gear. I feel like the worst thing that could happen would be total apathy, total nihilism. I'm such an optimist really, as uncool as it may be. There's so much irony and negativity around and it's so draining. It's all so inwards looking. I love coming here because it inspires me to SEE again, it reminds me why I'm writing and why I chose this path to begin with. I wanted to see and feel and experience. It's why I renamed myself Sailor. I feel like I'm adrift in unknown waters and it's scary and dangerous but it's also sparkling and lovely and I never know what unnamed creature will materialize from the gloom.

'And here be monsters!' But of what type? I'm always curious to find out..

If I die tmw, I know that I've been frightened, sickened, enraptured.. everything in-between.. but never trapped and rarely bored.

"..do whatever it is you have to do, but watch it as it happens." What wonderful words to live by.

Right, now is most definitely the time to stop typing and XXX

I look forward to your next post monsieur.

Sxxx

yas said...

Read this post much faster than I usually do...not sure why.

My little girl goes through the Argos catalogue and puts circles round the things that 'I absolutely need mummy' which makes me sad in a way.

Sad I think, because in a way I can't give her everything she wants (not that I think that is a good thing to show a child but it doesn't stop you wanting to give them everything you didn't have and over compensating in return) but also that i've tried to raise her to see how little importance most material possensions are and how happy you can be with very little but the older she gets the greater societies influence and want want want culture is becomming bigger than my guidance.

But thats what letting her grow up is, isn't it? Giving her the ability to learn from as many different people/means as possible and making her own desicions to become the person she want to be, not the person I would like her to be and supporting/loving her uncoditionally, being happy that she's happy with whatever that may be.

Sorry for the parent rant, don't know why it put me on that train of thought!

Also apoke to Tony the other day and he's using me in some research he's doing into ibogaine/kambo treatment as alternative therapies...thought you may be interested.

loadsa love xxx

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Yas... the post is seven times shorter than normal and I suppose it all depends what people enjoy reading and what they'll expect to find. Heroin is such a bore to keep writing about just for the sake of it and it even becomes very restricting. I've never been interested in writing about 'junk', not unless junk is all the stuff that fills up our estates and social services and madhouses. But 'heroin' in type, starts to bore me so much... and I've never been a person who'll cater to demand.

Yeah, Tony's a great guy and one day I'm sure we'll do something together... some readings or a collaboration or just knock each other's teeth out. He's much more of a pharmacist and a drugs connoisseur than me. I couldn't care less about the chemical construction of dope and what receptors it plays on or what mix of over-the-counter opiates can give a poor second to a hit of smack. He's always mailing me with weird recipes which involves even weirder disguises and going from chemist to chemist and buying up all their Pussy Tax! Pussy tax??? he'll know what I mean! I think I owe him an email actually... probably a whole computers worth.

I'm not an Ibogaine disciple either... I just don't buy into it... certainly not coming off a hardcore two or three grams a day heroin habit. We all know, most of the time for most people the only cure for heroin is heroin itself. That's the only medication that works... anything else, even dia-morphine comes nowhere near the hit of decent street brown. Dia-morphine would still be the preferred treatment, but I've used amps of dia-morphine and it is not heroin as we know it... and if a dealer sold you it as heroin you'd be phoning him back enraged.

You know Yas, addiction is such a full-time occupation that the last thing I want to do is in my spare time, or clean time, spend 20hrs a day immersed in treatments and outreach and trade routes and the war against the war on drugs... jesus, I'd much rather just call a number, score a bag and get it over with... because in a way, that's what it's all about, and like Mr Wilde, I've never been one to resist temptation.

OK... better finish before I go over my word limit again... All My Thoughts, Shane. X

yas said...

oh i didn't mean because it wasn't full of heroin references it made me not want to spend as much time as usual on it.

Also didn't mean to 'immerse' you in talk of treatments or outreach programmes or anything, just thought you might find it interesting

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

hey again Yas, you'll notice here, I do anyway, whenever there's a post that's not crudely about smack certain people don't like it and it's always the readers who use and often come here just to read about dope antics that don't like the posts. I think in general two thrids of people read the words here for 'the words' and the other third (mostly the users) read for subject matter. I didn't put you in any group just remarked on a trend that occurs. I understand why people who come here for needles and scum and dirty love don't get off on the more subtle aspects behind our situations but I cannot restrict myself to just smack talk... I almost didn't write here for a year because of that and really only started writing again when I made the decision to branch out and put up other stuff that is just as relevant. Still, there are even limits to that and so very soon i'll be opening up a new page or site linked to memoires which will concern itself with the social side of what I have seen and would like to light up. It'll be a good mix between fiction and non-fiction, as sometimes giving a true first-hand account of something doesn't really get to the heart of the matter.

About the rehabs, treatments etc... You should understand that I use this comment section not just to answer comments but to get down my thoughts and views on all aspects of the texts and of life and so often use someones mention of something as a springboard to register my ideas. That was the first time Ibogaine has been mentioned here and you said you thought that may interest me so I took the chance to explain what I thought of Ibogaine and explain why that (or that side of things) doesn't interest me. So the comments often have huge sections on me commenting on the things which I would never post about. It's the same with literature or arts.. i'd never post about these things or the more technical or stylistic aspects of writing, but it takes up quite a lot of space in the comment section. X

Sailor said...

Hey Yas -

I'm not a parent but the thought has crossed through my mind a fair few times that it would be terrifying to have a kid grow up in this world, as it it. I feel like the only way I could do it would be to home school my child so I could protect them from the mold that has been pre-formed for them and from the competitive influence of other people's children. My 7 year old niece has more gadgets than I even knew existed inside her little pink school bag!

And then I think - well, I didn't turn out to be a mindless consumer and I went to school with rich girls. But then again, I turned out to be an addict so who knows. It's the old nature Vs nurture thing isn't it. It's just so bizarre that the beginning steps of a child's life are now so totally wrapped up with consumerism, and that's before they even start to know who they are as an individual.

The main thing that terrifies me about parenthood is that you have limited control over what your child will grow up to become. You may not even like them! But that's the risk a parent takes i suppose. I have undying respect for the level of sacrifice involved in parenthood.

Anyway, that's my ten cents. ;)

Take care,

S xx

Sailor said...

P.S

Goodness Shane, I don't remember that last comment to you. I must have been having a "sparkling and lovely" nod whilst writing that.

Apologies for making you read such smacked out noodlings.

;D

Sxx

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Sailor, I have started a reply to that last comment of yours and haven't got around to finishing it. Let me dig it out and I'll post it in its bare state... typos, unfinished and all! X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

here Ya Go sailor... If it makes any sense I'm not even sure... but I don't think so! X

- - -

Hi again Sailor... Oh I don't know, in a way apathy is the logical conclusion to extreme living and we really can't help what our bodies feel or don't feel or what we want to do but cannot carry out. In many ways I'm apathetic... totally, because I've been numbed emotionally to many things and even the most immoral or unethical behaviors no longer even raises an eyebrow. In a way I live through and of memory, chases hints of things which are ideals and whichgets my attention... maybe that's why I can look so coldly at lifeYou can't force yourself to do things or create just because times passing. A heroin habit is such a time consuming thing that when you do have a moment you don't want

[and that's where it mysteriously ends.... Spooooky, hey?]

Sailor said...

I love immoral behaviour! Immoral behaviour is the only thing that stops life becoming a tedious dirge. And this is why I will never be a parent! (You said more-or-less the same thing in your last post I believe.)

Re: Unfinished stories. A friend of mine fell in love with a beautiful, sleepy eyed punk boy who was heavily into gear. She asked me my advice on how to seduce a junky boy as all they ever seemed to do together was "use heroin, get wasted then fall asleep in each others arms to sonic youth". I told her that sounds like a perfectly functioning junky relationship, and that he must like her a hell of a lot if he's sharing his gear with her when she doesn't have a habit. But I said that I'd write a story telling how I got along in the same situation.

The story started like this but was never finished (i think i nodded off, judging by the spelling errors. -

How to catch kill and skin a boy (for Ida)

My man was 2 hours late. I quickly llet him in andshut out the glare of white light he rode in on.


i.e I became a junky too and the relationship part and the lust part got filtered out along with the other chemical components that didn't dissolve in citric acid. Needless to say, that unfinished story pretty much summed it up.

Heroin and Life are both emotional anesthetics. The trick is to break through that and I think you do it beautifully here (even with the words unsaid). If you do look at life coldly, it doesn't come through in your writing. Nonjudgmental yes, cold - no way. There's more empathy in this blog than in a V Day card ;D

Sxx


P.s You don't have to reply to this, I'm just train-of-thoughting on here because I feel safe enough to do so

BronzeAgeDeity said...

Wow :)

That was amazing. It's a rare that I read something about someone's childhood, or their life, and I'm moved by it. The last lines hit me like a sledgehammer.

Absolutely love your blog, I've spent the last 3 and a half hours reading it.

Ironically (or not?), what brought me here was the Aunt Agony post about how to score in London. 4 years and 12,000 miles from home, and suddenly I want to get on.

Your blog has been keeping me entertained while I wait for the local needle exchange to open so I can hassle one of the users into helping me score.

You're really one of a kind; even the comments are amazing. I'll be back after I've had a chance to fix myself :)

BAD

BronzeAgeDeity said...

I thought I'd add... you're *so* right about the character of life as a junkie; keeping the drama at bay, shooting through the middle as best we can.

It doesn't stop being like that even when you're not using, and what I miss about heroin is the nice stuff; the weather is nice today, I'm gonna get on, and go and lie in Lincoln's Inn Fields and soak up the vitamin D.

BAD

BronzeAgeDeity said...

Hi Shane,

Back from my mission; what a day, and what a characteristic reintroduction to gear.

I went to three needle exchanges, only to find that they've been closed. I ended up heading to a clinic where I had always seen users milling about.

I got talking to a guy and within an hour I'd jacked up. The quality of heroin in London is very poor (for marks like me with no connections); I ended up doing three bags, happily scratching my face and grinning and tending to all the responsibilities and expectations that had become overwhelming and unmanageable.

I remember this feeling; it's "I'm okay", instead of the unceasing aura of unspecified anxiety I usually carry around. Welcome back smack'

(and sorry for rambling; I had to share it with someone who would understand)

BronzeAgeDeity

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

hey BaD, glad to hear you got sorted. It took me almost three months to find my first dealer and not even 30 minutes to find the second when one day his phone was off. The heroin scene's like those magic eye pictures: you can't see it until you learn how.. and then it's all you can see. At the age of 24 I suddenly had all these epiphanies:

Aha... that's why that guy was always hanging around doing nothing!

Aha... 30 years old and walking with a cane!

Aha... he needs 20p for the phone!

Aha... he's selling his house for £20!

Suddenly the heroin life was everywhere; I couldn't move two blocks without bumping into a junkie or a suspected dealer. It was just perfect! I think it was a real golden age of smack what I lived in London. Things have never quite been the same since. Still, I wish I was back... It's insanely difficult to score over here and the heroin isn't even comparable to the worst stuff you'd score in the UK. X

Anonymous said...

Hi Shane,
I've been reading here for a long time, but haven't felt there was anything more to be said that hasn't already. Now though, I want to know what you think of this. Unfortunately, I have recently been brought into the criminal system in the United States. A 30 hour road trip to L.A. ended very badly on the return through Kansas. We were profiled, as young people, in an older car, with out of state plates, and having a lot of stuff in the car- mainly a lot of music equipment. We were actually pulled over for seat belts. My husband had his on, mine was questionable because I was asleep and reclined. Anyhow, he said to us "oh, you are wearing light colored shirts." Then he proceeded to say he smelled pot and was going to search our car. We've had our car searched several times before on this claim-the last time they couldn't even tell the difference between cigarette smoke and marijuana. So they searched and searched, expecting to find something big, and they find some prescription marijuana of a friend in California, my husband's methadone, and unfortunately some needles. I had one of his bottles in my pocket. They also found another form of methadone and capsules. Once they found the needles, they then started pointing at old scars on my arms saying they were bruises and track marks. I was arrested first, having never been in trouble, I was pretty fucking scared. Then they started plotting my husband and I against each other, which may or may not have worked. I was hoping I was only going to be arrested for possession charges, and then my husband gets arrested for distribution of methadone and possession. We of course suffered in jail for several days because it was the weekend. I can't tell you how sickening it was once we were both in handcuffs and cars, they start smiling and basically high fiving each other. Job well done. Now, you got some real bad people of the streets. Two people in their 20s, that go to college and have decent jobs. Really, all of this was done to make money. Money for some small, inbred community of Kansans for their new jail and courts and attorneys. I'm sure you're aware this is a huge problem in the United States. Sorry if I went on too long.

Best,
Lima

Anonymous said...

wow, this post really broke my heart.
oh hi shane, it's me, V. from Portugal. Long time no see. I've been really busy with college. I'm on summer vacation now! FINALLY! next year will be my last in college. Time flies, uh? yestarday I told u I got in college and now I only have one more year! hahahah! How have you been?? occasionally I thought of you and wonder how where you. I always read your posts, I didn't had time to reply to them, but everytime I got on my inbox that there was a new post from you, I sighed with relief :)
Always here,
Vnessa - PT - (aka betsie)

Paul Curran said...

Hiya, Shane. Great piece! I love the line about what they couldn't see. Hope you're doing well. I'm off to Argos today to pick up a pump for my kid's football. Tried to get him into QPR but all his friends are into Chelsea.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

hey Paul,

Something I've not talked about on here is football. I very nearly ended playing pro football but took to cigarettes and poetry instead. I played for Fulham u15's, left for QPR u15's and finally joined Chelsea u16's (was in the same youth team as Jody Morris). It sounds more impressive than it is, as at that time QPR were in Div 2, Fulham were in Div 3 and Chelsea were in and out of Div1 and 2. I palyed right midfield or right wing... would have probably ended in midfied position as the left and right backs work the wing nowadays and I couldn't defend for toffee.

Hope you're Well... and don't let your boy blow up frogs with the pump... that's what we used to do! X

Carrion Doll (former junky undergrounder) said...

This was so heartbreaking. And being a parent of four children now, especially so. My children have quite a bit more than what you kids had but there are still so many things we cannot give them. Things they should have that the other kids get. But at least I am clean now and even if I can't always buy them new clothes or all the new video games that come, even if our house resides in a little crappy poor neighborhood, I am here and I love them and I try my best. But there are times when I have been where your dad was that night...