Stable Habits & Sexless Sheets

If death would float me into your arms
I’d jump from a building
From the 91st floor
Just to be certain
Just to be sure

A fictitious poem to a fictitious lover
* * * * *

Sometimes I wish I didn’t love, I didn’t feel and I didn’t hurt.. sometimes I wish I didn’t live in such extremes, enjoying freezing winters just to take pleasure from hurrying into the warmth. That is what I do, I hang around in the cold and then seek refuge in a warm room, shuddering with pleasure as the first waves of heat hit me. Sometimes I wish my muscles didn’t contract and that my heart would stop beating excessive amounts of blood around my body. Sometimes I wish I lived in a securely mortgaged house and drove a Grey Ford Fiesta. Sometimes I wish I had a dog and two dustbins. Sometimes I wish my name was Chris.

Chris is 47 years old. Of those 47 years he has been married for 29. He has never strayed, nor cheated nor done an around turn and followed the echoes of a strangers high-heeled shoes. He neither loves nor hates, cries or laughs, lives or dies. He is in the middle of all that, living a life of unbroken and regular habit. But not dangerous habits... not habits that gamble with the fate of ones day, no... safe habits... routines. Practices that secure the fate of one’s day. In a life of mystery and surprise, of low blows and axe chops, Chris wanders through oblivious to all and everyday brings the same, and the same comes everyday.

At 6.30am one can find Chris walking his dog around the block and down the old brewery alley. On his way back home he will pass the the newsagents and pick up the paper. Dog lead hung on the coat stand he’ll sit down to an already made up and perfumed wife. He will slurp his way through two cups of tea, butter some toast and smoke a cigarette. At he rolls up his newspaper and puts it in his back pocket. He winks goodbye to the wife, kisses the dog and leaves for work.. For 8 hours everyday Chris unloads lorries and then makes sure people like me don’t steal the stock.He has done this since leaving school at 17. His evenings are homecooked meals, quick stop family visits and cable TV. At 10.30 he badly dries the dishes that his wife has washed and together they climb the wooden hills to Bedfordshire. Chris removes his shirt and slips out of his trousers and into the bed before anyone has time to even see his kneecaps. He turns his head so as his wife can change in peace. 30 years of marriage divides the kingsize bed in two. The sheets are clean and freshly pressed and never smell of sex. At 11 o’clock they turn back to back, each pointing in the direction of their half of the room. They sleep without dreaming, although the wife occasionally dreams she is living a nightmare. At 5.45am, the alarm rings and it all starts again.

For a while I was one of the many co-conspirators in Chris’s life. I became a little part of his routine, another little event that added to the surety of his day. There I’d be, every morning outside Allied Carpets, waiting to be collected and driven in to work. There he’d come, pulling into the bus lane whilst simultaneously stretching across the passenger seat and pushing open the door. Car still in a slow roll, I’d hop in and he’d accelerate away as the door swung shut. “Time?” He’d ask nodding towards the cheap unstealable radio “7.23,” I’d say “You’re bang on time.” And he was bang on time... always. In two years of early morning meets not once did that clock read any other minute past seven. I came to thinking that he must arrive early, park up down a side road and pull out at the exact minute. Sadly, I am probably wrong about that. He probably is the only man in the world who can manoeuvre through London’s traffic to the exact second. In fact, I do not doubt it. But if it was easy for Chris to pull up at the exact second I was the polar opposite of that. I’m not sure if he ever realised the hell I had to assault through to get there.. to be standing there calmly in a freshly pressed shirt. Whilst his life was a monotonous journey through tried and tested avenues mine was a life of mayhem and last minute fixes... always chasing that which had already left. If Chris knew what would happen next, I was still in shock at what had happened before... and it was with a certain envy that I strapped myself in and looked across at Chris in his one and only state of being: not quite happy, but almost.

Chris became a fascination to me. I would feel good just to be in his company... just to have his calmness rub off on me and know that besides this man the perverse was not going to happen. Life did not bluster unannounced into this man’s life... it gave him a smooth flat stoneless ride. I would catch myself observing him, admiring all his little mannerisms and laughing along as he whispered a clean obscene joke into the ear of the young female receptionist. I’d watch him preparing his sandwiches, devouring them in delightful measured mouthfuls, then wiping and patting his lips free from any sauce or grease. I observed as he took a million tiny pleasures from a world I had no excitement for and didn’t really want to be a part of. He even seemed to enjoy paying his taxes... filling out the forms and posting them off to the Revenue. Chris had found his slot in life. And no matter how awful his routines seem, or what a waste I knew it was to live like that, I could not help envying him... At one time, I could not help myself from desperately wishing for what he had.

Sometimes I would sit in the car beside him on the drive home and stare at him as he damned without swearing, as he looked up and around at the new buildings that were being put up. He’d be tapping away to some old rock beat or another, nothing intense, bland love songs of coming home. Once we had a little bump in the car and he seemed to take a sick pleasure in reckoning up the insurance costs. There he was, counting out on thick fingers garage repairs and labour costs. Nodding away knowingly at just how costly a little bump could be. When his mum died, he cried for a lunch break in his car and that was it... That was the nearest he ever got to tragedy. He returned after an hour his same old consistent self, just one parent less. He celebrated her but never grieved. One night I met him and his wife for drinks. He wore a denim jacket and a thick shapeless bright pink top. I think it was the first time he had been out since the early 80’s and that was his old pulling shirt.They both left after one drink as the dog needed it’s nighttime walk and the bins needed emptying. I was completely shitfaced and had only been there for an hour. They had to drive me to my door and walk me up the garden path. But they enjoyed that... it was a little story for hem, just as it is for me.

Once I asked Chris if he loved his wife. His reply talked of the kids, the mortgage and the joint possessions. “But do you love her Chris?” I repeated “Do you love her?”

“Well,” he replied “we’re thinking of starting up a little market stall on Saturdays so as we can spend a little more time together... there’s not many couples who after twenty odd years want to spend MORE time together. That said, we could also do with the extra cash as the roof needs fixing and we had the plumber in last week.”

“Yeah, that sounds like love.” I said, thinking of sex in parks, golden showers and planes out the country. And he winked at me as if he held all the secrets to the world.

One evening whilst stuck in traffic I told Chris of my heroin addiction. He sat there staring ahead in silence, a thinking middle finger drumming out a rhythm on the side of the steering wheel. I waited in gritted discomfort as my words hung thick with the smoke in the car, but nothing came – not a squeak, not a sidewards glance, nothing... Chris just inched forward in the traffic and never mentioned it at all . It was like telling someone you love them and not getting so much as a blink of acknowledgement back in return. Seven eigth’s of my existence was left two feet back in London’s rush hour traffic... under the wheels of a vibrating diesel powered double-decker bus.

And what else should I have expected? What other response could I have possibly received from a man welded so securely into a life of routine? He could hardly have pulled over and took me off for an unplanned talk and drink... Oh no, the wind from the wings of that little butterfly would have had far too many repercussions in his own life to be a possibility. No, Chris done exactly as I would have expected of him: he saved my revelation for the dinner table... a five minute conversation with the missus spat out through mouthfuls of chewed up sausage, cabbage and potato’s.

The remainder of the ride to my drop off point was a sombre one. I sat there with my head turned staring dismally out as West London passed by the smeared and rain speckled window. I had given up hope of receiving any kind of response from Chris and it was with relief that he finally swung in and slowed to a stop at my bus stop. As I clambered from the car that evening, Chris leaned across , and with his chin almost on the passenger seat and peering up at me under the door, he said: “Hey Shane, why don’t you come over to ours for dinner one evening? My wife knocks up a great steak and chips.” And with that comment, and the way in which it was delivered, London collapsed... it was the saddest thing I had ever heard, from anybody’s lips. That Chris imagined that the answers to the unanswerable could come through a hearty home cooked meal, carving up cheap meat whilst laughing away to evening sitcoms was sad. It was sad because I wished it were true... it was sad because I wished I had that to go home to. I gave Chris a light smile and a pair of tragic eyes “That’d be nice,” I said quietly “I’d like that.”

In a way I was touched that someone, anyone could think so simply about life and her problems. That someone was so stable and so secure that they imagined a good family dinner could heal all woes. And I desired that... I envied that in him. That stability, the knowing... the surety. He knew when he arrived home his wife would be there. OK, there was no passion but there was a bizarre kind of historic love and dependence. I would settle for that... I wanted that. In this mans head there were no dreams... no wants or desires. “I wish I was like that.” I’d think. He enjoyed simple things, things that I cannot even understand. Walking the dog at nine o’clock in the evening... greeting a neighbour or two and swapping the days gossip. I dream of that, of that kind of a life.Everything in Chris was stable and secure and I wanted it, and I envied him for that. But at the same time I knew it was not for me... it was not possible. One cannot learn to be like Chris... that kind of regimented and ordered life cannot come through discipline. One has to be born like that... or as good as. I was not... I was born dodging cricket bats and bouncing to the blows of life... all i’ve ever known is extremes. To live without question and to enjoy all the little hardships of life, one must be a very certain person. Of course, I would never want to be that... my head tells me that. But somewhere in me, somewhere buried below all the fancy thoughts, I do want it... to be less complex, to be just an average Joe.

Wouldn’t it be heaven to be guided and led by social norms, to have one’s ethics and morals laid out already dressed on the plate? To know what is right and what is wrong... what is clean and what is dirty? Wouldn’t it be good to have a built in sensor that stopped you going too far in either direction, that stopped you from falling madly in love or making suicide pacts? Wouldn’t it be fantastic to feel the cold and the warmth for what they are and not for what you will escape. To watch film for entertainment and not in search of yourself. Wouldn’t it be good to put your money in a fruit machine, not for the gamble but because that’s what you do.And whether you win or lose, well, so what! Nothing is going to change. Wouldn’t it be good to never be tempted, to be imprisoned by invisible and weightless chains... wouldn’t that be heaven? At one time in my life I wanted all of this... I needed it, and I went to bed dreaming of it. But even having that behaviour, that desire for something else told me I could never have it. No, my envy of Chris and his position was just a healthy response to my own life which had spiralled out of control and had left me on the edge trying to claw my way back in. And it helped... it helped because looking at all these things and thinking them over I decided that no, I do not want to be Chris... and I would not choose to be him even if I had the choice. I would much rather be me... I would much rather have obsessions and violently passionate relationships than calm waters and sexless sheet. I would much rather be able to write this than read it and not understand it. But for a while... Oh, for a while, I wanted nothing more than to just be someone else. Someone stable.

My relationship with Chris, like so many others, petered out and died. Rides home in his car became tense affairs after I had revealed myself. I’d unburdened my condition upon him and now I didn’t hold back. I sat in the passenger seat with my head almost slumped in my lap... coming to every now and again to see how much further we had crept through the traffic. As we arrived at my drop off point Chris would now lean over me, open the door and bundle me out into the street. I would scramble to my feet and before having the chance to turn around he would be gone. He stopped acting like a father towards me, probably realising and thanking his lucky stars that no son of his was anything like me. He stopped sharing his sandwiches with me in the canteen and would look grumpy as I came from the toilet with my bag and rubbing my arm. Eventually he stopped giving me a lift home, petrified that I had drugs in my bag and that my passenger seat antic would bring the police to us. I didn’t mind... he wasn’t a friend, just someone I once aspired to be... just someone I needed to see and be with for a short time in my life.

It’s now nearly ten years that I haven’t had word from Chris, but whenever things aren’t going great in my life or whenever I am riding high, I still think of him. I think of his life of routine and his measured, calculated way of doing everything. I wonder can anyone really be like that? Is anyone really able to be that stable and satisfied with their lot? Is the leaking roof really an enjoyable cost? Then I start to wonder what goes on behind closed doors... what happens when the family has left and the light goes out in the bedroom. Is it all as cosy and as clean cut as he’d have me believe? Does he really never dream? Is it only the occasional nightmare his wife has, or are they recurring and omnipresent? Does his sexless frustration never turn into something a little more sinister?I don’t know... that’s just me thinking and maybe more a reflection of me than of him. But then I remember something... a snippet of a conversation we once had. We were discussing films and Chris told me that his favourite film was A ClockWork Orange and his favourite scene was the gang rape one... and for some reason those words hang heavy in my ears and disturbs me. Butit’snot the fantasy that disturbs me, it’sthe repression of the fantasy, the denial of it... and when i think of that my envy turns to fear. Fear of what such a person is capable of. Far from being attracted to or in awe of such a person, the Chris’s of this world scare me... They scare me more than my shadow scares myself.

Take care Readers... and keep the fires burning, Shane. x

Six Feet Over

Dear All,
A huge thanks to all of you who sent me mails this past week enquiring after my wellbeing and asking if everything is OK. Well, things are better than just OK... I'm still six feet over and the life has never seemed so wonderful and full of hope. Rather than revisiting memoirs from my past, I have been living what will certainly become a memoir of the future. My absence in this time is a positive thing... a cause for celebrtion but not concern.

Anyway, my mysteries must remain that for now... some moths I must keep to myself. Thanks for bearing with me in this time and keep peeled as a new post will appear here within the next few hours.

Until then, my hopes, thoughts and wishes to you All, Shane. x

* * * *
PS: If you can read Portugese or don't mind reading through a translate tool, please go check out Vanessa Zombie's new blog:
She's been reading and commenting here since day one and deserves this little payback.

A Death in the Afternoon

Somewhere lost in the autumn of 2002 the 4th dead body of my life hammered upon and then fell through my door. Once again, death in all it’s shameless and humiliating glory was laying on the floor by my feet... this time floating hideous fumes into my face.

* * * *
James Tullock was a retired London Underground worker. He had emigrated to Britain from St.Lucia in the 1960’s and had killed himself repairing signal boxes in carbonated tunnels for a petty pension and a free buspass. He wore undersized suits and Trilby hats and cooked fish every Friday. He moved in below us 2 months after the body of the previous tenant had been stretchered out after succumbing to a toiletbowl heart attack whilst trying to rid his bowels of constipated constipation. No-one mourned that passing, we were just relieved that the BNP* posters that littered the downstairs window would finally be removed and that we could sleep without the worry of bricks or petrol bombs being thrown or put through our door. The arrival of Mr Tullock was a very welcome relief, but his stay didn’t last too long. It was barely two years before he too would be carried away, and not in too dissimilar circumstances as that of the last.

It all unfolded one early afternoon on my first day off on a week break from work. I cannot remember the exact month or date, but I know it was in the autumn, maybe early October or November of 2002. I know it was between 12 and 1pm as the children from the nearby school were screaming and hurling to whistles and play. It was one of those low sedated afternoons when sound and smells merge into a sweet tranquility and eyelids drift heavy on lazy days. I was sitting in the living room, needle in mouth and feeling for veins... my mother was bent double on the edge of her bed - daytime TV invading her brain. At first I heard a door, and then a bang and then the commotion of voices. I pulled back the yellowed net curtains and watched as a delivery van moved off down the street.I took it they had just dropped something off for Mr Tullock and had banged the wall whilst manoeuvering it into his flat. I left the curtain slide back across the window and returned to my business in hand. But once again I heard it, only this time it was a scuffling and rapping on the wall.

“Mum... did you hear the noises? I think someone’s in the hallway.”

My mum wandered half dazed from the bedroom and peered down the stairs at the little square of glass that topped the door. “Nah, there’s no-one there, Shane... You can see a shadow if anyone’s in the hallway.” But then it happened again, and this time we both heard it. We looked at each other worriedly but before we had time to speak a heavy rap ran down the door.

“Fuck, it’s the police that is...” my mother whispered “That sounds right like the fucking police!” My needles and heroin were laying on the table and foil and pipes were in the bedroom. For one horrible moment I thought she was right. I had visions of chucking the lot... the gear at least, but then reality hit.

“It can’t be the police... no, it can’t be. What reason would they have to be here? Who would be calling the police to us?” And then the door knocked again, only this time lighter and with a chesty groan. That was it, someing was not right, I was opening the door.

I tried to unlock the door but it wouldn’t release. Something was jamming the deadbolt in the catch... I could barely even turn the knob to release it. When I finally succeeded the door burst open.. Mr Tullock falling in on his side and flapping about like a fish on the floor. His eyes were bulged and going northeast and west and he lay there like that flapping and heaving and looking terrified. I tried to speak to him, but from his mouth the most horrendous smell was being released... it was as if a bag of crabs had been left to rot in his stomach. It was a nauseating smell, and one that was almost unbearable... it was the smell of his death.

My mother came hurtling down the stairs, “JAMES... can you hear me? CAN YOU HEAR ME?” And he seemed to, there was something in his eyes that still moved to attention... that still recognized human voice and his own need for help. And then the smell hit my mother, and she gagged and holding her mouth run back up stairs.

It’s strange that in a panic nobody knows what to do... we run from place to place not even sure if we should phone an ambulance or comfort the dead. I had to shout instructions up at my mother, step by step, guiding her to the phone and explaining what to say. At least twice she returned to the top of the stairs with some irrelevant question or concern.... looking down in the hope that Mr Tullock had made a miraculous tap-dancing recovery. Finally she did call the emergency services, and while she did I comforted James, touching his head and holding his hand. He had stopped flapping and seemed to be calmed by my words and presence, but his eyes were still all askew and all of hells rottenness still poured out from his mouth. I listened to my mothers hysterical voice on the phone... her tears that somehow didn’t seem genuine, and at the same time I felt James relax and calm further, his eyes now settled on me.

“MUM... I think he’s going!” I yelled out “He’s stopped moving... tell the emergency services he’s not breathing... he’s unconscious!” I heard my mother repeat what I had said and then hang up. She came back to the stairs and looked down. “Mum, take over here for a while... just hold his hand, I’ve got to clear the table” . Actually, the table wasn’t my concern, I needed some time... the eye’s of James and the smells had hit me hard, and I needed to be free of my mothers eyes to release my emotions. Since being 8 years old and begging her not to leave home, I’ve never allowed my mother the privilege of seeing me cry. In many ways I’d feel a pathetic weakness weeping in front of her... or maybe more than that I am petrified that she may try to comfort me. Maybe I am scared she may throw caring arms around me, for in an instance like that I would be completely and utterly lost.

My mother held the fort and I rushed upstairs and sitting in the living room I cried. I tried not to, I tried to keep my tears behind my lids, but they just came... like spasms of orgasm there was no holding back, no plugging the dam, and in silent streams my emotions ran their course.

That I even cried surprised me... I was not extremely close to Mr Tullock and only really saw him on the weekends. The closest we came to friendship was him giving me bottles of West Indian muscle rub after seeing me hobbling off to work in the mornings, sore and swollen from missed injections. Apart from that I had nothing much to do with him. I think the tears were because of death... because of the closeness of it and my inability to help a man with eyes shock wide with terror. I imagined all the things his paralysed mouth wanted to say, all the fears that rushed through his short-circuiting brain... I remembered his light grip on my hand and his crusty lips as they breathed out vile and rancid body fluids. And then I remembered his legs and his undressed lower... it was the first time I realised he was laying there half naked, and that brought tears again. The terror that someone must be in to flee their house in that state must be horrendous... to stagger naked and gasping out into public, well... what else but death could chase a man that far... especially a man who cooked fish every Friday?

I never went back downstairs, instead I tidied away the needles and cleared the room of any paraphernalia. About 10 minutes after our call an ambulance and three paramedics arrived. My mother left the scene and came running up with eyes full of water... but not tears, they were burning from the stench that James had released her way and which were now a drifting presence throughout the flat. After about 15 minutes a paramedic joined us and said that James was dead and that it appeared as if he had suffered an enormous stroke. He said that even if they had been able to resuscitate him he would surely have been brain dead and was probably that even by the time he fell through the door. He asked for the name and address of any of Mr Tullock's relatives and we gave him that of his sister. James was taken away, and once again I was left stunned and sitting in shocked silence at a world that only half an hour ago had wafted by like a hypnotic scent. I watched as the ambulance pulled off and then reached in the draw for my needle and the fix that I hadn’t earlier had the time to take. My mother returned from the bedroom with a square of aluminium foil and a tube in her mouth, and as I calmed myself with a prick and and a push, so she did the same with a crackle and a suck.... both of us escaping the sights and scents that this day had brought.

As happened after the passing of Ewan, death doesn’t hold us reflective for long, and there is always one junkie who is distanced enough and cold enough to profit from tragedy. When Geoff, my stepfather, returned home and was told the news, he suggested that we use the spare keys James had given to my mother and search his flat for prescription drugs and money. yes, unbelievably Geoff wanted to rob him!!! Of course, we never done that but it was close. All it would have taken, from either my mother or I, would have been a slight nod or a moments hesitation and Mr Tullocks door would have been opened and the possessions of a dead man ransacked and stolen. Rather, in light of our shock, Geoff pretended it was a joke and talked endlessly throughout the evening of how he wouldn’t do something like that but that he knew many a scoundrel that would. Two days later he was kicking himself, because it was revealed that under James mattress £12,000 had been found along with another £5,000 hidden in a shoebox in the loft . I later overheard a furious Geoff say to my mum: “We could’ve fucking had that!! It shuld’ve been ours!” And he’s right we could have had it, we could have robbed the dead... who would have ever known? And then this question came to me and it is one which I am embarrassed to answer here: “If I had have been aware about the money, would I have opened the door, sneaked in with Geoff and took it? And the answer is yes... yes I probably would have.

Take care readers & keep hope, Shane. x
*BNP: British Nationalist Party.. a political (joke) party on the extreme right.

A Family Affair

Two months before my 17th birthday my stepfather was released from prison and moved into the family home alongside my mother, brother and I. Along with an electric safety razor, his prison shoes and tattoo's, he brought with him a backpack full of opiates. Geoffrey Smith would be my 1st drug dealer, my second stepfather and the stepping stone that took me from recreational drugs to hardcore opiates. 7 years later, with the exception of my brother, the household will have descended into full-scale heroin and crack addiction... my mother, stepfather and I rolling about sick on the floor, lying cheating and stealing from each other. It would end with Geoff having both his legs amputated, my mother booking herself into rehab, and me fleeing London with 500ml of methadone, a bloodstained shirt and a french lover. This post details the bizarre descent of my family into drug addiction, how we managed through that and the past and present consequences of those years.

* * * *

In 1983, the year of my fathers murder, Geoff Smith held a barful of people hostage with a sawn-off shotgun after he discovered his wife was having an affair with the proprietors 18 year old son. After a 5 hours siege and coming down from a tab of LSD, Geoff exchanged four shots with the police and then surrendered himself and his freedom to the British Penal System. He was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in Wakefield High Security Prison. Of the 15 years he served 9, during which time he met my mother and married her inside. At the end of his jail term, released 6 years early on account of good behaviour, he boarded a train to London. As he had kept his release date a secret no-one knew he was on his way. One dull Friday afternoon I answered the door to a small, squat, grey haired man with pin prick pupils and an Adidas sports holdall. He shook my hand, introduced himself as my new stepfather and said he had come to stay. In disbelief I called my mum and watched in absolute amazement as she jumped into his arms and then dragged him off into the bedroom. It would be 12 years before he left.

The first thing I noticed about Geoff was that he slept a lot. During the first month I only saw him on a handful of occasions. Rather, he and my mother spent their days and nights couped up in their bedroom with a small television set... my mother occasionally staggering down the hallway and into the kitchen to knock up a peanut butter sandwich. I reasoned that Geoff's heavy and long sleeping was a prison habit he had yet to shake off, and to a certain extent I was correct. It was a prison habit alright... a prison drug habit. He had entered the system a drinker and dope smoker and had left an opiate addict, crushing down and snorting up tiny white pills boxed under the name of Temgesi... a strong painkiller doled out to the terminally ill. Geoff bought them by the box load from a friends mother who was dying of liver cancer. The active drug in Temegesic is buprenorphine, the same drug that Subutex, the heroin substitute, is comprised of. But at this time Subutex did not exist, buprenorphine was not yet being used as a heroin substitute.

From the moment I discovered what these little pills were I was intent on trying them. This wasn't the first time I had thought about opiates, I had had them on my mind a long time before Geoff rolled onto the scene... I had been half-heartedly trying to acquire heroin since I was 15, but didn’t know where or how to get it. It was not long before I approached Geoff and asked him for a couple of his Temgesic's. In order to befriend me he slipped me a few outside of my mums knowledge and warned me to not take more than one at a time.... and that’s what I did, and then I floated off to heaven. Within a month I was crushing down and snorting up the pills almost daily... using the same tube as my mother.

This went on for about a year, then our immunity increased and we were on 3 or 4 pills a time... from here on we had problems. Temgesic were very hard to get... They were almost impossible to buy on the street. When our supply was finished we put our lives on hold until the end of the month, until the next repeat prescription was ready. We would live in stretches of two weeks... and when the drugs were gone we’d all sit in miserable silence, staring at a blank TV that anyone was too bored to get up and turn on. Sometimes we’d buy a few grams of amphetamine and try to pass the time that way, but as the come down hit us we yearned for opiates more than ever. I learnt very quickly that you either use opiates all the time or not at all.... there is no comfortable middle ground.

This behaviour with buprenorphine continued for a little more than three years, until the day we received news that the mother of Geoff's friend had succumbed to the cancer that had gradually been monopolising her - our supply was cut dead (though not quite immediately). We convinced Geoff’s friend not to declare the death of his mother to her doctor and collect a final prescription. He done this and we payed him triple the price as agreed, but that was really the finish of it. With our last two weeks worth of Temgesic we schemed and planned our future supply. I convinced/paid my supervisor at work to go to a private doctor for a slipped disc he had suffered. I told him to say the hospital had once given them to him and they were the only things that eased the pain. Geoff’s method was a little more radical. He had a friend hit him in the chest with a huge mallet. Due to the blow he sustained three broken ribs and managed to convince his doctor to prescribe him Temgesic for that. Between the two of us we managed. We didn’t have as much as we needed, though at least we had some. But doctors are very wary about prescribing such strong opiates, especially for back and rib pain, and within two years both had lost their scripts and we were left in the lurch again. It was at this time that I started scouring the streets for Temgesic... approaching homeless people, new-age travellers, and alcoholics. But all avenues were fruitless, until I met Gerald, a new work colleague and someone who showed an active interest in hard drugs.

Gerald was the first person outside my household to even know what these drugs were. He told me he knew of someone that could reconnect the supply line. I met Gerald one evening after work and we travelled to a ground floor flat on The West Ken Estate. Of course, it turned into a Witch hunt, no-one showing up and no pills to be had. That’s when Gerald played his true hand and suggested that I buy heroin instead. “It’s exactly the same.. only stronger.” he said. “I can get that for you right now.” Without even having to think I gave Gerald the money and watched as he disappeared down an alley with a small hooded black boy. He returned a few minutes later, spat 3 small bags into his hand, wiped them clean and handed them to me. I gave one back to him and we parted.

I arrived home excited and proud. I felt like the breadwinner returning with the weeks pay... the food that would end everyone’s godless hunger and revitalize them back into the world of the living. I rolled the two bags on the table in the same way one throws gambling dice: “It’s heroin...” I said “A bag each.” Geoff was very happy, but my mother looked nervously at the bags. She didn’t say anything, but I could read her thoughts. She had lived with a junkie, my father, and she had never joined him in addiction, now, some 10 years later and at the age of 48 she was confronted with her son giving her heroin... heroin she knew she would take. And she did take it... we all did, and Gerald was right, it was exactly the same as buprenorphine only much stronger and much more readily available. After that first bag of heroin I knew I was/would become an addict. The fact is , I was a heroin addict long before I had ever even touched it. As for my mother and stepfather, well they enjoyed it just as much... and soon we were all regularly scoring and spending the evenings together.

Heroin addiction is not like it is portrayed in film or book. One does not take it once and turn into a hopeless and desperate addict. Addiction is a slow process and progresses from gradual to constant use. It always takes a few months and in our case it took almost a whole year before we even became aware that addiction was looming. What started out as a weekend thing soon covered Friday and Monday. Wednesdays also crept in to the mix and before long we were using every evening. The start of the evening became earlier and earlier, until finally we were using on waking... the real sign of proper physical and psychological addiction. It is no coincidence that on entering treatment centres one of the first questions is : “Do you use on waking? How long have you been using on waking?”

The progression from Temgesic to heroin happened over many years, during which time many things changed. I had grown up and left the family home, and Geoff and my mother had given up the flat on White City Estate and moved to a small maisonette in Shepherds Bush. As I was spending most my time there, scoring or using, I decided it would be cheaper and easier if I gave up my apartment and move back in with my mother. We were all using daily by this time and when funds allowed crack also. But the exertions and the expense of drug life was fast catching up on us, and in a bid to keep ahead of the game Geoff and I were constantly borrowing or advancing money . We were living on our next months pay rather than our last. It was a precarious game and one that would soon fail us. We were building pyramids of cards in the wind... We were heading for disaster.

Our first bout of junk sickness did arrive... just as we knew it would. I was out of cash and my friend who would lend me money was not in London that weekend. Geoff had been refused cash at work and instead had been given a cheque... he had a long 4 day wait for it to clear. During the first morning we all sat together in the living room twiddling our thumbs and asking the other: “You’re sure you’ve got nothing? Not even £5???” We emptied out our bags and pockets again and searched under the sofa and down the sides of the cushions... but we were all out, there was not a penny in the house.. It was the first time in our addiction that we had awoken with not even the heroin to give us a morning boot. We were not ill, but we were psychologically uncomfortable. By evening we were all on our backs, snivelling and retching and sweating. Our yawns were so wide and so deep that we almost dislocated our jaws trying to get them out... and when we opened our scrunched up eyes, burning hot tears would stream down our faces. By nighttime body smells and fluids filled the room.... we were so sick we barely had the strength or inclination to go to the toilet. It pained to move and it pained even more to keep still. Buckets of vomit sat unemptied in the room and crusty mucus clung to the blankets and pillows. The muscles in our bodies had had enough... they rejected the brains signals to move, and would spasm now and again completely of their own accord. We each lay in our own little hell groaning and crying and cursing a world that could not float £10 through the window... Not EVEN £10 measly pound. We were in one of the main financial cities of the world, in our street alone there was ten’s of millions of pounds worth of property and possessions, yet if you need money right HERE right NOW you cannot get it... what the fuck is that!?

After 48hrs, real debilitating junk illness had arrived. We were sick through to the marrow of our bones, bed ridden with all poisons of the world breaking out through the pores in our skin. And there is no respite or escape. Sleep is impossible when you are ill – you must suffer hell with wide open eyes. We lay there like this for three long and miserable days, the clock ticking by in hour length seconds. We groaned and swore at invisible pains, cursing the day we were born and the world we born into. We damned the rich and the fortunate and we bellyached about not having a pittance between us. We cursed Geoff's employer and bemoaned the banking system that makes one wait four days for a cheque to either clear or bounce. We cursed almost everything, but we never cursed heroin... we just prayed for that. Each of us sending out silent messages to a God that none of us believed in.

After three days I made an emergency call to my absent friend. She must have heard my discomfort for although she had just drove back to London that morning she said she’d cross the city and bring me some money. I told my mum and Geoff and we sat waiting the three hours for her to arrive. She did arrive, on time as ever, and there ended our first bout of family junk illness.

We lived together like this for the first year of addiction, during which time we sold anything and everything we had. My guitars and music equipment. The video... the DVD player. My brothers fishing rods, golf clubs and stereo. My mother decided that her little collection of jewellery was worthless and so one afternoon we sorted through it and took it along to the pawn shop. Her and Geoff adding their wedding rings to the kitty. We flogged the two antique lamps I had stolen from work and finally we sold the television. We ended up spending our evenings consuming heroin and crack and staring at the square dust patch on the wall where the TV used to be. To raise more money Geoff & I started doing private building work on the weekends... me knocking up cement and him constructing walls that we could crouch behind and smoke crack. Once an elderly client caught us on the pipe and asked what we were doing. We said it was a special substance that is blown into the wall and which hardens the cement quicker. At the end of the day we were paid and told not to ever come back.

But these times, by no means wonderful, did have their worth. Through the joint use of heroin and addiction I bonded with my mother. We had the same concerns and the same priorities and when we got high we spent the time talking and going over the past. She started taking some care of me, scoring for me and making sure I had heroin to get to work. In the daytime she’d pick me up clean needles and return my used ones. She done all she could to keep my injecting clean and free from disease. For my part I helped keep her in dope... leaving her money for a rock of choice each day. As we fell into sickness together love would be shown by the other managing to raise some money and then sharing their heroin with the other. I have memories of hanging around street corners, both of us scanning the street for a sight of our dealer.... rushing home with a pocketful of heroin and crack and smoking or shooting away our illness. Ok, it’s not the usual thing that brings a mother and son close together but it worked for us. Through the ordeal of heroin addiction we managed to understand the others suffering. Her past problems and behaviour suddenly made sense, and in that moment I forgave her all.

The first year and a half was rough trek, but then the good times came. I had been provoking trouble at work due to the conditions and the treatment of some of my colleagues. One Thursday morning I was called into the directors office, fired and handed a cheque written out to the tune of £10,000 on the agreement I took no action. I accepted the offer it in a flash. Two weeks later I landed a top job managing an accountancy company and for the moment our financial worries were over. But as one problem goes, so another fills it’s place, and with my recent payout and my newly acquired directors wage I started scoring crack every evening. And not just for me... for my mother and Geoff too. Soon the household waited desperately for my return from work... knowing that I would arrive with my hands full of crack and smack. It was the crack addiction that finally blew the biscuits out the tin.

Crack is a much more desperate addiction than heroin.... it’s effects don’t last as long and the come down leaves the user wired and willing to do the most daring things to raise money for the next rock. Because I was buying the crack and all were reliant upon my return from work, there was a certain amount of animosity which began to develop towards me. It wasn’t long before money disappeared from my wallet or rocks of crack and heroin started going AWOL. Geoff would go out to score and return with nothing saying he had been robbed or lost the money. Then the bedroom door would close and from inside I’d hear the unmistakable blabbering of crackheads.During the evening the door would open and smoke would pour out like opening a freezer on a hot day. “Oh, it’s just the cigarettes.” Geoff would say “They’ve changed the gauge of the papers!” I didn't care, I was in the living room piping by myself... it was the theft and lies that annoyed me. I suppose they just wanted some power and control over their own addiction... I understand that. It’s very difficult holding a habit and relying on someone else to fund it. My mother was in the middle, and like any half-decent junkie used her position to best advantage. She wandered between living room and bedroom, taking the benefits of both. When Geoff thought she was coming in to collect my dirty plates and cups, she was actually sneaking crack outside of his knowledge... collecting it in rolled up tissue and smoking it on her own later or when we were at work. All these lies and sneaking made for an angry and explosive house. It was not long before Geoff smashed an ashtray into my head and I knocked out two of his teeth with my elbow. We never recovered from that fight or from me pitifully flicking him rocks of crack on my return home.from work.

During the next two years crack and heroin took all our money. I was still living within my means, but Geoff had borrowed, stole and sold all he could to fund his addiction. His latest idea to raise funds was taking on private and undeclared building work... work he neither had the qualifications nor the tools required in order to carry it out. What he did have was an almighty drug problem that pushed him to insane lengths to get money. 50Ft up, fixing the tiles of someones roof for £100, he slipped and slid. He held onto the guttering for as long as he could and then strength robbed him of his grip. He let go and dropped feet first to the ground, breaking both ankles and shattering both shin bones. He was in hospital for 5 months and two weeks after his release he was hit by an infection and both feet bloated up and turned brown. This infection would eventually rob him off his legs and leave him wheelchair bound with a crackpipe hidden under the blanket that covered the stumps of his legs.

With Geoff out of action and all the fuss and expense of hospital visits, my mother decided it was time to quit drugs. She applied for a detox programme, and after waiting 4 weeks she started out on a Methadone Maintenance program. Since that day she has never taken heroin again... though her crack problem still lingers on. After giving up smack she still continued to allow me to live and use in the house, and she still continued to score for me in the daytime whilst I worked. In turn, I continued to keep her supplied her with a healthy amount of crack each evening.

Two months after the amputation of his legs Geoff returned to the house, but in his absence things had changed and so had he. With no legs he used my mum as a servant and shouted orders for crack cocaine at me from the bedroom... threatening to chuck me out the house and phone the police if I didn’t comply. Finally we all had had enough, Geoff too. My mother was in no position to look after a disabled and demanding crackhead, and after months of incessant arguing Geoff left. I carried him downstairs and wheeled him to the Social Security offices. I rolled him to the reception desk and left, putting two rocks of heroin and £100 in his top pocket With no handshake and no goodbye I was gone... though in truth I was expecting to see him later and hear some half-arsed story as to why he was back. But the strange thing is, I, nor my mother have ever seen him again... he disappeared without word or trace or legs. Maybe he was more fed up with drugs than I realised... maybe sitting at the reception, at yet another person’s mercy, he had looked down at himself, at the place where his legs used to be and realised that this was not a good place to be at his or any age in life. Maybe he regretted ever coming into contact with my mother or me. Maybe he chucked the heroin away and used the money to help get himself back on an even keel. On the other hand, and more probable, maybe he fiddled as much money as he could from the social services, wheeled himself back d own the Uxbridge Road and spent it all on crack and smack. If I had to hazard a guess I’d say he done just that.

I continued living with my mother, working, scoring and smoking white together. But I was becoming bored of that life and the crack was beginning to affect me badly. I was turning into work dishevelled without having slept and with a bag full of needles and heroin. I would spend the first hour with my office door closed whilst I searched in desperation for a vein. One employee found a needle in my office and another popped his head over the toilet cubicle one morning and saw me digging for veins and with needles scattered over the floor and a crackpîpe sitting on the cistern. He tried to blackmail me and then left in a rage after his complaint was received as lies and nonsense by my directors... No-one else believed him either. Though I never considered quitting heroin, I was constantly cursing and promising to stop smoking crack. I started going out in the evenings or staying late at work so as not to be around dealers. My mum would score my heroin and her crack in the daytime and by the time I arrived home all that would be left were my bags of brown and my clucking mother. It was in this period that I met a french girl, fell desperately in love and began a romance that would finish with me getting onto a MMT program and then exiting London for Lyon and a heroin addiction on alien soil.

On informing my mother of my plans to leave she had mixed feelings. She was happy for me but her mind showed off other fears. What would she do without me? Who would fund her crack addiction? I felt terrible for this... I felt guilty. I had kept her in crack for the past three years and now I was leaving her with nothing. But my life had taken an unexpected turn, and it was a turn that I had to take. It was a fresh break, away from London and away from crack and heroin. But more than that I had fallen in love.... there was someone other than myself to think of, and I couldn’t keep my partner living in the hell she had experienced in London. The decision had to be a selfish one... I had to leave London and those left behind would have to fends for themselves. If my mother would be without crack, well so would I... we’d have to live that together.

My mother was strangely quiet in the week leading up to my departure. We sneaked crack in the house past my girlfriend, and we took turns occupying her whilst the other hit the pipe. The quiet was only broken by half arguments... my mother throwing bitter and sarcastic comments towards me, yet not having the stomach to finish them. Well she did finally get it out.... on the morning of my departure she could hold her anger nor hurt in any longer. She broke down and started crying and asked what would happen to her? To me? What started off as quite healthy despair and fears ended in her accusing me of abandoning her to the dogs... of getting her hopelessly hooked on crack cocaine and then deserting her. She was also jealous that I had found and chosen another women to spend my life with over her. It all came out and as I descended the stairs with my suitcase of clothes ready to join my girlfriend in the waiting taxi, my mother came running down the stairs crying and threw a bag full of my old needles at me:

“They’re yours!!! Fucking take them to France.... don’t leave your shit here for me to tidy up!!!”

The needles hit me in the side of the head and scattered everywhere.... over 300 of them. Two lodged in the side of my neck.and dangled there until I pulled them out and threw them on the floor. Silent with anger I turned around and climbed in the taxi.

“Stanstead Airport, is it?” asked the driver.

“That’s it, mate.... Stanstead. Get me out of this fucking shit hole!” And with that he moved out and slowly pulled away. And as the blood rolled down my neck and soaked through the breast and collar of my shirt I turned my head and peered out the back window. There was my mother, on her knees in the street, sobbing hysterically amongst a pile of old needles as she gathered them together and put them back into the bag. She never looked up, never looked back, and I didn’t expect her to either. In a lifetime of alcohol, violence, sexual and physical abuse, she had never given me so much as a sorry or a pair of regretful eyes. And as the taxi moved and my mother became smaller, I once again surrendered, “I Love You, MUM!” I shouted “I LOVE YOU!” And as the last word slipped out my mouth and the first tears slipped out my eyes so my mother slipped into the distance... Smaller, smaller, and smaller until finally she was gone.

Thanks for sticking with me everyone... my very Best Wishes to All, Shane. x

The Junky Underground*

Visit & join The Junky Underground.... a haven for the broken hearted and the nearly departed. It's a place free from fascist administrators or idiotic site moderators taking pleasure in suppressing IP addresses or denouncing you to the CIA. On The Junky underground you are free to write, chat and upload photo's or video's of whatever you'd like... free speech reigns supreme. And what's more, you DON'T even have to be a junky to join... membership is open to ALL! Hopefully, we'll see you there!
A un~social network for the socially undesirable...we know who we are.
* The Junky Underground was created and set up by Melody Lee:
Johnny Thunders