Scratching, Sniffing, Nodding and Twitching: Retrospective Tales of Drug Use.

I was having a mega inundation session of episode after episode of the series ‘Breaking Bad’, and remembered that thirty years ago I had frequently used methamphetamine, cooked in a druggie chemist friend’s bathroom,

When I cleaned up I had a reasonable certainty that I had sampled most mood altering chemicals and wasn’t missing out on anything. That smugness passed quickly enough with the invention of Alco-pops and Red Bull followed by variously media hysteria surrounded, hellish scenario drugs which usurped the previous demons of angel dust and crack.

Living in a country that was surrounded by water and guarded zealously by a rabid customs service, my compadres in the using counter culture tended to be much older than myself, excellent chemists and ethno botanists and highly educated by the legacies of members of the junkie intelligentsia of the past.

The work of writers’ Burroughs and Trocchi informed us as to injecting equipment (pre AIDS, syringes and needles were illegal and only obtainable through creative engineering or robbing a hospital) and what the addicts’ grail prescriptions from friendly doctors were.

No rural stroll was taken without a black rubbish bag, many casual glances into back yards and memorising of co ordinates in case a night-time return was necessary.

Small town chemists were scoured for the old fashioned linctus’ which a whole, older generation had become addicted too, and which still at that time had respectable old ladies sitting in the city’s methadone clinics when their local pharmacists stopped selling it.

This all sounds very Antipodean idyllic especially compared to later years scoring crack in Tulse Hill Estate.However these small towns and sun speckled gardens were often patrolled by old fashioned police forces that hadn’t yet bought into modern P.C ideas of treating addicts and hippies like human beings, and weren’t averse to random acts of brutality.

Also the intellectual pretentions of myself and my peers, whilst impressing the occasional doctor or judge, didn’t hold up long when mixing with the Mongrel Mob at parties in the wilds of the South Island or being thrown around a holding cell by an irate ex army turned police officer.

I was reading that when ‘The Wire’ was being shown by HBO, drug addicts and dealers used to tune in for advice and tips on how to operate more effectively. I suspect that HBO series are this generation’s instruction manuals, as books by Trocchi and Burroughs were mine.


About charlottejane2002

Author of 'P is for Prostitution', 'The Bloody Sacrifice' and co-editor of 'A Contemporary Western Book of the Dead' which are all published by Mandrake of Oxford. Italian publisher Roberto Migliussi has recently released 'The Sky is a Gateway, Not a Ceiling', a book of Charlotte's collected essays printed alongside images of his own art work. Charlotte is also an artist who creates spiritually directed art works from road kill and found objects. She has had her written work printed in anthologies and various magazines and on line publications and has given presentations at many events and institutions including Edinburgh University and Brooklyn's 'Museum of Morbid Anatomy'. Her art work has been exhibited widely including at London's Chelsea Gallery and The Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute, and is soon to be shown in New York.
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4 Responses to Scratching, Sniffing, Nodding and Twitching: Retrospective Tales of Drug Use.

  1. ruthramsden says:

    Fabulous, as always, Charlotte! One squat I lived in we had that prerequisite for post robbery cataloguing – a MIMS prescription drugs guide, essential when knocking over a chemist consisted of scooping everything reachable into bin bags. My first girlfriend, Jane, habitually carried a crowbar in her handbag. Royal Tunbridge Wells was, at that time, extremely slippery on its underbelly, as many who were there can attest.

  2. Love it, a crowbar in her handbag! In New Zealand the New Ethical’s was the equivalent to MIMS; the much thumbed and dribbled over essential to every functioning flat and squat of that era.
    I knew a few Maidstone denizens in my Dartford days but didnt get as far as Tunbridge Wells until I went to a nearby rehab.

  3. HarpyMarx says:

    “This all sounds very Antipodean idyllic especially compared to later years scoring crack in Tulse Hill Estate.”

    I used to live around 5 minutes from the Tulse Hill Estate, though deals were done in the stairwell of where I used to lived. Btw I like your blog 🙂

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