Jamie was a housemate of Kate, a good friend of mine. He was a round faced, good looking small and stocky young man, who appeared to be a dedicated hedonist.
The household that Jamie lived in wasn’t unusual in its high consumption of drugs, particularly of the hallucinogenic variety, but WAS unusual in the fact that every one of its inhabitants was in full time employment.
Jamie had a job in IT, a low key field of expertise at that time and I never really managed to equate the hedonistic stoned Jamie, who didn’t speak but rather made appreciative noises that varied in key according to the pleasure experienced, with someone who was intelligent and capable enough to have an exceptionally well paid job.
Jamie had recently bought an amazing convertible. A wonderful sleek creature, some sort of American classic brand that I should know the name of but don’t, and he decided that we could enjoy the summer, and do something useful and pleasurable by loading his car with a group of friends and going off in search of cactus, for future adventures of the more psychedelic kind.
We would drive around large tracts of New Zealand’s North Island, top down, Style Council playing on the stereo, enjoying the weather and glamour whilst keeping our eyes peeled for the beckoning green beacon of San Pedro Cactus that was often planted in people’s back yard or the warmer climate’s version of a garden.
We would then record the co ordinates and return with an axe, very late at night, to fell the plant.
The rule of thumb was a foot of cactus, peeled de-spiked and boiled, would yield a pint of thick green sludge that would provide one trip. Thus the larger the plant, the better the yield and the destruction of a particularly large cactus would ensure the filling up of our fridge with vast quantities of milk bottles filled with the viscous green fluid.
The people in the flat I was living in (where nobody was employed) were great fans of the drug and our old fridge would easily accommodate even the largest harvest, especially as there was no food to compete for space in it.
Around the corner in Jamie’s house, there was more of a mushroom vibe, so their cupboards were filled with jars of mushrooms in honey. We would have frequent drug related interactions between the two buildings although the place I lived in tended to be messier and more chaotic so that was where the cactus consumption would take place.
We would stand on the balcony and gird our loins before swilling back a pint of the vile liquid. The effects of its ingestion would be precipitated by an immense and projectile vomit (thus the need to stand on the balcony for its imbibing).
Then the need to walk would hit and we psychonauts would form a gaggle and go adventuring in the night to marvel at everything, before staggering home early the next morning for hot chocolate and the come down.
It was a great summer, but by early autumn the cracks had set in. Both of our flats had been raided by police, a bad trip had caused the conversion for two of our number to born again Christianity, and then we were served notice of eviction on our building.
I quickly enough launched forth on another life adventure with new friends in a different place, but I still remember that long hot summer, cactus hunting, in a convertible.