Dark November days. Rain lashes our faces as we exit the sweaty cocoon, to suddenly emerge in the maudlin crepuscule of a South London Sunday.
Back to P’s in a moody minicab. He argues as always with the driver and we are forced to walk the last half mile home, abandoned in a Kennington cul de sac. The offies are all shut and so we plan an elaborate ruse to prise open P’s flatmate’s drink cupboard. H shivers in an inadequate raincoat and we are therefore subjected to a walking mile of moan.
Soon all is better. We share a bottle of acrid red wine, we find the flatmate’s secret herb and I produce some joy from my pocket. So begins a new round of delirium…
Club UK Mix
Download: Club UK Mix (Source Unknown. More Saturday than Friday for veterans)
A long afternoon turned into a long night and a long day after. It had all started on a sunny day in the park. J had met P and her crew for a couple of pints in the afternoon on Clapham Common. Naturally, they smoked a few joints with their beers as they discussed the last party they’d been to, the next party they were going to, and their favourite subject, girls. J was a straight guy and P was a gay girl and they had a mutual admiration for exactly the same kind of chicks.
J had the hots for a girl called Marie-Anne, a livewire with a fiery temper and an edge of danger. P warned him off, whilst at the same time conceding her attractiveness. “She’s trouble mate. Be warned. No one would ever be enough to keep her happy”.
The afternoon waned, P pulled a wrap of speed from her pocket. They had a dab, bought another round and chatted with increasing rapidity and intensity.
“What you doing later?” P asked.
“Well, I was going to go home, I haven’t got bags of cash at the minute” J replied. “Why what about you?”
“I’ve had an idea. We could got to the Brazilian’s house, they’re having a party. See what bits and bobs are knocking around there. If there’s nothing knocking around, we could go over to Trippy Finn’s across the road.”
“The Brazilian’s? Will there be any straight girls”
“Probably not, but there’ll be pills, so don’t be greedy”.
“Fair enough! Let’s go.”
An hour later they found themselves in a house in Brixton. A group of Brazilian lesbians were tripping on acid. Two of them had walkie talkie head sets on and were talking to each other across the kitchen. The others were swirling around each other, alternating between paranoia and euphoria. A couple of queens were talking in the other room. One had a bag of pills; P, in her usual way, took him off an engaged in heavy negotiation, returning minutes later with “enough to be getting on with”.
A few hours later and the night had taken a new slant. Acid had been imbibed by all; visiting the toilet, J felt an intense shimmering that enveloped his entire perception. Returning downstairs, and sat in the room with the lesbians, he felt like a puppy in a bag of edgy kittens. P had been working on one of the Brazilians, and outside, allegedly, one of the queens had wanked off the other to get hold of his pills. A change of scene was in order.
“Let’s go to see Finn. He’ll have some pills and he’s mental, you’ve got to see his flat”
“Why is he called Trippy Finn?”
They crossed the road and entered the estate. The sun rose, it’s angle rendering the buildings in sharp 2-D, like skyscrapers in a pop-up book. Glancing up at the tower block toward which they were headed, J felt like a supplicant at an Aztec ceremony, about to ascend the ziggurat, ,unknowing of his fate. “Looks like the lift is working, thank god. He’s on the 25th floor.”
Up they went, their strychnine-knotted stomachs dropping as the lift climbed. They entered the flat, and Finn emerged from the gloom. Effectively a heavily tattoed ginger poof, he looked like a camp Celtic goblin. We popped in to the kitchen and layed out a load of pills on the counter. P paid 10 each for 30, she would sell them at 15’s so they could afford to neck a couple straight away, which they did. They smoked a joint with Finn, who giggled and erupted occasionally in to bouts of gobbledigook.
“So Finn”, J asked. “Tell me, why are you called Trippy Finn?”
“Ooooh, ha ha, come and see”, he hissed, reminding J of a gay Gollum, and beckoning him through the hallway to a room in the rear of the flat.
He edged his head gingerly into the room. It was a room with a low futon on the floor. The walls were completely covered in tin foil; fairy lets studded the walls and the ceiling, which was covered in fluorescent stellar stickers. a strobe light flickered on a very slow frequency. J noticed a battered helmet covered in foil stickers resting on a chair.
“Do you want to come in and check it out? ” hissed Finn.
A hot, sweaty night, the kind of night where you play the inner temperature rollercoaster, seeking air vents and fans here and there for temporary coolness, soon thawed and reheated in the confines of a claustrophobic toilet cubicle. I get the gear out of my pocket as quick as I can before the moisture in the air attacks the powder, like a guilt-induced avenging angel come to turn your fun into gloop. I do my thing, take a slash and exit, checking my nose for detritus before going back on to the floor. I’m keeping it to myself tonight, there’s a lot of parasites about and if they want to get high, they should get their own.
Whilst washing my hands, I overhear the Kent boys talking outside. I’d met a couple of them the night before at the hotel, primates drugged into peace by Ecstacy, the inner core of violence thinly held back by sunshine and good times. Paul, their de-facto chieftain, speaks to his cohorts, uniformed in shiny shirts, distinguished by length of hair – shaven or long in the style of the Balearic playboy.
“So who’se had what…You’ve had one, John, You’ve had a half? Terry, you’ve had one, Jim – you’ve had two you greedy cunt..Kev? How may of you done? He can’t fucking speak look at him the cunt”
“He owes me Two Mill”
“Shut it you mug, he don’t owe you nothing!”
I quickly pass the boys, smiling hello, and head back towards the terrace, leaving them to their reckoning.
A hot summer’s dawn. We pile into P’s car and head along Nine Elms Lane, cut through South Lambeth Road, then up toward Kennington and Elephant. We got a call, there’s an afters at a pub just near The Misery. We climb into the car, all a-jangle; these adventures have a low probability of working out, the likelihood of a flat tyre, the place being shut, there being no decent beans, all causing for low odds on a positive conclusion. But we’re chuckling away anyhow, pockets charged with cash and souls full of hope and camaraderie.
After the inevitable drive around a million parking spots, trying to figure out the likelihood of a clamp in this area – we park and bowl out of P’s little Fiesta. It’s a tenner on the door, the first gamble of the night, but as we go in we’re pleasantly surprised and soon the rolling icons start to drop in our favour. It’s a good crowd, some nice girls, and healthy smattering of sexually ambiguous characters, which, we hope, suggests a lack of menace. People are drinking out of paper cups, code for bootleg alcohol, and everyone seems very alert for this time of the morning. Plus the music is hugely euphoric, as if it was 12pm not 8 am. I give P & M a little arm around the shoulder and we share a smile.
A feverish, nervous run on the tube brings me to Highbury & Islington station. I’m off to see S, a super cool hippy dude that’s related to a good friend of mine. I walk at pace up the hill towards his flat, no doubt affecting the length of stride described as “the junkie walk” in certain parts of town. It’s not the quest for a fix of brown I’m after, though, it’s the happy anticipation of some good quality recreational narcotics for the weekend.
My girlfriend has encouraged me to bulk-buy anything good on offer, so I have a pocketful of cash and a weekend of supposed hot weather ahead of me. S has warned me not to hang around : “The missus is supposed to be coming back mate, can’t have you around the place, she’ll get all funny about it, you can’t hang about fella” – and words to that effect. I think the tension in his voice about his wife walking in on one of his transactions has made me more on edge than I naturally would be when leaving the house to buy drugs. For a cool hippy, S is notoriously uptight.
I ring the bell and am ushered in. The curtains are drawn against the bright day outside; the few streams of light illuminating dust and cannabis smoke. “Skin up!”, I’m ordered. I perform the action, he gets me a beer from the fridge, we light up, he then produces a mirror and a bag of yellow cocaine, reeking of parrafin and crumbling like honeycomb. He chops two lines, at least four or five inches long and we snort. We finish the joint. He seems in no hurry to get rid of me and racks out another soon after, but I’m feeling like I should go once I’ve made my purchases (3 grams, a half ounce of hash and ten pills) – he didn’t want me to hang around, right? We toot the second then my heart starts to thump, I’m confused – fuck it, I’m going to get out of here, if nothing else to escape this fiend’s mania to get high! It’s only 4 in the afternoon on a Friday! What if his wife turns up? Leggit!
Pockets bulging with stinking gear, I jump on a bus to the tube. My hearts thumping through my chest as I descend the escalator and sit on the train. I’m now convinced the 3 West African guys in my carriage are undercover. My mouth’s gone totally dry and I can’t wait for beer. Stockwell all the sudden seems an era away. But soon I’ll be in the garden, smoking a joint in the sun, drinking a cold beer and pressing my tongue to the numb roof of my mouth, revelling in the dentist-chair oral aneathesia, while US garage belts out of the kitchen window. Summer’s here.
Early morning heat. We’re fresh from sleep but it’s a temperate mid-summer and the moist warmth brushes our cheeks gently, rubbing life into our tired old bones.
We enter the place as clean as shiny buttons, inside and out, our freshness a temporary barrier against the rancid waves of twitchy punters bustling us through the venue. We guzzle icy beverages at break-neck speed, a balm against the jock-itch of being this sober in the crowd.
“L” disappears for a minute. “Where’s she gone?” we all ponder, twisting out neck left and right like baby gophers seeking their mother. We know not to send out a search party, or we could easily spend the whole night following ourselves around the venue. Eventually she returns, brandishing a fistfull of joy in tablet form. We neck, wait for the shit to work then emerge, blinking to the exerior area, where dawn light and our inebriation add a beautiful glow to the proceedings.
Ten hours later and the sun is way past its zenith. “L” is getting pestered by an unintelligible Italian, we’ve lost two of the party to security and two guys from Kent are about to rip each other’s heads off in the corner. With the crepuscule comes the fear of impending reality, of our brief 24 hour bubble being split asunder.