A friend of mine said, last night, "I don't know anyone who hasn't done a bit of coke." Well, you do, mate, because I haven't. I've always been a pot and lager man, no more. Oh, and peanut butter, of course. That's beginning to make me look like Biggles would have looked if you'd taken him out of a W.E. Johns novel and plonked him down in the middle of San Franciso in 1967.
I've known a lot of snorters, of course. You can hardly fail to given coke's ubiquity. I've known people who were heroin users too, though amusingly, in the drug user's hierarchy, that's looked down on. "You don't see any dirty old tramps doing coke," my friend said yesterday. "It's definitely the drug of professionals."
There was only one time when I was tempted to try anything stronger than Miss Green. It was when I was going out with my friend's friend Ronnie, who I'd worked with in a care home in Kettering. She was interesting, a pagan, she'd previously had a wild mane of dreadlocks but had been off work for a long time and had returned with her hair all shorn, and dyed. We'd been planning to meet up with her mates at a New Year's Eve party in Northampton and she'd said there'd be a lot of pills about.
I didn't want to take them, but I didn't want to look too straight to Ronnie either, not in the first tentative weeks of our relationship. It would take her a little longer to figure out where my radicalism lay than it had taken me to find hers.
A moment of weakness emotionally and intellectually I kicked myself for briefly. I'd let my personality be swallowed by the women I'd hung around with before instead of just declaring confidently who I was and letting the consequences take care of themselves. It seemed, on reflection, that I'd taken that rather sorry trait as far as I could go if I was contemplating doing speed or something just to make Ronnie like me.
But I didn't take the pills. My relationship with Ronnie didn't last long enough for my resolve to be tested. Though it wouldn't necessarily have been a big defining moment either way, if I had taken them. I probably would have had a really nice time and great sex if I had, let's be honest (the booze I favour, old traditionalist, certainly does nothing for performance in the bedroom).
I felt funny, talking to my friend and this bloke we know, last night, given their immersion in the drug scene and my peripherally peripheral knowledge of it. Funny because I don't like to be bested on anything at all--I only want to go abroad again so I can say I've been--but also because I have this ridiculous, suburban, bourgeois urge to prove I'm more counter-culture than everybody else.
But is coke counter-culture if it's also "the drug of professionals"? The people who talk about doing it certainly like to think of themselves as being separate from the common herd (as I do, unless I'm on a socialist jag that week). But can counter-culture be counter-culture if everybody's doing it?
The best thing a kid can be armed with these days if he or she wants to cut out a life for themselves that hasn't been chosen for them by cynical businessmen and fuckwit politicians is a BOOK. Or preferably a few books. Something on world history. Something on the religions. Something on literature, music, poetry, and painting. A kid armed with knowledge and a clear head is the biggest danger to the forces of oppression here or anywhere else in the world.
(Of course, buoyed by the superhuman confidence of cocaine they might be even more formidable...)(I'm joking, I'm joking.)