Tuesday, May 19, 2009


The other day I was collecting my tablets from a different chemist (tired of being asked by the woman at Boots why I don't claim my medical exemption and get them for free--I will do it when I'm not working thanks, and save the NHS £7.10 a month: I'm not an MP voraciously gobbling up every freebie I can get)--but anyway, I was collecting my tablets when I saw the gent in front of me get a methadone prescription dispensed. He took it out of the bag, opened the bottle, knocked it back like a shot of whisky, put the empty bottle on the counter and left. I was in the same pharmacist a few days later and I saw an entirely different person doing exactly the same thing.

Drugs. They aren't cool anymore, if they ever were. And they're definitely not counter-culture. They don't open doors to any kind of new mind that's going to topple the established order. All they appear to do--the harder variety anyway--is open doors to the poorhouse and then to your local A & E.

Everybody smokes a little weed these days, or at least, the vast majority of people, however much the police try to crack down on it and stop you getting high, low, relaxed, hungry, anxious, paranoid etc. etc. etc. Marijuana smokers are as common as people who butter their toast.

Heroin is seen as the dirty drug by the cognoscenti of the drug world. I don't know where that attitude comes from, since I'm not one of the cognoscenti, despite knowing a fair few of them. The perception is that the people who do that are poor, mangy, working class or sub-working class scum who have to beg on the streets or resort to mugging or prostitution to pay for their fix.

I don't like the self-righteous superiority or the emotional violence of that characterisation, but it seems to be socio-economically accurate, at least in my experience, "round here" as the song says. And coke is the favoured drug of those who look down on heroin abusers. A good many of them think they're counter-culture because they colour their hair purple or listen to underground bands nobody else has heard of (or cares to hear of), but when you really get into their minds you'll often find a lack of imagination, a lack of intelligence and a deep streak of conservatism that places them more in a camp with David Cameron than that Devendra dude with the nice beard, whatever his name is, the one who reinvented folk for the modern age.

These coke-snorting counter-culture poseurs share a love of the white powder with arrogant, clean-shaven, suit-wearing, slick-haired businessmen. And they do the same pills too. That ought to tell everybody something, including them.

Of course, we do have to question whether the counter-culture exists anymore, in any meaningful form; whether what's left isn't just a rather superior, self-indulgent, fragmented tribe with no ideology and no programme--nothing left to rebel against and no energy to find it if it's out there. That's certainly the way it appears to me, for whatever my opinion's worth.

Drugs actually were one of the decisive factors in ruining the possibility of spiritual and social change in the Sixties, that time of the last-but-one great flowering of the counter-culture (the Eighties in Britain were the last). If a person feels they can liberate themselves and prove their independence from government by lighting a cigarette (which is the absurd conceit of some marijuana smokers even now), they're not going to bother doing anything else. A fag's a fag. A pill's a pill. It's governments who give them their ridiculous and entirely false significance by making the ingestion of them equivalent somehow to gun crime, robbery, violence.

And although there are some lovely, intelligent, peace-loving people out there growing their own weed and providing bits of this and that for others, there are also--be warned--a lot of seriously unpleasant, no good, violent, bullying criminals pushing these signposts on the freedom road your way. And they don't want you to be liberated from the tyranny of convention. They don't want you to lead generations into exile, lay down forever on beds of flowers under skies of milk and honey. They just want your cash like every other capitalist in this ugly system--the only difference being that these fellows are happy for you to die so they can get it.


All This Trouble... said...

Well, you just completely ruined MY buzz...

Nahhhh....not really. I'm at work listening to Devendra Banhart, to tell the truth.

Rock on, my friend. Rock on.

Fred Abbey said...

I will, if I don't get shot by one of them there drug pushers.

Though poet-bloggers probably aren't high on their list of targets.