As a lad at school (a long time ago, I’ll admit), few of us had even heard about drugs and wouldn’t know what to do with them if we had. Yes, there were stories that The Beatles had been caught with something dodgy but in my part of Yorkshire we were more interested in sneaking into the pub while underage and getting hammered.
My first brush with drugs happened while traveling around Europe. For the most part I was hitchhiking but on this particular day I was on a train about to cross the border from France to Italy. My compartment was full of young hippy travelers. Mostly were rich kids seeing Europe on daddy’s credit card and money was no object. As we slowed to a stop at the border, someone threw open the compartment door and said police were boarding and searching the train. Pandemonium ensued, pockets and bags were emptied and stuff hurled from the window. “Get rid of your shit, man, if they find it on anyone of us we’re all looking at a year in an Italian jail, that’s after they’ve cut off our hair and beaten the crap out of us.
A posh English girl began to sob. I felt like joining her. I had no ‘stuff’ but would be dammed if I was going to jail for these posers. I grabbed my bag from overhead and stepped into the corridor as the carabinieri complete with snarling dog came through from the next carriage. They stopped me, checked my passport, let the dog have a good sniff, grunted and let me pass. Later I learnt that they gave the guys in my compartment a hard time but found nothing and left when the dog bit the girl and she became hysterical. She got off the train with me in Genoa and said she was hitchhiking to Afghanistan because they had some really good shit there.
This whole drugs thing had me confused.
And then I went to Canada where I stayed with some students who spent most of the day smoking marijuana. “You’ve never smoked a joint?” they scoffed. “You’ve got to smoke a joint. It’s super cool, dude.” And so I did, and while they were all grooving to the music, I was freaking out like a man with DTs, and that put an end to that.
Back in Europe, I tried a popper … amyl nitrate offered to me by a gay friend. “Try it,” he said. And so I did (the popper, not the other) and a few minutes later asked what it was supposed to do because nothing had happened.
My next foray into drugs happened in Gibraltar, where hashish was cheap, available, and the drug of choice among the people I worked with. After weeks of badgering to get me to try it, I finally gave in and my workmates gave me a large nugget of the stuff to share with my wife because it would, well, you know! (Here they were making gestures with one arm.) “Okay, I said, “tell me what I’m supposed to do with it.”
“Just roll a cigarette and crumble it in,” they said, and even gave me a cigarette paper and some rolling tobacco.
Back home, I showed my wife our prize and together we rolled a cigarette and smoked it. We woke up twenty four hours late on top of the bed still fully clothed.
At work on Monday morning, everyone wanted to know if we enjoyed the hashish and the (more arm bending). “Bloody awful,” I said. We smoked it and it knocked us out for twenty four hours.”
“How much did you smoke?”
“Just one rollup,” I said.
“How much hash did you put in it?”
“All of it,” I said.
“Jesus H Christ, we gave you enough for ten cigarettes!”
Hashish was my undoing the next time I dabbled, too. This time at a Caribbean party, on a famous yacht, that shall remain nameless.
It was a great party. Lots of rum and joints being passed around (which I declined), and then someone made a bong out of a coke can. We were sat around the table and the bong came to me. I went to pass it on but they were all shouting, “Come on, Gaz, take a hit. Just cover the hole in one end lightly with your thumb and put your mouth over the hole where the tab was and suck. Gently.”
My wife was looking at me and mouthing ‘don’t do it’ but she was too late. Thumb and mouth in place, I sucked, and then sucked hard, and when nothing seemed to happen removed my thumb from over the vent. The burning hashish shot through the hole in the coke can and straight down my throat. I leapt to my feet choking and coughing with glasses and bottles flying everywhere.
“Where’s my hash?” someone roared.
“He swallowed it,” screamed another. Some of them wanted to murder me, others fell about laughing.
My wife took me home and put me to bed.
If I took LSD, do you think I might fly?
Gary E. Brown©2020