Hell

Posted in Blog Posts on September 6, 2016 by drummerboy1970

Hell

Is many things;

Has been,

Many things.

Hell

Today was waking

Too early; before

The birds, even,

To silence; and

Darkness.

Hell

Was Texas,

Driving for hours

In heat, only

To be told,

El Paso

Nine-hundred and sixty

Miles.

Hell

Was rain

In the north,

Pouring,

Forever, from

Slate-grey swollen

Skies, seemingly

Upon just me,

Wherever I

Went.

‘Hell’, he said,

‘Is other people’,

but he

was

Wrong,

Quite, quite,

Wrong,

For it was never

People that was

The problem,

Those ‘others’,

I know this now,

But did not know

This

Then.

When was then?

Before?

‘But time is linear’

The scientists

inform

Me…

’it’s all happening right

Now’,

as I grapple with this,

Here, now,

In this

keyboard-lighted

Darkness,

Silent,

With the no

Birds.

Is this hell?

No, no,

not quite,

 

For hell, was hopping,

From one foot to the

Other,

in bus shelters,

All of them,

In January, with

Their glass laying

All around in tiny

Pieces; the wind,

Cutting,

Biting,

Right through me

As the person

I awaited drove,

Slowly,

Through another part

Of

Town, meeting

Another bus-stop

Dancer…

slowly.

 

The light is

Beginning now,

Here, as I write,

And the birds,

Also.

Coffee?…

yes.

 

Hell, I thought,

As I sip at this cup,

Was the moment my

father,

Disappeared From

view,

On rollers,

His trilby gently

Resting atop the

Wood,

as curtains slowly

Closed at his

feet.

But no, this was

No

Hell,

As his friends,

the band,

Played him out,

Up-tempo and

With skill,

and consummate professionalism,

gleaned over many

years…

Together.

 

Heaven,

was

rain pouring in

the south,

a storm,

hot, healing,

steaming,

and

LOUD.

 

thought that hell

Was the last woman,

Leaving;

The back of her head;

the last

Latch

Click…

And it was all my fault.

 

But no,

No, that wasn’t it

Either.

 

My mother?

Still,

Finally,

Mouth slightly

agape,

Light gone from her

Still open

Eyes, as the

Nurse

Silently opened

A

Window.

 

Perhaps…perhaps

Not.

 

Hell,

Is being

Unable to

Write, to get these

Things

Down on the page,

Which has been happening

Of late,

But as you can see,

I have now entered the

Kingdom of Heaven,

As I sit here,

Alone,

Writing, Feeling,

All 

of

This,

Whilst sipping coffee;

Hot, the steam

Rising to my face,

Warming me,

Sustaining me,

As the sun,

Now sliding in through

The window,

Warms the bottom

Of my leg,

and I smile

And look slightly

To the

left.

 

 

The South

Posted in Blog Posts on August 19, 2016 by drummerboy1970

Up…and down

the

stairs,

new stairs,

in this

new

place.

Tv…first for

years…

young boy killed

by young

dog.

1400 kids abused

in

Rotherham,

taxi

drivers

‘heavily

involved’…

Tv off…the last

for fucking

years…

out,

away from that

place…into a new one…

the girl in

the pink,

tight,

jeans,

thank you…

just,

thank

you.

“I’ll fight for what’s right…

in the end, it’s the docks

that are paying their

wages”…

says

the woman at

the next

table…as children

cry…whilst their

adults

drink wine

over

to my

left…

many glasses

upon the three

stained,

wooden,

tables – pushed

together.

The beautiful couple

enter the cafe…

the menu board…

then walk away,

too expensive

i expect,

i came prepared

with

sandwiches

from

home?

I can feel the

disconnect

today

here in the garden

of

England

where it rarely rains,

i am told

frequently,

as though this

is

a

good

thing.

“We’re off to Jamaica in

March” says

the

woman

at the next

table,

seems there’s good

money

to be made

working the

docks,

as a glass

smashes

in front of

me,

and

the

adults sitting

and drinking

at the

three

stained wooden tables

pushed together,

ramp it up a notch,

and fumble with

one of those

those big

umbrella

things.

Their children

still

cry,

as

i

hit

‘save’

and

move on out

into

the

beautiful

rain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coffee?

Posted in Blog Posts on August 16, 2016 by drummerboy1970

Starbucks
is like the American Embassy
here
in this new place.
They seem to flock,
gather and huddle
here
together, both to work and
to talk.
Not to play.
Clearly it is about
safety in
numbers,
with the ‘safest’
seeming those here for
reasons
military, about which
i smile, then laugh
alone in the corner,
causing discomfort amongst
the ranks, for
there is no safety,
not here, nor anywhere
else.
It takes most
a lifetime to
discover this;
for some
it takes three,
but mostly,
to many,
it seems
never to occur,
nor ever will it,
when the topic
remains
short
tall
decaff
grande
venti
non-fa…
ooooooooh….fuck off!!!

Recollections from a rehab part twelve

Posted in Blog Posts on November 23, 2014 by drummerboy1970

Continued from recollections from a rehab part eleven…

 

A couple of days after Joe vanished without a trace all of my dysfunctional coping mechanisms predictably began to fall into place because that’s what they do.  As soon as i experience feelings of shame, abandonment, humiliation, loss or a whole host of others, i can begin to swiftly lose the plot and start planning outrageously inappropriate courses of action with only one outcome in mind: killing the myriad intolerable feelings swirling around on the inside, by behaving in an increasingly extreme manner on the outside.

So, using the ‘contraband’ cell phone i had secreted away in my room, i booked a taxi and fled rehab, in the direction of San Francisco, stopping only at the liquor store in Glen Ellen on the way where i got myself a pint of the best whiskey they had.  This of course ended up being some kind of bourbon, as the delights of single malt scotch whiskey have eternally, and most annoyingly,  been lost upon those living outside any of the major cities right across North America, which is probably the reason behind all major crime and the faltering economy but let’s not go there right now.

I checked into the Kabuki, a Japanese-themed hotel on Post street in Japantown, which was not too far from where i had lived through the latter part of the 1990’s, in fact i probably picked that area because it was familiar, although not consciously, at the time it just looked to me like a clean, well-lighted place, not far from the mission district and although i didn’t know much, what i did know was that the mission and i would not be strangers to one another over the coming days.

I found my room, threw my bag in and jumped straight in a cab to the corner of 16th and Mission Streets, scored, and jumped back into another cab back to the hotel.  A process i repeated many times over the next week or so, a process made a little easier after hooking up with a street dealer who i could meet every time i went down there, saving the hassle of constantly having to seek out someone new.

He was a black guy, with what appeared to be the unfortunate skin condition known as Vitiligo, causing parts his face and hands to display pink marking.  I mention this because it was with reference to this condition that he had obviously decided upon the street name two-tone, which was what everyone knew him by and which i thought was a pretty humorous way of deflecting away from what was in reality a pretty hard situation.

Sometimes two-tone was in a wheelchair and other times he wasn’t, the reason for this being, as i quickly observed, that there were a few different people down on the corner who shared that same wheelchair, possibly for reasons of sympathy when panhandling or disguise when the cops drove by, either way it wasn’t hard to spot two-tone as he only had one leg, so if he wasn’t in the chair, he was hobbling, quickly and usually right at me, whilst using one crutch to make up for the side missing the leg.

As i write this i have just, on instinct, googled the name two-tone along with 16th and Mission which took me to the blog of another guy familiar with that particular corner of San Francisco, causing one thing to lead to another, as these things tend to, and up popped this photo of the man himself, sending me headlong down a tunnel of memories and feelings associated with the time i am here attempting to describe.

‘Two-tone’

tumblr_nf5zi1yr5V1qcgi4jo1_1280

It really is strange how in such a short space of time, and under such stressful circumstances as are experienced when trying to evade going to jail, that quick, intense, but also very real, relationships are formed.  I spent a fair amount of time with two-tone, meeting in fast food places, down alleyways, by phone booths, developing a unique language with him so he could warn me when plain clothed police, or other forms of danger, were near and he really did look out for me, as i did for him.

I became quite concerned when he wasn’t around one day, as did a number of people on the corner, with everyone asking around after him and enquiring after his welfare.  It turned out he’d been arrested for some minor infraction and was back out again the next day, with the air of someone who’d had a warm night’s sleep and a decent meal for a change and i was glad to see him, more than perhaps should make sense, but a fast and deep connection with the underdog does seem to have made up a large part of the achilles heel on which i have been required to hobble through the years, causing many short, intense, chaotic relationships (both genders) with no real responsibility required on either side, where perhaps longer investment in people would have been more fulfilling, although would have brought greater risk.

Still trying though.

Back and forth i went between 16th and Mission and the Kabuki smoking crack and the awful black tar heroin that is pretty much all that is available in San francisco, without going on some pretty involved mission to find anything else and I could feel myself getting sicker and sicker by the day and the paranoia brought on by the crack really getting out of hand, with me quite convinced on several occasions that the police were about to burst into the room at any moment and haul me off to jail.

After nearly a week of this, and only this, rarely eating and compelled beyond any mere matter of choice, to continue down this particular rabbit hole, scurrying and scrabbling, wondering how it would end, i finally managed to fall asleep.

I awoke sometime in the middle of the night, confused and disoriented, with the light from across the street shining in my eyes.  I stood up and made towards the light, with the intention of shutting the curtains and falling back into bed but without my glasses on and also forgetting that the room was a Japanese-styled two-level affair, with paper-paned sliding doors, with my bed being on the higher level to the rest of the room outside of the sliding doors, so as i made my way towards the window (on the lower level), between two of the open sliding panels, i just stepped out into fresh air, falling head first towards the window sill.

I put out my left hand to try to stop myself smashing my face into the floor or the sill, or anything which might hurt like fuck, but to no avail, as i cracked my head on the sill and bent my fingers in unnatural angles under myself before finally coming to a groaning, mumbling halt on the floor about eight inches lower than the place from which i had so gracefully launched myself.

It took a good few minutes for me to get myself together and drag myself back to bed, but back to bed i crawled, where i immediately, and thankfully, passed out.

Upon awakening the next morning, all it took was one look in the mirror, one look at blood spattered space that used to pass as a hotel room and a glance at the ring finger of my left hand, the end of which was bent at close to 45 degrees and pointing towards the floor, to convince me that i really wasn’t doing very well out in the world on my own, causing me to pick up the phone, swallow, then dial the number for Mountain Vista who thankfully allowed me to return right there and then…but not before firstly having visited the hospital for stitches to my head and attention to my broken finger.

533726_10152085535043475_1456200733_n

 

And of course, I also had some explaining to do to the hotel management.

 

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recollections from a rehab – part eleven

Posted in Blog Posts on November 8, 2014 by drummerboy1970

Continued from recollections from a rehab part ten…

 

Now, for those of you thinking;

there can be no way that someone could admit to murder in front of a bunch of witnesses like that, including professional therapists, and get away with it’,

Here’s how it works in these kinds of situations from the facilitator’s point of view:

If they are inexperienced or otherwise not very good at their job, they may well immediately start flapping and squawking and make a huge song and dance about it by running around disclosing what they have heard to their fellow colleagues, management and/or the police.

So, let’s say the police are called and arrive at the rehab with sirens blazing and guns drawn, getting all moist and excited at the prospect of an easy arrest, and thus a couple of solved murders on their resume.  They go bursting into the therapy room having been given a description of the lowlife by the facilitator, grab him, slam him up against the wall and say:

“So, what’s all this we hear about you killing a drunk driver in Reno – when you were Chief of Police no less…huh?…huh? well now it’s time to pay the piper chief, you’re coming with us and we’re gonna throw you in the slammer and you’d better believe you’re never getting out pal…do you hear me…never!!”

The chances are his reply would be something along the lines of:

“Don’t know what you’re talking about, made the whole thing up”, perhaps followed by a short, dry fart…and that would be the end of it really.

You see, whatever he said in the group is legally classed as hearsay and unless someone is really, really wanting to confess to a murder and physically takes the police to the scene of their crime and actually digs the bodies up, that’s the way it has to be treated, and as of the time of me writing this i have yet to hear of anyone, ever having done that, although i have heard plenty of stories similar in nature to Joe’s…but hey, what ya gonna do huh?

Another thing to remember as well is that really bad people, those that might be likely to have ‘serial killer’ down on their CV, albeit in the small print, are highly unlikely to ever present themselves at the door of an establishment concerned with helping people make positive changes to their behaviour, unless of course they have genuinely come to a point in their lives where they would honestly like to learn a little bit about psychology and human behaviour with a view to at least attempting to stop stabbing people in the head and burying them in ditches, in which case when attempting to treat them, things could become a trifle legally…erm… questionable, although who am i to judge? At least they would be trying to reduce their intake of chemicals, which no one can deny must surely be a great first step on the long, long road to no longer killing children and the pets they love, calmly and with calculation, in the dead of night…agreed?…right then.

Also, bear in mind that addiction is a mental illness, one of the symptoms of which can often be compulsive lying, meaning it is usually prudent to take most of what one hears as a facilitator with a large pinch of salt, obviously there are exceptions to this but i think you get the gist of what i am saying right?

How do you know when an addict is lying?…their lips are moving!

So the days wore on and i ended up sharing a room with Joe when his roommate finished treatment and wandered on his merry way.  He was a fair few years older than me and i felt a sense of safety when around him and we grew quite close and talked about all manner of things.  He often spoke of his deep appreciation for his current employers, an elderly couple who were the owners of a successful restaurant down on the waterfront in San Francisco, of which Joe was the general manager.  He told me of how they had been completely supportive of him throughout this horrible period in his life, hadn’t shown a shred of judgment and told him to take as much time off as he needed, and by doing so had removed a whole load of stress he would otherwise have been having to deal with.

To add insult to injury, Joe had also recently lost his wife and recounted in tender detail how he had held her in her last hours as she was dying from cancer and the things he said to her as she slipped away, which in turn tapped into my recent experience with my mum dying of the same thing, but without the drugs i had been using to keep a lid on all of this stuff, causing the tears to flow thick, fast and often when talking to Joe and we really did become very close.

Joe also spoke fondly of his daughter whom he loved dearly, telling me all about her kids and her career and his relationship through the years with her, making me quite sad really that i haven’t yet had any kids, but hey, that’s just how things have turned out and i have no regrets, what’s the point? You do the best you can with the hand you’ve been dealt, and i have often felt quite thankful that i haven’t had any kids up to this point because i would definitely have been quite a challenge to have as a father and i wouldn’t wish that kind of work on anyone, it would have been unfair, not that i would have intended to hurt anyone in any way mind, but there are/were genetic factors at play and i have come to the realisation as the years have passed that perhaps it might be a good thing now for that challenging lineage to gently wind down and come to a close, with me, as my time here grows shorter and i come to observe that as it does, the thought of a long rest isn’t quite as unpleasant, nor indeed terrifying, as perhaps it ever once was.

One day about two weeks into his stay, Joe came to talk to me to say that the general manager of the rehab was starting to get on his case about him paying for his treatment.  Along with everything else, Joe had lost his wallet when he had been rushed into hospital, and when it came time to transfer over to the rehab had arranged to sort out his fees as soon as he was somewhat lucid and could figure out a way to transfer the funds to their account. His bank wouldn’t ok the transaction without some form of ID from someone standing in front of them and said he didn’t want to get his daughter involved as he didn’t want to trouble her and she probably didn’t have that kind of money to lend him upfront anyway.

I asked if there was anything i could do to help and Joe went back and spoke to the manager telling him of my offer but he said he couldn’t allow another client to get involved in financial transactions of that sort, leaving Joe to rack his brains and try to figure out a way to deal with this situation without actually having to physically go to his bank in San Francisco (about a 2 hour drive) to do so.

After a couple of days with the manager on his case Joe decided he had no choice but to go to San Francisco and get the money wired from his bank and booked a taxi to get him there.  He asked me quietly whether i had any spare pocket cash i could lend him until he got back for the taxi and such, so i gave him what i had which was about $150 and told him to be careful because he was still craving a drink and was soon to be out in the world again with no one there to stop him if he went for it.

He went first thing in the morning and was due back later that afternoon, so i went about my day doing the things you do in rehab, which are mainly lots of talking and a fair amount of eating.  The food was really good, all homemade but unfortunately organised by the fattest, sweatiest,  most miserable bastard of a cook you could ever have the misfortune of encountering in this, or any other, life; as long as you didn’t look at the guy whilst you were eating you were generally ok, but catch a glimpse? And you were fucked! Your cutlery dropped to the table amidst a whirl of disgusting images piped in live from the planet unhygienia with running commentary and stomach churning special effects.

I had gone back to my room after dinner at about 6.30pm just in time to meet Steve, the general manager who knocked on the door and asked me a few questions about Joe, whether i had spoken to him before he left? Had i lent him any money? Did he say anything to me about which bank he was going to? amongst other things.  He was looking flustered and i asked him if everything was ok but he said that he couldn’t really say and that i was not to worry.

Later that evening when everyone was watching a film, Steve came and spoke to us as a group and let us know that Joe was no longer a client of the treatment centre, that his name was not Joe and that everything we thought we knew about him was untrue, at which point quite a few people stated that they had lent him money, and cigarettes, and food and…and…and….and just like that, the man i had befriended and shared my life, my fears, my clothes, my coffee, my money, my cigarettes, my sadness, my laughter and my heart with for the past few weeks no longer existed, and as the anger and resentment began to rise, what hit me hardest of all, was that throughout all of our time together this man i knew only as Joe had never actually existed at all.

 

To be continued….

 

 

Recollections from a rehab – part ten

Posted in Blog Posts on November 4, 2014 by drummerboy1970

Continued from recollections from a rehab part nine…

Joe arrived at Mountain Vista about a week after me and during his first few days he barely said a word to anyone, he just sat on the sidelines, watching.

He was quite a striking figure, tall and dark-haired, with a vague hint of Mexican or Native American to his features, a strong jaw line and very dark brown eyes.  He was dressed shabbily and having approached him after dinner one day, he told me this was because he had been admitted to the hospital as an extreme emergency about a month before, having been found unconscious and bleeding internally, which was in turn coming out of his mouth, causing what I imagine was a pretty shocking sight.

He’d had his clothes cut off him in the emergency room, he said, which meant that by the time he’d come to be discharged, he didn’t have any clothes to wear and had to pick out some from a box of clothes left by previous patients, which were used for this very reason.  This meant that ill fitting jeans, a shabby sweatshirt and ugly garish sneakers were what he was wearing on the day he had pulled up in a cab.  This I could tell was causing him embarrassment so I lent him a couple of shirts right off the bat, as I sure as hell would have wanted someone to have done that for me had I been in the same position.  Little gestures like that, when you’re in treatment feeling lost, lonely and vulnerable mean a lot and I was glad I could help.

He said the bleeding had been from his oesophagus, an unfortunately common affliction with chronic alcoholics, especially those who drink spirits, and which is often fatal but luckily Joe had been found in time and they had been able to stem the bleeding and perform a transfusion which kept him alive.  He had only been allowed to leave hospital on condition that he admitted himself straight into treatment to address his drinking, which clearly was about to kill him.

He told me that his previous career (before his drinking career) had been as the chief of police of Reno, Nevada, which put me on the back foot a bit due to my natural aversion to all things ‘law enforcement’, having until very recently been a walking collection of possessions and behaviours, which the law would quite happily have crawled all over and ‘enforced’ but as time wore on the old war stories started to pour forth, the majority of which were entirely captivating and we spent many a happy hour shooting the shit and swapping tales with each other.

We also tried to figure out increasingly creative ways in which to get to drink a cup of real coffee, (caffeine was a banned substance) with Joe always seeming to pull through, magically producing a bag of grounds from somewhere, whether that be from under his mattress or hidden in a drainage gutter somewhere on site, wherever he produced it from he was pretty damned determined that he was not going to be prevented that particular luxury, regardless of who decreed it!

One day in a group session, Joe opened up and shared an incident from when he had been in the police out on patrol in his car.  He was driving behind another car and as they both approached a four-way stop sign, the driver in front (presumably not noticing he had the police behind him!) just carried on driving through the stop sign without slowing down even slightly, causing him to run straight into a small kid on his bicycle and end up in a ditch at the side of the road, with his car lying on its side.

Joe relayed to us that he immediately jumped out of his cruiser and ran over to the little boy who was covered in blood and clearly had quite a few breaks to his limbs, coupled with serious head injuries.  He could see the driver of the other car was conscious and trying to climb out of the window, so he put all his efforts into trying to help the boy.  He put a call in over the radio for paramedics to get on their way over there and sat down next to the child who was drifting in and out of consciousness.  He put his head in his lap and tried talking to the little boy to keep him awake, but to no avail, and after a few minutes he quietly slipped away and died there by the side of the road.

Joe, already angered by what he had just witnessed, walked over to the car, where the driver had been unable to free himself and climb out through the window.  As Joe leaned into the car to help him, he was hit by a powerful waft of alcohol coming from the guy’s mouth, followed by the statement “That fucking kid nearly got us all killed, the fucking piece of shit!”

There was deadly silence in the group room as Joe was recounting this story and you could feel the rage growing as he continued.

“I had managed to unhook the seat belt from its socket and was trying to pull the guy out with one hand under his armpit and one round his neck, which was the only place I could get any purchase, but when I heard what that motherfucker said, something else took over, a rage that I had never known before filled my entire being and all I could see was the face of this poor little boy whose life this fucker had just extinguished and before I knew what I was doing, I just very quickly twisted with the arm that was around his head, and just like that, he was gone…i’ve never told anyone this before”

No one said a word; you could have heard a pin drop in that room and a couple of the guys (it was a ‘men’s group’) quietly got up and walked out stating that they needed to get some air, at which point the facilitator reminded everyone of their responsibilities concerning confidentiality, and brought the session to a close.

 

To be continued….

Recollections from a rehab – part nine

Posted in Blog Posts on September 7, 2014 by drummerboy1970

Continued from recollections from a rehab – part eight…

Jerad and Graham were just a couple of chancers who were out every day looking to find victims they could exploit in order to feed their habits. I could sense this the moment I met them and so didn’t take my eyes off them for one second, especially whenever they came back to my hotel room to use. Anything of value I kept locked in my room safe at all times and after a few days hanging out with me the frequency of their visits started to dwindle, as I guess they realised they weren’t going to be hitting me up for anything worthwhile anytime soon, which was just fine with me, as I’d by now developed my own rapport with the dealers over on the other side of the shopping complex, meaning they would now serve me whenever I went there unaccompanied, saving me what I had to lay on to Jerad for services rendered.

I stuck with one guy in particular, the improbably named Trevor, who was a black African who barely spoke any English. He was a stocky guy, with skin that was jet black in the way that only a native African’s skin can be. He had huge oval eyes, which were blood-shot and which always seemed to be watching me but he was relatively punctual and would drive to the hotel to meet me whenever I phoned him, day or night.

So began a month of being holed up in my hotel room, surrounded by staff who stole stuff from my laundry several times when I sent clothes to be cleaned, who ripped me off when I tried buying crack through the bell boy and who I generally couldn’t trust as far as I could throw them.

One evening I was standing looking out of my tenth floor window when I saw a guy being chased onto the beach, in the direction of the water, by the hotel security who stood in front of the hotel day and night in an attempt to make the guests feel a little more secure. There were security inside the hotel that were employees of the hotel chain, then there were those outside who were separately contracted to patrol the perimeter; the police were in actual fact the third port of call should an incident occur which couldn’t be resolved in-house.

The guy was being pursued by several big blokes and I could hear by the tone of his voice that he was pleading with them, although he was speaking in Afrikaans which I couldn’t understand. He ran behind a small building on the beach, which could have been a public toilet or similar, where he was obviously cornered by the security guys who all disappeared into the shadows after him.

I immediately began to hear his screams which pierced the night, sent shivers down my spine and lasted for a good long while as I stood there at the window. I began to get freaked out by what I was witnessing and phoned down to the front desk to let them know what was going on, although the response I got from the night attendant didn’t seem overly frantic with worry but she did say she would look into it and send security to check it out.

A few minutes passed and no one from the hotel walked over to the beach to see what was going on and so I phoned downstairs again, only to be told in no uncertain terms that, this was the way that thieves were dealt with in South Africa and that I might wish to close my window and watch TV instead.

Eventually after about fifteen minutes, the screaming died down and the security guys walked out from round the back of the building on the beach, although the guy they had been chasing didn’t walk back round with them, nor did he emerge at any point before, shaken, I eventually went to bed.

The next night I was standing out in front of the hotel having a smoke, when I got talking to one of the security guys. I asked him what had happened the previous night but he said that he hadn’t been working and so would need to find out himself, after which he went and spoke to a colleague for a few minutes. When he returned to where I was standing, he explained that the guy who had been chased had in fact robbed a woman on the street, who, unluckily for him, happened to be the wife of a senior police officer, sealing his fate.

I became friendly with a few of the security guys over the next week or so, with one in particular making a beeline for me whenever he saw me standing outside the front doors having a smoke, enjoying the cooling breeze coming in off the sea. He was a white guy named Darnie and we spent quite a few hours shooting the shit as I tried to learn a little of what made the South Africans tick.

Building these relationships served me quite well when one night I had been out to meet Trevor in his car. We had taken a short drive round the block whilst I was getting what I was getting, after which we were pulling up at the side of the hotel to drop me off. As I got out of the car and slammed the door shut, I noticed two black guys walking down the street towards me, with one of them making gestures with his hands, pointing at the car and appearing quite agitated. As they came close to me, one of them said something like “You buy drugs in car…Police!…against the wall!”

Of course I shit myself because I had wraps of heroin and crack in the waistband of my underwear and just thought “Fuck! I’m bang in trouble here!!” as they started to manhandle me against the wall, getting me to assume the position, whilst they started to rifle through the pockets of the jacket I was wearing.

As they started to take my possessions out of my pocket, I immediately sensed that something was wrong. Having unfortunately experienced this kind of thing before, it felt as though they were going about searching me a little too gingerly and they weren’t asking the kinds of questions that the police ask when searching suspected narcotics offenders, such as

“have you got anything in your pockets I might stick myself with?…any needles or knives in there?”

…that type of thing, in fact they were completely silent as they gently took stuff out of my pockets. As they were doing this, I glanced down and to my right slightly and saw one of them remove my mobile phone, which was a really nice Android, and hold it in his hand, which really started alarm bells ringing, so I turned round quickly and looked the one with my phone in the eye and said

“Ok guys, I really don’t like the way you’re going about this stop and search, could I please see some ID?”.

This immediately produced a look of unease on their faces, which confirmed my suspicions that I was in fact being robbed, causing me to do something which sounds quite courageous on paper but which I only did because I knew there were plenty of security about, had I have been down some back alley, I would have definitely played it a lot safer.

The one closest to me with my phone was just starting to say something when I just let go and cracked him as hard as I could on the bridge of his nose, causing a really satisfying crunching sound to be heard and his nose to explode in a shower of blood. My main intention was to get him to drop the phone which was still in his hand but he managed to hold onto it, as well as managing to remain standing, although I could see that I had seriously shocked him causing him to wobble on the spot.

I then began to scream at the top of my lungs…

POLICE! SECURITY! POLIIIIIICE! SECURIIIIITTTTYYYYYYY!!
as I was fully aware that there would be loads of security, including Darnie, not far away around the corner at the front of the hotel, it was just a matter of getting them to hear me.

The two fuckers who were robbing me froze for a split second and I started to worry that I might have done the wrong thing and might be about to get stabbed or similar but I’d judged it right and they both took off running down the street towards the shopping complex at the back of the hotel, where I had met Jerad that first day a week or so ago.

I am definitely no longer a fit twenty one year-old and was under no illusion that I would stand a chance of catching them up if I chased them, although I did start to run in that direction just as several of the security guys flew past me in pursuit, causing me to slow up and leave it to them. There were people standing on balconies of the adjacent buildings who had heard the commotion and were trying to help the security by yelling..

“They’re over there mate…down that alley…no, now they’re back out on the street!!”

trying to guide them towards the little bastards but sadly to no avail because they were never caught and I ended up a phone down…the one thing not covered by my travel insurance…fucking great!

I did however manage to keep hold of the drugs I had just scored, so full of adrenaline and after a long chat with the security whom I was able to thank for their efforts, I took the elevator back up to my room and settled in for the night.

To be continued…

Recollections from a rehab – part eight

Posted in Blog Posts on September 1, 2014 by drummerboy1970

Continued from recollections from a rehab – part seven…

Obviously I was still running away from myself; from the pain of losing my parents, both of whom were complex individuals, causing my feelings towards each of them to be deeply ambivalent and the resulting war which raged inside me was both intense and unbearable, the resolution of which seemed way beyond my capabilities at that time, so I just carried on burying them deeper and deeper, hoping beyond hope that they would stay buried, whilst at the same time knowing full well that they wouldn’t and that it was just a matter of time before they came rushing to the surface, staring me in the face, forcing the confrontation.

I had asked a couple of the more approachable lads at the rehab where the best places to score were in Durban and based upon their answers, headed straight for an area known as The Point, which was right on the seafront. I then checked myself into the nearest, half decent-looking hotel I could find and got a room on the tenth floor, overlooking the Indian ocean and the entrance to the port in the distance.

The bell boy at the hotel was an older Indian guy named Sonny and when I’d checked in and we’d been chatting in the bedroom, I’d done a bit of gentle poking about and he dropped the hint that he was the man who can, although I didn’t feel comfortable enough with him yet to ask him for what I needed but time was definitely pressing on because I only had about twenty-four hours after leaving The Cedars before the last of the Suboxone would start leaving my system and then I would be in real trouble.

The only thing for it was to hit the street and see what was going on, so I went for a wander down the street which ran at the back of the hotel, the other side from the seafront, where there were a few possible looking guys on the street but none that I felt right approaching straight off the bat. A bit further down was the entrance to some kind of shopping complex and standing in the doorway was a white guy, who I made eye contact with straight away and then approached, asking him outright if he could get me some heroin, making it clear there was one, of whatever he wanted in it for him, if he could.

His name was Jerad and we took off at a brisk pace, as obviously his need was at least as great as, if not greater, than mine. I’ve been on hundreds of these fast-paced hikes, in many different cities and always, the minute it becomes apparent that it’s game on, the adrenalin kicks in and the senses become immediately heightened, as you straight away have to assess whether the person is one of three things: straight up, the police or whether they’re after mugging you.

Not far down the road we met up with one of Jerad’s mates (Graham) and all three of us then twisted and turned down side streets and back streets until eventually coming to the entrance to a building, out front of which stood a couple of casual looking black guys, who glanced at us for a second but then quickly looked away once they saw it was Jerad and in we went.

I’ve no idea what the ‘official’ function of this place was, as when you walked in off the street all there was was a big empty space with a TV mounted on the back wall, which had the volume turned up as loud as it would go, tuned to a religious station, appealing to everyone present through the distortion, to walk with Jesus into the fire, which I wasn’t quite ready to do; I would, however, smoke some of his heroin and may just be tempted into sampling a bit of his crack too, if the price was right and it looked ok.

Words were had between Jerad and a couple of guys and I was summoned to the rear of the room, out of sight of the street; the point at which all senses then go into overload, for if you’re going to get attacked, that would be the time it would generally happen, but things went smoothly, I got what I was coming for and praying it wasn’t fucking brick dust, left the building with Jerad leading the way and Graham bringing up the rear.

I picked up some tin foil on the way back to my hotel room, a distance we traversed with even greater speed on the way back as the churning stomach of rabid compulsion propelled us and once inside, we went about our individual tasks of getting what I’d bought, from the outside, to the inside, as quickly as was humanly possible.

I had just got mine on the foil and was burning it from underneath, inhaling the first few lungsful when I happened to glance up and then wished I hadn’t, as a flaccid, uncircumcised penis suddenly filled my view.

No, we hadn’t suddenly decided upon a quick game of hide the salami, it was just that Jerad needed to inject himself in the groin. For those unfamiliar with what I’m talking about here, when someone uses needles, over time, they eventually run out of convenient veins in which to inject, causing them to seek out and use the Femoral vein, which is deeper than other veins and also more robust, meaning it can be used continuously.

When in the grips of the compulsion to use, often people can tend to forget any kind of manners they once may have had and it’s not unusual to find yourself in a room in which leg wear is rapidly descending and biiiig loooong needles are being brandished, which can definitely be unnerving at first, but which I’m sorry to say, you quickly get used to, as it becomes just another in a long line of grim and grimy situations you never envisaged yourself being involved in when you were a little boy and people were asking you what you wanted to be when you grew up.

There’s not much more to add here concerning Jerad and Graham, other than they got hammered, we talked for a bit and I learned they were both graduates of The Cedars a couple of years previously, who had stayed clean for a short while and then both relapsed together when the monotony of their drug free lives became too overwhelming for them to deal with anymore, bringing them to the point at which a single, swift and decisive choice was made and here they were two years later, living with the consequences of that choice.

I was also living with the consequences of all the choices I had made in my life up until that point, although to use the word choice is a little too simplistic when discussing addiction as there are many other factors and forces at play, influencing those choices and decisions as they present themselves over the course of a lifetime, with most of those decisions in fact being subconscious, driven by a whole host of emotions, produced by myriad moments and situations one would really rather forget and have the fuckers stay forgot!

For me, as for most people, there are a few of these events I would rather were buried forever but with which I unfortunately must co-exist. As I continue forward on this here little literary journey, I may find the courage to share some of these, for who knows, you may have experienced similar, most likely in fact but as is always the case when opening those particular boxes, they never quite close as quickly, or neatly as I might like.

So, please do forgive my reticence, as I gaze over these boxes of mine, wondering which to show you…ha!…more choices…more decisions…I hope I make the right ones this time.

to be continued…

Recollections from a rehab – part seven

Posted in Blog Posts on August 29, 2014 by drummerboy1970

Continued from recollections from a rehab – part six…

I’ll fill you in on what I got up to in between leaving The Cedars and when I flew out to California in a little while if I may, but for now I’d like to waffle for a bit, whilst also nipping back to Glen Ellen to spend a bit more time with this much friendlier group of people than the Sewth Effricuns with their annoying fucking accents, which made me think of that song from the British TV show Spitting Image which was huge in the 1980’s:

‘Noooo…I’ve never met a nice sewth efricun
and that’s not bleddy serprisin’ mem
cos they’re a bunch of ignorant borrsteds
with nuu sense of huumuh!!’

After the initial shock of the detox, I was spending a lot more time out of my room, trying to mingle with the others, even though I was convinced I was going to hate every last man Jack of them, which is never the case, however, I have a head that always forgets this fact, causing me a lot more work when interacting socially than is strictly necessary and, which is frankly, a right fucking pain in the arse.

There was a guy named Rick who I later became good friends with, who wore a black hoodie, with the hood up, for pretty much the entire time he was there. He had a big, brown, bushy beard and kind of looked like a cross between a hipster (the new…cynical…know-it-all…working in I.T…more money than is fair or right…kind) and Mark Everett from the band Eels, when he was going through a phase of looking like Ted Kaczynski – The Unabomber, which I found intriguing.

Mark Everett is someone who has fascinated me for a long time…I love the guy…let me wander off and tell you a bit about him.

Mark’s father, Hugh Everett III, was the person, who first proposed the many worlds theory, which, if you’re not familiar, is the suggestion that there are many (for many…see…infinite number!) parallel universes all in existence at the same time…something which I find unbelievably fascinating.

Here’s his Wikipedia site:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Everett_III

Sadly, at the time, his peers (Einstein, Bohr etc.) tended to think him borderline fucking certifiable, causing him to be widely shunned by the scientific community, which then saw him slide into obscurity and alcoholism until his untimely death aged forty-nine.

It is only in recent years that thinking within science has done a complete ‘one-eighty’ and it seems now that Hugh’s theory was absolutely spot on, meaning he was, in fact, a genius waaaay ahead of his time and the possibility of an infinite number of different universes, all existing simultaneously, is very likely a reality…now tell me you don’t find that little possibility unbelievably fascinating!

Hugh’s son, Mark, has led a pretty tragic life. He was the person who found his father when he died (of a heart attack, fully clothed in suit and tie and with briefcase, lying across the bed) and when asked by the paramedic on the phone to try and locate a pulse, has said since that this was the first time he could remember any actual physical contact between him and his father.

His sister, Liz, suffered with some pretty serious mental health problems, which saw her hospitalised on a number of occasions, until she eventually committed suicide at a very young age, leaving just him and his mother, who then not long later, died of cancer…and no, I am reliably informed, Mark doesn’t respond overly positively to the nickname ‘Lucky’!

Mark is a musical genius, and to me at least, a wholly fascinating individual. He has been able to process all this tragedy through his music, which is quite literally a chronological document of events as they have unfolded, all wrapped up in some of the simplest, most beautiful, music I have ever heard.

He calls his band Eels, although in reality it is he alone who writes everything, using different musicians when it comes to recording and touring. He has a singular ability to find and express the beauty that can be prized from the direst of circumstances; his music falls into that rare category of ‘songs that saved your life’ as Morrissey would have it; I invite you to go and have a little mooch about in Mark’s world for a time…‘t is a magical place; I promise, you won’t regret it.

I want you to like the band Eels.

On the subject of wandering off; I might do a bit more of it as I push on with these here recollections of mine. I won’t ask whether you mind or not, as frankly my dear, I couldn’t give a flying fuck on a Friday!

As I write, you see, what I would like to do more than anything else is to learn how to write. You know the kind of writing I mean right? real writing; the kind I like to read; the real authors and writers whose books I have dragged around the globe, terrified of losing them; needing them to be with me in order to feel a little safety now and again. Those who, when the chips are down and everything is thoroughly fucked, I can open franticly up and scour the pages, searching for that special phrase or sentence that I have read a thousand times, which instantly puts everything back in its rightful place, slowing the breathing; calming the mind, as might a friend or lover late at night after some terrible dream.

So, I guess, the only real way to do that is just to fucking write…right? And what’s the whole point of it all anyway? It is, after all, an action of the upmost vanity, to presume others would wish to read what you have written; to land on your planet for a while and have a scout about, yet pushing all that to one side for a moment, it is one of the few real opportunities we are afforded to attempt solid connection with another and it is this that I would so much like to do.

I want to learn how to say something along the lines of…

Dear Friend,

I find life difficult in the extreme; constantly beaten and battered by forces beyond my control, it terrifies me. I awake afraid more often than not, yet seem to possess no ability to conquer this fear as I seek to hide it from others so as to not become prey. It is the seeming endlessness of the days, that make me ill at heart and my attempts to love seem destined always to failure and I know not why.  There is a certain beauty in all of this searching that keeps me alive and moving forward…but with time and age, this beauty too seems to lessen, whilst my senses of loneliness and isolation only increase, causing my thoughts to darken, as each day clarifies my vision a little more, bringing into sharper and sharper relief the words of a truth I desperately wish to deny: This is all for naught.

…just with far fewer words because that’s what excites me and makes me want to get up in the morning…nothing else. I used to love writing as a kid, and reading too but became involved with other things and lost my way, however, now I’m back, trying not to get too pissed off that there has been a thirty year hole in this process, thirty years in which I guess I have created things to write about, which is I suppose probably half the battle, right?

Anyway, as you’ve noticed, I’m waffling but what do you say huh? Will you stick with me as I learn how to do this properly, maybe you could even join me and get your own stuff written down, I’d love that but will leave it with you.

In the 1920’s Ernest Hemingway’s colleagues bet him that he couldn’t write a complete story in just six words, this is what he came up with:

For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.

They paid up and Hemingway is said to have considered it his best work, whilst I still have a very, very long way to go.

Sorry i’ve meandered today…i’ll get more focused next time i promise.

 

…to be continued back in Africa.

Recollections from a rehab – part six…

Posted in Blog Posts on August 28, 2014 by drummerboy1970

Continued from recollections from a rehab – part five…

For some reason I got a brusque reception from pretty much everyone I met over the first few days at The Cedars, as I had by now discovered was the name of the rehab. I was immediately switched over to 4mg of Suboxone and was told it would be reduced 1mg per day, meaning I would be off all opiates within the next four days, which was pretty scary, as that is a damn fast reduction regime.

Along with the opiate reduction, I was told that I wasn’t allowed to be on any anti-depressant medication (of which I was on a relatively high dose of a drug called Venlafaxine, which I was prescribed for clinical depression) and was told to stop taking mine immediately and hand any remaining pills in to the staff, which I refused to do. Anyone with any kind of knowledge around these types of medications knows that to just stop taking them, especially after taking them for a long time, is a dangerous thing to do. I know people who have done this and ended up killing themselves soon after, so I had some major concerns about The Cedars right from the outset, which only increased over the next few days.

Most rehabs are private and like it that way; keeps the riff-raff out you see. There are however a few who make their bread and butter by linking up with the criminal justice system and receiving funding from the government to treat the addicts who have had to resort to engaging in criminal activity in order to fund their addictions and these addicts can sometimes be pretty extreme in their behaviour.

Eventually, all addicts fall into this category, for addiction is a progressive illness and, with the exception of a very few independently wealthy individuals, at some point the money always runs out, causing ever inventive methods of acquiring the necessary funds to be employed. I mention this in order to make a mockery of those addicts/alcoholics who look down their noses at those in prison or similar dire straits, of which there are many (a better class of addict…if you will), for they are simply judging themselves in just a few years’ time but which they are currently too full of ego and denial to see.

This type of rehab is therefore used to working with more extreme behaviours, simply because they are treating the illness at a place a fair bit further down the addiction continuum than say ‘The Priory’ on the day when the vicar’s daughter arrives after snorting one too many lines of Charlie and then shagging the stable boy, causing much shame and embarrassment for the family and her bank account to creep into the red for the first time since daddy opened it for her when she was five.

The treatment philosophy in rehabs that work with the more extreme clients can be a lot more challenging, as boundaries are learned (often for the first time) and all levels of control are removed from very controlling individuals who often make up for what they lack in self-esteem by presenting a massively over-inflated ego, which needs to be wrestled and brought to the ground like some horrible arrogant drug beast.

I do believe that this kind of treatment approach has its place, for it is a shock to the system indeed (and therefore a good incentive for change), to experience the level of challenge that can sometimes be unleashed, and that place is for first-timers who are a right old handful and who need to be got a grip of and whose denial may need smashing to pieces (myself, absolutely, at my first rehab after which I stayed clean for eight plus years) but for a lot of people who are much less defended and more vulnerable, it really isn’t the kind of approach required at all!

Anyway, it seems that The Cedars was working to this type of philosophy and if I had I known this beforehand I probably wouldn’t have gone there (I’d gone there to meet a guy called Don Tait…an ex-big time attorney from Canada who had had some very interesting people amongst his clientele back in the day but who had lost it all…twice!…through drinking…Don had a reputation for working really well with people who had relapsed after a significant amount of time in recovery), as my denial didn’t need smashing, I was fully aware of what I was doing to myself and the consequences of it all, plus I was really vulnerable and upset by the recent death of my parents, so wasn’t at all full of myself etc. but it seems that the second they had heard that I was a therapist they had thought.. “Right…fucking game on!…let’s get a grip of this little fucker…bring him down a peg or two!”

I had been looking forward to spending some time with Don but that didn’t seem to be happening and after a few days withdrawing on my own in a bedroom separate from the main house out the back, I was assigned to a room with my first roommate; another one who wasn’t particularly friendly towards me and again, I couldn’t figure out why.

The bedroom I was to move into had that day been vacated by someone and was a bit of a shit-tip, needing new sheets on the beds and a good clean. My new roommate (Ian) and I were introduced and had a quick chat about the state of the place and agreed certain jobs between us to be completed before the end of the day.

I had nothing else to do all day other than detox miserably so I set about doing my share of the jobs and soon got them finished. As the day progressed I was starting to wonder where Ian had got to, as he hadn’t done any of his jobs, until it eventually came to bedtime when he just walked in, right on the dot of lights out, and went to bed.

I was feeling pretty pissed off at Ian for not having any consideration but remembered where I was and how rehabs worked, meaning that I knew that at some point in the group processes the following day, I would get the opportunity to challenge Ian on not working with me to get our room up to speed. It was to be my first day allowedinto group and I was looking forward to it as I’d been on my own for the first few days.

The next day we were all there in group where I was formally introduced and the group opened out into a bring any issue type of group, which got a few people talking back and forth. At one point one of the group said something and asked for feedback from people, so after a few seconds silence I started to speak. Well…it seemed the staff had just been waiting to jump on ‘therapist boy’ and no sooner had a said two words than the head counsellor said
“Erm…there are enough therapists in this room without you as well…please shut up!” not that I was being therapist in any way, you understand, but when I tried to respond to him, he again said..

“Listen, you’re on drugs at the moment (referring to the last 1mg of Suboxone I was on) and are therefore not in your right mind…just shut up and don’t say anything until you are spoken to!”

Ok, so he was trying to deflate my ego, although I wasn’t displaying any but instead of saying anything I just thought ‘Fuck it!’ and kept silent. After a minute or so I asked if I could speak in order to say to Ian, in plain view of everyone else, the things I needed to about our room. He hesitantly allowed me to speak at which point I just calmly said what I needed to, then fell silent, at which point all hell seemed to break loose!

“Right!” said Ian “Firstly, you know what I thought when they paired me with you as a roommate?…I thought they’ve got to be fucking kidding…I’ve got to share with that wanker?”

I, of course was stunned by this; what on earth could I have possibly done to piss this guy off so heavily, since I had only just met him and barely said two words to him?

He continued:

“As for cleaning the room?…I just thought ‘fuck that guy’…I’m not doing shit for him…he thinks he’s some hot shot therapist?…the arsehole took four attempts to get here and people had to go to the airport and back four times as a result…you selfish prick! There is no way this fucker is taking his recovery seriously if he can’t even get on the fucking plane…blah blah blah!!”

I’d stopped listening by this point and the red mist was starting to descend. I have been heavily challenged on my behaviour over the years, especially in treatment, and been able to change quite a few things about myself as a result but this didn’t feel like challenge, this was just a vitriolic attack upon me by some guy who didn’t know a fucking thing about me. I was by now also starting to get annoyed with the staff for allowing him to continue using this aggressive language, which should never be allowed in a group like that, it’s just abusive and unhelpful and other group members had by now also started to chip in.

It just seemed the whole room was queuing up to have a go at me, based on absolutely nothing. Ian was unable to look at my false starts in getting there as the behaviour of a sick person, (which I certainly was in the days leading up to me arriving there) he just saw it as a lack of commitment and whist I was genuinely sorry about the guys traveling to and from the airport, I had already apologised about that to them personally and the fact that I had then gone on to spend close to seven thousand pounds on four fucking tickets, in my eyes, demonstrated a level of commitment, which went way above and beyond what I believe most people would have shown (had they had the financial resources, obviously).

I’d had enough by this point and experience told me I should have just quietly listened and not risen to the bait, however I rarely learn from experience, so I said instead:
“Fuck you, you piece of shit!…talk to me like that again and I’ll rip your fucking face off…in fact fuck all of you…I’m gone from this shithole!!”

At which point I stood up and launched a metal trash can which was sitting nearby, with my foot, sending it crashing against the far wall, spilling its contents all over the place…and left the room.

I went upstairs to my bedroom and started to pack…pacing all the while…trying to get some perspective and calm down but I was just exhausted…I’d been detoxing for days and felt awful, I was furious but also frightened, lonely and miles from home; I missed my family and I was in a building full of enemies. I just didn’t have the energy required for what would be a real uphill battle over the next few days, in which I would have to apologise for what I had just done and then have to try and win over the hearts and minds of a bunch of people who had instantly decided to take a dislike to me, based on nothing but a bunch of their own fucking issues (I say this because none of them knew anything about me and you can’t hate someone you don’t know, it’s impossible, surely!), and frankly I couldn’t be fucking arsed to sit around for the next few weeks, whilst they slowly came to realise this themselves, just so I could have the satisfaction of saying “Told you so…you bunch of cunts!”

So I said “Fuck it!” and checked myself out of The Cedars and into the Palm Court Hotel, right on the seafront in Durban, which turned out to be a shithole, full of thieves and con artists (and that was just the staff!)…but…it was located in an area known as ‘The Point’ …which, I had been reliably informed,

was where all the drugs were.

…to be continued

NB…Don Tait was a lovely guy who seemed to emit a glow of real peace and serenity from his very core; I’m just sorry I didn’t get to spend a little more time with him, as I would have loved to have learned how to get just a little of that. He was battling cancer at the time and had serious nerve damage in his legs and feet due to his drinking, however, he still found time to meet with me, several times during my short time there. Thank you Don, I wish for you only good things.

*Special note*

As you can see from the following press release from 2001, Don’s life has been interesting in the extreme:

‘Don Tait had fled to Costa Rica after assaulting his fiancee.

A prominent defence lawyer who fled to Costa Rica while facing charges was jailed for three months yesterday for twice assaulting his former fiancee and disobeying court orders.

Don Tait gave an eloquent apology in a Windsor, Ont. courtroom yesterday in his first public statement since returning drunk and broken from Costa Rica seven months ago.

Ontario Justice Michael O’Dea said: “The fact that Mr. Tait might drink again is still a real risk given the history and the early stage of his recovery.”

He decided the need to denounce and deter Tait’s behaviour outweighed the benefits of letting him continue his rehabilitation in the community

It is expected Tait, who turns 57 next week, will serve his time at the Windsor jail.’

 

Recollections from a Rehab – Part Five

Posted in Blog Posts on August 27, 2014 by drummerboy1970

Continued from recollections from a rehab – part four…

The third attempt didn’t work out any better, lost as I was in a fog of my own creation, yet convinced I was perfectly normal. Friends tried to intervene and help but I talked them out of it; assured them I was fine and that I’d make it onto this flight with no problem at all, that they had nothing to worry about, although the look in my eyes; the look of someone disconnected from themselves; unplugged at the mains; there, yet somewhere else entirely, must have indicated to them that they did indeed have plenty to worry about, yet they were powerless to do anything about it.

I had replaced my glasses in the meantime, so was actually in a position to travel again, yet still managed to turn up at the gate half an hour late only to be informed that the gate was now closed and I had yet again missed my fucking flight.

I tried to mount some kind of protest but must have looked a complete shambles as the two stewardesses didn’t even bother to engage with me, they just turned away and walked off up the concourse, leaving me there alone with no one else around, muttering towards the closed doors of the gate something about my taxi having been late picking me up.

A couple of days later when I finally made it onto the flight, I did so only because a friend took me to the airport himself. There had been talk of him flying all the way to Durban with me, only to then turn around and fly right back, just to make sure that I made it all the way to the rehab. I guess people were beginning to fear for my life by this point, oblivious though that I was, due to being consumed by fear of my fast approaching detox, in a foreign country, far from anyone I knew.

Upon arrival at Durban twenty-four hours later, I was just one huge streaming river of sweat and must have looked like the most suspicious looking individual ever to attempt to pass through an airport security system and was duly intercepted by two guards and pulled over to the side, where they told me to put my case onto a bench and open it up.

By the twenty-four hour mark of a heroin withdrawal, you are looking and feeling absolutely terrible. Your eyes are constantly watering making it difficult to see, your bones are aching and your limbs feel like sticks of lead; it is really hard work to think rationally and logically and it seems a wholly unreasonable request for anyone to ask you to keep up one side of a conversation, as forming words takes every ounce of energy you possess and here I was being asked to lift a heavy bag onto a table. Things were bad.

“Where are you going?” asked one of the guards, after I’d lugged the case onto the table and which I have to say, completely stumped me. I opened my mouth to say something because it seemed reasonable, somewhere in my head, that if I was at an airport arrivals lounge I would have at least some idea as to where I was going but after having opened it, it quickly became clear that I didn’t have anything remotely helpful to say, so I closed it again.

“Well?” he continued “Where are you going…what is your final destination today?”

Now, the only phone calls I had made to the rehab over the preceding days had been direct to the mobile phone of the main guy over there, Don, and those calls were just to tell him that I’d failed to make my flight…again…so the actual name of the place had been of no real interest to me up to that point; all I cared about as far as travel instructions, were the bare essentials, meaning flight number and the name of the guy who was going to pick me up at the gate at the other end.

After an awkwardly long pause “I don’t know, I’m afraid” was the best I could come up with, which coupled with my dishevelled appearance and the torrents of sweat pouring from me, didn’t seem to please him any.

I could see where this one was heading and it wasn’t looking pretty so with a deep breath and using the very last of my energy I said…

“Looki’mreallysorryandiknowit’sunusaultonotknowwherei’

mgoingbuti’vecomefrommanchesterenglandi’mgoingtorehabtohelp

withmydrugaddictionsandit’sbeenalongtimesinceilastusedanydrugswhich

iswhyilooksoterribleabdalliknowisthataguycalledEdwardissupposedtomeet

meatthisgateandtheniamtobedriventherebutireallydon’thaveanyideaofwhere’there’is

butifeelverybadandwillgladlyletyoulookinmybagbutcouldyoudoitkindofquicklyifpossible

becauseican’tstandupformuchlongerandi’msorryifiamcausingyouanyproblems”

“Manchester United?” is all he said in response “Yes” I whispered with a faint smile

“GO!” he suddenly barked…and I was on my way out through the exit and straight into the eye line of two guys standing together, who both must have immediately clocked me as their man due to my appearance.

“Are you Tim?” asked one of them in a thick South African accent…I nodded…”I’m Ed and this is Joe…glad you could make it finally…this is the fourth time we’ve been out here to pick you up”

And with that, they showed me to their truck and we set off on the ninety- minute drive to the rehab

…in total silence.

To be continued…

Recollections from a Rehab – Part Four

Posted in Blog Posts on August 17, 2014 by drummerboy1970

Continued from recollections from a rehab – part three…

So, with a grand less in my bank account and from my hideout in Whalley Range, Manchester (the north of England), I quite logically booked myself onto a flight to Durban departing from London Heathrow, (the south of England) leaving two days hence. Again, I have only a hazy memory of this, and of frantically calling back, several times, trying to reason with what were clearly unreasonable people, attempting to either cancel or change this non-refundable, non-changeable flight.

I boarded the train to London Euston, found myself a table seat away from as many of the other passengers as possible, turned my I-pod on and immediately fell asleep. After what seemed about five minutes, I awoke to the sounds of whistles and train doors opening and closing, signalling to my great surprise that I had somehow arrived in London; utterly convinced though I was, that the train hadn’t moved an inch.

Heroin sleep isn’t really sleep, it is more like being anaesthetised for a short while; a period of unconsciousness which is usually terminated, swiftly, with the cunning bringing together of a lump of crack and a pipe, causing all bodily systems to swiiiiiing the other way, in a constant see-saw motion of very fucking conscious, to clinically dead, and back again, so as the hours and days of a long session go by, so too do the hours and days of not getting any proper sleep and things start to go weird quite quickly.

I slowly raised my head from the table it had rested upon. There were people bustling past me and I felt totally shattered; all I wanted to do was go back to sleep but knew I couldn’t and so with some superhuman force of will I ordered myself to try to do stuff.

All I had to do really was stand up, put my glasses on and get off the train, which was what I attempted to do, whilst at the same time feeling as though a small, fat, child were strapped to my back, hindering my movements.

I started to look around for my glasses but couldn’t seem to find them. I knew I had been wearing them when I got on the train; I had to have been; there would have been no way of me being able to see my way from my house all the way onto the train without them, even in the condition I was in, so they just had to be somewhere next to me…but, hunt as I may…no glasses made themselves known to me.

Onto the table went my bags, which were thoroughly searched inside and out but to no avail. I walked all the way down to the end of the carriage in both directions looking under the seats…but…nope…fuck all!

All of this was taking up a lot of what little energy I had left. I was dead to the world. I couldn’t see a fucking thing and my glasses had just evaporated into thin air…this wasn’t good…nope…not good at all…I needed to form some kind of plan because I still had a shitload of traveling to do…I had to get to South Africa for fuck’s sake!

I went into the toilet and smoked some crack.

When I came out, I was marginally more alert but still as fucked as I was when I went in there and now people were starting to board the train, wanting to go in the other direction, back up to Manchester.

I got off the bleeding thing and started to pace, trying to get my act together.

I was in London, on the arrival platform of my train down there. I had not made it any further than that and I was fucked! I couldn’t see anything and I was supposed to now cross central London and make my way to Heathrow airport, where I was required to find my flight, negotiate security, fly to Dubai, negotiate another flight and security set up, then fly to Durban, where…if I’d managed to actually arrive there…I would be happily dribbling myself into a nice, heart-warming bout of heroin withdrawal.

“Fuck IIIIIIITTTTTT!!!” I announced to anyone within a couple of hundred feet, as i picked my case up, hurled it through the open door of the train and fucked off back to Manchester…another thousand pounds gone to heaven…and with an ice-cold feeling of loneliness and desperation beginning to seep into my bones and with no family left to whom I could make a phone call.

I plugged my I-pod back in, placed my head on the table and tried to go back to sleep; a sleep which i knew now would only come, once the tears i was hiding, had run their course.

To be continued…

Recollections from a Rehab – Part three

Posted in Blog Posts on August 16, 2014 by drummerboy1970

Continued from ‘recollections from a rehab – part two…

Ted and I gradually met all the other residents over the first few days. My memory is pretty shocking these days, for obvious reasons I suppose, but if I can remember correctly our little crew consisted of a couple of native Americans, (unconnected – both there for alcohol addiction) one guy from central Africa who had only recently joined his family in the US and who was without a doubt the single most arrogant piece of shit I have ever had the misfortune to hold a conversation with!

There were four or five younger residents, who between them, including the girls, produced unending amounts of saliva, which they either liberally sprayed around or dribbled onto the ground to form a small lake between their feet.

One of the young ones was called Hunter, who immediately touched my heart and brought to the surface a real parental concern due to him being so damn small, vulnerable and like a little eager puppy, all excitable and bubbly. He was only eighteen and we listened to him as he described his relief at finally being allowed entry into an adult facility. He had been in juvenile facilities several times before, beginning at age thirteen due to his substance misuse and related offending but I learned that where he was, they didn’t really have ‘chemical dependency programmes’ as such for young people such as him; addicts were just thrown onto a locked psychiatric ward along with other young people suffering from a wide range of mental illnesses and told to get on with it.

“Get on with what?” I enquired..

“Exactly!”…he replied…

”They just throw you on the ward in your pyjamas and that is essentially it. You get very little interaction from the staff and they fill you full of all kinds of medication. Last time I was there, they had me on Largactil…Haloperidol and amitriptyline and all I did was shuffle around the ward all day, dribbling”.

He then went on to describe not one, but several, suicides and incidents of severe self-harm that he had witnessed during his stays on the ward, which were most disturbing to hear, especially from the mouth of one so young. I kept having to remind myself that he was only just eighteen, as the experiences he described and his general demeanour were that of someone considerably older.

Hunter had been named after one of my personal literary heroes Hunter S. Thompson, although he had yet to read any of his works. I then of course spent a long time with him, enthusing about Hunter Thompson, attempting to explain what made him so important to me, trying to get him interested, for all that Hunter knew about him was that he was a writer who had taken a hell of a lot of drugs, which of course he was, but he was also an incredibly unique and brave individual, with an intellect equal to any of the great thinkers through the ages; all I cared about was that by the time Hunter and i parted, he would know just a little bit more about his namesake other than his gargantuan chemical intake, as this fact alone seemed to be a great source of pride to him; something I found profoundly sad.

Hunter was in treatment for abusing fucking bath salts amongst other things! There are a hell of a lot more ‘designer’ drugs out there now that the kids are getting into, which were never around during my years of using and from what I’m reading and hearing, there is some pretty scary shit available, with bath salts being just one of them.

The main problem is the legality of these drugs because what has been happening is when one of them is outlawed, the rogue chemists out there who are synthesising these drugs, then change just one of the molecules ever so slightly, meaning it is in effect a completely different chemical and therefore legal once more and some of them are just diabolical!

Not long ago in Miami, a homeless man endured having a large portion of his face eaten off by I guy who was high on bath salts!….Get the picture?…if, God forbid, I use again for whatever reason, I reckon I’ll stick to the safe drugs…crack and heroin and similar…you know things have gone all weird when you make a statement like that.

Absolutely everything about addiction, in whatever form, is just fucking insane as your brain tricks itself again and again into justifying you behaving in ever more disturbing ways…to the point where Hunter’s had talked him into being completely ok with taking a substance crammed with chemicals he couldn’t even pronounce or spell…which the evidence suggested, could quite reasonably cause you to eat your friends’ face off before the evening news came on TV.

Right then…moving swiftly along…!

We also had a police officer with us who had managed to get himself a rather debilitating crystal meth habit, which he was finding most inconvenient because they wouldn’t let him have a gun anymore, which he seemed to find terribly unreasonable and caused him to sulk a lot.

I mentioned earlier that I came here via South Africa (Durban) and would like to expand on that a little more here if I may, before I introduce you to the remaining few members of our weird little clan, all clean and sober and awkward, hidden away amongst the vineyards and highly aromatic Marijuana plantations of northern California.

Only a couple of months prior to this, I had been uncomfortably ensconced amongst the sugarcane plantations slightly south of Durban, South Africa.
I had decided on that particular location upon the recommendation of a friend, whose ex-husband owned a treatment centre there, so there was that connection; also the prices were pretty reasonable, so I thought to myself…”Why the fuck not?”

I’ll get to the reasons…”Why the fuck not?”…in a minute…because there turned out to be plenty!

The first problem I encountered, concerning this particular little journey was my seeming inability to get on the plane…to firstly get to the airport…and then board…the plane…and to be even more precise…I was unable to do this…three times.

Whenever presented with the options of:

1. Treatment for addiction.

2. Death.

I have, up until now at least, always prided myself in my genius ability to always go for the first option. It’s quite uncanny really, this sixth sense I possess which has seen me continuously come up trumps…every fucking time!

Anyway, I had once again made the correct decision, placed the relevant phone call, given the relevant information to the lovely, helpful people, received the relevant instructions re getting there and checking in, repeated all the instructions back to them, told them that I couldn’t wait to meet them, as they cheerily said the same and with a final comforting flourish, they wished me Bon Voyage and Godspeed.

Then i made one other phone call…

Then I went all asleep and pointless…for a few…days…

…and missed the first flight, which was the day after the phone call and which I have no recollection of having booked, it’s just that people kept phoning me and annoying me and I didn’t know what they wanted and was quite short with them, as I drifted in and out of awareness, until it had been firmly established that I had indeed missed some flight to South Africa, that I had paid for and which wasn’t refundable, yet was rather expensive.

Here’s the problem you see…I was right in the middle of the pre-rehab fucking ridiculously large and reckless drug binge, which all addicts engage in, the second they hang up the phone call which has committed them to treatment; it’s almost as if that final phone call uses up any remaining ability to be a responsible adult and from that moment on they relinquish all control…passing it first to the dealer…then to the rehab…trusting fully that between them both they will somehow conspire to, over a specific time period, create a fully functioning and upstanding citizen of the realm…dust him down and send the fucker back to work…no questions asked…thank you very much…I hope I never see you again…

you cunts!

 

…to be continued

Recollections from a Rehab – Part two

Posted in Blog Posts on August 15, 2014 by drummerboy1970

Continued from ‘recollections from a rehab – part one’…

After what seemed like a lifetime of ferrying people back and forth into Glen Ellen, Ted and I were finally administered our Suboxone, which started to take effect immediately and in less than half an hour we were sitting outside in the smoking area chatting away, perfectly healthy and wondering what was for breakfast.

It is a strange sensation, going from being incredibly ill to perfectly normal within such a short space of time, of course we knew that the feeling normal part wasn’t going to last long as the plan was to get us stabilised on the medication for a few days, maybe a week or so, at which point we would begin to reduce the dose, going from about 4mg, down to 3mg etc. down to 0mg over the course of two or three weeks (the treatment programme was six weeks long) with the last 1/2 mg being in itself quite tough to stop taking, although never as bad as the feeling of cold turkey, which is just wholly unacceptable!

I still carried a slight resentment concerning Ted’s lack of diplomacy the previous night, when it came to us deciding who was going to be going to see the doctor first. It had actually backfired on him a little, as in the end he didn’t actually get to take his medication any quicker after all and now all that was left was the knowledge between us that he’d acted like a big old baby, without the benefit of any kind of reward to offset his shame and discomfort.

I gently ribbed him about it for a little while, not trying to hurt him but just attempting to get under his skin a bit and make him squirm by not addressing the incident directly but more alluding to it now and then with an accompanying wink and a nod.

Suddenly, he could take no more and he said “Look man, I’m really sorry about that…you know, last night…the running out the door to get in the car thing…it was really selfish of me…and you know what?…I’m really not that guy…honestly!”, which is a pretty good illustration for anyone reading this unfamiliar with addiction, or any form of mental illness, of just how far off track…morally…I person can go, when either driven by the compulsion to use or the pain caused by the lack of a substance being available; a whole new person is easily born, (with a whole new value system) risen up from the smouldering ashes of their previous selves, to potentially wreak havoc upon those unlucky enough to be close to them, to care for them, to love them.

I was also struck by how tall Ted was (about 6 feet 5 inches) and how he towered over me whenever we were standing together talking. This had stood him in good stead in high school where he told me he had been a basketball star back in the days before he’d started using Heroin, Oxycontin and crack, which in the US is quite a big deal, (the basketball, not the getting loaded!) with many high school players often going on to a professional career in the sport. I often noticed an air of nostalgia and quite profound sadness coming from Ted as he spoke about his former sporting accomplishments, coupled with an underlying anger, which showed itself now and again in some of the things he said and the way he would almost spit certain words out or clench and unclench his fists when speaking about certain people from his past. During our time together Ted’s anger bubbled over into displays of real aggression on a few occasions but he was a lovely guy, a real gentle giant most of the time.

I also noticed that he was a little self-conscious about his thinning hair, which I never even noticed but which was the reason for his over-the-top reaction to not being able to find his baseball cap the night before. He never did find it, someone obviously stole it but like he continuously pointed out, why would anyone want someone else’s raggedy, old, stinking baseball cap? Especially since they wouldn’t be able to wear it during the whole six weeks they were in treatment, then again I guess we were forgetting where we were for a minute; slap bang in the middle of a group of addicts, alcoholics and thieves!…ourselves being no exception!

If I may, I would at this point like to wander of course for a moment with the intention of perhaps setting out my stall if, as seems likely, I am about to spend the upcoming hours, days and potentially, months, attempting to capture a few moments in time from my life; freezing them where I find them and laying them down here to be viewed, pawed over and potentially judged by you, dear reader.

As I attempt to weave these recollections into some kind of coherent narrative, it is my intention to both entertain and, where possible, inform, concerning both addiction and mental illness and their attendant behaviours.

In my professional life today, I am a counsellor/Psychotherapist, as some of you may have gathered from previous pieces I have written in this blog and as such I am very aware that addiction in particular is viewed in differing ways by different people, with some viewing it as an illness, whilst others, the lifestyle choice of a weak-willed and morally bankrupt few, selfish in the extreme.

Whilst I would never claim to have the definitive answer as to what addiction either is, or isn’t, I do subscribe to the notion that it is an illness, which is both complex and deadly.

Whatever your viewpoint, I invite you to stay with me here in these pages and hopefully have a little fun and perhaps learn a little about what makes this particular recovering addict tick, however, I would also like to respectfully propose that people kindly refrain from stating their particular views as to the nature of addiction within this particular space, for whilst wholly valid, whatever your stance, those views are, I believe, best left for another day.

Also, please be assured that I am well aware of the serious nature of my illness, i will take care to describe to you both the good and the bad; the dark and the light; the funny and the serious.

It’s all very well having a good laugh about some of the situations I have found myself in over the years and I am sure anyone reading this who is by nature a little more calm, balanced, conservative and emotionally stable, (or not, as the case may be), may very well find it quite amusing, which i genuinely hope is the case as I love nothing more than to make people laugh, but the minute I start to forget that all this stuff is a direct result of my struggles with a life threatening condition or conditions…in my case, clinical depression, addiction and Tourette’s Syndrome…then I will be in real trouble and likely unable to recount any stories or tales – funny or otherwise – due to my premature demise.

In short, if what I’m writing sounds like that of someone just a little too cocky and a little too blasé, please try not to worry as I’ve suffered enough pain at the hands of my chemical dependency to probably last several lifetimes and a natural by-product of living with this illness…but more importantly from the sometimes confrontational nature of the treatment programmes I have undertaken… is a healthy process of ‘ego deflation’, which is both necessary and uncomfortable, for there is nothing more dangerous than an egotistical and arrogant addict, in full flight from reality, with a bagful of chemicals and an overriding sense of entitlement; people like that don’t live for very long and I am extremely fortunate to be alive and breathing and able to report back (all of what I write are historical anecdotes, I still struggle from day to day but it is a clean struggle now) from the front line of this most complicated and hideous of afflictions.

Then again, I suppose one could argue that me sitting here right now, investing a goodly amount of time, writing about myself is, in and of itself, an egotistical act and they wouldn’t be wrong, however when I was sitting in this very same room last week reading Keith Richards’ autobiography ‘’Life’, I wasn’t thinking “I wish this cunt would shut up…prattling oooon and oooon about himself…the big-headed knob!” I was of course genuinely interested and fascinated in the varying ways he had found to kill time over the course of a lifetime, as I would be with almost anyone; it is, you see, the human condition itself that interests me the most and although I find living with and relating to people extremely hard work, I have a huge amount of love and compassion for our silly little race and the struggles we all must endure as we plod on, you and I, ever forward…and in any case writing this has got to be a damn site more interesting (for both you and me) than eating toast and watching the fucking X-factor!

It has been noted that I am someone with a sense of humour which is both dark and dry, drier than a popcorn fart in fact…so please remember that, as dry humour and irony doesn’t usually translate well into print, so if you find yourself thinking “shit…this guy is really not very well at all!” then it’s probably due to you stumbling into some poorly lit sea of irony that I forgot to tell you about on the way in!!..so if, and when, this happens…please forgive me.

Finally, I would like to mention that at times, as you read this, it may become unclear as to when I was using, what I was using and with whom, as events unfold. I would just like to assure you and make absolutely clear that I have never, nor will I ever in the future, been active as a professional therapist, working with either vulnerable children or adults, whilst under the influence of any intoxicating substance legal or illicit.

Whilst I still live day to day as someone who sometimes struggles with my mental health, which can bring about a compulsion to use drugs or alcohol, I still attend weekly therapy sessions and feel I believe i have the self-awareness and integrity to remove myself from practicing as a therapist, coupled with the humility to seek the required help should the need arise.

So, that’s the boring bit out of the way…thanks for sticking with me…see you next time…

 

To be continued…

Recollections from a rehab – Part one

Posted in Blog Posts on August 13, 2014 by drummerboy1970

I was in rehab in the town of Glen Ellen, northern California. I had recently lost both my parents in quick succession, my mother first then my father, although they were no longer connected, nor had they been for many years, for they hated each other you see, in a deep, lasting and committed way (unlike their marriage), right up until they breathed their last.

When crises of this magnitude arise in my life, I can tend to behave in ways that most people struggle to make sense of and I agree that from the outside looking in it must seem most puzzling. I can act as if I were a human pinball, banging, crashing and ballooning into all and everything (usually people), never staying in one place for any longer than is absolutely necessary, until I once more fly off into this pattern of insanity, each day little more than a process of picking up the broken and battered pieces of the previous days madness, hopelessly attempting to glue them back together with half formed apologies, offers of financial recompense or, depending on the severity of my actions, fleeing in the dead of night trying to convince myself that this friendship was fading anyway; I had just hastened the process a little.

I have what is known in psychology as a ‘disorganised attachment pattern’, which put in its simplest terms means that if I don’t have a sense of a secure attachment ‘base’…that safe place (or person) people move toward either physically or mentally or both, looking for shelter when in a crisis…I tend to fall into the type of behaviour I have just described, as I search fruitlessly for something to cling to, something to sustain me whilst I wait out the storm.

Now it’s all very well having this great insight into my own behaviour, thinking I’m some clued up therapist, looking like a bit of a wanker as I stroke my chin and make profound pronouncements concerning human behaviour, yet another thing entirely when I find myself dropped head first into whatever the crisis happens to be this time.

I mean sometimes, I can actually see the problem waaaay in advance of it even becoming a problem, gently simmering away in the distance, slowly looming larger on the horizon as it moves toward me shouting…

“Hey…I am a potentially HUUUGE problem about to land in your life, causing untold damage and wreaking havoc on a scale you could never imagine in your darkest nightmares…however…I am a very, very, very long way away and will provide you with many warning signs, at regular intervals, right up until I am knocking gently upon your front door seeking entry into your psyche…so I suggest you give this some thought as soon as possible so that when I do eventually arrive you will be well prepared and thus reduce the potential damage to little more serious than the psychological equivalent of a small rash and a bit of a cough”…

…even in this situation, when the crisis eventually arrives, I find it incredibly difficult to manage myself and my feelings, which can be a right ball ache, yet on the other hand has made for some interesting excursions and detours, not all of which have necessarily caused problems for other people.

Now, when I am in the middle of a crisis I usually forget, firstly, that I am in a crisis and secondly, that I don’t deal with these things too well, meaning that i have to rely on certain symptoms to show themselves, at which point I can start making informed decisions and ask for help as to the best way forward.

If, for example, I’ve got a crack pipe in one hand and a piece of tin foil, upon which a lump of heroin smoulders, in the other, whilst balancing a half drunk bottle of single malt between my knees, all the while nudging the keys of my laptop with my nose attempting to purchase plane tickets to any number of random locations…this is usually a sign that I may have floated a smidgeon off course and should probably start thinking up some alternate strategies, quickly, as it’s not looking likely that I’ll make it out of this one unscathed.

BOUNDARIES!! BOUNDARIES!! BOUNDARIES!!…that’s what I needed…healthy, strong, robust, caring, unbreakable and enforced boundaries, such as the kind on offer at any number of rehabilitation establishments the world over and seeing as I had a few extra shekels by way of my father’s estate, a place was booked and a flight was flown, which is how I came to find myself checking into the Mountain Vista treatment facility in Glen Ellen…fine wine country!
that I flew there after checking out of The Cedars treatment facility KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa…needn’t really be of concern as to this here story, so I’ll give it a bit of a wide berth if I may…however, did I hear somebody say the words pinball, disorganised and chaotic?…nah…thought not.

I got a nice warm welcome from everyone at Mountain Vista, settled in and got the first few days out of the way. It was September in northern California, which meant an Indian summer, with days full of a sunshine, which warmed my bones and nights which were crystal clear, the sky crowded with a million points of light and I found myself gazing up in awe, night after night, as I made a nest of blankets and pillows, reclining on one of the sun loungers which were liberally scattered across the lawn.

I had also been introduced to the rest of the residents over the course of the first few days and had, as usual when finding myself in these types of situations, hated each and every one of them instantly, which was due to social anxiety and typical junkie arrogance.

I never cease to be amazed and amused by the egotistical stance of many of those stumbling through the doors of their chosen refuge with the deafening music from that final back-breaking, life threatening party seeming to fade gently away as the double doors close behind them, all flea bitten and stinking, clothes so disgusting they ought to be removed with scissors like they do in ERs when someone has broken a limb.

Financial insolvency usually accompanies this wretched apparition, as does a list as long as your arm of all the people who will, not only never speak to them again, but who upon re-emergence are more than likely to either castigate, sue, or more amusingly, visit upon them the kind of physical harm usually reserved for rapists during a prison riot.

Anyway, I myself have been guilty of being an arrogant little shit upon landing in various rehabs, which is of course nothing more than a lame defence mechanism designed to keep people away, however, I was on this occasion at this particular rehab, somehow able to keep my mouth shut, along with keeping my body language marginally less aggressive than the stance adopted by the Marquis of Queensberry, which allowed others to approach me and friendships to be formed.

The first person I encountered was my roommate Ted (names have been changed to protect the innocent!), who first appeared to me as a ghostly apparition in the dead of night. I had been detoxing for about thirty-six hours by this point and was feeling, what can only be described as absolutely fucking appalling!

I was a moaning, twitching, itching, kicking, wide-a-fucking-wake ball of sweat and ungodly odours lying there in the middle of the night. I had been drifting in and out of consciousness for several hours, just trying to make it through until the staff decided I was in prime position to receive a medication called Suboxone.

Suboxone is an opiate substitute and acts in similar ways to methadone but with one major difference, it has another substance mixed in with it called Naloxone which blocks the opioid receptors in the brain, meaning that should one attempt to use any opiate whilst on this medication, it simply won’t work, kind of an added insurance against relapse.

The other interesting side note to this drug is that if you take it too soon after stopping your opiate use, you will immediately plunge into full withdrawal (cold turkey), which I’m sure you will understand is something best avoided.

The little leaflet that comes in the box spells out very clearly that the patient should be showing full signs of opiate withdrawal…sweating, shaking, dilated pupils, aching bones, cries for mother etc… before the drug should be administered, which is how I came to be lying there in the dark swearing up and down that I was done with this shit, no more for me matey….oh nooooo…I can’t believe I was so damned stupid once again…too old for all this nonsense maaaan…Hey! Where is my fucking Suboxone you fucks??!!…surely it’s been long enough by now for me to get started on it…I’m dyyyyying dude…help me pleaaassseee!! Just generally making a real pain in the arse of myself and getting right on everyone’s nerves.

As I lay there delirious and confused in the dark at about four ‘o’ clock in the morning, not really knowing where or who I was, the door burst open and in stumbled a large out of focus thing, which later turned out to be Ted.
It was pitch black so I really couldn’t make much out but he seemed to have a huge blanket or sleeping bag wrapped around his shoulders, held together with one hand in the middle of his chest. His hair was sticking out in every direction and he was shouting the following, repeatedly and at ear splitting volume:

“Fuuuuuck!…where the fuck is my fucking hat?”…

”Fuuuuuck, I’m fucking dying…I don’t know what’s happening and I’m fucking dying!”….

After several volleys of the above, he launched himself into the air and came crashing down right on top of me (the sickest individual that had ever had the misfortune to have uttered the words…”Yes please…I’ll have five of those…three of those…and could you possibly lay us a couple more on until payday?!”) causing us immediately to become one groaning pile of blankets, limbs, sweat, questionable odours and fear, which then promptly launched itself off the bed, finally coming to rest upside down on the floor.

After an eternity, we detangled ourselves and Ted began an unsteady crawl towards the open door, presumably to continue in his quest to locate the hat. He had managed no more than two knee lengths, when further two figures came flying into the room flapping, in near panic and out of breath.

“Ted! Ted!” one of them said…”Ted, what the hell have you taken?…Ted?!…hey, shit…get it together buddy…look at me…can you see me?…how many fingers am I holding up?…Ted?!”

By this point Ted was little more than a slurring, dribbling idiot, unable to speak words, so the two figures took an arm each and lifted him up onto legs incapable of bearing his weight and he promptly sat down again…quickly… so they tried again to lift him up by his armpits and once more, down again he sat. After two or three attempts at this, there seemed to be some unspoken agreement between them and with an imperceptible nod, they rolled him onto his back and begun to drag him out, catching his blanket on the door hinge, which then unravelled itself and dropped off, leaving him to disappear around the corner, clothed only in a pair of tracksuit bottoms and a flip-flop.

I closed the door and put myself back in bed, covering my head with a pillow, praying it would all go away, in fact hoping it had all been a horrible nightmare and any moment a nice nurse-type person would appear with an armful of Suboxone and a bottle of Glenlivet.
A restless couple of hours passed in which I failed completely to make some sense of what had happened earlier. Finally the door opened, much more quietly this time, revealing a much calmer Ted who quickly clambered onto his bed and after getting himself as comfortable as possible, explained that one of the other residents had been building up a supply of one of his meds…an anti-psychotic drug called Seroquel, which also acts as a heavy sedative.

Earlier when Ted had complained to him that he was really struggling to sleep, the other guy had decided to come to the rescue and offered his stash of Seroquel to Ted, which he promptly swallowed without a backwards glance. It turned out that the amount he took was waaaaay more than was even remotely good for a person and it had been touch and go as to whether he should be taken to the ER. It had been decided in the end that they would just keep him under observation and after a couple of hours he started to come round and had been allowed back to his room.

Sadly the other resident was immediately discharged…you just can’t go around handing out drugs to junkies…in rehab…no matter how well intentioned you are!

Not long after Ted had arrived back, the magical moment finally arrived, in which the nurse came into our room and told us we were ready to receive our Suboxone.

As it turned out, the procedure was such that in order to be prescribed the drug, each resident had to be taken by car into the small town of Glen Ellen for an appointment with the Doctor, who obviously earned a few extra bob on the side by offering his services to the treatment centre.

Apparently Ted had arrived at the rehab only a couple of hours prior to me, so we were at similar places in our detox nightmare and the staff had been waiting for both of us to hit the required length of time together, so that they could deal with us together…sort of.
For reasons best known to the staff (security would be my guess), we could only be taken into the town one at a time and we were now being asked to come to a decision between ourselves as to who was to go first.

Now, I’d just love to tell you what a lovely guy I am…trustworthy, kind, honest, compassionate, giving and all other manner of loveliness…and I am capable of all of the above but I was, first and foremost, in this situation at the very least, an addict, who was very much in addict mode and as such, was pretty well emotionally blinkered into getting my own needs met and out of the terrible discomfort I was in, selfishly and as quickly as possible…everyone else could just fuck right off!

I am, however, English and was raised by a mother who was very particular about good manners and etiquette, which means that even though I may desire something very much, I am also obliged to…through gritted teeth if necessary…offer it to the other person first, often praying to God as I do so that they respond in the negative and offer it back to me, at which point, depending how desperate I am for that thing, I will either take it or bat it back towards them one more time…just to appear super wonderful; an all-around good egg and snappy dresser, shall we say…at which point they often take it, causing me to hate them for the rest of their lives and wish hateful shit on their children.

That’s just the way I am I suppose, which is not necessarily a bad thing, as I at least give the impression of being a fully formed and respectful adult on the outside, whilst on the inside might well be trying to figure out the best angle to render this person mentally ill and unable to continue functioning in reasonable society.

“So”, the nurse says… “Which one of you guys would like to go first?” at which point I start gearing up for my game of verbal table-tennis…”weeel….”

“ME!” says Ted

…and I shit you not…he was up and in the passenger seat of that car in under fifteen seconds, banging into the nurse so robustly on the way out that he winded her and caused her to stagger…

and that is how I came to meet Ted!

 

To be continued…

Orange street lights of England

Posted in Blog Posts on January 1, 2014 by drummerboy1970

So, what is there to say?

what comment can be made,

upon this event

which screams into

faces,

illuminated by the leftover

fires of

November,

daring us to comment

with originality,

upon this most

unoriginal

and arbitrary

of

occurrences,

which we are forced to endure

year upon year,

yet no permission is asked

for the intrusion

and no apology offered

for

damages inflicted,

as ghosts,

old and familiar,

dance

with those shockingly

new and

unwelcome.

I see the ghost of my father

knocking on the door

at midnight,

on this occasion

years ago.

A dark-haired person

carrying a piece of coal,

(for warmth)

a piece of bread,

(for food)

some money,

(for prosperity)

and a piece of greenery,

(for a long life)

was the superstition.

I also see my Grandmother

and myself,

awaiting the knock

in silence,

looking at each other

expectantly,

she, for some reason,

excited,

whilst i felt only

fear

having recently

read

‘The Monkey’s Paw’.

I would sneak a

look through the gap in

the curtains and see

him waiting by the gatepost

smoking a cigarette in

the cold night air.

I remember wondering

whether that

was smoke coming out

of his mouth,

backlit

by

orange

streetlights

of

England,

or steam,

due to the cold of

a December

night.

It killed him

in the end – the smoking,

not the waiting by

gateposts – and

it doesn’t get as cold

as it used to, which

is another matter

entirely.

Each experiences

events in a different

way, i suppose,

yet

this fear has

remained with me

into middle-age,

now buried a little

deeper perhaps, a

little less inclined to

exposure, but definitely

still there,

seeking

some/any/flecks

of understanding or

meaning, perhaps

that i might join

in on nights like

these, instead

of feeling only a faint

kind of

horror and

confusion.

Is there something

wrong with me?

i would ask myself at

midnight,

year after year,

as i observed the

merriment from my

corner of the room,

nursing whatever external

comforter

i had currently chosen

to address this inner

wrong.

There is a force i have

observed from my

corner,

which terrifies me with

its apparent ability to

render people

amnesiac to what they

often do to

each other, in the

name of ambition, progress

and status,

(sometimes only days before)

causing me

appalling confusion

and complete

loss of words,

as i watch

enemies tuck each other

into bed,

when social networking

or possibly even

dining face to face,

“Happy New Year my friend,

long may you prosper!”,

as one reaches over

the other,

the light is

switched off

and

the knife goes in.

Then rising slowly

and quietly, a smile

is offered,

as

they

walk across the

room

and with a final glance

towards the bed,

gently close

the

door.

Excellent story contribution from a friend in Oakland, California

Posted in Blog Posts on September 9, 2013 by drummerboy1970

Perhaps 5 or maybe six years ago I was walking home from sumfink or other….navigating across my part of beautiful East Oakland towards my stately bungalow at about 10pm ish. It was dark and the streets were largely empty.

A youngish light complected tall (but slight) African American chap turned onto the street in front of me from a cross-street. I thought to myself …”that cross-street is just irritated” and had an undeserved chuckle at my mediocre internal dialogue. I smiled at my fellow pedestrian as he walked towards me and said cleverly. “Whats up dog?”

He red-ishly eyed me…..Heavy ‘lid-edly’ unveiling a pregnant pause by way of response.

I smiled at him radiantly as is the cool thing to do in such situations.

He’s stoned…I thought to myself.

Marijuana and judging by his slight drool probably cough syrup I guessed semi-medically.

The latter confirmed as he stopped in front of me and pulled a baby bottle filled with cloudy pink stuff out of his sagging jean pocket.

(gonna go back to ” ” marks for my internal dialogue I just decided…so)

“Yeah me….I know my local intoxicants…that’s cos I walk the streets. Fearlessly. Wearing my yachtsman hat, blue blazer and glitter even….like a nutter…..hahahaha (cut short)”

Cue sharp intake of breath…as he reaches deeper into his pocket and pulls out a handgun.

At this point we were about 5 meters apart.

He points it at me for a moment and lurched forward a little bit as he misjudged the curb somewhat.

“Nigger….give me your money. Hear me muthafucker? Or your dead.”

For God knows what reason my initial response was.

“I’m from England actually.”

To which he compellingly replied something threatening sounding but slurred and unintelligible involving my predilection for maternal relations.

(He had a good eye…give him his due)

Waving the handgun back and forth by way of emphasis in a sort of swaying Cobra like fashion.

I decided to get my wallet out to facilitate his requested exchange.

At that point from another cross or if you prefer ‘mean’ street another gentleman came into view.

My new mate noticed. A friend of his apparently cos he turned away from me and conveyed salutations to him.

I stood there holding my wallet and looking at his back. In fact I studied his back…noticing details like the gold glitter enhanced “money making…snitch hating” slogan emblazoned thereon. It needed a wash as it was stained with some of sort of white substance. I wondered how he managed to get his back dirty…and and and…. then realized that I was able to go through this thought process due to the protracted conversation he was now leading with his friend…

A conversation taking place with his back to me.

Talking about a party and some bitch who got with some other guy apparently and beyond…..

I thought to myself….“I should hit this fucker in the back of the head. How could I miss? He’s right there. Not even looking at me. Sitting duck. A rabbit punch I think they call it….(losing the plot for a second there)….NO NO….that is how you will get shot you idiot…it’s just fucking money….give it to him and it will be ok…….But what if he shoots me anyway….hmmmm….”

So I vacillated…

Long enough to realize that this dude had basically forgotten that he was mugging me and was absorbed in his new dialogue.

At which point I thought….”fuck it…I’m not thinking about this anymore” and punched him as hard as I could in the back of the head.

nb: For the sake of context here I should share that when it boils down to it, I am not really a ‘tough guy’…..Now I have been in a lot of fights mind you…..But lost half of them at least to people who I call ‘tough guys’. I am however somewhat of an impetuous person when it comes to matters of disagreement though. I feel better getting that off my chest. Tx for reading. So, I do that thing that people talk about as being bad generally….errrm…that’s right I let my mouth right the checks. Leaving me in a position to deal with the aftermath….as in the ‘cashing’ part. Which brings me back to that sub 50 50 record…Anyways…

As luck would have it, I made excellent contact with the back of his head and neck. Pain shot like nerve lightning from my knuckles up my arm which I took as a good sign. “Signifies a good punch” I though to myself stupidly as I had In actual fact broken a knuckle. My antagonist canter-levered forward with the momentum of the blow, (as I mentioned he was not a big guy), and face planted onto the sidewalk. His head made a flat thumping sound as it bounced off the unforgiving surface. The gun went flying and his baby bottle smashed in his trousers which descended to his knees. Coming from England I knew that custom demanded I followed up this punch with an additional neutralizing assault so I kicked him in the face quite hard. I went to do this a second time and drew my foot back…..but stopped as I saw the blood gushing out of his broken mouth on to the street and realized that he was just a kid. Perhaps 18 maybe younger….and that I had already rendered him unconscious and seriously damaged. He was just a kid…I stopped mid kick figuring that he was already “neutralized”.

(A quick aside…..Where did I even get that descriptor from….? probably some martial arts video on YOUTUBE……It makes me sound like a fascist….)

So his friend was watching the horror show with eyes wide and mouth hanging open….

I thought he was next perhaps and took a tentative step towards him. He was bigger and older and did not have his back towards me.

“Shit!” he finally said (as people do in these situations)….”oh-ooooo.”

“We’re good dude….I’m stepping”

I desperately thought for something to say that would sound tough and cool….since I seldom had the opportunity in the past and just HAD to have my macho moment of dumb gloat-ery.

“It was a gun….not an invisibility cloak”

That was what I came up with. I have to admit that I thought I’d found the right balance of wise toughness and dark humor at the time by way of this exhortation.

Retrospectively I realizes that it probably came across as more Harry Potter than Dirty Harry. Particularly given the aforementioned yachtsman outfit I was wearing.

“errr uhhuh” he replied as he turned and started jogging away…..”I’m gonna get his M—”.

I could not hear the last word and figured that it likely meant someone even more dangerous….

MAN or MANIAC or something like that.

So I got to stepping myself …bravely.

I did at least pick up the handgun from the sidewalk. It was quite heavy and sort of old fashioned looking. Like a cowboy type affair, y’know with a barrel and stuff. For a moment I thought about keeping it as a ‘Memento’. Instead I just threw it into a shrubbery that made up the border of someone’s front yard to my left as I myself started to ‘jog’ away. I mean sprint away actually….

I looked back at the still prostrated kid as I made tracks. He was still flat on his face. Blood pooling around his head like a sick halo. Bubbling as he breathed….

“He was breathing!” I muttered out loud to myself as I skedaddled back home post haste….

post script

Now that could be the end of this story but oddly it is not…..

Because the following day, in the early evening….there was a knock at my front door. I opened it and found a middle aged, heavy set, serious looking African-American lady standing in front of me. ‘

She had a very intense and serious look on her face….eyes boring into me like corkscrews….

“Hi” I said…..”Can I help you?”

My voice came out sounding calm BUT my mind was literally racing…..This did not feel good …..AT ALL.

I braced myself and…..smiled at her.

She continued to silently stare me for what seemed like an eternity.

Subsequently the smile froze on my face and started to feel more like a grimmace….

Lips stuck to my molars as the Sahara set up shop around my uvula.

Finally she said….

“Did you beat my son Yesterday? On 38th street. It was you ….right?”

I stuttered and mumbled my way through a vague affirmation…BUT

my voice got louder and clearer as I sought to downplay what had happened.

“Maam….errr I was just scared….he had a gun you know? I did hit him yes….but….just once….I swear. Well…I kicked him too…..errm…..is he OK? I’m sorry ….I’M SORRY ok?”

(reaching deep)

In fact I started to sob a little bit as I made these statements…..

I started to cry to be more exact.

She silently and steadily took in the info I was bleating…..Looking me in the eye the whole time.

The thought crossed my mind that she was going to kick my ass at this point. “Poor me….Only I would have this happen. Jeez….my bloody luck.”

“Thank You.” she said.

….”Maam I really am sor…..err …. Thank You???” I responded.

Yes “Thank You sir.”

“He’s my son…..he’s not a bad kid….just trying to figure out who he is…”

“uhhuh” I said …. wondering where this was leading….still desperately racking my brain for the right excuse.

“Being beaten by you….a fag….in front of his homie…..it was the best thing that could have happened to him. It could be the very thing that keeps him on the straight and narrow as the Good Lord intends. Bless you Sir. He’s a good boy. He’s my son.”

She turned and left.

Sheets on the outside…sheets on the inside

Posted in Blog Posts on September 6, 2013 by drummerboy1970

A quiet night on the corner

of Decatur St

and esplanade Ave,

rain coming down in

sheets

on the outside,

whilst on the inside,

the sheets were moving in slow

revolutions,

inside the machines,

inside the bar/Laundromat

in New Orleans

French Quarter,

known as

Checkpoint Charlie.

This place had two settings –

completely rammed

or

dead –

tonight it was set to

dead.

One of God’s mistakes

was sitting at the bar with

a couple of people,

presumably his friends,

ordering drinks…loudly

and with very

little

class.

He was young,

loud,

and seemed intent

on letting us all

(the few of us that made up the numbers on a dead night)

know that he existed

and

somehow

mattered.

Well, he definitely did

and he

definitely

didn’t and I

definitely

disliked him and

the colour of his

father’s credit

card.

The rain continued outside

and people came

and went

with their laundry,

in bags, in boxes,

carried upon their heads,

most not stopping for

a drink whilst they

waited,

it was that kind of

a

night.

At some point

‘credit card’ had laid

a marker on the pool

table and was now

playing.

For some reason I

seemed to take note that

his opponent was female

before once again

returning my

attention to the rain,

watching it come down

through the

windows and shutters,

which any bartender

worth their salt,

would throw

wide open when a storm

hit,

for this was a huge

part of what made up the

soul of

New Orleans,

the rain…the hot rain,

temporarily cooling a

hot

night…

loud and with

flashes of light

in places, followed by

explosions

in the dark…

cannon shots of

thunder

like a war;

a short,

loud,

bright,

wet,

warm

war.

The storms defined

New Orleans; still do

in fact, only now it’s

different, for the very thing

that defined her

eventually ripped her

apart,

and who she was then

and

who she is now,

are very

different.

Many of the

people who loved her

long ago

are gone,

gone to different

places and gone

to different

times, some have returned

attempting to re-kindle

the romance,

hoping for the familiar feelings

of old

to return and

offer comfort,

only to find little more than

ghosts and memories of

ghosts;

ghosts of memories

washed away

by new

rains,

in a time

of indifference

toward her

unable now to pay

her way,

among a people

no longer willing

to carry her.

Raised voices from

the area where the pool table

stood.

I looked up

and ‘credit card’ was holding

his cue like a baseball

bat,

looming over the female

he had been playing,

seeming about to strike her.

I dislike bullies, especially

towards women and I

definitely

disliked ‘credit card’,

so as the red mist

descended

I found myself behind him

grabbing the cue,

demanding

to know what the fuck

he

thought he was doing,

words turned to shouting

and pushing

and

shoving,

the usual bullshit,

until something unusual

brought things to  a

standstill.

When an object is dropped

into water, it sinks

and for

a second there is a stillness,

until the point

of entry

rises back up and a

circular cascade of water

emanates out

from

the centre.

In this case, the circular

cascade were people….

exiting…

quickly

through doors…out of windows…

over the bar…

into the bathrooms..

and within seconds

the bar was

deserted,

with the heavy breathing

of ‘credit card’ and

myself

the only sound to

be heard.

What had dropped into the

the water to

cause the cascade?

I turned around and

found myself staring down

the barrel

of a gun…

a handgun…

produced from the bag

of the pool playing

female, forgotten about

amid the

ruckus.

‘Credit card’ screamed

and ran for

the door and the

doorman ran for

the

female who was

swiftly

disarmed and held

for the cops…

those newly

outside

returned

inside…

the rain

continued

to rain

and I forgot about

‘credit card’ and the gun

wielding

female for twenty years

until

tonight…

sitting at

the window with

my cats,

watching a new

rain in

a completely

different

part of

the

world.

Back doors, sub-basements and refrigeration

Posted in Blog Posts on May 14, 2013 by drummerboy1970

It took two days for the

police to get

hold of me, because

when the police call your

mobile phone

it doesn’t say ‘The Police’

in the little window

where the incoming number is

displayed,

it says ‘Withheld Number’

and I don’t answer

withheld numbers;

nothing good ever came

from answering a

withheld number,

and once again this

proved to be

the case.

So, they switched their

approach and

called at a very early hour

at the beginning

of the third day, so early

in fact that

it wasn’t me who eventually

answered the call,

it was my unbridled rage

at such a

violation.

His first name was Scott,

preceded

by the letters ‘PC’ but his

surname escapes me,

which is strange

because I thought I

would never

forget his name, but

now that I attempt to

recall him,

he has faded,

which is how it works

I suppose,

how loss, and the people

and events surrounding loss,

ease

over time, and how very

necessary

this all

is.

So, I listened to what PC Scott

had to say and

then ended the call;

I was no longer angry,

something else had

taken its place,

plus I was tired,

it was, like I said,

very early

and I was extremely

tired.

When you receive a

phone call

such as this, and you’re

the last one

standing,

they ask you

to go and identify the

second to last one

standing’s

body.

I suppose this little dance

will be

done away with as

bar code identification

or similar,

is introduced down

the line somewhere,

but for now

it is still

back doors, sub-basements and

refrigeration;

plastic flowers

and

cheap tissues which

are

unfit for purpose.

The nurse/pathologist/morgue attendant

opened the door for me

and showed me into

a room, which contained a vase

of plastic flowers,

two boxes of cheap

tissues and

a dead Dad.

“Take as long as you like” she said,

as PC Scott settled into a couch

containing holes,

just outside the room

with the plastic flowers,

holding a copy of

The Manchester Evening News

he had procured from somewhere,

and which now held his gaze,

from which I had

hoped to gain a little

courage or something

similar.

So, I had as long as I liked

and was free to take my time,

in a room I wanted to leave,

as soon as I had entered.

It was definitely my father,

he was definitely dead and

it was cold in there.

I took as long as I liked,

which was just long enough

to see that his mouth had

been glued shut.

Eighteen months have passed

since the phone call

from PC Scott,

I have travelled

on three continents,

possibly running

from something,

yet i haven’t

written a

thing,

although I have received

much

encouragement to do so

from those

who seem to enjoy

my writing;

I can only hope

this was the kind

of thing

they had

in

mind.

If you’d had the kind of day I’ve had

Posted in Blog Posts on April 17, 2013 by drummerboy1970

If you’d had the kind of day I’ve had,

you might be thinking a little

differently to how you

are thinking

right now.

If you’d had the kind of day I’ve had,

that little skip you worked into your

step as you walked up

the garden path,

gate swinging shut behind you,

might well have not happened.

If you’d had the kind of day I’ve had,

you, like me,

might not have a choice

as to whether or not you sit here,

in front of this screen

and write about it.

You’d HAVE to write about it,

just as I HAVE to write about it,

here,

now.

If you’d had the kind of day I’ve had,

that skip I mentioned earlier

might well have been a strike,

aimed at something off to the side,

but well-aimed

and very hard, yet accomplishing

little,

not coming even close to touching

the sides, of providing relief,

to the kind of day I’ve had.

Some people, i have noticed, never

seem troubled by these kinds of days,

it’s as if they just don’t happen to them,

and should you attempt to describe

such a day

to one of these, their response only tends

to make things worse.

Glassy-eyed with a half yawn, mind clearly elsewhere,

perhaps on matters of pruning, aeration, irrigation;

the garden is important, it wishes them no harm,

nor does it wish to tell of where harm may hide,

just as you are now in fact;

please don’t walk on the lawn

and shut the gate properly

on your way out.

There is a wind outside tonight,

the kind of wind you might describe as

having something in it…as in:

“There’s something in that wind tonight”

maybe that doesn’t make sense, but it does

to me.

It is an unnatural wind, a wind that whips,

then slows,

whips,

then

slows.

My windows open and close by themselves

because of this wind, which carries voices also,

young voices from the past;

are they old voices then?

why do I ask such questions after the

type of day I’ve had? because there seems

somehow a connection,

between these young/old voices,

the type of day I’ve had,

and the

wind.

What is so strange about this day of mine,

which I keep telling you I have had,

is that nothing has actually happened,

not that anyone

could see at

any

rate.

It was those voices you see,

those young/old voices which never seem to

tire of inflicting terrible crimes upon

the version of me on the inside,

the one without the shell,

exposed and ready to believe all

that they say,

even though most of it

is untrue,

it is the bits that are true

that they get me with,

inflicting a violence so terrible,

so undeniably

heinous, that if audible detection were possible

would result in a lengthy imprisonment

along

with

other

things.

Yet, where does one imprison the already imprisoned?

not in here…please GOD…NOT

IN

HERE!!!

If you’d had the kind of day I’ve had,

you might think twice tonight

before turning over

and

switching

off

the

light.

For E D xxxx

A short life, wasted

Posted in Blog Posts on November 18, 2012 by drummerboy1970

Stop!…the flies

buzz about my head,

sometimes landing close

to my ear…too close.

I cannot stand this,

this constant, pointless,

mindless

buzzing created by

these insects,

these boys,

who fail to

see the

point.

Flies live for only

one week; then it’s over,

this life

they have

wasted, accomplishing

nothing but a

robustly,

ever-increasing

buzzing sound, which they

perfect and polish over

the course of

this week-long

life.

They do this

for a specific reason;

to drown

out the sound

of their own

paralysing, all-consuming

fear;

fear of the

death, which barrels

towards

them…screaming,

sent by a God, who like

me, cannot stand

another

second,

witnessing this

merciless theft of

oxygen, from

those with something

worth living for,

and something

worthwhile

to

say.

Around the whole of the earth

Posted in Blog Posts on August 14, 2012 by drummerboy1970

Evenin’ all…

I’m back…Not that anyone’s missed me of course (sniff) but when i think about it, i think i may have actually missed myself.

By this i mean of course that i have missed our late night liaisons here, in the corner with the desk lamp shining on the keyboard and the trees blowing in the wind just outside the window to my right.

Nothing left of the day save for broken promises and dreams moved slightly further away, edged away by the wind, evidenced by the sound they make against the gravel, whetted by the rain.

Of course, i have been here all along, almost, but yes definitely here watching the life ebb away from my parents who were supposed to live forever, or at least that’s what they promised when i was tucked in as a child, not often, due to gin and other distractions, but the promises were made, and now they have been broken just like all the others.

This is to be kept brief due to me being out of practice; suddenly having been dragged back into the writing of  things without fair warning; lists, dreams, plans and such.

I came to South Africa seeking psychological treatment for that which ails me.  I didn’t enjoy the treatment, as far as i allowed it to progress, and decided that a hotel on the seafront in Durban held greater promise, and less rigid morning routines and rituals!

I have decided to do something a little different and i would like very much for you to encourage my thinking and to come along on what promises to be an interesting and potentially strange little journey…

Around the whole of the earth…

…except perhaps for some of the colder bits that make my genitals go all tight, small and painful and stuff…yes…i reckon maybe i’ll give those bits a miss, i am after all from England and have spent the larger proportion of my life undressing with my back to my ever-patient partners, giving ‘little Drummerboy’ a sneaky little flick (just to add a little bulk) before shyly sliding under the sheets into the Baltic regions of the average British bed…all libido having been stripped instantly away in a frenzy of rapid little breaths and nipples larger, and indeed firmer, than the sad little appendage further down the hopeless length of paleness i have the misfortune to call a ‘physique’…oh my…i’ve just raised an image…God please make it go away…please!!!

So, like i said i’m gonna be brief…

I’m travelling the world, on a whim, all of it…and writing a book about it…

…starting in South Africa…a safari in fact in a couple of days and then i have no idea where…possibly India…Mumbai…

…Japan?

I’m a bit scared so please egg me on a bit.

It feels good to be back…love you lot  🙂

Drummerboy xx

Pangs of optimism and unrelenting joy

Posted in Blog Posts on June 7, 2012 by drummerboy1970

My friends, please don’t

be mis-lead, and convinced

of things

untrue.

If you feel pangs

of optimism and

unrelenting

joy with the

world,

the state of things,

i feel it may

be time for you to

stop,

take stock,

and

think.

Do you remember

the last time you were lied

to,

betrayed?

It happens all the time right?

Yet, you still

keep faith with the race

and pray for better

times.

I watch people

and i watch

myself, and in my experience

that faith is

mis-guided

and ill-judged,

due to

the lengths that our

species will go

to to avoid

discomfort and

pain.

Everyone you know will

stab you in the

throat, should the solution

be offered

on the street, sold

in bottles, twenty at a time

or, in cigarettes rolled by

dwarves.

I will say only

this,

you, your parents and

all your friends will

die, painfully and ill at

ease…simply stop… and

all that trying,

will have

been worth

nothing,

absolutely

nothing at

all.

The cars know where they are

Posted in Blog Posts on May 7, 2012 by drummerboy1970

The window in my hotel room wouldn’t open,

due to the contraption

they had added to it

to prevent people from

smoking,

so i opened it,

robustly,

and now i can smoke.

I look down as i smoke

and can see numbers

on the floor

for the cars to know where they are,

33…32…31..etc.

I’m glad the cars

know where they are.

I spit on the cars because it is simply

impossible

to not spit

when you are

at height.

I am in Oxford, the seat

of learning

in England, although

those in Cambridge 

may beg

to differ.

Earlier i went for dinner.

I ordered the ‘pan fried’

cod,

with saffron courgette’s,

and then waited.

I guess i appeared

to be lost in thought,

preoccupied

by something

else, other than the

people in the

room.

This wasn’t so.

I listened to every word

available, from every

table nearby.

What i heard confused me.

Everyone spoke like Hugh Grant

and had impossibly upright

postures.

I almost laughed at the

cliché,

but couldn’t,

and felt only shame.

I felt like a train wreck

sitting there

in the corner.

What the fuck are these people learning?

They seem so content and well-adjusted,

and i don’t understand what they say.

They are young, so i forgive them,

but as i started in on the cod,

i wished only to casually walk

over to one of their tables

and scream at the top of my voice…

“What the fuck are you going to do

when your lover is coming at you with a knife

because you were ten minutes

late with their

heroin??”

I walked to the till,

paid,

then walked outside

into the

rain.

Everybody fucking died

Posted in Blog Posts on April 20, 2012 by drummerboy1970

Good evening to my negligible fan base…

I recently suspended adding to this here blog of mine…

because everybody fucking died!

Back very soon…honest!!

Drummerboy xxx

Cats and trees and light green bottles

Posted in Blog Posts on September 24, 2011 by drummerboy1970

If  i walked out of the front door,  amongst the trees

and along the street,

making sounds like

children

distressed in the night;

leaves falling,

joining the previously fallen

to make burial mounds

shaped only by the

wind.

If i continued forward past this

debris

and into the park

where this was amplified

by ten

and the children then screamed

their nighttime nightmares,

illustrated in golden brown

falling all around,

becoming damp and

cold and

old.

If i lay down amongst

these rapidly decaying lives

and wept,

what would this do

to

your

eyes?

How would they appear

as the sun rose

and blinded them,

almost?

If i kissed you in the dark,

beneath the sheets,

would the breeze

disturb

us?

and just who

are the people outside the window

tonight,

who insist upon

shouting their pain

at God?

I have lost many

verses to this machine tonight,

but

will always begin

again, because what i

have to say

to you can never

be destroyed

by

anything nor anyone,

ever.

Where exactly are you

right now

baby?

and how does the world

appear to

you?

What thoughts do you hold

and how does the light

fall on your

face?

I have

watched a bird

with only one wing

today,

and do you know what?

he was still able

to

move

forward;

just.

Cats and trees and light green

bottles,

all conspire to get us slammed

against walls and

afraid,

but

tonight i am not afraid

as i think of you

in your gown

upon the

living room floor

looking upward toward

me

with your

eyes

open;

lightly

scented.

The dragon screams but fails to take flight

Posted in Blog Posts on July 15, 2011 by drummerboy1970

Looking at this blank page

has unsettled

me tonight.

Something brought me here

and demands

answers, which

are thin on the

ground.

Slowly i resolve to

stop asking the

questions,

as people shop

at

the Tesco express

and wonder where their wives,

and lives,

went.

The dragon screams but fails to

take flight,

and my enemies all want

me as a friend.

If i decide that life is what

you make it,

does this mean i must now

learn

construction?

and why are the chidren all wanting

respect,

when they know only

fear

and how to create this in

others.

How can we exist if this is

the all of everything

and no one knows, or remembers,

how to charm the animals or make the

chidren laugh in their hearts and from

their

dreams.

Do you remember the garden where i took pictures

in the

snow?

ashes to ashes?… the boy in the bright blue

jeans?

tall grass in the sun?

Where are you tonight, what are you doing

and who are you

with?

as i sit here

quietly, in need of a

friend.

I used to watch you breathe and hold your hair

whilst you slept,

sobbing, for the broken

promise of a

child, which never

came.

The TV smiles the smile of a thousand

smiles,

whilst i look in the bathroom mirror

and decide i look old and am in need of

a shave.

I got a break today, but tomorrow i believe

the breaks may never

come,

and

the whole will once again be observed,

but believe me when i say

this:

The altar boy masturbates and thinks only of the

priest;

Bukowski turns in his grave, whilst

the new,

middle-aged angry,

stalk the evening hours with

hunger in their eyes

and feel sorrow for

the

children who never were,

and never will be

again.

One hand hovering over the emergency stop chain and the other hand holding a gun

Posted in Blog Posts on July 7, 2011 by drummerboy1970

Yesterday, as i walked across the lawn on my way to the shop to buy cigarettes, something hopped in front of me and drew my attention.  Upon closer inspection it turned out to be a chick that seemed to be attempting to fly away from me, clearly terrified by my approaching frame.

It attempted take off several times but its wings were clearly too small and it was all out of proportion with a large plump body (in relation to the wings at least), which was going to need more than those stubby little things to raise it off the ground.

It had fallen out of a nest somewhere and i had a good look around in the trees close by but couldn’t see where it may have come from.

I was feeling very bad, for various reasons, and this little fellow offered a welcome diversion so i lay flat down on the grass on my front, with my hands linked together palms down, and my chin on the backs of my hands.

We then were able to get a better look at each other.

He was very small and like i said, was all out of proportion.  He had a very proud posture with a puffed-out chest and a mouth like a frog, admittedly a frog with a small beak, but a frog nonetheless.

He sat there motionless and eyed me suspiciously, as i did him, but with rather less suspicion due to him being all small and stupid and non-threatening.

We were both right in the shit, that little chick and me, and each wanted answers from the other.

My life is very dis-jointed and i am treading water, as i watch the boat move away in the distance; i cry out for it to come back, pick me up, offer stability but my cries go unheard and i just rise and fall in its wake, waiting and getting tired.

I’m not good in these situations; fear and anxiety clawing away in my stomach, constantly and without respite, causing my Tourette’s to kick up several notches, which saps energy, leaving me feeling vulnerable and defenceless at a time when i most feel under attack.

But i’m not under attack, any more than anyone else is, i am merely alive and i need to remember this as i feel myself beginning to slide in the mud, on the hill, slowly downwards towards the lake at the bottom, beyond the trees.

I don’t like living alone.

I move into a new place, on my own, in nine days.

I dislike my own company and can’t stand the fear that arises out of nothing, for nothing and no one.

I am tired today of living with this fear, which is constant and rarely distracted.

At this time i need peace, but have no peace.

As the chick and i looked at each other, attempting to find some workable way forward, an odd thing happened,

i fell asleep.

I needed to fall asleep, that much was clear, but viewed from the outside, the situation must have appeared odd; me lying full-length and face down, with a tiny bird only a few inches from my face.

If i had any dreams i don’t remember what they were, but when i awoke, he was gone…this bird had flown, as the man said.

I had only fallen asleep for a few minutes but was beaten, groggy and the feeling of isolation, which had eased when he was there, had returned and once again;

i felt alone.

I let out a sigh, rolled onto my back and looked at the darkening sky.

My father has been in hospital for the last month.  I only became aware of this when i contacted him to see if he fancied going to get something to eat at some point.

“It will be a bit tricky” he said “i’m not walking all that well at the minute mate”.

“Why, what’s up? i texted back.

It seems that due to a lack of self-care, his legs had developed a severe fungal infection and he had checked himself into hospital two and a half weeks ago and had not let anyone know.

Not that there was anyone to tell, except me that is, and for whatever reason he chose not to and probably wouldn’t have, had i not contacted him first.

Since being admitted things have gone from very bad to much worse, with various complications arising, not least of which is a severe chest infection and fluid on the lungs, which is seeing him struggle for breath and there is talk of him being moved to the high dependency unit.

When i ask him how he is, he replies that he’s fine and improving all the time.

We don ‘t have much to say to each other and he becomes very tired when he talks so mostly i just sit there, he lies there, and occasionally we catch each others eye, at which point he looks towards the ceiling and i look down at the floor.

The man opposite looks  to his right with unfocused eyes, holds out his arms, and cries out for his son.

His son doesn’t come.

All of us in that room are travelling in the same direction, with the same destination; one hand hovering over the emergency stop chain and the other hand holding a gun.

So, is this how it happens then, both parents gone within a year?

It seems so and i don’t know what to do.

I was thinking all this as a lay on the grass after my little friend had gone to wherever it was he was going, and as the self-pity (never an attractive state of being) began to descend i thought of what was to become of him.

He had to climb the Empire Estate building, on the outside, if he was going to eat ever again;

without arms.

I just have to keep moving, push on,

look on the bright side, keep my chin up,

accentuate the positives, pull my socks up,

write a gratitude list and

feel grateful to be alive…

I eventually stood up and had another look around for the chick, along with my recently departed sense of humour.

I found neither

“Oh well” i said to myself “at least you’ve got your health”

as i walked out of the gate

and continued towards the shop

to get my cigarettes.

Flight socks and a disappointingly moist brow

Posted in Blog Posts on June 5, 2011 by drummerboy1970

Genius:
Something or someone embodying exceptional intellectual ability, creativity, or originality, typically to a degree that is associated with the achievement of unprecedented insight.
 
– Wikipedia
 
“This shirt is dry-clean only…which means it’s dirrrty!!”
-‘Mark Howard’ (Comedian)
 

I am not good at many things, which causes me constant irritation and humiliation, as i believe i should  be good at everything.

I experience many problems when engaging in simple DIY tasks, for example and ALWAYS need to phone someone with the requisite skills to come and rectify whatever task i have currently made a complete bollocks of.

I don’t shop well, often becoming pale and fatigued within the opening five or ten minutes of the expedition, at which point i start emitting whining, groaning-type sounds, not dissimilar to those of a toddler, which can tend to see me sent away to the cafe or the front door, where i cannot be heard.

I should not be allowed to EVER open, and venture, under the bonnet of a car. I have no idea what anything does and have no business being there, although i have learned the names of a few of the major players down there and will happily trot them out whilst in the company of other men.  It must be painfully apparent to all, that i am a clueless tit, as i begin prattling on, trying to make friends with, and gain unqualified approval from, the proper men of this great land; men who regularly use ‘Swarfiga’ and who have skin so tough they are able to use disposable razors, without complaint.

I am not naturally athletically gifted, and even if i was, i smoke far too much for it to be of any value to me now and although quite adventurous and full of derring-do in my drug-fuelled sexual exploits as a younger man, frequently find i just can’t be arsed with all the effort these days, and have recently, and with distaste, realised that, far from possessing the lithe and attractive body of yore, i now very probably (for ‘probably’…see…’do’), and with uncanny attention to detail, resemble a bull banging away at an old sofa.

Plus; i’m hung like a three-year old boy.

Now, i’ve begun listing the things i’m not good at, i’m starting to wonder if i am actually good at anything at all and, for that matter, why i started listing this stuff in the first place.

Oh yes…that’s right…comedy

I do have a gift for comedy you see, and for this i am extremely thankful.

I think it may stem from my younger years, always finding myself in the shit with someone or other, and desperately searching around, attempting to acquire tools and strategies, to get me out of the shit, without actually making the situation worse.

Also, as a control mechanism in unfamiliar settings with unfamiliar people, all milling about hob-nobbing and being nervous and stuff, comedy has no rival.

If you’re gonna pull this off, this getting people giggling and removing nervous energy business, it’s advisable to learn a few stock come-backs and lines for use in any situation; well it’s either that or pull down your trousers and pants, hold a couple of grey tissues around the hip-joint area, and boldly ask “does anyone wanna see my elephant impression?” – which is something i now use only at funerals and the occasional workplace disciplinary meeting.

“Last week I helped my friend stay put. It’s a lot easier’n helpin’ ’em move. I just went over to his house and made sure that he did not start to load shit into a truck.”                    – MH

Drugs and alcohol DO NOT improve comedic delivery EVER; this is an important thing to remember.

Timing is everything in comedy and alcohol completely wrecks your timing, plus it imbues one with the false belief that everything you say is utter genius and without your swift and astute observations, mankind would cease to exist and the planet would finally give up the ghost, stop rotating upon its axis, drop out of position and plummet off into the void, with the few remaining survivors clinging to tree stumps, legs flailing and screaming, like some drunken uncle on the new ride at Rhyl.

The reality is that you forget what you were going to say, and what you come up with in its place, is shockingly dumb and deserving of nothing more than immediate ejection from wherever you are, and a really prolonged and brutal kicking.

Amphetamine sulphate, meth-amphetamine crystal and crack all cause you to start exploring the ‘comedic’ areas in the darker spaces of your head, which often culminates in the airing of topics so off-key, universally shocking and offensive, that after calling a meeting to discuss this, and after much discussion, would very probably cause Beelzebub himself and all his little wizards to pronounce that “Yeah, that was was some pretty off-key shit that guy just said”.

“I’m against picketing, but I don’t know how to show it.”      – MH

And, anyone foolish enough to attempt being funny whilst under the influence of heroin or any of the hallucinogenic drugs will no doubt receive a reaction with about as much substance and affirmation as the puddle of drool , which will almost certainly be collecting on the floor at their feet, which no doubt, their face has lowered itself to about an inch away from, in the constant struggle between gravity, the floor, and the habitual opiate user’s head.

So…at the top of this post, i believe i mentioned genius, and wish now to bring some clarity as to why.

Sometime in early 1998 i was holed up, once again, in my apartment in San Francisco sitting watching Comedy Central and smoking heroin, as i was doing most of the time back then.  They were showing a ‘special’ of a comedian i’d not seen before and he was not only extremely funny, he had a presence about him and a delivery style that caused me to actually stop smoking drugs for half an hour in order to pay him my full attention; not a common occurrence back then, i can tell you.

For various reasons i’m not going to mention his real name, but will call him ‘Mark’ for the purposes of this blog.

“I had a parrot. The parrot talked, but it did not say “I’m hungry,” so it died.” – MH

Firstly, Mark looked really sharp and was wearing a black 1970’s style waist-length leather coat, had light-brown shoulder length hair and was sporting a pair of blue aviator sunglasses.

After watching clean cut, beige Chino and polo shirt-wearing comics, trotting out average and safe material for what seemed like decades, Mark provided a massive breath of fresh air just by simply walking onto the stage.  Finally, someone who looked like i did and wore what i wore; please God let him say what i need to hear; give me some hope and faith in humanity once again, let him be different, let this one fucking package do what it says on the tin.

I sat forward hopefully, but with trepidation, waiting for the inevitable let-down: it never came.

Everything that came out of his mouth was a stunningly funny, astute and wildly intelligent observation concerning the most banal of everyday subjects/objects and delivered in a way that is difficult to describe.

“I’m sick of Soup of the Day, it’s time we made a decision. I wanna know what the fuck ‘Soup From Now On’ is.” – MH

He had this nervous, twitchy way about him, which clearly betrayed his fear, but somehow also made him all the more funny. Watching him caused me to feel protective of him as he clearly had his eyes closed behind the blue lenses and i could palpably sense his vulnerability.  He would at times emit this nervous little laugh, which often acted as a punchline to one of his gags, but every time he did it, i found myself giggling right along with him, egging him on almost, wanting him to succeed whilst all the time being nervous that he wouldn’t, which only added to the attraction and produced a unique sensation of anxious hilarity, which on paper really shouldn’t work, but did…and in a truly wonderful way.

And then, to top it all off, was his voice, and more specifically the meter of how he spoke.

“I bought a doughnut and they gave me a receipt for the doughnut. I don’t need a receipt for the doughnut. I’ll just give you the money, and you give me the doughnut… end of transaction. We don’t need to bring ink and paper into this. I just can’t imagine a scenario where I would have to prove that I bought a doughnut. Some skeptical friend: “Don’t even act like I didn’t get that doughnut! I got the doc-u-men-tation right here… oh, wait it’s at home… in the file… under ‘D’… for doughnut.” – MH

His words were chosen very carefully and delivered in a kind of slow southern drawl, with accents on specific words, which had the overall effect of causing a metronome-like, hypnotic effect which was not at all unpleasant, and above and beyond the usual comedy experience, and absolutely addictive.

By the end of the show, i was elated and sated on many levels and made a mental note to find out more about him, and then went right back to my heroin use, and quite predictably, allowed myself to forget this moment of inspiration, amidst the perpetual grey, which was my life at that time.

Until about a month later…

when my friend, and the only other person i knew who had caught the show on TV, called me to let me know that “that guy from comedy central” was coming to ‘The Punchline’ comedy club in San Francisco in a few days.

We went and saw the show, and it was as great as we had expected, an extended version of the TV special and possibly funnier still, which i never thought possible.  In person, that presence he had, was much more defined and i was once again riveted.

Later, after the show, my friend and i were drinking at the bar and Mark came out with his wife and sat down.  I bought them a drink and began chatting with them both, letting Mark know how much i appreciated his humour and we all had a good laugh.  I found out he was from Minnesota, which made absolutely no sense, as his accent was more deep-south than far-north, but in person was less pronounced.

Not long into the conversation, mark leaned over to me and asked me a simple question…

“Do you know where to get any heroin, man?”

…so that’s why i connected with him huh?

Heroin is the ultimate ‘Pandora’s box’ situation, but once you have had a peek inside the box, and you are a thinking person, it is somehow important to seek others of a similar mind.  Why this is, i have no idea; perhaps it’s got something to do with seeking absolution, or identification, or solace on some level; i truly don’t know, but it happens, and it happened in a comedy club in California…

…and i said “sure man, but i can’t get hold of my guy till 9.00 am because he doesn’t work after 9.00pm”

“See, this CD is in stores. The only way I could get my old CD into a store is if I were to take one in and leave it. Then the guys says, “Sir, you forgot this!” “No, I did not. That is for sale. Please alphabetize it.” – MH

Mark seemed shocked at how quickly i could sort it out, introduced me to his lovely, charming, and wonderfully funny wife ‘Sarah’, who had opened his show, and made plans to swing by my apartment the next day.

So began a strange friendship between the three of us, that staggered its way around the country like a hilarious, but desperate six-legged beast, fumbling around, lost in a cloud of smoke, which beat the odds, but only just, and was in constant danger of capture; hunted by hounds of indertiminate origin, with foul and dark intentions, toying with us and allowing us to dream of escape, when there was never to be one.

Mark and Sarah came to visit me in San Francisco many times, often flying in when they had days off from touring, spending a couple of days it my flat, lost in a waking dream, safely wrapped in the arms of Morpheus, safe at least for a while.

I taught Mark how to freebase cocaine, and wished that i hadn’t.  All three of us wore a groove in my carpet from shuffling back and forth to the cooker to boil us up some more.

Up and down we went, heroin, crack, heroin, crack…sleeping, then leaping around, then quiet again, then back to the cooker…music constantly playing in the background – Dr John, Dandy Warhol’s, Led Zep, Beatles – if the music stops, your head will begin chattering in situations such as these and you’ll realise that you’re really very fucked, more fucked than you should be; dangerously fucked in fact; ‘medical intervention might be an option’ kind of fucked; hiiiiigher than is right or good – so keep the music playing, and the cigarettes burning and the cocaine cooking and never open the curtains.

Sometimes a couple of days would come and go; the only indication of the passage of time being the low level the candles would reach, and occasionally one of us would engage in the gargantuan task of replacing one, lighting it and then return to the default position of utterly horizontal, save for head and shoulders, propped against the chair back, aluminium foil resting on shirts, which were by now carbon black.

“An escalator can never break–it can only become stairs. You would never see an “Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order” sign, just “Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience. We apologize for the fact that you can still get up there.” – MH

Then a run of shows in the north east or midwest would interrupt the madness for a couple of weeks and then Mark and Sarah would be back to find me sick and struggling.

Money was no object when Mark was around as he earned a lot of money doing what he did and was extremely generous, but the amount of drugs we all did together caused our tolerance to rise at an alarming rate and by the time they left, i had a ridiculous addiction to feed.  I did my best to get the money, i was working (but god knows how) and i got a few extra bucks from here and there but it was never enough and i was constantly dope sick until they came back and normal (ridiculous) service continued.

Mark and Sarah seemed to appreciate my sense of humour and after a while Mark mentioned that he was putting on a series of shows in his hometown of Minneapolis/St paul and then asked if i would like to be one of the opening acts.

Had the ghosts of Bill Hicks, Lenny Bruce, Peter Cook and Richard Pryor all showed up and started playing poker in my front room, i would have been less surprised.

“I saw a lady on T.V. She was born without arms. Literally, she was born with her hands attached to her shoulders… and that was sad, but then they said, “Lola does not know the meaning of the word ‘can’t.'” And that to me was kinda worse… in a way… ya know? Not only does she not have arms, but she doesn’t understand simple contractions. It’s very simple, Lola, you just take two words, you put them together, then you take out the middle letter, you put a comma in there and you raise it up!” – MH

I was pretty scared of the idea but agreed almost immediately, as an opportunity and experience like this happen seldom in life and when they do,  i tend to get hold of them firmly, as i seem to have some form of suicidal compulsion to experience as much as possible before i come to rest, all fucked and worn out at the gates of hell, where i expect to be greeted by many great friends, and incidentally, where i know the owner and have a pitch-fork proof booth reserved, right next to the ice machine.

This turned into just one of the strange locations/situations that Mark, Sarah and i found ourselves in over the next few months.

I was in a real state of flux at this time and really unsure of where i wanted to be or what i was doing.  My addictions had me backed into a corner and things were seriously out of control.  I tried telling myself that things were ok and that if i could just get some sort of handle on stuff, some period of calm perhaps, time to think just for a fucking second, then things would work out; but i couldn’t and they weren’t working out.

There is something that people with addictive personalities often do, which is known in certain circles as ‘doing a geographical’.

Anyone thinking of doing the same, please remember this simple little phrase:

‘Wherever you go…there you are!’

It isn’t the places that you go that are the problem, or the people, or this or that, it’s YOU…you are the problem.

I didn’t know this, so i just kept moving.

Within the space of six months i travelled to the following places:

England; looking for some support from my family but found only anger and alcohol in its place, so i then flew back to…

“A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.” -MH

New Orleans; where i thought i might like to re-settle but something in me prevented me from doing so; some restless unease, gnawing its way through my confidence and eroding my self-esteem. The fear of being on my own seemed unbearable and prevented me from sitting still for even a second.

When i told Mark and Sarah i was in New Orleans, they wanted to come and meet me there right away.  Mark had never been to New Orleans, which i found strange as his whole persona was strikingly similar to someone who was born and raised there, maybe it was his spiritual home and he just didn’t know it, but whatever the situation, Mark loved New Orleans from the moment he first set foot in the french quarter.

I still have a lovely image of him standing outside an apartment in ‘Da quarter’s’ and calling the number on the ‘To Let’ sign outside on his cell phone.  He had decided that he wanted to rent the apartment immediately and use New Orleans as one of his main ‘bases’.  He wanted to pay the deposit right there and then and just COULD NOT wrap his head around the fact that the person on the phone wasn’t in fact sitting within the building that Mark was standing outside of.  He kept saying “i want to rent the apartment…which one?…well, this one with the sign…just come outside and i’ll make you an offer right away”.

Sarah and i stood and grinned.

“I want to hang a map of the world in my house, and then I’m gonna put pins into all the locations that I’ve traveled to. But first I’m gonna have to travel to the top two corners of the map so it won’t fall down.” – MH

We had difficulty scoring heroin as we didn’t have a regular connection in New Orleans and it was waaaay risky buying it on the street, being the extremely violent city that it was and being shot in the head didn’t appear too attractive a proposition.  We did mange to score some at some point but it wasn’t enough so in order to stay as well as possible, we bought the entire stock of poppy seeds from the A & P store on royal street in some misguided attempt to extract any traces of opium contained therein.

Mark had demons too i guess, and his vulnerability he wore like an invisible cloak, the discomfort hidden just below the surface, round a corner and out of sight, but it could be sensed.  Sometimes i would catch his eye (which was rare as Mark made eye-contact only fleetingly) and it was almost as if it caused him physical pain for someone to see ‘into’ him.  His face assumed the expression of someone looking directly into the sun, for a little too long, and caused him to look away and pause for a second, before once again regaining his composure and cool; returning with a smile.

Almost all of the time, Mark was a real gentleman; extremely generous, kind, thoughtful, respectful and compassionate, yet at times he became unsettled and twitchy and his demeanour could change swiftly. At such times, he could be quite hard to be around and became quite well-defended even though nothing was attacking him.  I sometimes felt the focus of his anger and it wasn’t a pleasant place to be.  I would feel ashamed that i was often reliant upon him to help finance my out of control drug use, and his resentful behaviour suggested that i may well have been right.

Addiction gives nothing yet takes everything, and at the time i felt angry that our levels of trust stalled at a certain point and motives for our relationship were silently called into question, due to the chemical wall which stood in the way.  I would have liked to have been closer to Mark, and Sarah too, but for all of us our primary relationship was with narcotics and that is all there is to say about that.

When Mark and Sarah left i once again had no focus or direction so i followed them to the next point on my ‘geographical’, which just so happened to be:

…New York; the Chelsea Hotel to be more precise, where Mark had a room on a long-term lease being the hipster that he was.

‘Tis a strange place the Chelsea, steeped in bohemian history:

Sid killed Nancy there…Dylan Thomas died there…Arthur C. Clarke wrote ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ there…Jimi Hendrix lived there…as did Janis Joplin…William Burrows was there often for one reason or another…Leonard Cohen wrote songs about the place and Dee Dee Ramone was living there during the time i visited…

…amongst many, many other notable people and events which have taken place there.

It says ‘Hotel’ on the tin but was wonderfully unique, in the fact that there seemed to be no ‘service’ of any kind, except a receptionist whose sole purpose was apparently to see how many obstacles he could put in between himself and you acquiring whatever ‘service’ or ‘thing’ for which you may have asked.

Of course, the rent was utterly ridiculous.

“If you find yourself lost in the woods, fuck it, build a house. “Well, I was lost but now I live here! I have severely improved my predicament!” -MH

Comedians in New York can spend an evening playing at five or six different venues, just dropping in at the appointed time, doing the set and then getting a cab to the next one, which was usually very nearby in Greenwich village or someplace.  If an even bigger comic turns up out of the blue, then everyone on the bill gets ‘bumped’, as was the case when a very well-known black comedian showed up at one of the venue’s we were at waiting for Mark to do his set.  He was working out material for an upcoming TV special, so no one got to do their set, but he was fucking hilarious, which just about made up for Mark’s loss of exposure.

…Then it was on to Minneapolis/St Paul for the week of shows, which i was to be opening….

The shows went down a storm as the prodigal son had returned.  My set seemed well received, and i’ve never experienced a rush like it before or since.  I often think about getting it together and doing some more stand-up but life somehow always seems to get in the way.

A couple of days into the run, we began to run low on heroin and it was getting pretty dire.  Clearly we were going to run out very soon and the decision was made for me (who was starting to withdraw quite badly) to fly from Minnesota to San Francisco (because we knew the drugs were good quality and we wanted a lot of them) and back in a day, and still play the show that night.

This journey, by the way, is over three thousand miles and looking back on it now, was just madness, but there is very little a person won’t do when they are starting to feel like they have the worst flu they have ever had, coupled with the most strychnine-filled and potent LSD they could imagine; if told that a 3000 mile flight will totally remove all the symptoms of heroin withdrawal, every addict that i personally have ever known, would most definitely be at the designated place, at the appointed time, sporting flight socks and a disappointingly moist brow.

“I just looked in the mirror and things aren’t looking so good…i’m looking California…and feeling Minnesota” – Chris Cornell

Anyway, i managed it somehow, and we were all ok again; at least for now.

We visited Mark’s mum’s house for thanksgiving, which coincided with the shows, and were fed a wonderful meal.  It was clear to me that his parents loved him dearly and that perhaps they also worried about him.

“Sometimes in the middle of the night, I think of something that’s funny, then I go get a pen and I write it down. Or if the pen’s too far away, I have to convince myself that what I thought of ain’t funny.”  – MH

As i ate my dinner, my eye was distracted by the photograph on top of the TV of Mark shaking hands with David Letterman during one of his performances on ‘The Letterman Show’.  It seemed strange that this was the same man who was now passing the peas and who had spent an entire evening with me in a hotel room in New Orleans boiling poppy seeds in a pan.

I also went to visit Mark and Sarah at their new home, outside Los Angeles in a mountain community.  I took a lot of drugs with me on the plane stuffed down the front of my trousers, as Mark had wired me a fair amount of money to do this (these were the days pre-911 and security was much more lax) and when i got there, my bag didn’t come round on the carousel and we had to fuck about dealing with the lost luggage people who said they’d send it on.  Mark, for one horrible moment, thought that the drugs were in my bag and the relief that came from him when he realised they weren’t, was palpable.

“Is a hippopotamus a hippopotamus…or just a really cool opotamus?” -MH

We did lots of cocaine at the house and i spent three days convinced that they were both the police and behaved appallingly the whole time, nothing being able to convince me that i wasn’t about to get busted at any moment and my world come crashing down.

Soon after LA, i returned to England in a frightening condition, to somehow get myself through the worst withdrawal i have ever experienced, the memory of which helps to keep me clean to this day.

I decided to stay in england and attempt to get my life back on track but did keep in touch with Mark and Sarah over the next few years.

Mark was arrested at the airport in Austin, texas in 2003 charged with drug possession (some syringes and trace amounts of heroin inside a can) and during a routine medical exam at the jail, they discovered a massive infection in his leg, which resulted in him having to endure a 13-hour operation to save the leg.

“A fly was very close to being called a “land,” cause that’s what they do half the time.” – MH

It seemed Mark was now using needles.

I’ll let an extract from the US magazine  ‘Entertainment Weekly’ bring this particular blog to a close:

“Sunday night, March 20, 2005. The last moments of the last show. Caroline’s comedy club in New York City , table after table of devoted fans, jealous rivals, and even a few rock stars. All there to see him. The man on stage. And they were roaring.

‘Mark Howard’ blinked into the ocean of applause and let slip a lopsided smile. The 37-year-old comic was crushing. After almost two decades in comedy, the former fry cook had all but been handed the deed to the most important stand-up joint in the country. So he grinned and ambled off the stage into the arms of his wife, ‘Sarah’. Later that night, with the crowd still swirling, the couple slipped out the door into the neon embrace of Times Square.

Over the next week, they went off the grid, moving from hotel to hotel, dodging phone calls from increasingly concerned family and friends. On Tuesday, March 29, nine days after the Caroline’s gig, they holed up in an upscale hotel in Livingston, N.J. Early the next afternoon, ‘Sarah’ called her husband’s publicist, who called his manager, who called his parents. One of the greatest comedians of a generation was dead.”

Mark died of ‘multiple drug toxicity’…he was thirty-seven.

I am still in contact with Sarah, a fine comedian in her own right, and would like to thank her for giving me permission to write this…love you ‘Sarah’.

I have incredibly fond memories of my time with them both and i know that till the day i die i will be constantly reminded of one of Mark’s killer one-liners or another.

“My manager saw me drinking backstage and he said “Mark, don’t use liquor as a crutch.” I can’t use liquor as a crutch, because a crutch helps me walk. Liquor severely fucks up the way I walk. It ain’t like a crutch, it’s like a step I didn’t see.”
MH- Live at the 40 Watt Club, Athens, Georgia, April 9, 2002

Just this morning i was in the supermarket and had about fifteen individual items on the belt being scanned through.  The cashier asked me that most predictable and dumb of questions that people often get asked at times such as these,

“Do you need a bag?”

With a slight pause and a withering look, i responded

“Oh no my dear…iiii juggle!!”

Love you Mark…God bless you.

Thanks for reading…

Drummerboy xx

Listen to the sound of rain falling on grass or on concrete or water

Posted in Blog Posts on March 3, 2011 by drummerboy1970

My father used to earn his living playing Dixieland Jazz; ”Trad Jazz’ as it was known in England in the early 1960’s.

As a child, i used to occasionally hear this music but not often, as he didn’t own a record player.  I believe he didn’t own one due to not wanting my mother to play pop records, which in his estimation, were the devil made manifest in vinyl.

I would occasionally hear the sound of my dad’s banjo, whenever he cleaned it or changed the strings. He wasn’t the type of guy to burst into song whilst playing his banjo at home, he was strictly rhythm, was obsessed with Dixieland rhythm sections and spoke of chord progressions and key changes like a mechanic might speak of brake pad replacements; a stony look on his face, utterly devoid of joy and i wondered why the hell he played the thing as it seemed to make him so damned miserable.

This was indicative of my father’s nature; highly intelligent, massively controlled/controlling in everything he did, especially his thinking; devoid of spontaneity and expression and hard for me to relate to as a child.

New Orleans jazz became to me so repulsive, not because of any failing on its part, but due to the associations with my father whom i wished to get away from very badly.

Ironic then, that i ended up living in New Orleans, when the very first opportunity to escape presented itself.  This came in the form of a stunningly attractive brunette, a native of New Orleans, with a penchant for sex and drugs, in a bar on Deansgate, Manchester on a rainy Tuesday night – but that’s another story.

My father’s house is the house that the neighbourhood children stand outside and throw stones at.  It is neglected beyond repair and looks haunted.  If i were a child, i would also throw stones at it; it would frighten me but i’m not sure i would know why.

I have not entered my father’s house in thirty years; no one is allowed inside.  I visited there a couple of years ago when i knew he was away and looked through the living room window.

The house is stacked with garbage and there is a small passageway through to his armchair, which faces his television set, which is mounted upon another television set, amidst more garbage.

This garbage has clearly been there for some time and i know that the house has not been decorated in over thirty years.  When i was last inside aged nine or ten, i spent the weekend there, and even back then my father had several saucepans dotted around the bedroom to catch drips coming through the ceiling.

I was ashamed to be seen leaving my father’s house when i was a child; i suspect he was too, but sometimes when we left there it was on route to the nearby fields, where he taught me how to fly a kite, make a catapult out of the branch of a yew tree or really listen to what the rain sounded like falling on grass or on concrete or water.

Some nights, he would spend the whole evening rubbing the ends of his fingers with surgical spirit to keep them in shape for an upcoming gig, whilst i sat on his knee and asked him about music and books and grandmothers.

He smelled of cigarette smoke, surgical spirit and Brylcreem.  He was also warm, as i sat there, and his cardigan smelled of cooking oil and his mother’s scullery and i used to like to fall asleep on him as he smoked and read me stories and poems by Rudyard Kipling, Edgar Allan Poe, Spike Milligan , John Steinbeck….

I have spent many hours in the armchairs of the world, facing others who i have chosen to aid me in seeking unspeakable answers to unspeakable questions and have come to the following conclusion:

Not only is it ok to not love your parents; it is also ok to not like them very much either, and furthermore, it is ok to not feel the slightest guilt about either of the above.

I did not know this.

Dixieland Jazz is the music of syncopated rhythms and laughter; of instruments and lives becoming so entwined, as to be almost indistinguishable from one another.

It is the sound of poverty turned on its head; a ‘fuck you’ to the gods when life turns dark and loved ones die; a timeless soundtrack to generations of people, on the brink of madness due to poverty and circumstance; unacquainted with education, privilege or comfort.

My father aspired to poverty and related with the creators of this music.

I don’t know whether i love or even like my father, but he is now seventy-four, his health is failing, he has leg ulcers, finds it difficult to breathe and his house is the only place he feels safe.

I want to help him in some way but don’t know how;

except perhaps by giving up smoking, and

throwing out my used packaging

when i’m finished with it.

The kind of weary reserved only for the damned…

Posted in Blog Posts on February 5, 2011 by drummerboy1970

This morning i woke up feeling pretty broken.  My head was filled with everything and nothing and the static whirled round and round but never settled on anything concrete…to the point where i entered a state of what i call ‘analysis paralysis’, which found me struck dumb and immobile.  I felt utterly stupid, as though i never had, or would have, anything useful to say ever again, my whole being felt tired; exhausted, and incredibly weary; the kind of weary reserved only for the damned.

On my way to work, i listened to the new Gil Scott-Heron album ‘I’m new here’.  The album is book-ended by a track entitled ‘on coming from a broken home’, which finds Gil pondering the question “is a home broken just because someone says it is?”.

Gil was of the opinion that although his father left home when he was young and he was sent south to live with his grandmother, the amount of love given freely to him by this amazing lady who “had more than the five senses and raised everyone she met just that little bit higher”, the home he lived in was far from ‘broken’.

My home was broken before i was born.

My conception was to mend this, in the eyes of my parents, but didn’t.

Yes, my home was definitely ‘broken’ and i felt this from the moment i came into being.

I felt very frightened.

I also felt at fault because i was stupid.

As a child, my peers and i were tested for our IQ scores.  My parents (my mother and step-father) were called into school to be told that i had scored highly and they might wish to seek special schooling for me.

I was scared by the phrase ‘special schooling’ but the teacher assured me this was a good thing and i felt a little better, as though i’d actually done something good.

On the way back to the car after this meeting i tripped and fell over.  My trousers got dirty and i had torn a hole in the knee.

My mother hit me on the backside, hard and said three words, with force;

“You stupid boy”

and because she was my mother and all of my world then; i believed her.

The teacher must have got it all wrong, and all this talk of being “as bright as a button” and “gifted” was rubbish because my mother was never wrong.

When i won a scholarship to one school but not another, this was also due to my stupidity and lack of foresight due to the extra travel involved.

At this school i immediately wondered how all the kids managed to keep up with the lessons and concentrate for that length of time, because for some reason i couldn’t and quickly became labelled ‘stupid’ and/or ‘lazy’.  This wasn’t quite right though, for i tried to meet expectations and wanted so badly their approval, but i just didn’t seem to fit.

I soon decided that i must have been stupid and/or lazy and began to become what they told me i must be.  I also became mean and beat people up and had others do my work for me.

I soon picked up another tag; ‘Psycho’.

I was a lazy psycho.

I was not expelled due to being ‘gifted’, but i didn’t feel gifted and no longer wanted to be gifted if it meant everyone was angry at me all the time.

I still felt very frightened but would throw a bottle at anyone who suggested as much.

Being raped at knifepoint by three teenagers at the age of ten in an attic room was stupid of me, or so i was told 25 years later when i finally shared this with my mother; i should have fought them off.

At 32 i was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome (which had caused the learning difficulties at school; kind of like ADHD) but stupidly should have spotted this sooner, according to my parents.

So, is a home broken just because someone says it is?

Well…is it?

————————–

I buried my mother on June 19th 2010 and stupidly;

i forgot to cry.

I love you mum and may you forever rest in peace.

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