The Great Abstainer

sherbert fountain

I should, perhaps, begin by telling you that I have an addictive personality and, as I am fully aware of that particular personality flaw, apart from alcohol and (briefly) tobacco, I have never allowed myself to partake in any non-prescribed substance stronger than aspirin. I do not smoke cannabis because I do not smoke. It makes me cough. A drag on a Christmas cigar makes me light-headed enough these days. Despite the glamour associated with some of those who have succumbed to it, I have always viewed Heroin as a rather sordid habit, much like picking toe-nails, and so it holds no fascination for me. Intrigued as I am by LSD, I am also aware of Peter Green and I carry with me the knowledge that if I was to lose thirty years, I would have nothing left. My greatest concern in trying anything is that I will enjoy it, because I am fully aware how quickly, for me, a pleasant diversion can become a necessary staple. Ask the man that sells me my chocolate.

I keep reading about an ‘epidemic’ of cocaine use in the middle-class over 50’s, and this knowledge has thrown up a thousand questions in my mind that these articles do not themselves seem to address. I will consider some of them here – if you have the answers, please feel free to let me know.

I had to have a camera down my throat some years ago. To get down there, it first went up my nose (I have no idea why). Before spraying the anaesthetic up my proboscis the doctor asked me which side I breathed through. I had no idea. Surely both. He sighed and blocked each nostril in turn. When he blocked the left side I was fine, when he blocked the right, I turned blue. I had no idea that, given the option of using two perfectly good nostrils, my body elected to use only one at once. Even more bafflingly, the doctor told me that it occasionally changed its mind and used the other one instead. Why, he did not say – he was too busy feeding his Leica up my snout.

Anyway, my point is this: should I attempt to snort coke up the non-functional side of my nose, I would do nothing other than make one end of the rolled up twenty slightly soggy. Any light-headedness would be due to lack of oxygen. Worse, if this happened, my reflex would be to breathe through the mouth. My initial inhalation would be half a face away from the unmolested line and, thus, it would be unaffected, but my subsequent exhalation would almost certainly redistribute it over every available surface in the vicinity.

If, by some mischance, I stuffed the tubular currency up the functioning nostril and inhaled, I would sneeze – loud and snotty – probably pebble-dashing the mirror with a viscous form of cocaine that not even the hardiest of recreational users would want to touch.

Is there, I wondered, some kind of technique, other than thrusting a finger up it, for working out which half of the conk is in working order and, thereafter (post-snort), how does one stop the sinuses from responding to the biological imperative to expel unexpected items from the bagging area and into the nearest available tissue?
I am puzzled by where these mid-life ‘professionals’ meet their dealers: the golf club, the Masonic lodge, the W.I.? I’m taking it that these deals no longer go down on drizzly street corners and dingy doorways, but take place in bistro, wine bar or tasting-menu eatery. I also understand that the product itself is getting cheaper – I’m not sure why, but I’m not inclined to research too deeply in case Big Brother decrees my interest to be unhealthy and sends the boys round. Really, all I want to know is how, gram for gram, it compares for price with a Sherbet Fountain. More to the point, given the cashlessness of the economically endowed these days, how do they pay? Bank Transfer?

Thankfully, curiosity is all that troubles me these days, the age of the need to experience has happily slipped by me. The vices I have now are the vices I had thirty years ago and will be the vices with which I die, and, in the meantime, the only thing I will be shoving up my hooter will be a digit-full of Vick’s when my body decides to close down both nostrils at once…

Three quotes today, all by Robin Williams, two because they are about cocaine and one because it is just great:

“Cocaine is God’s way of telling you you are making too much money.”

“I couldn’t imagine living the way I used to live. Now people come up to me from the drug days and go, ‘Hi, remember me?’ And I’m going, ‘No, did I have sex with you? Did I take a dump in your toolbox?”

“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”