Friday, 4 March 2011

Voyage III – Booze and fags

I actually managed to get into an argument today. Hoorah! It was about drugs.
A small group of people were seated in a booth under one of the windows. I, as usual, was ear-wigging from the next bench along. A woman called Cathy was saying how so many people she knew had died one way or another – overdoses, aids, shootings, just stupid accidents. I couldn’t tell if she’d been a druggie herself – she didn’t look the part – rather conventional actually, but she’d evidently known a lot of people who were. A man who’s face I couldn’t see because he had his back to me opined that it should all be legalised – let the junkies do themselves in and save the rest of us from having to put up with all the thieving and so on. I was surprised Cathy didn’t challenge him on this. Somebody else said ‘What about the children?’ and the guy just said it would just be like fags and booze. ‘Authorities could just concentrate on the under-age.’
The conversation ambled about a bit, no one but the one with his back to me wanting to make much of a noise. He started talking about how people had to take responsibility for themselves, and how these bloody crusties and drop-outs deserved everything they got. He didn’t actually say that they (or we, rather) should be rounded up and gassed but that’s where he was heading. I couldn’t resist it. I had to say something...
‘So, you don’t think people should be helped if they get into trouble with drugs.’
‘Not out of my pay packet mate’ he said. I was standing up. I looked down at him. He was a young looking bloke, lean faced, sharp eyed, name of Paul apparently. I pulled up a chair and sat down, leaning forwards on the back of it.
‘What if someone is injured snow boarding?’
‘Recreational injury.’
‘That’s totally different’ says Paul, outraged.
‘It’s exactly the same – people injure themselves doing stupid things for fun all the time.’

‘It’s true’ says a very well-dressed chap, Harvey, sitting next to Cathy. ‘The endorphin rush from almost killing yourself is physiologically indistinguishable from taking opiates, and just as addictive.’
‘Maybe they should just take out insurance’ says another man, Trevor, at the other end of the table, ‘the sportsmen and the druggies I mean.’ He grins conspiratorially at me.
‘What? I do snow boarding...’ says Paul, a little agitated now.
‘I know’ I say. ‘That’s why I brought it up.’
‘How do you know?’
I mime big ears with my cupped hands on either side of my face.
‘Anyway’ says Paul, ‘I am entitled to my health care, free at the point of delivery...’
‘You’ll be lucky...’ comments Cathy. She was a nurse she tells us, so she should know.
‘I have paid my stamp’ says Paul. ‘I am owed – not like these greasy lay-abouts I was on about.’
‘What about professional people with a coke habit?’ asks one of the other women – her name’s Fiona.
‘What about punks on skateboards?’ I add, laughing. We’re all enjoying ourselves now, all except Paul.

‘Alright, alright’ he says, making pacifying gestures with his hands. ‘But I still say drugs are different.’
‘Have you never taken drugs?’ asks Fiona.
‘Might have.’
‘Well then.’
‘But I never let myself get hooked.’
‘But if you had been into it... then what?’
‘But I wouldn’t.’
‘What did you die of then?’ I ask.
‘None of your bloody business’ he says, trying to smile.
‘Booze or fags?’ asks Fiona. ‘It was the booze wasn’t it.’
‘Fuck off’ he says.
‘I wonder how much you cost the NHS?’ I say, getting up to go, my work here done.
‘Fuck right off’ he says in my face. We stare each other out for a second and then I leave.
See? I shouldn’t even try. I never know when to stop.

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A life backwards

It's in the nature of blogs of course that you come across the latest postings first (or you find yourself in the middle.) Normally it doesn't matter but if you want to read my novel in order, the first installment is as you'd expect, the oldest posting.
Thanks for your patience.