Today, children, Uncle Jack would like to talk to you about drugs.
If you’ve had the genuine pleasure of reading one or more of my short stories (links to their respective Amazon pages in the Bibliography if you would to join the party), you’ll probably notice that most of them contain drugs references. Some, such as Dot Matrix, are subtle (Cuntley has a coke problem) and some, such as Twenty-Seven or the new one, Perfect Anastasia are overt.
I was looking at this old dystopian sci-fi thing I was writing and, Christ, that one is positively coated in cocaine. Here’s the opening scene:
Starlight peeks through the transparent roof of The Rack Lounge. I’m sat in VIP a booth, rubbing crumbs into my gums, alone – Porter’s late again.
I pick up the dusty mirror and gaze into it.
My hairline’s perfectly straight, positioned far enough back as not to distract from my beautiful face, but not so far back I appear receding. My ears, like the hands holding the mirror, are a new acquisition. Ears and noses are mainly cartilage and those fuckers never stop growing; if a person has any respect for themselves, they’ll replace their ears and their nose at least once a year.
I flash a smile at myself. Bright, uniformed veneers. Are they twinkling?
It’s probably just the coke.
And I was wondering – is it all a little gratuitous?
I suppose you have to ask these questions of yourself every now and then. For example, is there too much swearing in my writing? (The answer to which is a resounding Fuck no.)
Well here are my thoughts.
I never want to imply drugs are good. But I don’t ever want to preach that they’re bad. Enough people feel the need to force their views on such things down your throat. You don’t need me doing that, too. And besides, I’m sure you’re all smart enough to make up your own minds.
One thing that is undeniable, however, is that they are there. They are a thing.
Especially in my life.
I’ve worked in such industries as music (druggy), fashion (really druggy) and investment banking (insanely druggy). So for me, a person snorting a line of cocaine or taking a pill is a pretty standard event.
(Ironically, I favour the booze. Which can occasionally make me a bit of a damp squib at parties. Alcohol is still a drug, though, so more on that later.)
What I’m trying to say is that for many of my characters, drugs are just an everyday thing.
I’m not trying to be “cool” and I’m certainly not trying to be preachy. I’m just trying to be realistic. Because when you’re writing scary shit, part of frightening the reader is making it believable. Horror with no grounding in reality is ineffective.
What is a drug?
Enjoy that triple venti soy latte this morning? You fucking junkie.
And you make me sick sipping that Aperol Spritz.
Have a little headache? Just pop a couple of paracetamol tablets, Sid Vicious.
There’s the feeling that whatever is legal is okay and whatever is illegal is bad. But what about weed? Correct me if I’m wrong, my American friends, but I believe weed is now legal in 8 states. I’m sure many more will legalise it in the near future.
I was in Colorado a few years ago and it seemed perfectly acceptable to talk about it and smoke it and not be judged. I wonder if that would be the same in, say, Texas? Let me know in the comments if you can fill in the blanks for me.
(Personally, I can’t stand the stuff. Makes me paranoid and lasts forever.)
Anyway. Drugs. Pretty fucking broad spectrum there.
Are drugs bad?
Yes. Yes drugs are bad. From a health perspective, drugs are bad.
Psychologically, well, I suppose that depends.
Are SSRIs bad for people with depression?
Is Ritalin (essentially speed) bad for kids with ADHA.
Is marijuana bad for an old lady with arthritis?
By the time I was thirty, three people I had known had died from overdoses. (Is it any wonder I’m drawn to horror over all other genres?) They were mostly sweet, pretty, dumb kids I knew from music or fashion circles who started taking heroin. It always seemed that once people crossed that boundary to intravenous narcotics, they would seldom come back to real life. They were gone forever.
(Personally, I’m squeamish with needles, so I’ve never ventured down that particular rabbit hole. And as I said, I’m a drinker. Although these days it’s the nicer stuff like a nice pinot noir or single malt Scotch. Gone are my days of drinking £1.99 bargain basement wine from the offie.)
But if you think it’s just heroin and coke people die from, check out my new favourite website, CaffeineInformer.com for many grisly stories about the dangers of caffeine.
There’s this notion, particularly regarding cocaine, that drugs are glamorous. Seeing those papped photos of Kate Moss racking up does nothing to detract from it.
If it’s good enough for Kate, it’s good enough for me.
But there’s not much glamour in staying awake for twenty-four hours and talking bullshit to strangers (all of which will come flooding back in a sea of regret the next morning).
There’s not much glamour in scraping a few crumpled twenty pound notes together and jumping into some stranger’s car.
Drugs are not glamorous.
You know when you’re on Twitter and you read something like:
Can’t FUNCTION without my morning cup of coffee 😛😛😛😛😛😛😛
I think: you’re an addict.
But it’s somehow unacceptable to write:
Cannot SOCIALISE at this party without two fat lines of gak 😛😛😛😛😛😛😛
Some of my characters see nothing different about the two statements. And if you’ve ever been out to a club in London (Fabric, I’m looking at you), then you’ll get what I mean.
The real world isn’t a nice place. People swear, get high, cheat and kill.
It’s all pretty ugly, but it makes great writing material.
But enough from me. Let me hand you over to wisdom of Shaun Ryder and the Happy Mondays