Answer: I was on the street, begging money to feed a ravenous heroin addiction. Back in 2002, I didn't spend much time mulling over what the future might have in store. Heroin addicts rarely think much further than the next day. They know it's likely to be the same as any other day: heroin for breakfast followed by a quest to raise money to get more heroin. Lots of time spent waiting around on heroin dealers. Relatively little time spent actually taking the stuff. And hours spent in a semi-stuporous state when physical exhaustion and the cumulative consequences of too little sleep mingle with the drug's effect to knock you out. Little true happiness, instead a state of constant, low-grade desperation. However much gear you have now, you'll always need more later.
What I did decide ten years ago was that if I had any choice in the matter (and nobody in the clutches of full-blown active addiction uses their drug through choice, by this point, using has become so habitual it is automatic ~ the only true choice the addict faces is to stop. But that, of course, is easier said than done...) I decided I'd make sure that, if I could't be physically detoxed and clean come the Diamond Jubilee, I would at least not be taking heroin any more.
Well I did call the dealer this morning and almost straight away regretted it. He warned me the gear wouldn't be as good as last time. Well last time it was terrible, so I wasn't exactly holding my breath. Only a quarter of the bag actually went into the decrepit vein I eventually found. The rest missed. The gear was better than last time. But any high I felt was overpowered by shame and regret and the sense that I shouldn't be doing this any more.
The guilt, by the way, is a new thing. I knew "normal" people thought heroin was wrong. But to me, back in the day, the first flush of the drug through my system felt like life itself flooding back into my veins. It was hard truly to believe that anything that soothing could be wrong. I haven't felt that good on gear in a long, long time, by the way.
The Jubilee is officially on Tuesday. Before then we have a "weekend of national celebration" and a double public holiday. I have already washed out my spoon and banged the residue into the top of my thigh . So there's nothing left. As far as I'm concerned I have given up on heroin as of now. I don't feel "high". Just normal. No better than on methadone. I got more enjoyment chopping and eating a cucumber-baby tomato-rocket-spring onion-avocado and radish salad with sardines than I've got out of heroin for a long time.
As I said yesterday, I have long avoided thinking about the destruction, disappointments, damage and loss caused by twelve years of addiction. For a long time, any pain turned me straight back to the painkiller. Heroin is nothing if not a good analgesic. Under the name "diamorphine", its pure form is dished out pretty liberally to the injured and the dying ~ and nowadays even to women giving birth ~ in British hospitals.
Well I'm lucky (as far as I know) not to have any life-threatening illness. True: for a long time I did use "brown" for, among other things, what I thought was its antidepressant qualities. But now I'm used to living without it, even if I don't always enjoy doing so. I might blog about lots of times when I used. But nowadays there are many days that I don't use at all.
I'm putting the druggy days behind me now. In using drugs I gained very little and missed out on a lot. Surely there has to be more to life than this? I see that now.
So by Tuesday, I shall not be on heroin. I couldn't bear to be. That's my choice and I'm taking it.
Elizabeth II: Coronation to Diamond Jubilee
There are scores of these, but here's a good one.
Diana Princess of Wales Tribute
The Queen spoke live, just before the six o'clock news on the evening before Diana's funeral. Years later the then-Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed that "speaking as your Queen and as a grandmother..." was actually Her Majesty's own personal touch, and not (as was widely assumed at the time) an invention of New Labour's infamous spin-machine.
Brian May: God Save the Queen, Buckingham Palace Roof
This is my favourite part from the Golden Jubilee. (I can just about remember some of it...)