I had my first psychedelic experience to Roxette, an inauspicious start by anyone’s standards. Several of us had a taken half a tab and waited for it to come on. It seemed I would have to wait a while longer for the start of what would eventually become my reasonably glorious psychedelic career. An hour later, with no signs of anything happening we assumed we had been ripped off and decided to go into town.
As the 10mg of Oxynorm begins to kick in and the 13 hours of Aphex Twin on Soundcloud play on, it seems easy to recall how the evening of my first LSD trip developed all those years ago. My tongue began to be inexorably drawn to an exploration of my molars as we took the bus into town as usual and headed for The Globe pub. Something weird was beginning to happen. Maybe our regular night out on the town wasn’t such a good idea. The buildings along Silver Street became a film set, the buildings seemingly only 2 dimensional. Sat in the snug, my leg touched someone else's, and I couldn’t tell whether I was pressing hard against it or was merely brushing it. I began to perceive the layers in the music, each sound separately in way that allowed me examine the minutia of the banal euro pop; even Roxette sounded good on acid. It must have been love, but its over now.
My first mushroom trip yielded a much more rewarding musical experience. A decent record shop had furnished us with the vinyl of The Grateful Dead’s first album that didn’t quite hit my aural G-spot. But Anthem of the Sun and HP Lovecraft Live certainly did. The multiple turning over of Anthem of the Sun was delayed only by us breaking our tripped out reverie with several minutes of hysterical laughter. When the vinyl began to spin again, we drifted off into our own mushroom rainbow daydreams. I seemed to be lying submerged in an indescribably comforting pool of water. Something akin to the being wrapped in cotton wool that heroine would years later occasionally provide.
My friend’s house in which we had taken the acid first time provided a nice venue for a trip soon afterwards. We tried to put a coloured light bulb in the living room for ambience, but after setting up a chair underneath we found that none of us could quite manage it, with crazy fits of the giggles and a lack of spatial awareness fusing to hamper our efforts. The next morning I found we could reach the bulb fitting easily by merely by reaching up standing on the floor; DIY is not a good psychedelic pastime.
Acid and E’s never seemed too much fun; my mind felt moved sideways into a realm that I wouldn’t encourage people to visit. Purple Om acid tabs were an almost weekly endeavour to deal with at that time, but Strawberries were always fun. Just like alcohol, different types have different effects. Epiphanies at an exponential rate blossomed from my early 1990's drug use, combining youth, Ecstasy, acid, speed, dope and Joy.
LSD was only £2.50 a tab, which was a cheap way to pass a midweek night whilst waiting for the weekend's E's. There was a period in the beginning when it was genuinely consciousness expanding, with the next few days spent with fresh eyes with which to see the world. Acid isn’t really around much these days. In the era of smoking Skunk to get fucked, consciousness expansion is at a premium.
Even in a more enlightened era, it will all to soon become about getting fucked up and then you are fucked, and not in a good way. My high life became a little panicky; self-medicating with booze, coupled with a genuine love of drinking eventually gave way to alcoholism, rehab and the eventual and thankfully temporary joining of a dubious anti-Dalai Lama Buddhist organisation. Had being drunk for 10 years following 10 years of drink and drugs clouded my judgement? Well, I wouldn’t be the first.
It took several detoxes and rehabs to sort it out. After my first rehab I thought I had it beat, but I couldn’t see the weed for the trees at the time. When I finally beat the booze and became totally clean, my interest in Buddhism took me off in that direction. In hindsight, getting involved with a religious group provided much needed support and gave me an interesting insight into faith. A bit like when I slept with a guy just to feel what it was like to be fucked. I knew what it was like to fuck, but how do a women feel being fucked? I was at least getting an insight, from the inside. So for me in the end, taking up religion was a lot like taking it up the arse. It's all a matter of taste, and having tasted it with genuine interest, I’ll not die wondering.
It’s not just me of course; people are renowned for going through a religious conversion after addiction. In my case the Buddhists (New Kadampa Tradition) provided me with my own version of AA. A group of generally clean and sober individuals with positive life goals was just what I needed. I could never get on with AA even though I made it step 3 of the 12 during my second stint in rehab.
The key concept of accepting higher power as peddled by AA is a stumbling block for many, not just me. You don’t have to choose God as your higher power, but it works better if you do. The fact that I probably still had alcohol as my higher power held me back a bit. I could have chosen Sun Ra or Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry; I call upon them in times of need these days. Don’t get me wrong, AA has saved countless lives, it's just that I couldn't face everyday as an alcoholic in recovery; there came a time for me to move beyond recovery.
My religion and faith seemed a genuine thing for me at the time. A deadly chasm in your life has opened up with the mental and psychical disaster that is addiction. That chasm has to be filled, lest you fall into it again. An obsession with exercise, sex, religion, golf, or a combination of such things can often fall short of fulfilment. In taking a new direction on the journey, be careful not to fuck it up.
Look at that Alice cooper fella. What you do after can take away from what you did before. I never need to bother to get into Alice Cooper’s music, as each round of Republican golf with God adds to his handicap as an icon. A piece of graffiti claiming 'Clapton is God' was once legendary; indeed, God does appear to be a racist white old man with a beard*. Slowhand is the nickname he got by not being quick enough to grab his kid before it fell out of a 53rd story window.
* Eric Clapton speaks out: “I used to be into dope, now I'm into racism. It's much heavier, man. Fucking wogs, man. Fucking Saudis taking over London. Bastard wogs. Britain is becoming overcrowded and Enoch will stop it and send them all back. The black wogs and coons and Arabs and fucking Jamaicans and fucking [indecipherable] don't belong here, we don't want them here. This is England, this is a white country, we don't want any black wogs and coons living here. We need to make clear to them they are not welcome. England is for white people, man. We are a white country.I don't want fucking wogs living next to me with their standards. This is Great Britain, a white country, what is happening to us, for fuck's sake? We need to vote for Enoch Powell, he's a great man, speaking truth. Vote for Enoch, he's our man, he's on our side, he'll look after us. I want all of you here to vote for Enoch, support him, he's on our side. Enoch for Prime Minister! Throw the wogs out! Keep Britain white!" - Eric Clapton (Rebel Rock by J. Street. First Edition (1986). Oxford Press Basil Blackwell.pp.74–75).