I shake my head vigorously and attempt to blink away the fog. It doesn’t have the desired effect, the precise opposite in fact, as that familiar stabbing pain in my frontal lobe prompts a half-hearted but fruitless attempt to dredge up some vestigial memory of last night.
It was eightish. I’d met my brother and his friend, Nick, in a pub across the road from Supersonic’s place in Shoreditch. Now Supersonic or Soup, as we called him, was a one off – a full time, top of the range section eight who moonlighted as a struggling singer-songwriter when he wasn’t doing ketamine, trashing bars, sleeping in cemeteries or getting arrested. I’d got him a publishing deal six months earlier but London’s showbiz community were reluctant to offer him the record deal that he insisted his talent warranted. Tonight was Soup’s birthday bash. It was to be held in his loft.
Of course, to most of us the word “loft” conjures up glossy images of modern, high windowed, open plan living spaces with polished oak floors, bare brickwork, designer kitchens with Gaggia espresso machines and Philippe Starck bathrooms. Supersonic’s gaff had the bare brickwork but that was where the similarity ended. The place he called home was a former storage area above an old cutlery factory on the banks of the Regent’s Canal, now a sweatshop owned by Soup’s Bangladeshi landlord. It was accessible only via a steel staircase and a rusty walkway. I’d told my companions earlier in the evening about the time I arrived there for a band rehearsal one freezing January evening to find Soup and the band breaking up the few sticks of furniture he had in the place to fuel a roaring blaze in the fireplace. So that was Soup. And this was his night.
We’d been invited for nine-thirty but nobody appeared to be home when we rocked up at ten, so we decided to squeeze in a couple more pints at the pub. Last orders came and went and we headed back over the road. This time things were in full swing. Surfin’ Bird was belting out of a Fender speaker in the corner and a rainbow nation of musos, low lifers, rastas, goths, a couple of Brit Art types, a journalist I knew pretty well from Q and a sprinkling of pony tails from the majors were scattered around the room, chatting or nodding furiously to the beat.
We’d barely got through the door when a Daily Star Stunna and occasional pornstar of my loose acquaintance, all got up in a French maid’s outfit, tottered over to us on her five inch heels, planted a slightly over enthusiastic kiss on my mouth and presented an aluminium tray on which were chopped out a dozen lines of light brown powder.
“Fuck’s that?” queried Nick.
“Molly,” Stunna informed him. “Try some. It’s blinding!”
“Pure MDMA,” I rejoined. “Never tried it myself.”
It should be mentioned at this stage that I’d left home that evening with Georgia having extracted a solemn promise from me to be home no later than one AM, as we were invited to Sunday lunch with one of her colleagues, but temptation and I have never been easy bedfellows.
“Fuck it. I’m in,” I said, took the proffered Macdonalds straw and hoovered up a line. After a moment’s hesitation, my brother and Nick followed suit. Stunna wobbled away. “Happy rolling!” she called over her shoulder.
Cut to the three of us in a circle, grinning like startled chimps and dancing like bastards. I glanced at my watch. It was 3.45 AM.
My next conscious thought was mild bewilderment that I appeared to have been beamed up to a sofa on Soup’s self-built mezzanine-cum-bedroom. Nick was passed out on my left, my brother was nowhere to be seen and on my right, Stunna was nibbling my ear, whispering explicit inducements and expertly unbuttoning my fly. Looking at my watch again I saw it was ten to eight.
It was only once Stunna had my pleasingly responsive dick in her mouth that I realised we were not alone. In fact there were half a dozen others, including Soup and a video director I vaguely knew, arranged in a circle, passing round a home made crack pipe. Another first for me on a day of firsts; I took the Coke can and lighter, said “fuck it” again, sparked up, and inhaled.
I’d heard all kinds of stories about crack; that in the first flush of a relationship with the drug it was the best buzz you could get and instantly addictive. My first and only dalliance with the rock would suggest none of the above is true. In fact, the only discernible event was the slow but relentless metamorphosis of my dick from a state of alert preparedness, to something with the properties and reproductive abilities of a lettuce leaf after a week at the bottom of the fridge.
My manhood chastened and put safely away after some indignant and colourful language from the Stunna, I was about to take my leave when Nick stirred beside me, groaned and opened one eye.
“Time is it?”
“Fuck. Football. Nine. The Marshes.”
“You’ve had that, pal. Try standing up.”
He did so, managed to rise to the semi vertical, and subsided back onto the sofa. In seconds he was out cold again.
Home at last, with coffee percolating and bacon sizzling in the pan, I’m in the middle of navigating the minefield that is a pissed off Georgia, when the phone rings. It’s my brother.
“Mate, you won’t believe what happened to me.”
“Well, I remember the three of us in a circle dancing to some drum and bass tune, then, well, it’s all bit blank, until I came round near Old Street, covered in anti-climb paint.”
Three weeks pass. My brother, Nick and I are in the Water Rats to see an unsigned band whose demo I’ve taken a bit of a shine to. Waiting for the show to start, we’re standing at the bar bullshitting. The customary toilet circuit soundtrack of indie rock peppered with the occasional club tune is an unremarked hum in the background. The tempo changes. Instantly we are all staring at each other, confounded. As the realization dawns that we’re all sharing the same unarticulated memory, stupefaction dissolves into paroxysms of laughter.
“It’s that fucking drum and bass tune!” blurts Nick.
We start dancing again. Like bastards.
Photo by Devon Christopher Adams