Described as the ‘rock ‘n’ roll doctor’, Simon Mason was a drug dealer to the stars during Britpop’s heyday and now works as a drug rehabilitation counsellor. His revelatory autobiography, ‘Too High Too Far Too Soon’ chronicles a life of attempted stardom, hedonism and eventual drug addiction. Below is a excerpt from Simon’s book that leads us through the murky world of heroin addiction.
There are very few things less likely to occur in life than two junkies living under the same roof with access to cash, successfully attempting to endure heroin withdrawals and stop using. It pains me to say it, but Liverpool are probably more likely to win the Premiership some time soon than Ben and I were to not score the minute my tenant paid in another two week’s rent money on day three of our hastily agreed detox regime.
By then I’d managed to empty the contents of both the bottles of methadone I’d procured and the drinks cabinet of his sister’s flat, the sofa of which I currently occupied as she was away working for a while. We both agreed it would be better for me to live elsewhere after we’d devoured the blue baggies of smack I’d returned with after my trip to the cashpoint. His sibling had no idea I was staying there and was due to return shortly anyway. My window of opportunity had disappeared again.
Much of what occurred after I’d decided this actually wasn’t a ‘good time’ to get clean anyway is something of a mystery. At the same time as I’d purchased the methadone I also stumbled into someone who’d got their hands on a bottle containing 200 Pakistani Valium, the contents of which, when not dissolving in my rotten stomach, I was now selling to every smackhead I knew in Hackney.
There are a lot of junkies in Stoke Newington and I knew many of them. Show me a junkie who says they don’t enjoy goofing out on valium and I’ll show you a liar. There is a reason why so many people enjoy using them, particularly on top of strong lager and gear, despite being quite possibly the hardest of all drugs to get off. The withdrawals can sometimes last for months and are horrific, but if there’s a better way of pretending you don’t exist on a daily basis, I’ve yet to experience it.
The valium haze or ‘cloak of invisibility’ as many shoplifters describe it, as well as making watching daytime TV seem to be the most culturally enlightening experience available to mankind, also does a remarkable job of erasing the memory of any amount of Jeremy Kyle you might wish to be exposed to.
All I know is that at some point I had conversations with both my sister and my wife. My sister made me an offer, my wife agreed to assist. The deal was thus:
My eldest nephew was shortly to turn ten and had asked that his uncle Simon come and visit and take him and his mates ice skating for the day. He also said I wasn’t allowed to be on drugs of any kind.
He was still an innocent child yet he felt he had to say that about his uncle. It hurt and cut through all the Valium and street drugs swimming through my system. Like some sort of smart bomb of truth it exploded into my consciousness, momentarily stunning, then exposing the reality of my situation like never before. There was no way I was ever going to get clean. Despite the gnawing revelations exposed by the final few days in Spain, I’d failed again.
Ben didn’t want to stop using, at least not yet, whereas I needed to if I was to survive any longer. But the thought of having to deal with life without drugs while facing up to years of hurt and suffering I’d inflicted upon almost everyone who’d loved me seemed too much to bear.
To raise people’s hopes? Family, friends, whoever and then snatch all that back yet again? No!
This had to stop for good and the only individual who could halt this continual procession of false dawns and disappointment was me.
Help me. Help me. Help me?
Fucking right, it was finally time to really help myself.
I went to find hardcore Dave and hopefully score enough drugs to then kill myself or both of us, I didn’t care. I tracked him down. There is a particular low rise council block just off Nevill Road in Stoke Newington, as unassuming and nondescript as you will find anywhere, so much so that I would struggle to point it out to you today should you ever care to take a stroll through the area with me.
It has, of course, hosted its share of life’s dramas over the years – newborns arriving and loved ones departing. Days and nights expanded with joy, weighed down with tears, punctuated by hateful damaging fists and life affirming laughter. Such is life here, stacked up and divided into boxes on the Shakespeare Estate as it is anywhere, tiny compartments arranged neatly in the misguided belief they would bring people together. Yeah, they brought people together; the dividing walls are only an inch or so thick!
It is 30 May 2006, the exact time of day roughly five minutes after I’ve given a teenager on a stolen bike some money in exchange for some drugs that I hope will comprise my last hit ever.
A gram of heavily cut heroin and half a gram of equally fraudulent crack cocaine are being dissolved on the top of a discarded Coke can currently in the tremulous grip of the desperate unwashed hand connected to what remains of the rest of the mess that masquerades as a human being squatting at the top of the stairwell.
‘Simon, you’re gonna fucking kill yourself, mate’
My audience of one suddenly seems a bit concerned.
‘Doubt it, Dave, but if I do you can have my can of Special Brew. It’s still cold’.
‘Thanks, but I prefer Skol’.
‘I’ve got a quid left over in my pocket, fucking take that If I go over and get yourself one of them, then OK?’
‘Ta, mate, nice one.’
The contents of the Coke-can cooker bubble and quietly hiss their disgust as they turn the requisite colour, not too dissimilar to that of the nicotine stained fingers now dropping the filter from a cheap cigarette into the tiny puddle of liquid self-hate rapidly cooling on the top of the can. On the floor below us we hear a voice.
‘Don’t forget my fucking fags, you prick‘, is the parting comment from whoever has been left shut inside that particular box as a door slams behind the prick in charge of buying the cigarettes and whatever else has been ordered to alleviate the monotony of another day on the Shakespeare Estate.
I draw up most of the contents of the Coke can into my syringe and spit on the back of my left arm in preparation as I attempt to obliterate myself from the monotony of another day in my life. This stairwell, a public toilet, a crackhouse, my old flat or a campervan in Spain, it makes no difference to me. I can’t escape myself any more, so hopefully this hit is going to finally send me somewhere I might get some peace.
My audience is restless.
‘C’mon Simon, don’t take the piss. You got most of that in your works, you’ve not left much for me, you cunt.’
‘I paid for it.’
‘Yeah, yeah, true, but I sorted us out yesterday.’
‘That was yesterday, Dave, and yesterday you got the bigger hit, a bigger hit of a lot less fucking gear too mate, so shut the fuck up or I’ll put the rest in my works and you’ll get fuck all.’
‘You really gonna do all that in one hit? You’re off your fucking head, mate.’
He’s starting to really get on my tits, so I put my syringe back onto the filter and draw up some more of the shit coloured fluid.
‘I strongly suggest you shut your fucking mouth, Dave, and take what’s left before I have the fucking lot, OK?’
‘Proper dickhead you, eh? All right, get out the fucking way, will you?’
I am hopefully about to get myself permanently out of his way, everybody’s way in fact.
There is a small abscess on the back of my left arm, slowly seeping blood, somewhere inside of which is the remnants of a vein that hopefully will be able to receive the blunt needle of the three day old syringe I am about to start prodding it with. In a life long since devoid of any hope these few seconds of optimistic intrusion into the hole of my arm are as good as it gets. Think about that!
This is it. I hate God almost as much as I hate myself but offer the scruffy twat a little thought as I beg for this elusive vein to show itself by flooding the barrel of my syringe with my poisoned blood and allowing me to release the belt I have wrapped around my arm so I can relieve the syringe of its contents and myself of the heavy burden of being alive.
Freedom is what drugs strongly suggested was on offer all those years ago. Freedom from feelings I struggled with then and still do now as I squat, trying not to puke prior to getting the drugs into my body. My inability to exist within my own skin in a world I have struggled to make any sense of is the double whammy to which eventually, after working my way through every other substance I could, only heroin seemed able to provide a solution.
Now, as I am about to bow out for the final time, I’m convinced that as I overdose and check out permanently, my audience might possibly rifle through my clothes, take anything he can sell and leave me there for some other unfortunate resident of the estate to find. I accept this as par for the course but a small part of what remains of my soul hopes it’s not a decent human being who’ll discover me, someone who has no choice but to exist alongside all the scumbags like me who use their stairwells to inject drugs to try to avoid feeling like an utter cunt all the time.
Why do I feel this way about myself?
Do I actually know what I think about myself any more?
Who knows? Who cares?
Certainly not me as I rejoice at the miniature tidal wave of blood that suddenly washes up inside the barrel of my syringe and tells me the end is nigh. I release the tourniquet and prepare to take my final bow.
‘Too High Too Far Too Soon’ is published by Mainstream, and is available on Amazon
You can follow Simon on twitter @simonmasonsays
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