When I was younger me and friends, like many youths in the 1990s, used to experiment with drugs. I’m going to post a series of stories here regarding this. Most will be funny. It was a fun time…but there’s always at least one horror story.
*NB (if any of the moral brigade/authorities/police read this I now work as a Vicar and do a pile of charity work)
“Have you ever danced with the Devil in the pale moonlight” So asks the Joker of his victims in Tim Burtons version of Batman. I’d gone to a screening on my own. The first time I’d ever done such a thing. When that fateful line was spoken it resonated to my core. Why? Because just a month before I think I maybe had done just that.
LSD as you may or may not know is a fairly potent psychedelic drug. Now I’m not going to get into here the ins and outs of what it does, or any hippy notions of “opening the doors of perception” or any such stuff. I’ll keep it simple. Me and my tripping buddies probably went on about 20 LSD trips between 1990-95. And that was it for me. I now feel it’s a young persons experience and I’ve got too many worries about repairing the back gate and potential Armageddon scenarios to go opening up those “doors of perception” What if I can’t get one shut again?
When we took decent LSD for me it did this 1. Made me hallucinate in a very pleasant and mild way. 2. Loosened me up enough to realise I could come out with funny diatribes and impressions that made people laugh (I suppose this was the start of me becoming the comedian I now work as today) 3. Made all involved laugh a lot (or was that me?) 4. Made us rap about cod philosophies that our young minds knew little about. 5. Made us more perceptive. (perhaps) 6. Generally made you feel pretty great. A huge feeling of wellbeing.
So, there we were. It was a Friday night and me Chaz and his girlfriend Alison had scored three blotters of acid from our mate up on a trip (pun intended) from his London squat. Blotters often came with an image printed on them. These were called Jokers. Yup, that’s right…they had an image of Batman’s the Joker on them. Believe it or not the irony/memory of this has just struck me now. Hmmm, so much for increased perception.
And so we took our trip and headed out for a splendid time, For a few hours a splendid time was what we had. I remember the trip first kicking in when the three of us were in a taxi going across Edinburgh. “Orange” was the one word remark that Chaz made. And we all started giggling in fits knowing exactly what he meant without another word having to be said. You see street lights are orange and the generally glow they gave off was starting to be greatly accentuated by the chemicals.
And so we made our way about the streets of Edinburgh laughing, chatting and occasionally stopping dead mid pace to look at an interesting pattern on a wall. Eventually when we reached Stockbridge it was decided we should venture off the streets and follow a riverside walk called St. Bernard’s well. Id never been here before. Once we were a bit along the way I was struck at how isolated this bit of town was even though we weren’t too far from the heart of the city. What also struck me was the loud sound of the rushing water running beside us. I actually joked “well if someone wants to rape or murder us this would be the perfect place to do it because nobody would hear a thing.” I’d come to regret that notion shortly.
It was decided we should get off the path and get down by the waterside for added sensual shenanigans. So we climbed down a steep embankment and got by the river shore. The predictable lobbing of stones and rocks into the river began and after a bit Chaz and Alison wandered a bit up the river leaving me isolated. I was stood tripping merrily away when that unusual feeling hit me. How we do these things we’ll never know. But I suddenly felt as if someone was watching us. So I turned around and there up the bank leaning on the fence we had cut through was a figure. Or was it? I’m tripping you see so the first thing I think is, “you’re seeing things John” The reason I thought this was purely logical. Because if that was a person standing looking at us then they would be a confidant person indeed. After all this was a murderers paradise.
And so I stood staring at this figure. Imagined or not I was now becoming convinced there was something there. Was it a statue? There was something unusual in the way they were standing. But eventually the potential severity of this situation began to dawn on me. If that was a person he was stood staring at me only 20 feet up an embankment while I stared back at him…for a while…and there were three of us.
I decided to turn quietly away and make like I was seeing things. I pretended in my physicality that I’d seen nothing untoward. I then made my way up the river to my friends and with my back turned to the thing that may or not be there quietly explained the situation to them. Telling them not to turn quickly. And then all three of us did turn. There was nothing there.
Now at this point I have to explain a thing to the hallucinogenic uninitiated. When you hallucinate on LSD you don’t just make thing up out of thin air. There has to be an object that your eyes misperceive. When we turned around and there was nothing where I had seen something I knew I’d been staring at a person and they’d been staring back at me…for a while.
We made our way back the river bank. I didn’t want to alarm Alison too much (a misguided sexism as she was equipped to deal with this situation as any of us) so I took Chaz aside and explained I was convinced someone had been standing watching us. I asked what was the quickest way out of this isolated area as we’d walked along it quite a way and he explained we were better to keep going forward rather than backwards. Eventually to clear the air we started to make a joke of Johns imaginary stalker. But to be on the safe side Chaz would walk backwards and me and Alison would walk forwards so we could be absolutely sure no one was following us. It became a laugh and a game. I was now convinced we were in the clear. I was wrong.
About 20 minutes later we emerged back onto the streets of Edinburgh. I had no clue where we were. it was 3. a.m. so there was no one about. We were walking up some back street of Edinburgh and I thought “I’ll just have one last look behind me.” there emerging from where we’d just been was our stalker. I knew it was him immediately. What had been a silhouette became a person. Long hair, long jacket and in my heightened state of perception really fucking dubious, in fact obviously very dangerous.
I turned away and said nothing. I turned around again and he’d halved the distance between us. I then began to panic. “Chaz how far are we from an area where other people might be?” Chaz sensed my panic and turned around. “That’s him he’s been stalking us. He’s not afraid mate. There’s something really wrong here”
Our predator was now on the other side of the road from us level. He must have ran to cover that distance. He looked scary, evil and seemed to have some kind of intent. And whatever that intent was he was about to let be known. He opened his lengthy jacket and let us see he was carrying a shotgun. We were frozen.
That’s when I realised what I’d seen earlier. I mentioned he seemed to be standing in an unusual position. He’d been pointing a gun at me.
That’s when the group of revellers came around the corner. I’ve never been so relieved. he just turned and walked nonchalantly away.
We made our way home fast. When back at the flat we realised that all that had saved us was that when he’d pointed his gun at me I had reacted in a really calm and unusual way. The LSD had saved us. Had I panicked, had I screamed I’m sure he would have been on us.
Anyway the moral of the story is we took another trip a few months later and all was well in the world again. No visions of stalking bogeymen, no fear of walking again across the city at night. And that’s when something hilarious happened…I’ll tell you the next time.
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