…when the drugs don’t work…

Inspector Morse once found a wardrobe papered inside with rave fliers whilst looking into a teenager’s suicide. He came up with a theory that once you’ve peaked on Ecstasy you might realise you’d never be that happy again and end up killing yourself. At the time I thought that was ridiculous.

Now I’m not so sure…

I can still remember the first time I really did get Ecstatic. I was running around, jumping up and down whooping and couldn’t believe how fantastic I felt. That disbelief on top of euphoria can’t be repeated, as next time you’re not so amazed that you can feel so good, now you’re just trying to get there again. I spent a few years raving the weekends away, which made work almost impossible as my brain was unfocussed for a few days each week, including the mythical ‘Black Tuesday’ when I hated and/or was scared of most people. But it felt worth it- I danced and played, met an incredible array of people and felt such love and optimism. I remember stocky Bradford hard lads in nappies chewing dummies, dodgy dealers hanging round old warehouses in London, and most of all dancing in fields or woods for days. I once took my furbies to a Megadog night at Leeds Uni – they both had epileptic fits and never spoke again. i think i should probably have taken more notice of that. Seeing people literally crawling around blinded by drugs was a bit disturbing, as was taking tablets that had heroin or ketamine added without warning- it was like wading through treacle.

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I don’t regret doing it, as it was the most wild enjoyable part of my life, but I do feel like I have nothing much to look forward to now and that is sad. That may be a function of getting older, rather than a 10 year comedown, it’s very hard to say. After regular use drugs don’t seem to work in the same way, so I didn’t choose to stop, I just stopped enjoying them. Paranoia isn’t much fun.

I’ve often mused on Larry Niven’s wireheads- I think they were in his Ringworld books. wirehead

Wireheads plugged themselves into an electric socket, with electrodes wired straight into the pleasure centres of their brains. If you could be ecstatic until you died (not long as you can’t be bothered to eat or even drink) would you do it? That’s how I imagine heroin addiction, and at some point when I’ve had enough of this life I might give it a go.

The argument against is that you can be fulfilled in other ways, I guess conditioning that ‘work is good’, ‘selfishness is bad’ etc comes into the equation, but if I could be constantly ecstatic until I died, why wouldn’t I? Fear of a god perhaps.

There’s a thought experiment called the Experience Machine along these lines. Google it, it’s interesting.

I haven’t gone into other effects of regular drug use, such as paranoia, weight gain (after you stop), possibly even dementia. I feel depressed enough as it is. It’s enough to make me go and get royally pissed ;) …if I could remember where I left my fekkin purse.

WTF is happening to me?

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I’ve known for most of my life that there’ll come a time when I suffer hot flushes and maybe a bit of memory loss, when my hormones decide they’ve had enough of preparing me for a pregnancy that never comes, but by ‘eck I wasn’t ready for this:  my brain’s gone haywire.

Yesterday I kept wondering why all the cars were driving on the wrong side of the road (they weren’t). I can’t remember anything useful, even normal words; I barely sleep; I ricochet from murderously irritable to nearly suicidal; and I get intense body rushes akin to taking speed but without the good bits. Oh yeh and I’m knackered a lot of the time- would stay in bed for days if I could.

I need a menopause support group before I kill someone.

My mum never mentioned her ‘change’ though she did put in some early negative conditioning by calling periods ‘the curse’. I thought I’d slowly stop bleeding and get a bit hot now and then. Ha bloody ha. Actually I’m bleeding every 2 weeks. Not fair.

You probably don’t want to know any more so I’ll spare you, but a bit of sympathy wouldn’t go amiss. I’ve discovered that some friends who’ve been pouring out their woes to me for years are completely uninterested in returning the favour. Well fuck them. Yep, it’s a new me.

I’ve never before googled painless methods of suicide, but it’s very interesting- did you know that thanks to emissions controls it’s very hard to kill yourself with car exhaust now?

To the pedants out there, officially these symptoms are part of the perimenopause (the menopause is a year after your last period), but really who cares? You know what I mean.

Sadly I’ve become so intolerant I’ve decided to stop seeing my man from Derby (100 miles away) after a too-long weekend in Warsaw. I was so irritable it was ridiculous and I’m sure it wasn’t ALL his fault. Anyway, now I know long distance relationships are not what I want in the longterm- there’s no way of getting to know each other gradually, it’s either texts or spending a whole weekend together. Back to the drawing board… I live in hope that my hormones calm down enough for me to start dating again… and probably write some wince inducing articles on menopausal dating. Definitely a niche market.

I’m wondering if this would make a good profile photo: Image

Abortion

Well, one mention of the word and reasoned argument seems to go straight out of the window, with taboos and buttons being pressed right, left and centre.

I have a few thoughts about it floating around:

  •  Reasons you might want an abortion: mother’s health, baby’s health, rape, unexpected pregnancy, money worries, you just don’t want a child.
  • Reasons not to- it’s a major operation with associated risks, including potential to affect future fertility; depression and guilt afterwards; ethical issues; religion- rules always open to interpretation.
  • Ultimately it’s a woman’s right what she does to her own body. As it is any human’s, with a few grey areas involving ‘of sound mind’.
  • There’s a lot of unwanted and neglected children around already- why bring more into the world? I often wonder why the militant anti-abortionists aren’t spending their time and money looking after these kids, instead of leaving them in childrens’ homes, on the streets or being passed between foster homes. It seems their ‘caring’ stops as soon as the baby is born. This seems weird to me. Surely a long life full of misery is worse than one stopped short before it’s even happened.
  • Why is it predominantly men who get so angry about this? Is it because they’re not really involved in pregnancy and childbirth, and so want to get in on the act? Or that women are their possessions? Or what?
  • The time limits seem to be arbitrary- about trying to take control more than anything. Until the baby is born, it’s a part of it’s mother’s body. That seems simple to me.
  • Killing people for ‘the right to life’. Come on, get a grip.
  • ‘Look at me I’m more ethical than you. I’m going to heaven and you’re not’. I can’t see Jesus behaving like that.
  • What about rapes, dangerous pregnancies etc? Do they really want to force women to have babies they actively don’t want, may actually hate, or could kill them? (unfortunately yes).
  • ‘Defective’ foetuses- I’m not even going there. But I’d rather leave decisions to the mother than anyone else.

There’s loads of articles about, I just wanted to get my thoughts in some sort of order. Basically I have no right to tell another woman what to do with her body. And neither have you.

Intersting article here about anti-choice women supporting Akin.

It’s a 6, hasta luego senorita!

ImageAbout 20 years ago I was living in a back to back in Leeds 6. I did a lot of reading, drinking Thunderbird and Special Brew and generally arsing around trying not to get a job, though I did volunteer at the Citizens Advice Bureau- I wasn’t a TOTAL waste of space. I’d read the Diceman and loved it, so one night whilst trying to decide what to do: go to pub, cinema, stay in, go to pub, sommat else; I threw in a random ‘buy a plane ticket to Spain’ as the last possibility.

Well what do you know? It came up, and I’m not one to ignore the Goddess of Chance.

So next day me and my mate Juliet did buy such a ticket and prepared to leave. One rucsac and ‘survival bag’ each, some suncream and probably toothbrushes- it’s hard to remember, in fact I don’t even know now where we flew from. This is partly because I had all my stuff including diary and camera nicked on our last day there. Upsetting, but strangely liberating that was. Luckily I still had passport and a bit of money in a bag round my neck.

Anyway, we decided to hitch up the coast from Malaga, ‘busking’ along the way. I could only play my tin whistle while looking at the music and my singing was awful. That’s probably why our trip was cut short after 3 months. We were picked up by police in Barcelona and taken to a police station where everyone else was male and looked Algerian. Apparently they were clearing up the streets for the coming Olympics- this might help you identify the year trivia lovers. They told us to leave Spain by the next day, so we went to book a coach to Amsterdam, as any self respecting hippy would, and that’s where my bag was snatched.

We slept in dry ravines, caves, houses if we were invited, and at some point we lived in a tent on a rough piece of land in the middle of Tarragona. Noone seemed to mind. Can you imagine doing that in Leeds?

I had a fantastic time, but never felt happy with the macho culture. The only women we met were young and unmarried, after that they disappeared indoors to look after their families. Image

Men didn’t seem interested in us except as a possible shag. I thought it was bizarre that they’d think some smelly English bird with a green skinhead and monkey boots would be up for it,but they certainly tried.

Among our many adventures were:

1. Getting chased around a village by a drunk nutter called Jesus with a gun – we’d complained about the corked wine at a local bar one too many times. That may have been in Nerja, it’s a drunken, adrenalin fuelled blur.

2. Being wined and dined by 2 lorry drivers at their absolute insistence, then thrown out of their cabs in the middle of the night because we wouldn’t have sex with them. We were probably lucky there. Made me sad cos I’d had some good conversations with my driver that day in my shit spanglish about his wife and family. Apparently they’d never seen a woman drink as much brandy as me- not sure if I should be proud of that, but I was then.

3. Being taken home by a lovely girl to her family home- they fed us delicious veggie food (hard to find in Spain), gave us a bed for the night, then drove us to their holiday apartment by the sea and told us to bring the key back when we left. Proper christians, who never once tried to talk to us about god, but I saw the books on their shelves

While we staying at this flat, we had the misfortune to meet a truly disgusting  man (4) and had to leave in a real hurry, posting the key back with some ridiculous instructions as we didn’t have the address. I really hope it got there.

4.  I was sitting cross legged on the beach meditating, well, listening to the waves and opened my eyes to see a barefooted man with long white hair and beard in a long white frock. He called himself ‘we’ as he ‘was the holy trinity’. He said they had a lot of knowledge to impart, which started out as sharing food but eventually turned out to be along the lines of ‘real freedom is sharing your body with pervy old strangers you meet on a beach’ and we started to avoid him. He was so creepy we did a moonlight flit and spent a couple of weeks looking over our shoulders- horrible horrible man.

5. Spending a night in a homeless hostel, where we were locked in a room at 6 for our own protection, as the only women there.

6. Hanging out on the Balcon de Europa in Nerja at sunset with gypsies playing flamenco. Bloody hell they were amazing. I could play about 3 chords and that hurt my fingers.

Overall I had much more fun than not, started my love affair with the Spanish language, but I was glad when I got back to Leeds. Even though I had to share a bed with a dog called Sprog for a while and started drinking way too much whisky. But that’s another story…

Luckily for me I discovered raving before my liver completely packed up. And therein lies yet another story or 3.

Afternoon Teas remembered

There’s not much I enjoy more than a good high tea: whiling away an afternoon with a good friend, drinking gallons of tea and eating delicious morsels. If only I was in an Agatha Christie film and could dance the day away.

It’s rarely cheap, but for a birthday treat I think an afternoon tea is perfect. Most offer glasses of champagne if you’re really feeling decadent.

Here’s my personal reviews over the last couple of years.

The Queens Hotel, Leeds

2 or 3 tiers of lovely food each. Pics from 2 of my visits to the Queens.

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Variety of sandwiches sometimes open sometimes not, scone with clotted cream and strawberry preserve, selection of pastries, pot of tea.

Drawbacks: Feels like smokey dive as there are no windows.

Anthonys at Flannels, Leeds

Small but perfectly formed. Presented on slate, looked beautiful. Jam in tiny kilner jars. Lovely upstairs empty room, but leather seats a bit sweaty. Not enough food though! Scone was tiny. Good tea. Would go again, but have brunch earlier.

Quebecs, Leeds

The round Oak Room was great and we had it to ourselves.  Really disappointing food though- we had to send the curling dry sandwiches back- they’d obviously been sat around for a while in a hot kitchen. I had no reply to my email afterwards either.

Betty’s, Ilkley or other places in Yorkshire

Allround deliciousness.

Midland Hotel, Manchester

Delicious. Art deco room. 3 tier trolley.

Unlimited tea. Glass of madeira. Sandwiches, scone with butter/cream/jam/preserve. Cakes. Way too much to eat, but everyone took stuff home.

Only slight grumble- sultana scone, apricot/cream cheese sandwich filling.WRONG!

Radisson Leeds

Hardly anyone in there, so lovely quiet place to lounge on comfy sofas for hours and eat at leisure. (BUT the TV screen is a terrible idea- we managed to sit behind a pillar to avoid).

Medium priced cream tea, on a 3 tier stand: very fresh finger sarnies- egg mayo, mozzarella n pesto, feta n tomato, cucumber n cream cheese- veggie as requested. Then warm scones (well, not by the time we ate them) with jam n cream, tiny chocolate mousse tarts (would’ve been better without the pastry) and gallons of earl grey. Took my fruit cake home.

A special mention for the Marvellous tealadies at their newly opened tearoom in Leeds- delicious homemade cakes, gorgeous collection of  vintage teapots and cups, a quirky little slice of 50s heaven. They don’t do the whole afternoon tea stand thing- yet!

I’ve managed all these words on afternoon tea without mentioning  ‘quintessential’. Well done me.

STOP PRESS The Marvellous Tearooms do indeed offer tiered hight tea. Ill be trying it soon- looked delicious.