*** Sticky Fingers and Filthy Habits –
Chapter 1 (draft 2)
‘Deep down … in the end… I always knew I would become a drug dealer. I just didn’t realise that the drug I sell would be happiness’ – Ha!
See. That there. Right there. That sort of shit.
That joke is a clear demarcation of just how much of a prick I am.
BUT. I don’t care. You know why – because your opinion of me doesn’t matter.
What is it they say? Opinions are like arseholes…. and you’re a fucking arsehole mate.
This shit has an all inclusive policy – and the whole deal - I’m led to believe, is that, in order for me to continue get well and to be able to keep what I have … I have to give away what was so freely given to me.
I’m happy and I smile and I laugh .. A LOT .. and I’m pretty sure that I’m supposed to write this book to help other people find a way out of the shit ….cos maaaaaaaaaaaan, believe you me – I have been in the shit.
So with that in mind.
Hello - My name is ‘Bobby’ – and I’m an addict.
Flashback: Picture the scene – Canning Town ’95 and your boy is still green.
Adolescence what a time. Anxiety riddled. Horrified by the thought of confronting my old shadow. Born into East London, where everyones a thief, a drug dealer, or someone who can hold their hands up.
Then there’s me. Sensitive. Into music, painting, art, poetry.
The thrills and spills, getting smashed over the park with a group of mates – all flying on a litre bottle of White Lightning and a tenners of hash.
One min, you’re terrified that you might actually get offered your first blowjob by a drunk girl, the next she’s absolutely flipped her shit, gone on the turn with her mate, smashed one of those black ‘K’ bottles on a wall, and is using the broken shards to try to slash her wrists.
I still remember my pal Clarky looking at me in the face – he loves a bit of trouble … and he just stared at me … his face a picture of bewilderment - ‘What shall I fucking do? Shall I knock her out?’ –
I can’t remember what I said, or what he did, or how that particular childhood ordeal ended. I do remember that Sarah, the girl, was sectioned after that episode. And I never did have to find a reason to swerve getting that potential awkward as fuck blowjob.
Welcome to my view of the world.
In Recovery – they talk about drugs bringing a sense of ease and comfort - I started smoking puff at 11 years old.
Some argue that puff or weed nowadays might be a gate way drug. I dunno, I don’t care. I’ll tell you what is. Fear, and Resentment and Trauma. Definitely trauma.
My friendship groups at school was a cinch. I knocked around with a bunch of about 30 of us.
The Elders. And the Younger lot. I was part of the Youngers. All from around the Abbey Arms.
We used to sit on the wall outside the school. 30 bods – a mixture of black and white kids - all bikes and tracksuits - and finding new creative ways to slag off each others Mums - it was easy to hide behind the façade of a tough exterior when you are surrounded by people much quicker to violence than you.
Being quick witted helps. So how did I manage that? Well...
When I was about 14/15 – My mum thought she could teach me the value of money – and arranged for me to start Saturday job in a pie mash shop. My second cousin Nathan, who owned it, had a very smart mouth and he was incessant.
For a shy, introverted young skinny kid, you don’t want to be around anyone – let alone spend 5 hours on a Saturday being peppered with chronic and relentless pisstaking – one gem that stands out is being told that your Oasis barnet, given the curly sideburns made you look like a Rabbi.
I have to laugh even now. Nathan. What a cunt. Still, funny - cos it WAS true.
Initially I struggled to keep up, but eventually I usurped Nathan.
Now I’m the one with the smart mouth…. for my sins.
And Nathan. Well he crashed his little green sports car into a tree and the only damage was a limp and the fact that his left his left eyebrow was sliced clean off.
I’m not even joking. God pays debts without money.
If God pays debts without money – then he also loves a trier.
Because try as I might - he will not let me check out early. Which only serves my delusions of grandeur and leads me to think that I must have some form of higher purpose for being here. I should be well dead by now to be fair.
I have been so down an depressed, that I have written a suicide note and had a belt around my neck, I have researched ways to kill myself online and have been involved in some spectacular car accidents.
One such time, after a boozy Christmas party I skidded on some snow on a bend on the way home – and ploughed head first into a lamppost … the thing was wedged halfway up the bonnet...
I dunno if this worked or not - but my first thought when I came to a very abrupt stop was not to make sure I was okay, or to thank God I hadn't killed anyone - no, I'm proper selfish... so my main concern was being breathalysed, so I shoved a handful of pennies from the centre console into my mouth –
Now I don’t know if there is some CSI type scientific proof that says doing that shit works… or whether it was divine intervention… but for someone who had been drinking a smidge more than he should have been, I passed that test with flying colours.
And whilst a head on high speed collision with lamppost will sober you up, it might not necessarily wake you up. And whilst you would think that one would be enough to knock some sense into you, you would sure as shit think two car crashes would do the job eh? Nope. Not so - "Hi, i'm Bobby, I did warn you that I'm a prick'.
I say this, because my next car crash was an absolute beaut.
Recklessly racing from my then girlfriends in Rayleigh in a suped up BMW to Wickford, to meet my pal so I could grab some gear and get back to working from home without being snagged, I was … erm… eager to hurry the fuck up.
The accelerator on the Beemer was sticky, and I had only had the motor a few weeks, so when I poked the pedal down and it didn’t react right away… as I got closer to the roundabout, I knew the car was going to thrust, and that there was fuck all I could do to stop it, except try to steer out of harms way.
You know how they say that your life flashes in front of your eyes prior to a near death experience? I dunno about that… but time absolutely slowed to a crawl … when the rear wheel hit the central reservation and the car lifted up and over thru the air, I saw the world spin upside down through my windscreen in slow mo - and wondered in awe at gravity at work around objects in the car that were usually pretty stationary, but were now passing before my eyes on their very own little airborne trajectories.
I remember distinctly being aware of the fact that time was about to burst back into life ...in fast forward .... and in glorious Technicolor ....with surround sound.
In that moment, I looked down and realised that I hadn’t put my seatbelt on and considered that MAYBE the reason I hadn’t controlled the motor with much aplomb might have had something to do with the fact that, like a cunt… I had chosen to drive about in flip flops…
I also remember thinking ‘when this impact hits, please let my decapitation be painless… and that I die instantly’ ….. because deep down I’m a coward…. and I’m scared of pain. Not emotional pain - I benchpress that shit for breakfast...but physical pain tho... Yeurgh! Na thanks man, i'm proper squeamish.
I climbed out of that wreckage as the crumpled car lay on it’s side in a twisted heap.
I had to climb up and out of the passenger window – as the door on my drivers side was pinned to the ground.
I remember jumping off – and landing on shattered broken glass, another lamppost victimised by yours truly – and with one flip flop on … people taking photos shouting and filming on their phones rather than stopping to help.
I never had a single scratch on me. How that happened I will never ever know.
What do you do in a situation like that? What does any sane man do?
Well, me - I knew my dealer lived 5 mins away, so that day rather than just 3 halves, he also dropped me a pair of size 9 Air Max’ just before the Old Bill had arrived.
I didn’t even have to do a breathalyser test that day, as I had already become a manipulative enough liar to be able to convince most people of my bullshit. Especially myself.
So not even a second encounter with death via a ton of metal and courtesy of a lamp post could wake me up to the fact that even all the way back then my life had already become erratic and chaotic and completely unmanageable.
I was to spend a LOT of time, in fact a large proportion of my adult life self diagnosing and self medicating for a mental illness I did not even know I had…
By that I mean to say that I knew I was fucking insane, wildly uncomfortable inside my own skin, being so consciously aware of the human condition and couldn't bear to alone inside my own mind… but I was ... and still am ... a skilled expert in justification, transference, defence mechanisms, deflecting and the real killer… living in denial.
Admitting there is a problem is the first step in solving it eh? Yeah. Well it ain't always that easy.
... and my journey of self-discovery has so far taught me that I am nothing, if not a wilful little cunt.
I am also an addict, so I will try. Anything. Obsessively. Until I solve it.
Unfortunately - you can’t think your way out of a cocaine problem, otherwise I would have been free a long time ago, when it was literally my minds chronic, persistent, consistent and constant obsession.
Today I am pleased to say, that’s not the case.
Remember I said, - higher purpose and that - innit.
“NUMBER 1/ We admitted that we were powerless over cocaine and all other mind altering substances and that our lives had become unmanageable” –
There’s my first golden nugget. It took me 20 years to accept the above fact. 20 years to realise that I had become massively resigned, hopelessly resigned I would think, to meandering thru life as a mere shadow of my true self.
So – if you’re doing that now… or feeling like that now - here's the good word gospel motherfucker - you needn’t.
Why do certain people become addicts, is it predisposed genetics? Nature or Nurture. I have my own theories – Trauma being one… So let’s head over to Chapter 3 and back to Canning Town… where a shit ton happened during my growing up. I’m not sure if the tales will be relevant… the effects they had on my being will be, but regardless... as tragic as some of the stories are – others are just as equally fucking funny…
I’m sat here trying to piece together the fragments of a childhood I think I have subconsciously tried very hard to bury. It’s like having an awkward grope in the dark.
Where to even begin.
Addiction has always been a part of my make up. Thinking back now, I can remember renting video games from a video shop near my ends called ‘Press Play’ – Tho I would pay for an evening, I would happy sit in my room for the next week trying to ignore the pangs of anxiety as the shop would leave decreasingly polite messages on the home answer phone telling me that no one else could rent the game whilst I had it, but clearly back then I was already a selfish tit because I didn’t care about other people, I only cared that my mind was occupied.
I don’t think it is addiction per se – it’s more a case of having an obsessive mind. And cycles of shame – because trying to get the money together to pay the rental fine and sloping sheepishly into that shop was not a good feeling. You could tell the geezer wanted to say something, but I was all skinny and awkward and apologetic. I imagine.
Yet, if I was addicted to video games (and I can get addicted to ANYTHING – sugar free red bull anyone?) – then one of my fear addictions was insular thinking. Self-centredness I suppose you would call it. I certainly never set out to be introspective, but the fear and loneliness consumed me – and so to stay safe I suppose as a kid I felt like I had to come at things from my perspective.
I always felt insecure – both physically and emotionally. I was always preoccupied with what could go wrong and what others thought of me.
I tried to banish my lack of self esteem once. My Step Dad Micky used to sell second hand furniture from a shop in Clapham once upon a time and one day brought home a bright yellow mountain bike with a forked handlebar grips – I later found out the local crack heads used to chore bikes and sell them to Micky, still irrelevant, I had a new bike and it was the tits.
Cast your mind back to the wall outside the school – where sometimes up to 30 of us would congregate - on this day back in the past there was about 7, cue me speeding around the corner on my new bike like a little flash bastard. I hit the kerb, pulled the handle bars up in order to bust into a wheelie, and watched in horror as the front wheel just nonchalantly detached from the rest and went on it’s own way – and I was about to land on the front forks of the bike. That one hurt. I can still remember that.
My beliefs around The Universe exist around the Principles of The Law of Attraction, it just sits well with me….especially as someone with an obsessive mind, it makes sense to me that what I think about. I bring about. Because that has always been my experience. When I was a kid and growing up, if I fancied a girl she would fancy me back, if I pictured scoring the winning goal, I would.
But my mind is dark and so it would zero in on fear… what could I be scared of next… I don’t know if it was inevitable growing up in Canning Town, but encountering violence was a regular affair. Not ideal for a sensitive, cowardly pacifist who abhors violence. I remember watching one of my friends bash another – and the blow to the nose was so audible it sickened me to my stomach…
On another occasion, not content with having our own manor – we decided to encroach of the next firm overs. I knew it was a mistake, the butterflies in my stomach told me so. Long story short – our lot caught one of their lot in our ends, and gave him a few digs. Rather than leave it there tho, we decided to go to their ends and front it. About 20 of us.. all converged on their local park.
I learnt a lot about loyalty that day, because as one or two of them came thru the trees, I saw a couple of our lot lose their arseholes and take off… they kept coming, en masse, complete with their older lot…
I looked around and every one of my pals had shit themselves and legged it.
All except me and my pal who was the original protagonist for all of it …
They asked him to confirm his name, which stupidly (or courageously) he did – and they proceeded to try to bash him with golf clubs, cricket bats and lumps of wood…
If I failed to spot that I was an addict back then, it was not lost of me that my pal and I were very different.
He came away from that scuff with few marks but was screaming adrenalized – ‘I took it like a man… I took it like a fucking man’ – laughing almost.
I was sheepish and probably had a very pale face.
My next scrape came when sitting outside a girls house opposite the school – and on this occasion not one of my pals was anywhere to be seen … I saw a bike and it’s rider come around the corner maybe 800 yards up the road, then another one and then another one – until there was a firm of them.
The same bunch who had a grudge against my lot -
Instinct kicked in – you know they say ‘fight or flight’ – FLIGHT MATE, everyfuckingtime unless unavoidable. Flight.
I made my excuses to the girl I was chatting to – and casually ambled over to the alley way that ran parallel to the school … once there, I burst into a billion atoms of energy.
When I was growing up, we would sometimes stay with my Dads Mum. She loved athletics – She liked the long distance runners like Seb Coe and the bare footed Zola Bud, I was always more of a Linford Christie fan – and I swear to fucking god, my spirit left my body that day and I watched on as my body morphed into a little white Linford and I exploded with absolute distilled terror and fear –
I careered down back streets, flew thru the park (I had the awareness of mind to close both gates – they were on bikes and I’m not an idiot) – cut across the car park of the flats – and I hit my front door and closed it behind me in what I still to this day genuinely believe must have been a world record.
After escaping they told my girl friends that I was ‘as fast as a whippet’ – I vividly remember that expression. A whippet? If only they knew man… you hear those stories of mothers who are so desperate – they call upon super human strength to prise their babies from cars that have been involved in an accident don’t ya?
Well, that day – fear helped me break the sound barrier.
Yet, because I couldn’t stop thinking of it, trouble was never far away.
I’m bored. More over, I’m feeling restless. I’m also feeling irritable and discontent.
That’s a part of the default setting of my psyche I believe. I have experienced those feelings a lot.
Alongside being scared and fearful.. and angry. I can remember feeling angry quite a lot. Scared tho. Definites.
Those feelings were prolonged – I used to find having feelings so uncomfortable that I took drugs to either soften them up, or to make myself feel more empowered.
The idea being – just get me the fuck out of my head. Whatever.
At least these days, if I’m feeling inexplicably pissed off at someone, I have the capacity to look at myself at recognise that it’s me that is feeling shit. Then I’ll normally go for a bit of a run, have a sandwich, go and pray, write something, listen to some music… ask my Higher Power to not feel this way… and then in a bit… I don’t.
By that point, I have usually considered the other persons opinion and reconsidered mine, or have the presence of mind to have at least considered my own views – and have the capacity to politely agree to disagree.
The point being. These days. Emotionally - I’m not in pain.
I’ll give you a couple more examples of weird shit that happened during my childhood tho. perhaps in a vain attempt to try to understand myself. Some of it might resonate with you tho, you never know.
I remember sitting up late on a Sunday evening, most Sunday evenings, copying out the time tables for the Monday morning maths at primary school.
I copied them out so often I probably knew them by heart… but I still vividly remember the feelings of anxiety when I would put my elbow on my table at school and rest my face at a tilt, so when the question was called out during the lesson, I could sneak a peek at the answers I had written down on a tiny bit of paper and placed on the chair in-between my legs.
Now you tell me, fear of success or a fear of failure? Either way… it’s a scared little boy.
I remember being at home and watching Andre Agassi smash Wimbledon up back in the day .. the reason being that I had become involved in some trouble at school. I just googled it and that summer was ’92, so I was 10 at the time.
Here is what we did – knobs.
We used to knock about after hours over Ravenscroft school. It formed the backdrop of my childhood. You had to climb over the spiked fence, but whether it was countless years spent playing run outs, headers and volleys, climbing on the roof or shooting out the windows with a pellet gun … smoking puff… it was over the school.
We would be over there at all hours. Quite a few of us would be over there too.
Anyways one day back when I was 10 my mates somehow broke into the mobile classroom adjacent to the school and nicked of all things – our own fucking football kit.
Course I was on the periphery of trouble… standing as close to the flame as my tiny sparrows heart and even smaller courage would allow me to - without actually breaking any laws.
Still, that day I remember protesting aggressively with one of my other pals to give me one of the stolen shirts .. what a tit.
I went home and promptly hid it under my bed. I felt certain the shit would hit the fan.
I was in class the next day when the Head teacher came to speak to mine.
My stomach lurched and dropped to the floor - I knew they were discussing me in hushed tones but just loud enough that I could just make out the Head teacher say that ‘the boys in blue were coming’ – that was enough … panic set in.
I just about waited for her to head out of the room before telling my teacher that I desperately needed the toilet. I did too. I remember wanting to shit myself.
I don’t know if I did stop off first or not… but a thought occurred to me whilst I was on the way… I could run off and just fuck off home and spill the beans to my mum.
Which I did.
Hit the fan it sure as shit did tho.
Now I can’t for the life of me remember whether it was during one night of childhood carnage, like a childs version of the purge, or whether we were little bastards quite a lot – but I remember being dragged into the head teachers office to explain putting dog shit on a teachers chair and causing him a nervous breakdown.
** A pause in my childhood revelry, I stopped for some ice cream and then picked up a resentment towards my mum – who when I offered her some, said she would like some later, thereby passive aggressively insinuating there that there wouldn’t be any left later.
I tried to point out that the last two times it has in fact been her that literally creamed off the ice cream, but some people don’t wanna listen.
I accepted what she said, paused to take a deep breath, asked God to give me strength and who knows…. I might eat all of the fucking ice cream now just to spite her.
I’m joking. I’m not a cunt. I’ll pray later just before bed and ask God to stop me from being such a resentful selfish dickhead ***
Soooooo anyways …yeah…..Mr Fullick.. We put a massive dog shit on his chair and he sat in it. Then he got up immediately and just left. For good. Which was awesome.
I remember we discovered the door to the school library open one night and that was it… once you were in, you had access to all the classrooms.
Fullick was a prick, I say that having no basis to think it… other than knowing myself as I do, as a kid, to have done something this personally horrible towards someone… well, he must have been a prick. I hope he was. Anyways. In my head the geezers a prick.
The hardest bit was the transportation of said dog shit. You would think jabbing it with two pencils and skewering it would have done the trick, but I remember it being perilous and fraught. I remember turbulence during that process – but we got there. We were committed.
Next morning we were all prised up against the window waiting for it. His arse, the detonator for his upcoming nuclear explosion.
He didn’t explode tho. Quite the opposite.
He sat down, worked out what was what inside two mins…stood up... proper slowly…whilst his face was going redder and redder… just as you expected the whistle to go off and for him to absolutely blow his top … he didn’t… he just kinda reaching boiling point - then physically imploded as a man and I’m sure I saw a part of his spirit leave his body -
I’m definitely certain that a part of him died there and then. He gave up the ghost. I know cos I saw him.
Anyways, with that – and the being involved in a petty theft – as a sensitive child who didn’t appear to like feeling anxious, the evidence would suggest that I was at least flirting with pain.
The onset of a negative addiction or just a poor lost little sod.
Fuck knows. I still have trouble working that out now.
Fullick tho man. Seriously. The day some unruly kids used a dog shit to dispel a monster. Fantasy stuff. Til you have to pay the piper.