Fred the doper – an extract from ‘Farther from the Sun’.

Our doper was Fred. He was none too bright. He worked in the lacquer room which was contained behind double doors to cut down on evaporation of the volatile organic solvents in the lacquer.

We made a point of regularly visiting Fred for a few minutes at the beginning and end of sessions. You walked in took a few deep breaths of the heavy solvent laden atmosphere and walked back out as high as a kite for the next half-hour.

Fred worked in there all day.

“I love my job,” he told me. “I don’t take holidays even. I’m never sick. I miss it when I go home. I love my job.”

You felt like telling him to take a tub of the lacquer home with him so he could go away for a week. He could sniff it whenever he got the urge!

Fred must have been a complete addict without even knowing it. Heaven knows what it was doing to his liver or his brain! Perhaps he wasn’t quite so loopy when he started the job! Doesn’t bear thinking about.

You’d never get away with allowing anybody to work in those conditions under Health & Safety these days. Management must have known. They did not care!

5.11.01

 

Some people play sport and run around a field trying to knock a round object between two posts.

11.10.01

 

My friend Bali worked in a different part of the factory. He had a face pitted with smallpox scars. He’d got the disease as a baby in Pakistan and miraculously survived. He was a Muslim.

One day we were in the canteen having lunch. I had sausage and chips and Bali decided he’d have sausage and chips as well.

On the way out of the canteen, a thought came into my head.

“I thought you Muslims didn’t eat pork?”

He looked at me in horror as he digested the content of my words. He’d obviously thought they were beef sausages. Then he violently emptied the contents of his stomach over me and the corridor in one great liquid jet.

I wished I hadn’t asked.

5.11.01

 

Some people gyrate and flail around to rhythmical sounds. Some spend years learning how to use instruments to make rhythmical sounds for others to gyrate to.

11.10.01

 

 

Tribal. We are tribal. We are xenophobic and territorial. We are designed to function in small groups. We have to recognise and fight that if we ever hope to be civilised.

7.11.01

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