No, Ark, not Robert Palmer, addicted to love.
But rather, drugs, alcohol, gambling, and perhaps one can add, shopping and work.
I’ll leave it to scientists to continue arguing about what causes addiction, instead I’d like to consider our reactions to people who have an addiction to … whatever.
I’ve met very few gamblers. But sadly, one of them was a boy from prep school, in my class from Kindergarten, aged 4. His birthday was two days after mine, and we caught the bus home together. I got off the bus before him, and frequently left my regulation school beret behind. Next morning, he would return it, having safely retrieved it and taken it home with him.
Fast forward a lot of years, and we’re both visiting a local pub. It was one of our locals, although obviously not his. But it was rather trendy. And very twee, in an old beamed, low ceiling, tiny windows sort of way.
Whether I accompanied my parents or not, he always acknowledged them, and was respectful. His father owned some type of business dealing in leather coats, as far as I recall. My good kind schoolpal worked for his dad, and stole the coats to sell them to fund his gambling at the casino in Leeds. I was gutted when I heard this. Truly utterly gutted. The info was from a reliable source: his sister.
Why, would a young man, who came from an affluent family (lived in one of the two best streets in town), had a good private education, turn to gambling, and steal from his family to do that? Maybe because he didn’t cut it academically, when siblings did? I don’t know.
But moving onto a different type of gambling, Australia’s famous pokies.
We knew someone in Sydney who was banned by his wife from using the pokies. Nice guy. He still did it though.
It’s here in Gib too. We know people who will put in more than £100 and then go and get money from the cash machine to put in even more. Where is the sense in that?
Partner chucked in a fiver once to a group play, and someone won £200. Shared out, that was £40 each, less £5 = £35 profit.
The rest of them put the money back in, but Partner hung onto his £35.
Gib, has a gambling culture.
Friends at school starting smoking dope. I was banned from a planned Saturday night at a trendy club because my mate’s parents had heard about Evil! Drugs! at Chiaroscuro. I was devastated. So the place to go. Never did get there.
For those who hadn’t done soft drugs at school, there was always university. Or travelling round the world. But I went better than Bill Clinton, I never touched it at all. Maybe comes of being a non-smoker.
What I did enjoy were legal medicinal drugs in hospital. Oh yes. Morphine? A dream. In fact it felt like a dream as I drifted out of body and looked down on myself, as I floated happily betwixt body and ceiling.
The next day, I asked for more nice painkillers (this was the first ankle op, nearly 40 years ago). Sadly, nurses were clearly wised up to potential young druggies and I got something utterly boring. I didn’t ask for it after that.
Readers of roughseas will have read about attempts to force feed me paracetamol when I was in hospital last year and didn’t even have any pain.
But post-op, the spliced ankle had the odd twinge or two. Or more. Nurses explained to me that I could ask for pain med. There were some analgesics but if it was bad, there was … morphine. Or if the analgesics didn’t work, there was … morphine. Mmmmm. I took the analgesics and left Class One alone. They worked anyway. Tempted? Very.
As I lay in my bed, I listened to the muffled conversation in the bed next door. The woman, who’d had breast surgery, sounded in agony. A helpful relative pointed out that she didn’t want to take morphine, it was addictive. Yeah, well, if I’d had my breast lopped off and it hurt, I’d go for morphine. Every. Single. Time.
But, my mediocre broken ankle wasn’t that painful. Did I want morphine? Yes? Did I need it? No. So … dear reader, that was why I refused the delicious morphine.
And also, why I haven’t done drugs. My head is whacky enough. I don’t need it skewed any more than it is. I can totally see how people get addicted to drugs. That out-of-this-world experience is amazing.
I’ll briefly touch on addiction to shopping and work. I loathe shopping. I do not understand this one. ‘Tis like gambling. Just throwing money away. For what?
Work? Yeah, along with a lot of colleagues I worked 12 hour days and longer. Addicted to work? Doubt it. Just wanted the money, and that meant doing whatever was needed.
Finally, the curse of the working classes. Drink. Or, as darling Oscar said: Work is the curse of the drinking classes.
I grew up with parents who drank every day. Sunday lunch involved white wine for starter, sherry for soup, white wine for fish course, red wine, usually, for main. My father had a classy wine cellar. It wasn’t a cellar but it was still classy. We had Lafite, Latour, Mouton Rothschild. We had Dom Perignon and Diament Bleu. We had white burgundies coming out of our ears. These weren’t bottles. These were all cases.
When my father died, I told my mother it was time for us to open their last bottle of champagne. Or nearly last, or something. Because that was their hedonistic life. And that was how to best remember him.
But, while good/fine wine with a meal is nice, I loathe the drinking culture. The lads at football matches. Men in the pub together. Just. No. Men coming home for meals late. Pissed. Abusing women. The chat with the male mates over ‘a few beers’ beats spending time with a wife? Don’t get married.
Some years ago, I heard of the term functioning alcoholic. In a derogatory sense, of course.
While I don’t think drinking endless vodka, smoking cigarettes and dope and eating little food is a bright idea, if people function like that, who am I to say?
I’ve met more than one person who’s done that.
Recently, a friend was having problems. Strange outbreaks of what looked like acid burns on his legs. The doctor said he must have fallen into something, because our friend was living on a boat.
Partner went down to visit him. ‘Fuck off!’ He said. So Partner did.
He was later admitted into hospital and put on kidney dialysis. There is only one machine in Gib, or so we have been told. So every time someone else needed it, he was taken off. His kidneys didn’t recover.
In fact, not just his kidneys were shot, his liver wasn’t too healthy either.
He was a nice bloke. He never said a bad word about anyone nor did he harm anyone. His funeral service was packed.
But, some people criticised and judged him. He drank too much. Well yes, he did drink half a bottle of vodka a day. Who are we to judge?
On the back of his neck was tattooed, che sera sera.
And, whatever, happened. He enjoyed his life and it was, what it was. No judgement.
And this is my point. He lived his life as he chose. Don’t judge.
The same for people who choose drugs, or gambling, or, shopping, or work, or just anything.
Don’t judge when you haven’t been there.
Don’t judge. At all.