I walked into a centre for drug addicts - a few minutes’ walk further down my new street - for the first time in my life on Wednesday. I walked down the street in open shirt, beautiful scorching late afternoon sun bathing my skin in the delicious outdoors sensation of trickling sweat saturated in exhaust fumes.
The intercom by the door marked “Addaction” buzzed out a challenge. I identified myself as a new prospective customer and was let, through a double-door airlock security system, into the dark cool interior of the building. The staff of the centre were lounging around on sofas and smiled at me as I entered – there were no other clients present.
A ginger-haired social worker type put me through a brief interview, started a file on me, and we discussed what they could do for me. What I am really hoping is that they will help me obtain proper legal accomodation. I am depressed, you see - I have mental health problems, I am severely addicted to heroin, and it’s all because I need a place of my own. This is what I explained to them.
Paying market rents is still out of the question. If I stopped burning all my money on drugs I could afford it, yes, but I resent paying such ridiculous amounts of money to a greedy landlord. A great many people in London spend – what? Easily three-quarters? – of their income on a place to live, and this makes them, immediately, a slave to their employer and a slave to their landlord, unable to afford to fuck either of them off. I need to arrange myself something better. A council place or a housing association place, which I could eventually sub-let when I go traveling. As a single young male, this is practically impossible. Oh, but I’m still married, and hopefully I can plead mental health problems and hepatitis and thereby jump the queue.
Why has this never occurred to me before? The welfare state throws money at us scum. At the feeble and fucked up and unfit. The social Darwinist and cryptofascist in me screams. I know a girl who gets thousands of pounds, computer equipment, free furniture – a reward for being dyslexic. Call me insensitive or ignorant, but what’s that all about? Basically, a reward for being dumb. Aren’t they really fucking with the brutal process of natural selection, here? What sort of a nation are they breeding, this society that rewards and nurtures stupidity and weakness? Well, let’s see if I can play this game.
When I was a young and zealous anarchist I used to rinse the social system for all I was worth. I saw benefit fraud as a valid act of resistance to an irredeemably fucked up system. Then I went conservative for a while – proud to be self-sufficient, refusing to touch their welfare money and refusing to give them mine in taxes. But now it looks like I’m leaning back the opposite way again, due in no small part to a futile and impotent hatred for English culture and the society it has spawned.
The ginger-haired type set up an appointment with a doctor for me, who will be able to prescribe me methadone and sedatives. He outlined how the drug-care establishment here works. He promised to get me information about social housing. Then I spoke to a nurse, promised to come back for blood tests. Drank a plastic cup of instant coffee, ate some digestives and got up to leave.
On my way out, ginger-haired social worker loaded me up with drug paraphernalia. A choice of syringes and colour-coded needles of different sizes. Little satchets of citric acid, because brown heroin won’t dissolve in plain water. Pretty little clear ampoules of clean water. Antiseptic swabs, which I tear open and pull half out of their packets and light – the alcohol-saturated swab burns brightly to cook up the heroin solution, instead of a lighter which will burn your fingers before the solution boils. Makes shooting drugs such a convenient pleasure. Like a child impatient to play with a new toy I hurried home with my trove of goodies.