Saturday, 22 September 2007

Legalise Drugs...

Excerpts from Inside feral Britain: A blood-chilling journey into the heart of our teenage gang culture, The Daily Mail; 22nd September 2007
Original Article Here

"Sean is 15. He earns £100,000 a year from drug dealing, carries a knife, flaunts a machine gun - and sneers at the law."

"Sitting on his BMX bike, heavy gold jewellery dripping from his neck and wrists, the boy from one of Manchester's most notorious estates has already achieved the ambition of thousands of his teenage peers... Sean is a somebody. And on these drug-scarred streets, everybody wants to be a somebody."

"Notwithstanding his age and high-pitched voice, Sean, a shrewd, street-smart little character, controls one carefully marked-out area of the estate: rival dealers cross the boundary at their peril. Yet he still blows all his cache each week on clothes, gambling, cannabis and drink. (He once lost £1,300 on gambling in a day.) "

"He demonstrates how the blade should hit the area between the top of the thigh and the buttock, cutting the hamstring and leaving the victim writhing on the ground in agony. If that doesn't work, Sean can get his hands on a gun "in minutes". He shows me pictures on his mobile phone of him and his friends playing with pistols, sawn-off shotguns and sub-machine guns."

"Gangs like this, living off welfare and crime, were said in a recent academic report to be costing taxpayers an estimated £1 billion a year. "

"Witnesses seldom come forward. In more than 150 gun-related crimes on [the police's] books, not a single person has admitted to seeing anything."

"Professor Gus John, a noted race relations expert, revealed how a woman he knew was raped by her son, who had become addicted to crack cocaine. 'He demanded money for drugs,' said Prof John. 'Then he raped her violently and left her a complete mess'."


It's undeniable that this is a pretty dire and fucked up state of affairs. It's also pretty obvious to me that the main bulk of crime, especially inner city crime committed by teenagers, is funded and fuelled by drugs and perpetuated by violence and the pursuit of status, street fame or, like the article says, the desire to be someone. I doubt that there is an easy way to stop the moral stagnation of impressionable young people from deprived sink estates but surely a good start would be to take away their ability to earn £100,000 per year and then plough it all back into the criminal underworld. Drugs are a multi billion pound industry and leaving it in the hands of violent gangsters isn't responsible, sensible or safe. More so than this article, personal experience tells me that the government is losing the war on drugs. Drastic action is needed to deal with the problem, that action should be to legalise all drugs. Not just cannabis, or so called soft drugs, but all drugs.
Heroin and Crack Cocaine are arguably the most harmful and poisonous drugs, both to person and to the fabric of society, available in Britain today. They are both Class A and of all the drugs of abuse carry the heaviest sentences for possession or sale. Yet, we still have massively destructive crack and heroin problems in probably every major city in Britain. It is clear that these classifications and the punishments handed out are proving no deterrent to those who wish to use drugs or those who desire to be involved in the supply of drugs. This recent Yorkshire Evening Post article gives a good example of this. I knew Daniel 'Zanzer' Sheriffe for a number of years and he isn't an exception to any rule. What he did on day release is par for the course amongst convicted criminals. I'm pretty certain that he is pretty well pissed off over getting caught but I am equally certain that when he is eventually released he'll be back out there hustling smack and crack down Chapeltown Road. Catching people and sending them to jail is all well and good in as far as it gets them off the streets, but it is only temporary and when one person gets sent down there is 10 hungry little dudes from that area who are just waiting to jump into his spot and start making money. The cycle isn't going to stop unless it is made impossible for these people to continue.
Back in the so called Hey Day of British crime The Krays and co. weren't making even a fraction of the money that modern criminals make. Their main money spinners were armed robbery, long firming (Google it). illegal gambling and protection rackets. Drugs were a relatively minor problem back then and their sale was pretty much in the hands of hippies and academics. Nowadays drugs have taken over the criminal world. The crimes the criminal old guard used to commit are undoubtedly still being committed but they are nowhere near as big a problem as drugs. If drugs were legalised it would eradicate a massive amount of crime just by simply taking away the opportunity to commit it.
Obviously, legalising drugs wouldn't solve the problem of people taking drugs, but then, what will? I don't believe anything will ever be able to stop people wanting to become intoxicated in one way or another. What with the Incas and their coca leaves, Native Americans with their Peyote Cactus, Chinese with their opium and too many other people and places to list there is evidence that people have been taking stimulants, hallucinogenics, relaxants and various other intoxicants since records began. It would be great if everyone on the planet suddenly decided to give up, but it's not going to happen. Ever. There is no chance of eradicating the world of drugs or the desire to alter perception with drugs so let's at least have some damage limitation.

At least if drugs were legalised there could be some degree of regulation involved. Once drugs are no longer distributed by gangsters, they could be controlled by a responsible governing body. They could be manufactured much more cleanly and safely with purity in mind, and before, during and after being supplied they could be accompanied by full and accurate information regarding the dangers involved in their use.

Where is the education now? What education there is is contradictory at best. Children, especially those from deprived backgrounds and poorer inner city areas are, from a young age being educated quite comprehensively about drugs. Unfortunately this education is coming mostly from the wrong sources; their equally uninformed peers, casual drug users and just the general information picked up from their living environment. They may get the old, "Drugs are bad, mmmmkay?" from teachers and so forth but then they read magazines and watch TV only to see the likes of Pete Doherty, Kate Moss and even Graham Norton making drugs look glamorous and cool. Depending on where they live they may even go out to play and see that the only people on their estate who have a car worth more than a couple of grand are the ones who they later find out to be the local drug dealers.

If heroin addicts were allowed to obtain their fix legally, by prescription, to be used under the supervision of medical professionals it would be safer all round. For the addicts themselves and for the victims of the crimes those addicts commit to fund their habits; the old ladies being mugged, the homeowners being burgled. Hopefully, over time, with a proper education system in place and with addiction being treated like a disease and addicts being treated like out patients, the allure of drugs perpetuated by the likes of everyone from Janis Joplin and Hendrix to Doherty and Kate Moss, would start to diminish. For those who still wished to poison themselves with those substances, they would be able to do so quietly and unobtrusively without hurting others. With the money that would be saved by not having to combat drug crime society could afford to subsidise the lifestyles of those few who, for whatever reason, chose to live their lives sick and unhealthy in the grip of heroin addiction.

As for other drugs, so called recreational drugs such as cannabis, ecstasy, amphetamines, cocaine etc again, education is the key. Everyone remembers the case of Leah Betts, the first 'famous' ecstasy fatality. It has become well known that young children nowadays are wont to experiment with drugs. Many have grown up in a society where drugs use is as prevalent and normal as smoking and drinking. Instead of children and young teens being forced to enter the criminal underworld at a young age and mix with violent criminals, to purchase impure drugs in a dangerous environment with no real knowledge of the substances they are taking, surely it would be better to tax the drugs, regulate their use and provide real, truthful information on drugs; not just the lows of drugs, but the highs also. Of course this still involves people taking drugs, which isn't ideal, but it is the only way.

Alcohol is legal and it is a very dangerous and harmful substance. It would probably be better for everyone if it didn't exist. It does exist though and despite its harmful properties it is probably better that while it does exist it remains legal and regulated. This doesn't stop it doing damage but if the manufacture, sale and distribution of alcohol was suddenly to be handled by the people who are currently in control of the drugs trade, it would undoubtedly lead to more violence, more deaths and more misuse. Drugs are, for the most part, as easily accessible as alcohol and the same theory applies. Whilst there is a supply and demand for drugs it simply cannot make sense to leave the supply in the hands of lawless and violent gangsters.

Surely, education is better than no education. Purity better than impurity, safety in purchasing better than danger, a clinical image better than a glamorous, exciting image. The only way to combat drugs is to take away the guns and violence, take away the mystique and take away the ignorance. This won't make the problem go away but it will, over time, make the problem better.

This could probably have been summed up in a few short words: It's a fucking no brainer. You can't let murderers run one of the most lucrative businesses in the world.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Racist Friends...

Doesn't it put you all in a quandary when you know someone for a fair amount of time (in this case, about 13 months), get along with them really well and think they are pretty cool, only for them to all of a sudden start spouting racist remarks and expressing racist sentiments, all completely out of the blue?

My friend actually said to me today, in all earnestness, "They come over here and they take all our jobs." I mean, who the fuck still says that? I thought that phrase died with Alf Garnett (Note to non-English and people under 25: Use Google to find out who Alf Garnett is)! It's a quote straight out of 'The Sun's guide to being a Little Englander' and second in the Knee-Jerk-Racist-Phrase polls only to, "It's not that I dislike [insert minority group here], but...." Needless to say I am a bit dissapointed in my friend and am struggling not to think they are a bigotted half wit.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Never been so bloody insulted...!!

Shit. Never been so bloody insulted in my whole life.

Yesterday in town some young girl approached me; I know her in passing, to nod to and maybe say Hello as she lives locally and has seen me with my dog, Benson and sometimes comes up to make a fuss of him, as people do.

Anyway, she came over to me told me that she wanted to go pawn some jewelery so she could buy alcohol and go get drunk tonight, but as she was only 15 she couldn't do it without an adult present... "So what do you want me to do? " I asked.

...."Can't you come in and pretend to be my dad?" the little shit replied!?!?!?

I'm fucking 27 years old! I don't even look 27. I definitely don't look old enough to have fathered a 15 year old. I felt like drop kicking her.

Needless to say, I told her to piss off. Cheeky cow. I couldn't be bothered lecturing her on the ghetto-ness of pawning your shit to get drunk or on the dangers of underage drinking. I am not responsible enough to give a shit really....

Her fucking DAD though! Never been so insulted.

Friday, 10 August 2007

The day I didn't meet Kate Winslet.

Well, this happened way back in 1998 and as is often the way when I meet people for the first time, I was retarded drunk and made a twat of myself. Still, I have never been one for being star struck and this probably makes a funnier story than if I had just said “Hello” and asked for an autograph.

At this point in her life Kate Winslet was at the top of her game. It was less than a year after Titanic had been released and she was pretty much a household name. She was also engaged to be married to a guy from Leeds; Jim Threapleton. Incidentally, Liv Tyler is also married to a guy from Leeds; us Leeds boys must have some pretty fly game or something. Anyway, I digress, and besides, they are those kinds of posh guys who claim Leeds but are probably from Harrogate or Rothwell or somewhere like that. Still, Kate and Jim were in Leeds on this particular day in 1998.

At this point in my life I was not, unfortunately, at the top of my game. I was not a household name nor had I starred in any blockbusting films. Instead, I was a dick, stranded miles away from home having just alighted from a friend’s car during a police chase. The police were chasing us in the belief that we were up to no good. We were resisting being arrested for the crime of Up-To-No-Good-edness. Always preferring to rely on my own physical prowess rather than someone else’s driving ability I decided to take my share of the chase on foot whilst my friend escaped in his car. After many evasive manoeuvres I found myself no longer pursued, but feeling a bit vulnerable and not particularly keen on walking around the streets I decided to find a place to lay low for a while. I happened to be in a pretty affluent area, and so I ducked into the grounds of a local conference centre named
Weetwood Hall
(ironically it is directly over the road from Weetwood police station). Weetwood Hall also has a posh hotel and pretty nice adjoining pub; The Stables. I decided to hideaway in The Stables until I felt sufficiently numbed by alcohol to be able to disregard the risk and venture out into the Big, Wide World.

Writing this now, I am asking myself why I didn’t just phone a taxi and go home. It would have only been about £7. I didn’t though. Instead I sat down, ordered a pitcher of vodka and orange and phoned my friend. Thankfully he had also escaped the clutches of the police but he informed me that he had had to hide his car and couldn’t come and pick me up until the fuss had died down and he could get to a different car. I told him, "no problem. I’ll sit and drink. I’m in no rush. Phone me when you’re on your way to get me".

Anyone who knows me well knows how much alcohol I can sink in a couple of hours. They will also be fully aware of the dumb fuck that I become after said amount of alcohol has been consumed. I had probably done in a few pitchers of vodka and orange when a young couple came into the bar and sat opposite me at the next table. The guy looked familiar to me, he had dirty blonde hair; stylishly messy and a face I knew from somewhere. The lady had a fleece jacket on, with the collar up, and a woolly hat pulled down quite low, almost covering her eyebrows (Clue #1). They were sat at a circular table so they were both kind of facing me. Aside from the few staff in the place we were the only people there. They ordered some food and some drinks. The lady produced a credit card to pay and all of a sudden, when the waitress looked at the card, she got all flustered and started flapping around this couple. I was only half paying attention but I heard her babbling about “such an honour” and “will inform the manager” (Clue #2).

My interest must have been piqued ‘cause I started scoping them out and wondering why the guy seemed familiar. Drunk as I was it wasn’t long before I thought, “Fuck it, I’m off to ask him”. On my next return journey from the bar I plonked myself down next to them and slurred to the guy, “ere mate, are you famous? I recognise you. Have you been on’t telly?” They both kind of looked at each other, the woman started giggling and looked demurely down at the table while the guy, humouring me, said that he had indeed been on TV a couple of times but wasn’t particularly famous. I stayed for what was probably, to them, a very long few minutes, all the time firing questions at this guy as to how famous he was and what he had “been in”. I finally, left to go back to my table but, despite not recognising Kate Winslet, I somehow still remember vividly how ‘the lady’ was quite visibly amused at the whole thing whilst the guy was looking pretty embarrassed.

My friend eventually came to pick me up and I buggered off thinking nothing more of it. It wasn’t until the next day when I read the Yorkshire Evening Post that I thought of them again. There was a huge article about Kate Winslet’s forthcoming wedding to a guy from Leeds, telling of how they had finally settled on a date. In the middle of the page was an A4 sized photograph of Kate Winslet stood next to her fiancĂ©, Jim; the guy whom I had been haranguing in the pub. Now, unless he was out on an illicit date with another woman, I think I may have interrupted their celebratory meal in order to ask a nobody if he was “off the telly” whilst his Hollywood superstar, world famous wife sat next to him laughing at me.

I feel this type of stupidity doesn’t bode well for my chances of becoming a successful journalist.