Posted by Posted by Dark Beige On 14:57

By Peter Johnson, Homeless Crack Addict

I often wonder what my life would have been like if I only hadn't chosen to watch the film Human Traffic one night on Channel 4. It was back in 2002, when I was still a very impressionable 36 year old man. I had a good job as a manager at Ravel's shoe shop in Hemel Hempstead, a wife, two young kids and a lovely home.

Little did I know, as I sat down to catch the TV premiere of the film starring that guy from The Lakes, that it would all soon be gone, snatched away by the incredible downward spiral of degradation and depravity that followed.

I suppose you might say I'd always lived a very cloistered life; my dad was an army man and very strict, while my mum liked to wrap me in cotton wool.

I never really went through any of that teenage rebellion, I was more of a Dire Straits kind of guy, and even at University in Loughborough the wildest night I can ever remember involved a big bottle of cider and a couple of Marlboro red cigarettes, followed by a massive vomit out of the window of my room in halls. "I won't be doing that again!", I promised myself, and for another 18 years, I was right.

But there was something in that movie, that stirring but dangerous tale of a group of Cardiff pals who live for the weekend and escape the boredom of their average lives by going to wild drug-fuelled parties and singing in pubs that obviously awoke the dormant beast that had slept happily in its cage since the early 80s. Only this time, it wanted to come out and play...

It started subtly enough at first - I began to not care quite so much about which shoe went where on the display shelves, and no longer enthused about the Italian stitching on the tan leather men's brogues with quite the same level of passion. Soon, I was going home at 5 to 6 and drinking red wine in the evening!

But when I started freebasing crack cocaine at a shoe salesman seminar in Peterborough one October night, I think I finally knew that things had got out of hand.

I don't know why I did it, but here's how it happened - I met a Scotsman named Davey and we soon hit it off. After a long day of seminars we were letting our hair down in the bar with a few drinks (Davey was a hard drinking man, and no mistake) and he asked me if I wanted to go back to his room and get high. Naturally I assumed he meant a marijuana joint. Remembering the hilarious "spliff politics" scene in the film, I can't say I wasn't tempted.

But when we got back there I realised what he really meant, and not wanting to make anyone feel awkward, I decided to give it a try. I was of course in two minds, but then I remembered that incredible speech that Jip gives in the film:

"The weekend has landed. All that exists now is clubs, drugs, pubs and parties. I've got 48 hours off from the world, man. I'm gonna blow steam out my head like a screaming kettle, I'm gonna talk cod shit to strangers all night, I'm gonna lose the plot on the dancefloor. The free radicals inside me are freakin', man!

Tonight I'm Jip Travolta, I'm Peter Popper, I'm going to never-never land with my chosen family, man. We're gonna get more spaced out than Neil Armstrong ever did, anything could happen tonight, you know? This could be the best night of my life. I've got 73 quid in my back burner - I'm gonna wax the lot, man! The Milky Bars are on me! Yeah!"

Standing there in the room of a Premier Inn in Peterborough with a mid-50s alcoholic manager of Shoe Zone in Dundee, this was my "Jip Travolta" moment, and I took it.

If anyone had told me quite how addictive crack cocaine is, I might have thought twice. I returned home to Hemel Hempstead and tried to continue with my normal life, but things could never be the same again. Soon enough I was driving to Stevenage every day to pick up more rocks, and smoking them in the car. I became violent and aggressive and my wife left me.

I also began to drink heavily to deal with the depression and one day I was drunk at work when I told a rude customer to "Go fuck his tasseled loafers", and was sacked.

I lost my house as I couldn't afford the mortgage, and moved into a hostel. That didn't work out and now I'm sleeping rough in Camden in London, doing whatever I can to get my next fix, things you do not want to know about, believe me.

Sometimes at night as I lie in a doorway, I still hear Jip's haunting words and see those smiling, happy faces and ask myself "Why? Why did you do it? Didn't you realise there was snooker on the other side?"

Damn you, Human Traffic, damn you to hell. That's where you've sent me.


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