Where my thinking was akin to flying a kite in a hurricane. The good old days...
Days when the sun shone and the birds sang. Days of long drinking sessions in the sunshine and long in-depth conversations on Life, the Universe and Everything during the cool nights. Scotch was my drink of choice in those days, served in a tall glass with no ice and lemonade.
That was the start of it. My drink problem. Not that it seemed like a problem at the time. That all came later when the scotch and lemonade somehow vanished and neat scotch from the bottle became their replacement.
I'd tried drinking pints, like my friends, but I didn't have the ability to quaff. The problem was that it took too long for me to get drunk on lager. The ABV was way too low. My body needed a higher dosage. Strong spirits were just the thing.
It usually happened the worst during the run up to New Year, the time of the year where Scotland showed the world that no-one parties quite like us...
After all, we were the country that spawned the modern thinking world; We'd discovered Penicillin, we'd brought electric light, we'd invented the glorious harmony that is the pneumatic tyre and tarmac, we'd given the world colour photography to capture images that would last far longer then the things photographed, we'd wrote the song that would be sung around the world when bells all around the globe chimed the New Year and we'd invented a device that would allow us all to let each other know answers to almost any question. Including the most important question of all... Where's the Party?
I'd go into training for the upcoming celebrations to allow myself time to prepare for the drinking and drugging that would be New Year. Training generally involved drinking heavily on the weekends in the month leading up to the big day. I'd go straight from work to the house of a friend who didn't mind me crashing out on the sofa-bed in his Grandmothers spare room so long as I brought her a couple of kippers and some Arbroath smokies to keep her pleased.
My friend would roll a couple of joints and I'd jump into the shower to get rid of the strong fishy smell that emanated from me due to my working as a fishmonger. I'd throw on the clean clothes that I'd stored at the house while the house filled with the smell of hash being burnt and kippers being cooked.
After showering and getting ready I'd wander into the back-bedroom where my mate would have a joint in the ashtray waiting for me and one already lit in his mouth. I'd light up and inhale deeply. After smoking my joint we'd leave the house and jump into the car, pausing only to pop our heads into the living room where his gran would be sitting in front of the TV tucking into kippers or smokies covered in butter.
As soon as the car engine was started the stereo kicked into life and all sixteen speakers would begin playing whatever music was in the tape deck. We'd pull away from the house in a squeal of rubber on tarmac and my heart would pound in my chest wondering where we would go on such a fine evening. If I had stopped to think about it I'd no doubt have been high on the possibilities alone, but stopping to think was nowhere near the front of my mind, so drugs were never far away.
Whatever drugs we had between us were communal. What was mine, was his, what was his was mine. The long standing hippy attitude was our unspoken chant, our mantra, our ethos. The usual drug list was hash and LSD with the occasionally guest appearance by speed.
After driving around to pick up the girls we'd head into town and meet up with the usual suspects. A big bunch of weirdos you wouldn't want to meet during the daylight, sober and straight, never mind on a weekend when they were out on the town out of their minds on booze, pills and potions.
Renton who was a little bastard whose lack of balls was astounding when it came to confrontations of any kind, Big G was a man mountain who looked like he could punch you so hard your grand kids would feel it, Andy was a rap fan who would quote rap songs as he smoked hash from a bong in the footwell of the car and Crawley was the driver who was about as socially interesting as a bucket of wallpaper paste.
Good People. Friends. Comrades in the Fight for Fun and Frolics.
Our mob of firm friends flew around the Edinburgh area like demons. Miles were racked up going to and from each others houses to round us all up and occasionally we'd fly off to South Queensferry, Longniddry or somewhere else far flung purely because someone suggested it. We'd drive side by side making rude gestures and shouting abusive banter, pass joints from car to car or throw lit fireworks at each other.
Speeds were always on the dangerous side of illegal and yet we were never caught speeding or had a large, horrible and possibly fatal accident of some kind.
It always seemed to me like there was some kind of magical force protecting us. It was as though the God of wild youthful debauchery was our guardian. It was watching over us and saying to Itself "Ohh for the love of me! You're not supposed to drive the wrong way around a roundabout just because it has a faster line than the normal way! I better make sure that there's not another car coming the other way." And It'd wiggle it's metaphysical finger and keep us from harm.
We were a danger only to ourselves and we knew how to balance each other out. Whenever someone, in an addled state, would suggest that we drive to North Berwick to dive from the cliffs into the harbour we'd go as far as driving to North Berwick but would always baulk at actually diving off the cliffs as it was too dark, the water was too shallow or we were too fucked up to be able to swim to the edge of the harbour. In other words, common sense prevailed most times.
Even when common sense didn't prevail there seemed to be some god or another looking down on us and ensuring our safety.
When a box fireworks were taken apart, their contents put into an empty bottle with an unwound Catherine Wheel as a fuse, exploded less than a foot from us we were somehow protected despite the flying glass shards that were caused by the bottle exploding but scraped the shit out of cars twenty feet away. The God of wreckless folly was no doubt looking down on us that day saying to It's fellow Gods "You gotta see the look on their faces when it goes bang. I only decided to protect them for the comedy value."
Our group would constantly take the piss out of each other. We'd abuse each other regardless of the fact that we each knew each others personal buttons to push to incite physical violence. We'd keep pushing each others personal paranoias until they became nothing more than an in-joke. We evolved each others perceptions and fucked with each others preconceptions. We did what came naturally.
Those were the days when anything was possible purely because we thought it was.