Strippers, suicide and Charlie fae Dunfermline
I’ve been thinking about my death a lot recently. Now before anyone gets all Samaritanny on me, it’s not going to happen just yet. There’s research to be done and business to be taken care of. Bank accounts, title transfers, will rewriting and all sorts. The wee home shredder is having a henner as we speak. Linda and didnae like to be a bother so the less there is for the lawyer to do, the more there will be for the charities we picked. There’s also the small matter of wriggling out of the promises I made to Linda when she was on her deathbed. You know, the 1) no killing yourself and 2) don’t start drinking again as that’s just a more fun way of doing 1) promises. But I think I’ve found a loophole, which is good news. It’s a bugger I got rid of the 30 day supply of morphine the day after she died, but I’ll work something out.
See I made a couple of promises to Linda 25 years ago. But they were promises she didn’t know about. So I reckon that if I kept two promises she didnae ken, then breaking one of the more recent ones leaves her in credit. Chrysippus would be proud of me. It was a week after we got married. We couldnae afford a honeymoon but one of Lindas pals was on holiday and said we could stay at her hoose. Now she had an upper villa with her ain back green! Posh. And it was at the Seafield end of Leith Links so if we had to go home it was only a five minute walk. It was a hot June and I’d nipped in for a cold Kestrel oot the fridge. I was stalkerly admiring Linda from the window when I had a moment of clarity. I’d always been a casual drug user. Only on weekends, at gigs or at festivals. Which back then was a lot. Linda knew I dabbled but not the extent. She also didn’t know how much I drank as I never got bladdered in her company. It was my job to look after her so I kept on the right side of crazy when we were together. But right then and there I decided to give them up. Now I wasn’t the best husband in the world so it took me 5 years to kick the drugs and 12 to stop the booze, but the last 13 years of our marriage I was stone cold sober.
But that got me thinking about the very last time I took drugs. It was 1997 and I was at a hoity toity, fancy dan strip club called Browns in Hackney. Hoity toity and fancy dan may not be phrases that spring to mind when talking about strippers but I was more of a regular in the Rainbow and, my favourite, The Spread Eagle (best name for a strip club ever!), both of which were dives. So Browns was a step up. Incidentally, the first time I went into the Spread Eagle, an extremely attractive young lady was dancing naked on the stage while singing along to “She’s Got Balls” by AC/DC. She had me at “She’s got spunk that woman, funk that woman”! Anyway I was standing at the bar in Browns discussing Polish vodka with the barman when I heard a loud cry of “Haw, big man! It’s Charlie fae Dunfermline”!
I had an instant flashback to a Glastonbury in the very early eighties, long before it became a corporate whorefest. It was Friday and it was pissing doon. So I was standing under a tarpaulin discussing cider with the barmaid while sampling her wares. Cider, that is. All of a sudden there came a cry of “Haw, big man! I’m Charlie fae Dunfermline”! I looked around and was confronted with what seemed to be an unholy coupling of Swamp Thing and Catweazle. I think he was wearing army fatigues. Either that or it was so long since he’d encountered soap that his regular clothes had formed their own eco-system. Well I had 5 hours before Dr John was due on stage and the only thing I was going to get from the barmaid was more cider so as Scotch jakeys across the world do, I engaged in conversation with another of that ilk. And it all worked out rather well. See, Charlie knew every drug dealer on site and was able to steer me towards the reliable ones. Which led to a blissful Saturday and Sunday, rather than lying in the foetal position trying to quench the bleeding from my septum after ingesting too much Daz.
Two weeks later I’m standing in the pissing rain on Lindisfarne waiting for a Robbie Robertson-less Band to take the stage when the cry went up – “Haw, big man! It’s Charlie fae Dunfermline”!. And so it continued through most festivals of the eighties. We knew nothing about each other beyond music, drugs and a hatred of Rangers FC. In fact the only time I met him outside a festival was when we independently and inadvertently ended up in a gay bar in Wardour Street, London, where his usual greeting tae me attracted some unwelcome attention. Cue a fast escape to the Ship. But times moved on and I hadn’t seem him in eight or nine years. So I’m looking for an older troll and can’t reconcile the rather dapper chap with Charlie. But there he is, in a 3 piece suit that’s even more expensive than the expensive one I’m wearing. We tried to reminisce (badly), spoke vaguely about what we were doing nowadays – me; “I’m high up in environmental management”, him; “I consult with the Asian financial markets”. After about an hour he said that Tokyo would be waking up and he needed to get to work. He then slipped me a small packet “for old times sake” and vanished never to be seen again. I headed to the toilets.
I woke up about 15 hours later on the 10th floor of the Union Jack Club at Waterloo. Still in my suit but with 3 or 4 stains that not even the Portuguese dry cleaner at Pimlico could remove. And he was the Wizard of Clean! I knew then I was finished with speed, blow and blue dots. And I was.
Crazy Katys House of Dreams or The Immaculate Conception or How Jack Docherty Nearly Ruined My Life.