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» Drugs

Fuck it, he's deid
For a number of years, I worked on a public health project monitoring levels of HIV among injecting drug users in Glasgow. To be eligible to take part, the drug user must have injected at least once in the previous six months. If they had, we then filled in a long and detailed questionnaire about all aspects of their drug use, sexual behaviour, general health and so on. Out of the hundred or so that I interviewed over the years, one man’s story stood out. I asked him the opening question, ‘Have you injected in the last six months?’. He replied, ‘Oh yes.’ This is the story of his last injection.

He claimed that he normally injected heroin three times a day. On the day in question, he had had his usual morning hit and was sitting in his flat when the doorbell rang. It was an old acquaintance who now lived in the far north of Scotland. She was in town to score a few bags to take back up the road with her. Could he help her out? The deal was he would buy five £20 bags, she would take four up north and they would share the fifth bag between them. So out he went and, very quickly, the deal was done. Back at the flat, he set about splitting the fifth bag and they decided to have a hit ‘for the road’. As he told it, ‘Greedy bastard that I was, I went into the kitchen and gave myself the bigger share.’ He also forgot that he had already had his morning hit. At this point, Lou Reed starts singing ‘Perfect Day’ and our protagonist disappears through the floor.

An ambulance is called and the paramedics arrive. He is given naloxone but, as he’s being stretchered out to the waiting ambulance, he goes into cardiac arrest. The stretcher is set down on the pavement (two or three people stand and watch including, apparently, his brother). Out comes the defibrillator. He’s zapped once. Nothing. Twice. Nothing. Three times. Nothing. One of the ambulance crew says, ‘Fuck it, he’s deid.’ And this is the thing, your man HEARS all this. It’s said that your hearing is the last sense to go when you go. So, lying there, in a smack-induced, near-total coma, he gets to hear someone pronounce him dead, and he’s utterly unable to tell them otherwise. One of the ambulance crew then says, ‘One more, and we’ll call it a day’. Fourth time lucky - his heart starts. And that, he said, was the last time he had injected heroin.

The cynic in me was tempted to write it off as another junkie urban myth. However, later in the year I was working on another project examining the medical records of patients who had been through detox. Going through the files one day, there were the records of a man who had arrested on the pavement. It listed the time and place and number of defib attempts. It’s possible that he had just imagined what the ambulance crew had said. Either way, it seemed to have kept him off the needle for a while.
(Tue 21st Sep 2010, 11:05, More)

» Sex Toys

The difference between kinky and insane
Back in the early 1990s, I worked in public health research. I was also a regular clubber. One night at a club in Glasgow, I met Ken for the first time (he's still a dear friend to this day). I was only 23 at the time and still a little naive when it came to all things sexual - despite working in the HIV field. Ken was the first out-and-proud gay man I'd ever met. At the club this night, he'd appear on the dance floor then suddenly disappear for ten minutes. This happened a couple of times. I asked him where he'd been.

'Out on the fire escape giving some guy a blowjob', was his reply. I was slightly shocked but rather curious. The nerd researcher in me felt compelled to ask. 'Do you practise safe sex?'

'Oh God no,' he said 'The riskier the better, if I can get away with it'.

I asked him what was the unsafest sex he'd ever had. He paused for a moment then said, 'Unsafest sex? Hmmm, that's a good one. Let me think.'

Now, I was expecting him to say something like a ten-man bareback orgy, or some risky outdoor encounter where there was a good chance of him being caught. I have to admit I was rather taken aback by his actual response:

'It would have to be that time I had a loaded double-barreled shotgun shoved up my arse.'
(Fri 18th May 2012, 13:11, More)

» Shops and Supermarkets

Glasgow woman...
goes into a butcher's shop one winter morning. The butcher is stood behind the counter next to an electric fire. She points and asks, 'Is that your Ayrshire bacon?'

The butcher replies, 'No, it's my hands I'm warming.'
(Tue 15th May 2012, 21:13, More)

» Filth!

The wrong kind of vacuum cleaner
On this occasion, the family alsatian had produced a massive puddle of diarrhea right outside my younger brother's bedroom door. It was brown, soupy and had a diameter of about 18 inches. I was there to witness the look of horror on my brother's face when he first saw it. I had to dash off to work, leaving my sibling to deal with the mess.

When I came home at 5 o'clock, there was not a trace of it to be found - all gone. I asked my brother how he had cleaned it up. 'I used the Hoover,' was his reply. As in, the brand new, upright Hoover (with paper dustbags) that our mum had bought a couple of weeks previously. 'You're joking?' I asked. He shook his head. I fetched the Hoover from the cupboard and opened it up. There was the sodden dustbag, oozing doggy discharge and stinking to high heaven. I turned the machine upside down and, sure enough, the brushes were all coated in a sticky brown sludge. I think he must have thought that all vacuum cleaners were the same and that, just like the Vax cleaners he had seen advertised on TV, they could all handle 'liquid' spills.

Despite stripping the Hoover down and soaking the parts in disinfectant, every time it was used thereafter left the house reeking of dog arse. It ended up in a skip.
(Wed 8th Feb 2012, 11:17, More)

» Conspicuous Consumption

He paid her £500...
to clean her house.

I work in public health research and occasionally this involves home visits. Every sex worker I've ever interviewed always has a stack of tales about lunatic punters with more money than sense. One woman worked as a dominatrix based in a nondescript flat in the southside of Glasgow. Her favourite client would visit once a month, put on some rubber gloves (nothing kinky, just a regular pair of Marigolds) and an apron over his clothes. Then off he'd go and spend two hours cleaning the flat from top to bottom, in total silence. At the end, he would thank her kindly and hand over an envelope with £500 in it. There was no physical contact between the two of them at any point.

Admittedly this was done in a private residence, so it's not exactly conspicuous, but it's up there in the top ten of weirdest things I've ever witnessed.
(Tue 2nd Aug 2011, 19:27, More)
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