Friday, 8 May 2015

AFTER ADDICTION: My Lovely Charity Shop

Hi, and thanks for dropping by.  As you may know, the first 22 posts of this blog are the text of my ebook, 'How To Become A Crack Addict' (Jan to April 2013), which you can buy on amazon, if you do that sort of thing.  Since then, this blog's, albeit sporadically, mutated through different little phases, arriving, with a stumble or two, at the present day, which I am daring to call, at least for now, 'After Addiction'.  Some might say that no such time exists, once one has been engulfed by the filthy rotten disease of addiction, but, for colloquial purposes at least, I am calling the current period of my life 'After Addiction'.  Also, it might be that someone out there, in Taiwan, Ukraine, or another far-flung place, is wanting to know what people do 'after addiction', or even wondering what they might do themselves 'after addiction'.

So, having used that phrase plenty of times now, I shall tell you a little about how it is, some months away from the strangely monstrous, impulsive, arch-betrayer that is crack-cocaine.  I noticed someone searched for 'ex crack addict blog' and stumbled on these pages, so maybe there's room for a bit of happy talk, here and there.

I'm so virtuous now, I'm the kind of person your keyworker would wheel out to give a talk in the local needle-exchange, to encourage and inspire the bedraggled clientele, let them know there's a world beyond the bin-chute, the basement-steps, that it is possible to say that final farewell to the stairwell.  I've been volunteering in a local 'boutique' charity shop for a few months now, just a day a week, as you do, a kind of penance, but more as a way of feeling vaguely useful, meeting new people, facing a few social and working-world fears I've been shunning for years.  As you may know, I am a registered blind person (I have the official certificate), although I have some residual sight that I can use in short bouts, with the aid of strong magnification.  Up until recently, I've been making myself useful steaming frocks and such out the back, taking in donations, counting the pieces in jigsaws to ensure they're complete, and making teas and coffees.  I had done a bit of work at the till, out front, but it wasn't very easy to see, even with my magnifiers and such.  But today, we got a new till, and it's like being in the International Space-Station, I don't mind telling you.  It's touchscreen, which can be tricky when you can't see much, but, luckily for me, it's really clear and has large, nicely contrasting numbers and touchpads on it - in short, with my glasses, close up, I can now do transactions without going into a flap, or having to ring the bell to get the manager to come and help.  I even did a few card-transactions without a hiccup, too, which had me feeling pretty good.  It's clear I can't see much, so people are generally understanding and sympathetic, anyway.  Thing is, you see, when you're a 'disabled person' here in the UK, you can get help for equipment, and other things, from the government, but only when you're entering a fulltime paid job, not a part-time voluntary one, which limits the opportunities of a lot of people with sight, and other problems.  Also, today we had the misfortune of voting in a new, unfettered Conservative government who are hell-bent on cutting benefits for poorer people rather than asking richer people and companies to make more of a contribution.  But then, as you probably know, that's what 'conservatives' do around the world, so far as I can tell.  So, in short, I'm lucky to be able to make use of my sight, and my self, in this new setting.  I never thought I'd glean so much glee from operating a cash-register, but, well, when I left, till-roll all correct, I sauntered home with the real rush-hour crowd, and actually felt like I'd done something vaguely worthwhile - and I'm meeting a few nice people too.  Win win, which is much better than whine whine, I find.

But why do I garner you with this account?  Well, I guess because I just want to keep some kind of journal of things, for anyone to look at if they want, and also to patronise and pat on the head those who may be struggling in the thick of addiction, near-paralysed in its thick, stodgy mire, hoping to reach the shore before the slow mud drags them under.  I know that mud, and I can still get stuck, stop, find myself just sitting, thinking about writing, going somewhere, writing some music, doing something creative to release the trapped bird in soulcage that craves a tree to perch in.

I guess my lovely charity shop is one of my new, current perches, and I'm chirping within most of the time I'm there - I think to chirp out loud would distract and confuse both customers and colleagues.  But inly I chirrup, like a chirpy chaffinch bobbing on a twig, a charity twig.

There's all sorts of characters there, and we even get the odd shoplifter, or attempted shoplifter, a drunk art-dealer, a woman who brings everything back, and a guy who takes more fag-breaks than a laboratory monkey...of which more tomorrow, or the day after.  I haven't been writing many songs lately, because I've started a little comedy night in my local pub, so here for your entertainment is one of the little adverts I made for it, courtesy of a Brian Cox mask and a silly voice (Brian Cox is a British astronomer/TV presenter, just in case you didn't know).

So anyway, thanks for letting me share.

Here is Brian's ad...

You can find our comedy page on Facebook too.  It's in the pub in west London called the Duchess of Cambridge, so our evening is called 'Duch Ado About Nothing' (for want of a better pun).

See you tomorrow...thanks again.

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