Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Picking Up The Tab

I have often been called a dinosaur because I steer well clear of so-called 'designer' drugs. Well, for a start, you never know what you’re getting or how well (or badly) your body will cope.

Take ‘ecstasy’ for example. Few people have suffered much by way of harmful effects from taking it. Yet, I recall Leah Betts, a schoolgirl from Latchingdon in Essex (UK) whose death on November 19th 1995, shortly after her 18th birthday, resulted in extensive media coverage of and panic about those same so-called ‘designer’ drugs. (Sadly, neither of these lasted long and complacency - especially among young people -  very soon set in again.) 

Photo: A November 1995 photo of Leah Betts in a coma that was widely circulated in the press at the time; copied from Wikipedia.

On November 11th 1995, Leah took an MDMA (‘ecstasy’) tablet, and then drank approximately 7 litres of water in a 90 minute period. Four hours later, she collapsed into a coma, from which she did not recover.
I never knew or met Leah Betts, but perhaps you will think of her when you are tempted to try this drug or that on the grounds that ‘everyone else does’ therefore  ‘it can’t possibly do me any harm.’ (Oh, no? Who says…?)

Apart from the fact that there is a lot of rubbish being pushed on the streets these days (this dinosaur keeps his ear to the ground) there has not been time for sufficient research into the long term effects of even seemingly harmless drugs.

Now, everyone loves to party and (too often) drugs are part of the party scene. Now, if you want to play Russian roulette with drugs, go ahead. Just remember, though, that it could well be your family and friends picking up the tab for it for the rest of their lives. 

Have fun, YES, but play safe and say ‘NO’ to drugs. 

Oh, it’s been said before, of course, but countless funerals and ruined lives suggest a lot of people didn’t listen…and are still not listening. But me, I’m just a dinosaur. Why should I care? Well, for a start, one of those funerals and ruined lives was that of someone I loved.  


Bitter-sweet, a dark place
where I dream of you; 
harsher than a gull’s cry, 
its silence

Treading a swell 
of despair,
and it’s a rare angel 
who’ll care much 
(if at all) for the fool 
sleeping off 
the hangover of a lifetime
bargained for 
with ecstasy, paid for
oh, so dearly! 

Fine feathers, shot down 
in glorious flight,
a fall harsher on the ear
for its silence...

And who’s to blame?

Copyright R. N. Taber, 1999; 2012

[Note: A slightly different  version of this poem first appeared in an anthology Reach for the Truth, Poetry Today (Forward Press)1999 and subsequently in Love and Human Remains by R. N. Taber, 2000.]

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