Being seduced by a (female) teenage stripper who’d killed someone the week before (and then stole my car) and falling onto the luggage conveyor belt at Heathrow.

Heathrow Jamaica BBC mental health addiction drugs cocaine

I got back to Jamaica at the beginning of December 2004 with a cocaine habit as out of control as a runaway bullet train. I was doing cocaine from 9am, not sleeping at all but crashing for an hour at 2pm the next day. I would be out at nightclubs every night, often on my own, as I was so wired I just had to get out of the house. I met a Jewish South African, Woody, at Kingston’s premier expat night club and, after a minor attempt at conversation, took him straight home to have sex. But I was so strung out on cocaine my ladyparts were like a vice and he couldn’t get his willy in. This was my first, but certainly not my last, experience of wearing a cocaine chastity belt. He was highly intelligent and I started going out with him (another advantage was he drank a lot). But he said it was off-putting kissing me as I tasted of cocaine. One night he had an important work function at his house. I left my cocaine at my mother’s house to try to stay under control. But halfway through the meal I announced I was “anxious” and would have to leave. I genuinely believed that cocaine calmed me down. I certainly felt, whenever I took it that a white light was flooding through my brain, obliterating any anxieties. I staggered back to his apartment, laughing and off my head, covered in mud, saying, “Guess what? I’ve fallen into a giant pothole.”

I would leave full and empty wrappers of cocaine lying around my flat. My helper (PC Jamaican term for cleaner) became a help-yourself-er as she stole my very expensive phone and various other things, realising I was completely off the rails.

One morning I’d been out all night at a club and had ended up at the house of some white Jamaicans. I was sprinting round the garden, pretending to be a humming bird. One of them said they would take me home (I wasn’t driving thank god). So I got into his car and swigged a bottle of pink liquid without asking what it was. I started projectile vomiting 20 feet away as the liquid was a heavy duty chemical for cleaning the engine of a car. I was so sick I couldn’t speak for days. But, not allowing that to interrupt my social life, I was out at a party that very night, doing sign language. When people asked me why I hadn’t gone to hospital I was mystified. Surely this kind of thing happened to everyone. Another day I was wondering round the supermarket for half an hour with a massive trolley, containing just 6 bottles of vodka and a tiny orange. I simply didn’t understand why people were staring at me.

Heathrow Jamaica BBC mental health addiction drugs cocaine

I was commissioned to do a story about female sex tourism in Jamaica for Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4. Jamaica had become the world’s number 1 destination for ladies from North America and Europe hooking up with fake “boyfriends” aka SpongeBob no pants. Of course the majority of the women thought these boyfriends were real. I went to stay with my English friend, Tristram, in the countryside as he said his girlfriend, 17 year old stripper Big Bazumba, had contacts with gigolos. Of course she did, they were part of the same union, “Sex workers need Wonga.” The gigolos I met were sitting listlessly around on the beach waiting for women to arrive. But they had zero interest in thirty year old, fairly attractive, me. They were looking for women who were older, divorced and desperate. I was driven, with Big Bazumba, at high speed around the Montego Bay area doing copious quantities of cocaine in the back of the car. Although cocaine was only about 10 pounds a gramme in Jamaica I was spending 90 pounds a day.

I found out that Big Bazumba had stabbed a girl to death the week before. She’d said it was self-defence as the girl had tried to steal her chewing gum. She was out and about, completely free as a client had paid the police to get her off. This was one of the things that had started to disturb me about living in Jamaica. There was virtually no rule of law as anyone who had money would pay the police to drop the case. Thus, at a very exclusive party, a crazed ex-boyfriend beat a girl up in front of everyone, putting her in hospital. But there was no investigation as his parents paid off the police. I had been frustrated in the UK with what I saw as the Kafkaesque maze of rules and regulations that were dreamed up by bored bureaucrats. Like, for example, that it was illegal to do cocaine. But it started to occur to me that if anything happened to me in Jamaica, no one would ever be prosecuted or even questioned, unless they were very poor.

The stories that some of the gigolos came out with were breathtaking. They had women sending them money from up to twenty different countries. And they would tell every single one of these women that they loved them and wanted to be with them. They would obviously schedule them carefully so they didn’t arrive in Jamaica at the same time. I was amazed the women could be so gullible. But many of them were middle aged and single in their home countries, they just couldn’t resist the attentions of these incredibly sexy gigolos. One Italian woman I interviewed (or tried to interview as I kept having to nip into the loo for a line) said when she’d come to live with her “boyfriend” in Jamaica he’d made her sleep outside in the yard with the dogs. But she still didn’t leave him of course. Better psychologists than me can explain why these women would stay with men who were not only rinsing them out but treating them like animals. I would say they were probably playing out some kind of fucked up dynamic with their childhood and their fathers. Some of the women, mainly American, were a bit more clued up and realised these men were playing a game. But it was a game they were happy to play, despite the high entry fees and degrading rules.

Back at Tristram’s house, Big Bazumba starting gazing at me with adoration and playing with my hair. “If I looked like you I could do anything,” she said. As a mixed race person my looks were very popular in Jamaica, where I was known as a “browning,” the highest beauty accolade. Although my friends, by this stage were saying, “you used to be so pretty,” as my skin was grey and my eyes were darting around like a meteor shower because of the cocaine. The staring and fiddling with my hair then escalated to her caressing my leg and trying to stick her tongue in my mouth. “I’m not gay….at the moment,” I said. “And anyway, even if I were, it would put me off a bit that you’ve stabbed a girl last week.”

“Why?” she said, her big brown eyes looking at me with surprise. “Oh I don’t know,” I said, “I’d just rather not date someone who’s so handy with a kitchen knife.” She then got into the bed under the covers with me, giving me a seductive look. “That won’t work,” I said. “If I’m going to die I’m going to kill myself, not get it together with someone who if I piss them off is going to stab me in the chest.”

Hurt, she pulled away and allowed me to go to sleep. But when I woke up both my cocaine and my car had gone. “Tristram!” I shouted, shaking him awake. “Big Bazumba’s stolen my car!”  “You must have upset her,” he said. “She hasn’t done that for a week.” After frantic phone calls to Big Bazumba’s mobile phone, the car was retrieved and she came back again. Of course I forgave her immediately as she brought back my cocaine. Tristram said that her using had got completely out of control since she’d stabbed the other girl, as she was trying to snort away the guilt. I chalked it up to another of those “interesting experiences you have while taking drugs” and thought it would make a good party story when I got back to Notting Hill. Ironically Woody had accused me of being gay and flirting with a female friend of his when I’d been chatting, animatedly and in fluent Spanish, to her. Little did he know what I was actually getting up to….
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With the return of my car I started bombing around the roads of rural Jamaica alone at 4am, which Tristram said was suicidal as only criminals were out at that time. But that was the point, I was suicidal. I knew I needed to leave Jamaica but, because of the terrible state my mother was in, I felt I couldn’t go. The only way out, I thought, was to press the ejector seat on the plane of life, without a parachute. Then no one, especially myself, could blame me for deserting my mother.

After I returned home to Kingston, I was hoovering up cocaine. I had done some incredibly powerful interviews about the sex tourism. But I was so strung out, mind like a roomful of confetti, that I couldn’t put the documentary together. Of course it’s difficult for me to remember the interviews, apart from the most extreme, as I was so off my head at the time it’s all been wiped from my mind.

At least I was eating healthily, I thought. I would have strictly organic, non GMO, preservative free meals until 11pm. Then I would go out bingeing on fast food, fried chicken and ice cream then puke and eat some more. To save time I would eat it all over the loo. The whole process was so quick I didn’t even need to move the television into the toilet like I had before. I was doing that three times a night, ignoring the doctors warnings that the losing combination of full time cocaine addiction and bulimia could make me drop dead of a fatal heart attack any time. I was hurtling towards the ground without being able to stop. Perhaps I thought I could fly.

On Christmas Day I couldn’t go round to see my family, spending it alone with a litre of Vodka and a large bag of coke. It was the worst Christmas Day I’d ever had. The next day, I saw the news of the catastrophic death toll in the Boxing Day Tsunami. But I couldn’t connect with the tragedy, as my life was crashing around me, devastated by my own cocaine Tsunami. I tried to give up cocaine for a few days but was drinking heavily and became so depressed I reached for the cocaine again. I ended up crying on the shoulder of my best friend in Jamaica, Candy, wailing, “I just can’t do this anymore.” I told my family that I was doing cocaine. This wasn’t a big surprise, as I’d made a hole in my nose so huge by snorting it that every time I breathed I made a loud whistling noise you could hear 50 feet away. How they hadn’t realised about the bulimia is a mystery though, as I would literally run to the loo straight after I’d eaten anything. I started looking, half-heartedly, into rehab options in Jamaica but decided that an open ward in hospital with male crack addicts from ghettos would be dangerous (for the designer bags).

I did my final interview as a foreign correspondent for the BBC at the beginning of 2005. Of course I didn’t realise this was the end of my journalism career, thinking that I just had a tiny problem with drugs that would take no time to sort out. I was so wired on coke my brain almost blew a fuse and I took a childish glee in snorting it, loudly and obtrusively, throughout the entire (telephone) interview. And the interview itself was on cocaine – the drop in the amount being smuggled between Jamaica and the UK. I giggled as I relished the irony. Afterwards Radio 5 Live told me it was a “fantastic” interview and they must speak to me again soon. I remember feeling very, very, happy after the cocaine interview thinking, “see I’ve still got what it takes.”

My upbeat mood was not, in any way, affected when I was burgled by my dealer, who pilfered all my bank cards. I assured my family that the break in was “not a problem at all.” I owed him money, of course. My identity and bank cards could easily be replaced, my dealer, on the other hand, could not. My family said I should call the police (the dealer was poor so there was a chance something might be done). But I said I couldn’t possibly call the police as my dealer was: “a good friend, practically my best friend” a fallacy I (tragically) believed. The only person I trusted more, I told them, was my main dealer in England – the shambling, psycho, crack-head with a penchant for punching his girlfriends who’d set up a tent in my sitting room. They decided I’d lost the plot and, despite my declarations that I couldn’t leave Woody, whose jealousy I interpreted as love, my family said I had to go into treatment. My bags were packed and I was forcibly escorted to the airport, accompanied by my cousin Michelle.

Before I left my house, I had a massive cocaine binge covering my suitcase, passport, laptop case and clothes (inconveniently black) in snow. By the time I got to the airport, I was so wasted my suitcase seemed to have developed a mind (and direction) of its own and some kind of fault with the wheels. To be honest it wasn’t just the suitcase, the walls and the other people seemed to be spinning round as well. Officials were alerted to my discombobulated state when I was completely unable to get my suitcase onto the weighing machine at check in. After assistance from airline officials, my bags finally went on their way all lightly sprinkled with cocaine. My cousin Michelle spent almost half an hour trying to wipe the cocaine off my clothes in the VIP lounge at Kingston airport. Luckily (you will see later why) we were travelling First Class. This was funded by my aunt, who was controlling my mother’s funds, not, as usual, my overdraft.

Heathrow drugs Jamaica mental health BBC
Image by Rosie Tulips http://ow.ly/SKjs5

At Heathrow airport I got off the plane, and joined the queue for passport control. They frowned and gave me a funny look when I handed in a white British passport, coated in cocaine. The lady at the desk seemed to turn and make a signal to a man behind.

The baggage hall seemed to be a haze, all the suitcases and people looked the same.  My trolley was travelling in circles instead of a straight line. There was a lot of faulty equipment on this trip. It definitely wasn’t me. As I reached for a bag that I thought might be mine, I lost my footing and fell onto the belt. Surrounded by suitcases, I felt a bit confused. But I only travelled along for a couple of feet before a friendly northern man helped me off.

I was arrested, snorting loudly, after Customs officials asked politely if I “had a cold.”

“An occupational hazard of working in the tropics…” I replied. It did not help matters that I mistook the red and green Customs exit for a traffic light which I (twitchily) waited to change. Sundry dogs, scanning machines, passengers and tea ladies detected that myself and my possessions were heavily (and visibly) coated in cocaine. “We think you have been in contact with a Class A drug,” the Customs officers said to me. “What on earth are you talking about?” I said. “Stop messing around Madam, you’re covered in cocaine.” Luckily, Customs decided I wasn’t a mule (they travel in Economy) but that I might as well be some kind of donkey as I was terminally stupid. I was charged not with smuggling but with “impersonating Scarface” and released into the custody of my family.

I was met by my father and Alex, my friend from Oxford, and sequestered in Alex’s house in the country. I suggested excursions to London, “I must see the latest waxwork of the Pope at Madam Tussauds” – in order to score. But, to avoid a less mind expanding form of incarceration,  I was soon forced into rehab. After careful consideration, I felt St Chillin’s, Britain’s most exclusive rehab, would look best on my C.V. I might even bump into a celebrity.
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De Nile is not a river in Egypt – moving my “best friend” into my house then saying I can’t go out with him as “I might get addicted to drugs.” Refusing to pay the mortgage as I’ve spent it on a Dior bikini and 5 pairs of sunglasses instead.

Bikini most shocked pic

I crashed into the UK in the summer of 2004 with a roaring cocaine habit, and desperate desire to shop. Throughout my time in Jamaica, I’d had a recurring dream about going to Heaven. This consisted, primarily, in being locked in Selfridges for ever. From the beginning of 2004, I decided the fake designer bags and me could no longer travel in Economy, but had to upgrade to First Class. This was an expensive way of persuading the stewardesses to remember your name, but at least there were no screaming children, drug dealers or deportees. I didn’t need to be sitting next to a drug dealer on the plane as I had my very own dealer in Jamaica now.

Before I’d even unpacked my suitcase in London (why bother with existing clothes when what you want is something new?) the shopping went into the stratosphere. I started buying real designer bags. One afternoon I parked my bicycle on the railings of Gucci in Bond Street (there was no sign saying “Do not park your bicycle here” as they obviously didn’t expect anyone to arrive on a bicycle). I swanned in with a fake Gucci bag, which the staff in Gucci Bond Street pronounced was “gorgeous” and kept saying “where did you get that lovely bag?” “I can’t remember exactly,” I said rather than the actual fact: “I’d got it from a knock off store in Queensway, Bayswater.” The rapturous reception of the bag cemented my view that I might as well buy fakes. But I was looking to add something real to my collection. I selected a gold evening bag and pedalled off with the £1000 bag in my front basket. A bicycle is the best defence against being mugged.

I was astounded to find, when I opened my credit card bill, that someone had spent £7,000 pounds on my account in less than a month. This had been debited from my bank account leaving me £10,000 overdrawn. I rang up the bank, screaming at them at top volume for almost half an hour that there was fraud on my card and that they had to stop the card. But when I actually checked the statement it turned out the thief was me. I was astonished by how much money I’d spent.

I decided it was too dangerous to leave my friend Susanna’s flat in Notting Hill as I couldn’t walk a foot without spending £500. I couldn’t go cold turkey from my shopping habit, I had to have shopping methadone. So I turned my attentions back to eBay, and was soon online for 20 hours a day. But because of the time it takes and uncertain success of purchases on eBay I managed to spend less. And the hit was even more – when you actually win an eBay auction it is total shopping crack. The midget Irish surgeon, who’d threatened to cut me up amid professions of undying love, came to see me at Susanna’s flat. I wasn’t even able to say hello or look up from my laptop when he came in. The only comment I made was “what do you think of this bag?” I can’t remember his answer as I was totally zoned out. My journalism career was totally falling apart, the only news I was interested in was the 1000 emails a second from eBay.

Not that the shopping had killed my desire to do cocaine. I was drinking and snorting it all night, and was still wide awake at 8am. To try to make it go further, I also cut open my anti-depressants and mixed the powder up with cocaine. The combination drug, Prozacaine, certainly cheered me up. I’m not naturally good with kids. But after a couple of days of drinking and doing cocaine I was practically Super Nanny, on such a silly wave length I was brilliant at romping around with kids. I would play all sorts of exuberant games with Susanna’s son Tupai and sing along like a bargain basement Beyonce to the Happy Valley dinosaur movies he so loved. My mental age was probably younger than his. But I never did cocaine in front of him. I had standards and considered myself a responsible drug user. However when they went away for a while, I had my UK drug dealer round several  times (I now had a drug dealer in every port). He would start off perfectly normal but an hour after he’d started smoking crack there would be people in the walls, running up the stairs (it was a flat so the stairs were invisible) and general crack psychosis going on.

Carnival pic 2

At the Notting Hill carnival Susanna and I were hanging out with a group of Spanish people, hippies from Madrid. I had a dodgy bit of chicken at the Carnival and ended up projectile vomiting in Susanna’s flat with the puke almost hitting the opposite wall. Even the Spaniards were shocked when my response to this severe bout of food poisoning was to rack up another couple grammes of coke and continue getting high. But cocaine was my medication for everything at that time.

A very good corporate tenant was leaving my house in Notting Hill giving me the opportunity to do further works to the house. I had an addiction to building works (a rational reason, I thought, for spending loads of money I didn’t have) which I’ve elsewhere described as the “Edifice Complex.” I decided that the silver painted concrete floor on the ground floor needed to be replaced with stone. My interior designer, Vlad the inhaler, came to the “rescue” again supplying me with electrifying silver slate specially imported from India.

I moved into the house to oversee the building project, with my twenty suitcases of clothes. At least there was more storage space than at Susanna’s flat. My drug dealer set up a tent in the sitting room. He would be there every night, smoking crack, seeing blue and pink striped people coming up the stairs and hearing them chattering in the walls. I never asked him what language they were speaking: presumably Gobbledygook. Susanna warned me that it was dangerous for me to spend so much time alone with him, completely off his head, as we’d heard rumours that he’d beaten up several of his girlfriends. But of course I thought he was not only of impeccable moral character but also my “best friend” as he gave me free cocaine. So I could still say to myself that I was only buying a gramme a day. This was the absolute epitome of controlled using I thought. I was so desperate to keep hold of my supply, as everyone knows that if you let a drug dealer out of your sight you might not see them for six hours, that when he went out into the street to sell to other clients I would come with him and try to hold his hand.

He would send me out, on foot, to gather all the necessary ingredients to build his crack pipe at 4am (apart from obviously the crack which he had himself) saying it was “too dangerous” for him. I agreed because he gave me money for alcohol. I would walk into the off license at 4am. But I couldn’t even wait to get home to drink and would start chugging down the vodka in a phone box in the street. One time he saw me sitting on the pavement, pissed, drinking alcohol and said he “didn’t like to see me in this state.” I should have thought, my god, he thinks I’m fucked, I really must be up shit creek. But instead I was in De Nile.

Although I was rather grey because of the cocaine, he would look at me with his big brown eyes and said he wanted to go out with me. I said “I’m sorry I can’t go out with a drug dealer as I might get addicted to drugs.” I genuinely didn’t see the irony. The house was full of crack spoons, rolled up notes and empty wraps of cocaine. The builders said “you can’t do that,” meaning you can’t be so obvious you’re taking cocaine. But I didn’t care. Vlad said if the police came round (because of the building works noise) they would rip the house apart. When the house was under threat (rather than myself) I reacted rapidly and cleared everything up.

When my dealer wasn’t there, instead of getting enough alcohol for the night at a reasonable hour, I would think, I’ll only drink half a litre of vodka today. I’d then have to go out on the streets at 3am to buy the other half. The first time I did this the man behind the counter tried to chat me up. But when I kept going at 3am he looked at me with scorn, realising I was an alcoholic. Of course I didn’t realise this myself, I thought everyone went out to buy vodka at 3am.

I was suicidal, mainly because of the situation with my mother but exacerbated by the cocaine. Susanna said she thought the cocaine was making me worse. But I couldn’t see the connection at all. I would phone friends, drunk and drugged up at 4am, saying I was going to kill myself. I spoke to my mother’s nurse in Jamaica telling her I was suicidal. At least it wasn’t the middle of the night as they were 6 hours behind. Susanna said she thought I’d be found dead in the house of a cocaine overdose. Every time I spoke to her on the phone and was silent for a couple of seconds she thought I’d died.

I was having a tattoo done one day and my nose exploded with blood in the middle of the procedure. It would explode as regularly as an active volcano in those days. The woman who did the tattoo told me a story about how her husband had ruined his life with his cocaine addiction. I listened to the story, thinking what on earth has that got to do with me?

My perspective was as balanced as it could be for someone so wired on coke they could practically power the National Grid. So amongst all these dangerous experiences, when someone stole my (real) Chanel bag that I had in the house I thought my entire life was over. I might want to die but the accessories I died with were vitally important, of course. I suspected Vlad the Inhaler, who was by this stage carrying a handy burglar’s bag. But the builders could have been to blame, everyone knew I was out of control.

I went to the Eating Disorders Unit to see the psychiatrist and said I was drinking a litre of vodka a day and taking a gramme of coke. I only paid for a gramme I didn’t count the free stuff my dealer gave me on the side. He said he was very worried and that I shouldn’t go back to Jamaica, I should sort out my drug problems first. But I couldn’t leave my mother, who was by then having constant hallucinations seeing the police coming to our old house in Kensington to arrest my father and stepmother. This was wishful thinking as in fact they’d just got married and would live happily ever after. No Karma for him as yet.

The psychiatrist also said that every time I made myself sick on that quantity of cocaine, which I was doing two or three times a day, I risked having a fatal heart attack. I didn’t care as I felt so trapped by the situation with my mother that I thought I wanted to die. The more risks I took the better, I thought, as the closer that would bring me to death. Much later, in rehab, I realised that I was angry with my mother for what she had done when I was a child. But I wasn’t conscious of this and couldn’t articulate it at the time so just turned the anger in on myself.

The final decision I took before I went to Jamaica for Christmas was (despite being massively overdrawn) buying a Dior bikini and 5 pairs of designer sunglasses. This came after a session snorting cocaine in the basement loos in Selfridges. It meant I couldn’t pay the mortgage on my house in Notting Hill ( which I had lovingly built from scratch). But I rationalised that I had to have the bikini and that the mortgage was optional. I wore the bikini once but the bank then started repossession proceedings on my house. And then everything got even worse.

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Next week: the nadir of my using on bloginhotpants. Being seduced by a (female) teenage stripper in Jamaica who’s murdered someone the week before (and then stole my car). Seeing the Boxing Day Tsunami and wishing I was dead. And walking through Heathrow airport caked in…

More trouble with people being shot in Jamaica because the police leave their glasses at Specsavers. I have 100 orgasms a second with Shagger God of Sex and get hooked on….

Specsavers pictures cropped zoomed

When I finally got back to Jamaica, I had to borrow a bus from a local bus company to get me and my shopping back to my flat. I then called in a removal team of twelve people to unpack. Once this was done, I started getting quotes for a loft conversion as the clothes wouldn’t fit in the flat. But now I was in Kingston, where shopping was as limited as wetlands in a desert, I had to crack on with work. And although I was deprived of my retail therapy fix, I was trying on every outfit in the Boutique of Life in Jamaica and was about to get a lot more than I’d bargained for… I got very excited by a commission from the Sunday Times to write a story about buying your own private island in the Caribbean. I had visions of myself swanning around on a private jet, sporting the fake designer bags, and new designer clothes, hopping from island to island. Perhaps I would meet a rich, island owning, husband I thought. But alas there was no travel budget for the piece and it was scrapped.

As I’ve said before, fed up of the cacophony of confusion that greeted my English accent every time I opened my mouth, I’d adopted a middle class Jamaican accent instead. The British High Commission in Kingston, hearing this new accent thought I was a fake English person, though in fact I was a fake Jamaican. The BBC, who were now trying to employ more “native” ethnic minority reporters, loved the fake accent and insisted that I use it to do all my interviews with them. The middle classes in Jamaica speak standard English (with a twist). But as the number of people speaking Jamaican patois was increasing – both in Jamaica and the UK where Ali G was huge – the Jamaican government was moving towards recognizing patois as an official language alongside English. But as patois developed many people expressed concern that standard English in Jamaica was in terminal decline, and only had months to live.

In September 2003, I went down to the primary school in the Kingston Ghetto of Rema, which the Queen had visited in 2002, to see how Her Majesty’s English was faring. When the children sped out into the playground for their break I asked them what their first language was.

Sacha, a skinny nine year old with huge brown eyes, approached speaking in a strangled voice that she clearly thought was a proper English accent. “I jus talk Hinglish,” she said. “Cos I barn at foreign.”

“Oh!” I said. “Where were you born?”

“In Hingland,” she said with a smirk.

“Oh really?” I said. “Where?”

“Brooklyn.”

“Ah,” I said. “What part of England is that?”

“New York.”

“And what about the rest of you, what’s your first language?” I said.

“Spanish! “ they chorused enthusiastically.

“Spanish?”

“Yes!”

“Um no I mean what language do you speak at home?”

“Patois!” they shouted. “Jamaican language.”

“Not English?”

“Noa!” they said. “English a different language.”

“So when do you all speak English?” I said.

“When we are speaking to very important people like the Prime Minister … or you,” said Delano Campbell, a deep voiced ten year old with an intelligent, searching face.

Their English teacher Cynthia Roberts, came sweeping in. Her hairstyle a bun falling into a ponytail of corkscrew curls – popular with women in ancient Greece – was topped off by a striking pair of red plastic sunglasses. “English should be taught as a foreign language, yes,” she said, “because for most of the children, it is.”

Another teacher, Gloria Brebner, a dark, wizened but still vigorous eighty five year old, said the country needed more adult literacy programmes to teach people English. But she was pessimistic as to their chances of success.

“Jamaica,” she said, adjusting her tweed hat with a dapper purple ribbon around it, “is a place where people don’t really like too many rules and regulations so they find speaking English a drag.”

The police in Jamaica were, as ever, following their own regulations, “shoot first and ask questions later.” In October 2003, just after I’d got back to Jamaica, thousands of people rioted in the island’s tourist mecca Montego Bay, after the police shot dead an elderly taxi driver and his passenger. At first police claimed they had been shot at by the taxi driver but later admitted the taxi, which was riddled with hundreds of bullets, had been fired on by mistake. Another case of the police and their glasses becoming sadly alienated. Earlier in the year, in May, officers of the notorious Crime Management Unit shot dead three people – two women and a man – in a house in south west Jamaica while attempting to arrest a man who was not there. Mr Invisible was never found. Two months later, in 2003, the unit was disbanded. The most notorious incident, also involving officers from the Unit, took place at Braeton just outside the capital Kingston in 2001. Seven youths aged between 15 and 20 were shot dead by police, many at close range in the back of the head. The police had been searching for the killer of a schoolteacher who they believed was in the house but none of the dead youths had criminal records. The police had some unlikely explanation – probably that they’d run out of handcuffs and the police van had a flat.

Emancipation Park Statues, Jamaica, drugs, mental health,
Image by Natalia Perez http://ow.ly/RNp7d

There was also controversy in Jamaica about the erection of a pair of statues in the centre of Kingston to commemorate the population’s emancipation from slavery. Because of the size of the male statues d*** many complained that the statues were obscene and racist in their depiction of black people. The male, stocky and heavily muscled, had huge hands and a …….projection that appeared to be well over 14 inches long. The woman had breasts of a firmness and size that would give Jordan a run for her money. At least the statues were popular with one section of the population: vandals.

But was the offending male organ really that big? I decided to unleash my trusty tape measure and check. This was harder than expected as I was restrained from touching the statues by nervous security guards who feared another assault on their charges.

But with the help of a fishing rod, a bottle of coca cola and a friendly Canadian engineer I established that the…particle would scale down to a human size of six to eight inches. Which for an un-aroused obtrusion was – in the words of my family doctor – “huge.”

“It’s definitely the biggest penis in Jamaica,” said the engineer – a short, plump, twinkly eyed, man whose day job – when not measuring…….pike with fishing poles- was running the biggest bank in Jamaica .

A blonde American woman –short, plump and middle aged with white socks, shorts and a tropical shirt approached the statue in excitement, her camera twisting and flashing.

She babbled excitedly that the statue epitomized Jamaica – a wonderful, perfect, paradise.

“What she really likes about it is the size of his willy,” said her boyfriend with a wry smile.

I asked her – under my breath – if she’d ever had any experience with Jamaican men.

“Darn no,” she said and laughed. But she said she knew plenty of girls back home who had and they kept coming back for more. Continuing in this vein, I asked her about reports, in the British press, that Jamaica was the world’s number one destination for female sex tourists from North America and the UK.

“Well,” she said laughing, “this statue explains why. It certainly works for me.”

This did not surprise me as the sight of white women, with no obvious physical charms, being escorted by lean six packed lotharios, who clearly charged by the hour, was common in Jamaica’s tourist resorts.

A tall robust woman, with firm curls and a firm face jogging by, poured scorn on the idea that the statues celebrated Jamaicans’ freedom from slavery. She thought they showed black people in a very primitive light, “like the highly sexed animals the slave masters thought we were.” She added that nobody even called it Emancipation Park.

“They call it Penis Park.”

But Janelle, an art student writing an essay on the statues, said she had no problem with the size of the …pickle because it was in proportion to the body.

“And black men do have larger penises” she said, her long eyelashes fluttering coyly over her large brown eyes. This was obvious – she said – from the size of condoms in the shops which started at extra large.

A dark barrel shaped woman in a tight grey sleeveless t-shirt, jeans and flip flops sidled up with a gigantic male companion by her side. Both were correctional officers from a nearby prison.

“I don know why people fussin so much.”  Jamaica – she said – had much bigger problems to deal with than the big penis on a statue.                              Sign up for updates on this blog

As for me, the only dick I was really interested in was the (frequently erect) one attached to Shagger, who I’d phoned, not expecting much, when I’d got back to Jamaica. Shagger, a Colombian Venezuelan, had picked me up at Miami airport and said we had to get together. On our first “date,” he admitted he was in a relationship, living with a girl in LA, but said he’d had umpteen liaisons with women as he travelled round the Caribbean. He swore absolutely blind he wasn’t married. Although he was very good looking, tall and tanned with practically a sixteen pack, I didn’t really fancy him that much (as he looked like the tadpole fancying lodger I’d had). But after copious quantities of alcohol, and feeling incredibly lonely, I ended up in bed with him. At first I said I couldn’t have sex as I had my period but he said red was his favourite colour and he didn’t mind. The sex was electric, just like in a movie, moving from X rated wrestling on the bed to humping on my treadmill to both of us having an orgasm in the kitchen sink. And his stamina was phenomenal, I never busted him with Viagra, but as soon as he came 30 seconds later he was ready to fuck again. Sex with him went on for hours. The next day my whole flat was covered in blood and I couldn’t let my cleaner in.

We destroyed the bathroom of his hotel, hooked up in the gym and had sex in a bush at a party where 2,000 people were 5 feet away. And this wasn’t just sex it was SEX I had so many orgasms I would have to beg him to stop. And when my driving instructor picked me up from his hotel I couldn’t walk or sit down.

As always troubled by my ethnicity (I’d spent most of my life claiming to be partly Cuban rather than half Jamaican) I lived in a total fantasy world where I was South American and Shagger was my perfect lover. This fantasy was cemented by the fact that, during sex, we only ever spoke Spanish. As I stared into his jade green eyes, (through my own green eyes purchased for £5.99 at Vision Express) I thought this was the best high I’d ever had, better than ecstasy and cocaine. And as long as I was with him, which was all the time as he was obsessed with me too, saying “I just can’t get enough of you,” I never had to come down. I stopped doing cocaine completely when I was with him as why would I need to – here was 80 kilogrammes of the most gorgeous cocaine I’d ever had. The chemistry between us was like an electric storm. I told him I loved him, I thought I did, but he said, “this isn’t love.” Every sexual encounter was a secret battle, if only the sex was good enough I thought he would leave his girlfriend and stay with me.

I became obsessed with my appearance, moving into my hairdresser and camping out in the gym, totally neglecting work. This meant that I looked amazing all the time, (apart from just after we’d had 6 hours of sex when my hair looked like an Afro cactus) but was practically unemployed. And as I was so highly sexed men’s jaws would just drop when they saw the two of us. I was high, not just on the sex but because at last I felt beautiful. He was clearly, I see now, a sex addict and would get off on juggling multiple women around. He had about fifteen phones so would be talking to his girlfriend on one phone while his driver answered the other phones saying he was in a meeting. And I was a sex addict too, I just couldn’t stop, although I would scream at him that he was a liar and that I hated him. We were both lying to each other. I never took off my green contact lenses for the entire duration of the relationship, pretending I had green eyes. And he, of course, was married.

drugs, addiction, Jamaica, mental health, Kingston

As his contract in Jamaica came to an end he announced his departure from the island, saying our relationship was over. I decided to retaliate, doing one of the nastiest things I’ve ever done in my life. I had his home phone number and called his girlfriend saying I was his “other girlfriend” in Jamaica and that he’d had affairs with eight different people while abroad. I also emailed him to (falsely) say I was pregnant but never read his reply. After he’d gone back to LA, he emailed me suggesting I’d screwed up his life. But this was unfair, it was his dick and his sex addiction that had screwed up his life, he got caught because of me.

I was devastated after he left, didn’t know what to do with myself. I limped back into work. I’d been commissioned by the BBC to do a story on the burgeoning number of Strip Clubs in Jamaica and met Tristram, an English aristocrat living in the countryside who had a penchant for Jamaican strippers. He referred to himself as a “strip-o-phile.” His girlfriend, Big Bazumba, a stripper at least 40 years younger than him, was living with him at his house. As we sped from one strip club to another around the Montego Bay area, hiding from the police, he pulled out some cocaine and we did it off a hunting knife in the back of the car. This was exactly the kind of thrill that was missing from my life in Jamaica I thought. We went to Kingston, doing oodles more cocaine. This was just what I needed to cheer myself up I thought.

I was not only depressed about Shagger but in despair about my mother. I was struggling to fit in in Jamaica, had little support, and felt myself going down the tubes. I really needed to go back to the UK. But I felt such a sense of obligation to my mother that I couldn’t leave. My mother was still crying and screaming all day, causing intense distress to me and everyone around her. I thought the only way out was to kill myself then no one could blame me for abandoning her.

I got so drunk in a club I collapsed out cold in the toilet. Then, not wanting to be separated from the alcohol, I spent the whole car journey home, kicking the steering wheel (and the man who’d rescued me) almost causing a car crash. Of course I couldn’t remember any of this as I was in blackout. When my family heard about this incident and questioned me about my drinking, I said  it was a “cultural thing” they just didn’t understand. Everyone was like me in England, I swore. I genuinely believed this was true. So, instead of cutting back on my drinking, I decided what I really needed to keep it under control was more cocaine….

On my way back to Jamaica in September 2003, in Air Jamaica economy, I had been sitting next to a deportee, a convicted drug dealer, on the plane. Before I decided I had to fly everywhere first class, I was always sitting next to a drug dealer or deportee and they always wanted my phone number. In fact every drug dealer I’ve ever met has wanted to go out with me perhaps seeing an attraction between me and their product that I missed myself. I rang up the deportee thinking he would know where to get cocaine.

I went to Waterhouse, a ghetto in Kingston, late at night with the deportee. We then spent the next three hours driving around picking up the dodgiest looking men we could find as they might know where to get cocaine. I thought quite clearly, “it is highly likely that I will be gang raped here and then have my throat cut.” But I didn’t care – I was on a mission and I had to get my drugs. We eventually ended up at the home of a fat local drug dealer. When I asked him if he had cocaine he said “how much do you want, one kilo or two?” “A kilo,” I sputtered, “I was thinking of a couple of grammes.”   He laughed and said he didn’t have a scale that small. I left the ghetto carrying about twenty five grammes of cocaine. Though in denial about my alcoholism, I was not in denial about this, I knew that having that quantity of cocaine in my house, I would get addicted to it. Concealing the massive bag of cocaine in my chest of drawers I started doing cocaine as soon as I got up at 9am in the morning and drinking at 10 am to take off the edge. There were other things I did on cocaine that I can’t get into now. I once went to the supermarket, circling around aimlessly with a massive trolley for half an hour and leaving with only four bottles of vodka and an orange. I didn’t understand why people were staring at me. When I had a repeated problem with my credit card I would get into irrational rages screaming at people in shops.

With more cocaine than I could handle but gagging for my shopping fix, I went to the UK in the spring of 2004 for a shopping hit. I went mad in the shops and had a room full of clothes all unworn with their tags still on. It’s a pretty good indicator of being a shopping addict, that 70% of your clothes have never been taken out of their bags. The night before I was supposed to fly back to Jamaica, I had a liaison with a man I’d met in a club (who left without sex as the room was such a mess) and didn’t start packing till 5am. Of course when my father took me to the airport I missed the flight. It was at this stage that my father said I was “an eternal teenager” which I thought was a compliment. After our fifth trip to the airport together, I became distracted buying magazines in Duty Free and was so late my luggage was removed from the plane and went to Cuba instead. The shopping deprived Cubans thought paradise had arrived as they fleeced all my suitcases of my still tagged pristine clothes. I went back to Jamaica, doing no work but spending three months doing an insurance claim.

My career with the BBC and the Sunday Times was falling apart, I was so obsessed with shopping I was on eBay 20 hours a day. My new obsession, apart from the fake designer bags, was getting a fake designer watch and (for those snowy nights in Jamaica) a fake designer sleeping bag. My email inbox from that time was totally choked up with emails from eBay looking like I was running an eBay megastore. But my patience was wearing thin with the limited shopping opportunities in Jamaica. Like any desperate addict five thousand miles away from their drug, I had to go back to that shopping Babylon, London, to shop again.                     Sign up for updates on this blog
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Next week: spiralling out of control, moving my “best friend” into my house, then saying I can’t go out with him as “I might get addicted to drugs.” Refusing to pay the mortgage as I’d spent the money on a Dior bikini and five pairs of matching sunglasses instead.