Jeremy Clarke

Low life | 31 December 2015

It was one tablet after another — legal and illegal

Low life | 31 December 2015
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For me, last year started with an appalling whitey outside a pub after swallowing a second ecstasy tablet because I thought the first wasn’t working. I was saved by a young woman yelling ‘Catch me!’ and taking a running jump into my arms — which forced me back to the physical realm — and by being violently sick. The ecstasy came in the form of small white circular unmarked pharmaceutical-grade tablets. The second was passed on to my tongue via the tongue of someone I had met for the first time two minutes before.

After that, 2015 was one tablet after another — legal and illegal. I also injected. Once a quarter, I stood beside an orange plastic NHS chair, dropped my trousers and a nurse administered a depot injection of a drug called decapeptyl into the soft flesh of an upper buttock. Decapeptyl inhibits my testosterone production to almost nothing. We alternated buttocks. ‘It was the left/right one last time, wasn’t it, dear?’ she’d say. Decapeptyl is a clear syrupy liquid, of which I receive 10ml. The gloop sits under the surface of my skin and I can trace its lumpy outline with a finger.

The decapeptyl stops all testosterone production except the little contributed by my adrenal glands. To mop that up, and make me unambiguously female, every morning throughout 2015 I swallowed four white torpedo-shaped 250mg tablets of a drug called abiraterone. I am blessed with an unusually wide gullet and could fire them down all four at a time. I never missed a day. I never missed my daily burgundy and caramel caplet of tamsulosin, either. Latterly the abiraterone pills made me tire easily, and I swallowed them resentfully. It wasn’t ever like that with the tamsulosin. The caplet with the snazzy jacket has always been my best friend, for without it I can’t pass urine.

I looked fondly, too, on the daily steroid pill called prednisolone, which I took to compensate for my knocked-out adrenal glands and which gives me a noticeable mental lift. A prednisolone pill is a tiny white roundel with the letters P and M stamped elegantly on it. What P and M stand for, I don’t know. Poor Me, perhaps. Being so small, my daily steroid is a devil to recapture if I fumble and it drops on a hard floor. I’ve known prednisolone 5mg tablets to bounce incredible distances, even into the next room.

With zero testosterone in 2015, erections were a bit hit and miss. I was extremely grateful to everyone concerned, therefore, that, after I went down on bended knee, they put me on a daily maintenance dose of the anti-impotence drug tadalafil, brand name Cialis. This is the most attractive tablet of them all: a pale orange ovoid with a copperplate letter C and a rococo number 5 engraved on it. When dropped on a hard floor they bounce erratically like little rugby balls and also go for miles. I pulled my bed away from the wall one day to look for an errant prednisolone, and found two dusty tadalafils — or a third of an erection.

In 2015 I also added the humble aspirin to my pharmacopoeia after reading in the Daily Mail that it is now believed to cure everything except prescription-drug addiction. I could just about fit this last addition into my pillbox, which is a 1930s bakelite powder puff three inches across, decorated with an intriguing art-deco design, which, I have finally concluded, after looking at it for a whole year, can only be a heavily stylised depiction of an exciting finish in a spermatozoa race. All these pills and potions give me catastrophic indigestion, so I chase them down with a daily antacid called omeprazole, which is a caplet of a vivid and vulgar Warhol-esque yellow.

On the whole, the coke last year was rubbish. In my home town the coke was on sale at cynical two-tier rates: £50 for a gram of tropical-fish wormer containing less than one per cent cocaine and £100 for a gram of tropical-fish wormer containing anything up to two per cent. Best avoided unless you keep fish. Someone once gave me a syringe of pure cannabis oil, claiming that if I consumed enough of it I would be cured. I put a tiny amount into my nicotine vapouriser and it nearly blew my head off. The potency of skunk weed continues its oblique upward trajectory off the scale and now I simply run away. Modafinil, the so-called ‘smart’ drug I was offered by a reader on The Spectator cruise, I like very much however, and it’s legal. It suits me, I think. Though whoever ‘me’ is, after taking all those pills and potions during 2015, is highly questionable.