On my way to Barcelona, Spain, where I am currently trying to acquire the entrance ticket to the cultural imperialist English teaching industry by taking a four week high intensive course in English grammar fascism, I was passing through London and stayed there for a little under a week. Anyone who has been using the low cost airlines to get around Europe that have come about earlier this century will be familiar with being stuck in London, or at least Stansted airport. I was not quite in that situation this time, instead having a bit more time and a few radical meetings and some interviews on my schedule.
And somehow I ended up in a sector of the world working class that I had only known from books previously.
Our site is the New Cross Inn in South Eastern London. When I arrived, at first glance the youngsters there looked like the backpackers who had stayed at the youth hostels in Central America and Mexico. So when I went to the “common room,” being all occupied typing away on my laptop, and some of the others asked me to participate in what i thought was a game, I felt obliged to socialize at least a little with this “party crowd.”
The “game” involved balloons that they blew up with gas and then sucked the air out of them. I thought that the point was that they would fill them with helium and then breath it in to give themselves Mickey Mouse voices. At least in my concept of kids birthdays, that is generally a central part.
But that was not what was going on. It was not before I was about 3/4 through my balloon that I realized that we were doing drugs. I know, I am really naive about narcotics, and breathing in the gas from a cream whipper is neither forbidden nor all that strong, but I just had no idea.