I’ve lived a life fairly sheltered from drugs in little rural Newport. I know a few pot-smokers, and some guys I’d not heard of at school at a serious-ish run-in with the police when they were caught up in some kind of poppers ring. At least I think it was poppers, but it might’ve been cannabis. I think the run-in was largely because some gang broke into the boarding house for some reason or another which was vaguely drugs-related. Anyway, as is evident, I’ve not exactly been brought up knee-deep in narcotics.
So Glastonbury came as something of a surprise. Even my recycling team leader seemed to be stoned off her face, though whether that was the result of a recent spliff or merely having been permanently stoned for years previously wasn’t clear. Either way, there were drugs everywhere. The fully compos mentis were probably the minority. And the number of people who asked me for a light, some Rizlas, a bit of weed, if I wanted a bit of weed, or some Es was…unprecedented.
Having a beard drags with it a collection of stereotypes. For example, in a physics lab, a beard tends to shout “nerd” only a little less loudly than thick glasses and a pocket oscilloscope might. At the most extreme end of the spectrum, a beardy scientist might not go home often enough to shave, but this unpleasant myth can, I hope, be dispelled in my case because my hair is washed and immaculately conditioned. At a festival, however, the face furniture screams an entirely different message. Your every onlooker asks themselves “is he packin’ some?”
I call this phenomenon the “contextual beard”, and the impractical upshot was that I have become (temporarily at least) the boy who just can’t say yes. I was a little sorry to disappoint the addicts, but some were too far gone to remember that they’d asked me a question at all by the time my near-instantaneous “no” rang back, so I thought it best not to worry too much.
And thus I blew several hundred chances to expand my consciousness with mind-altering drugs. I’ve not even touched a drink so far, being somewhere between a cheapskate and totally knackered. What a boring idiot I am. Why are you reading my ’blog?