It was 1988, in Wick, a small highland town in the far north of Scotland. My wife’s ex boyfriend had been diagnosed as being HIV positive. We knew we had to get tested. My wife was from the infamous period in Edinburgh period of shooting gallery’s where it was so hard to find works (syringes) that people would stand in a line and the dealer would cook up the hits using te same syringe on everyone.
There was a prototype of a needle exchange that had been running from an area called the Grassmarket in Edinburgh but the police were routinely arresting people who visited it. The police eventually closed it down in the early 1980’s. The cops were very hard on junkies who were injectors.
It was a strange time where you could be busted for having traces of gear or even a needle packet on your person. But the drug that was the real gold dust for the using community was Diconol which were bright pink tablets (I think that were made by Roche -dipionone hydrochloride).
Opus Morphia from David Graham Scott on Vimeo.
This film was made by David around the time (1985). Incredibly, he did not go to film school.
It was a really strong opiate analgesic, a mixture of Cyclomorph and a sort of anti-emetic) and the rush was the reason people bought it. It was like a religious experience, you generally felt you were in the company of God for a few moments, it was a truly beautiful sensation, the best I have ever had in my life.
So anyway, my girlfriend and I went to get tested. I wasn’t really bothered about it, I never even thought I’d be positive, and neither did my girlfriend.
Three weeks later the results were in and it was my girl that got the bad news. She was positive and I wasn’t. I said I would stick behind her no matter what happened; and typical of her (remains anonymous), she took it all in her stride. God only knows how, as things would get a lot, lot worse.
I would go with her to the HIV clinic and all the positive people had to sit along a wall. There was those old-fashioned weighing scales measuring height and weight, and without any privacy whatsoever, they would announce your weight, like at school, and because everyone always went there coz they had to for their methadone (there was almost nothing on offer then), it was like some cattle market.
Gallows humour would run loose among the patients, as is the Scottish way, topped off with small junkie self platitudes such as ‘thank fuck I ain’t as bad as him’ . Comments bounced around the echoing hospital hallways like” Oh, he is going down….61Kilograms today laddy, that’s quite a drop to tell ya ma” or “Oh,lookee there, she has that whatsimacallit, the scabby things, she must be getting AIDS nurse, right or no? “, and on and on it went. People just wasted away in front of you, on parade for all of us to see.
Episode 2 will tell you more from David of the shameful story of Edinburgh and HIV/AIDS in the 1980’s and should be about a week behind this.
You can see more about David Graham Scott’s exemplary career in filmmaking, covering various issues but covering brilliantly his experiences as a junkie, or indeed battling ‘junkdom’.
In particular the famous ‘Detox or Die (his personal experience of undergoing an Ibogaine detox on film a decade ago (available to view today free online and on DGS’s Vimeo channel to this blog on INPUD’s webpage. This just released film (which you can read about on the link provided) called Iboga Nights. It is the culmination of three long years of in-depth research into the drug Iboga and the lives and detoxes of the accompanying clutch of courageous, wonderful characters involved in the film, the much called for sequel Iboga Nights (google it but we will review it shortly) was a big success on the documentary film circuit recently winning much deserved awards and acclaim. BP will cover this next in more detail. If this has whetted your appetite, look for David Graham Scott on Facebook and speak to him directly! Or you will find much covering both films and more by googling it.