The facts surrounding the referendum are quite immutable, a significant majority voted to Leave the EU, the choice put before the people was simple and the result, whatever the outcome, was to be honoured by the government of the day. To be honoured without recourse to the HoC or the HoL, honoured without any further voting and certainly honoured without having anything whatsoever to do with a “hard” or “soft” Brexit.
How many times have we now heard “The government needs to tell us if we are going to have a hard or soft Brexit and we need to be able to vote on whatever deal is done before we ratify the result (of the referendum)”.
This begs the question, what is a “soft” Brexit and how could such a thing be defined; it also begs a further question, why would anyone, when given the choice of a “hard” but quick and relatively painless solution instead prefer to be involved in a drawn out, costly and ongoing involvement with anything as bad as the failing EU?
Walk Away Hard or Stay and Die Soft
The strains of Iron Butterflies “In a Gadda Da Vida” filtered through from Mannys room as Colin Cross started to come round, he looked at his watch and saw it was nearly 11 am. Colin’s face was itchy, he had a thick head and all he could think about was skinning up and blowing the smack cobwebs out of his brain. At the side of his mattress was a copy of “The Scorpions Tale” by Anthony Sharples, Colin had started to read the book the night before, but his smack nod had got the better of him, he had to be in Camden by 4 pm to score so he decided to put one together, have a drink and try to read the book, at least part way through.
As Colin went through to the small kitchen of the top floor Ladbroke Grove flat that he shared with two other guys (Manny and Nick) Manny came out of his room with a freshly lit spliff which he passed, without speaking, to Colin. Taking a big deep pull Colin held the smoke in his lungs for as long as he could, exhaled and then chugged a couple of draws before handing it back. “Fuck man, I really needed that” said Colin. “Col man, you need to get your shit together man, the Bristol people are coming up tomorrow, they want 500 tabs and 4 oz of dope, it’s Thursday, you need to get out there and score”.
Colin had got lucky with Manny and Nick, Manny had family in Earls Court that owned flats and shops, Nick was from Somerset and his family were land owners and farmers, both guys worked as A&R men in the music business and both were independently wealthy. Colin had moved up to London from Kent in October of 1974 after seeing an ad in Time Out for a pad share. He had clicked straight away with both guys (who had been at public school together) and although Colin’s background could not have been more different he had moved in straight away.
The fact that Colin had been muling dope backwards and forwards to Kent for a couple of years was a big plus. Manny and Nick wanted to smoke dope and drop acid, they also wanted to be associated with the drug scene, but they didn’t want to be directly involved on a daily basis, luckily for them Colin did, and he had the right connections.
Fast forward to July 1975 and Colin had a decent little business going, Manny and Nick had fronted the cash and Colin paid his rent by dealing dope and acid and keeping them supplied with whatever they wanted. Colin scored his gear from two guys in Camden called Frank (a tall, skinny, laconic hippy) and Ken (a half Indian, hyperactive, committed drug fiend). Frank and Ken dealt weight; they sold dope by minimum ¼ kilo and acid by the 1,000 which suited Colin down to the ground. Dope was costing between £100 and £140 a 1/2 kilo and 1,000 microdot were around £150. The Bristol crowd, originally friends of Nick, turned up every week and were happy to pay £250 for 500 tabs and £60 for 4 ounces of dope. Once this deal was concluded Colin had several ounces of dope and 500 tabs to sell on in smaller batches and a nice start for his pocket money. An ounce and a couple of tabs each for Manny and Nick to use and give to their pals and an ounce for himself meant decent wages and plenty left in the pot to score the following week. The whole thing was starting to unravel though, Manny and Nick had no idea that Colin was using heroin, they would have been horrified, dope and acid were cool, but smack was for fucked up estate kids, in their opinion.
Frank, Ken and Colin, along with a few dealers had been meeting up and shooting smack, once or twice a week, for a couple of months now but it was getting more and more frequent. Colin knew, if he wasn’t careful, that he would soon be in a position where a couple of times a week would turn into a couple of times a day and then it wouldn’t be long before he was fucked up, with nowhere to live and a nasty habit to deal with. Frank and Ken who were now dealing H in a big way were his main suppliers and he knew that, so long as he was in the dope business in London, he would be unable to resist the rush he got from main lining white skag.
“Manny, it’s cool man, I’m meeting Ken at 4 o clock and we have to go up to Archway for the tabs but I should be back early tomorrow”. “Not coming back tonight then Col” said Manny “No man, Ken and me are meeting a couple of chicks later, but we are going to Islington first to see a guy who wants 100 tabs”. “No worries man” said Manny “I’m meeting Nick in Earls Court for lunch and then we’re seeing a new band in Shepherds Bush tonight, see you tomorrow, take care”.
The fact that Manny and Nick would be out suited Colin, having got the gist of Scorpions Tale he knew that his only way out was the “hard” way. It would be difficult turning his back on Manny and Nick and taking their money. He figured though that they could afford it and would understand if they knew why he had done what he was going to do. Similarly what he was about to do to Frank and Ken meant he would not be able to come back to London any time soon, but he knew if he stayed he would almost certainly be signing his own death warrant.
Colin rolled a five skinner with a good sized lump of Chitral valley black, lit up and started to pack his few possessions and his new book into a hold all. He left the flat without a backward glance and caught the tube towards the Northern Line. By 6.30 Colin had taken his final ever fix of smack, talked Frank and Ken into laying a half kilo of black and 1000 microdot on him (pay you back next week man) and was sat in the buffet car on a train to Doncaster and a life approaching something like “normal” for a dope and acid dealing working class hippy.
Sometimes it’s not easy to take the difficult “hard” option; it often means walking away from things and places that have become familiar and from people who could be considered friends, sometimes alienating those people for ever. But the easy “soft” option, the one where you allow others to dictate the very terms of your existence is no way to live. If you have to make a decision between getting away from, or staying part of something that in the end might destroy you, I think you should take the” hard” option every time and then deal with the consequences, whatever they are.