Hi! How’s it going?” So far, so normal — my cool, kind, fun friend Kate has just joined me at the bar in a West End restaurant. She pulls up a high stool. “How are you?” I say. “I’m great,” she replies, “I mean ... I’ve just dropped some mushrooms, so I think I’m OK,” she laughs, giggling like a naughty child through her fingers. “What!?” I reply, obviously horrified, before quickly dialling down my response in case my reaction sends her into a paranoia-induced horror trip. “That’s so, so, modern!” I smile, weakly. “Right?!” she says, before ordering a drink like there’s nothing else to discuss.
For me there’s little more anxiety-inducing than the thought of taking hallucinogenic drugs full stop, let alone in a busy bar in the heart of London. The lights, the dubious trance soundtrack, the after-work crowd guffawing manically over pornstar martinis; the scene is already in fast edit without the help of mushrooms to dial up the sense of unease.
But it seems I am missing the point. “These ’shrooms are so great for anxiety. I’ve micro-dosed, so I’ve had just the tiniest bit,” says Kate. And apparently everyone is doing it, as she runs through a list of friends of friends who are also microdosing — I had no idea. “My dealer will only sell to customers once they’ve been through an intensive consultation. They take you through the varieties, what’s good for what kind of condition, then it’s supplied in doses, clearly marked and ready to go,” she beams.
So like everything in this city, even drug taking is becoming convenience-led, with a concierge twist. Is there an app for this, I wonder?
According to Kate, the mushrooms are grown in London and sold in powder form — she is trying micro-dosing because she’s been told they will make her feel alert and confident, giving her enhanced creative clarity and boosting her productivity. It’s less about getting high, she claims, and much more about self-improvement.
According to my friend the ’shrooms are grown in London. She’s been told they will make her feel confident
I am in full support of anyone trying whatever they can to make life that bit easier — God knows things are tough — but micro-dosing gets a firm “no” from me.
Beside the fact that it’s illegal — which is enough to put me off — taking small amounts of something every day might be “micro” at the point of consumption but surely that could easily become “macro” over the long term — leading to habitual behaviour. The last and only time I have ever dabbled in psychoactive drugs was in Thailand at the age of 18, on my gap yah, where I drank a mushroom shake and a beetle the size of a small dog landed on my arm (it didn’t) and clung on there for six hours while I ran around Koh Phangan waving my hands wildly, trying to shake it off.
It was quite an experience — and certainly not something I’ll be repeating in Soho at 9pm on a Friday night.
Cancel culture needs to be cancelled
If it’s not a meme telling me to “cut out those who do not serve me”, then it’s my urge to unfollow people on social media who don’t share my political standpoint — we’ve reached peak cancel culture. Since when has it been OK to simply no-platform someone who holds beliefs we don’t like? The most morbid consequence will be our inability to understand the difference between unintentional upset, simply a different point of view, and that which is evil.
Of course it’s the symptom of our zero-accountability lifestyle, encouraged by likes and follows, not by those layered relationships and complex opinions designed to help us refine the art of agreeing to disagree.
At a dinner recently I was sat with a member of Extinction Rebellion. She told me the peaceful protest tactic was in part designed to foster public sympathy once the authorities were forced to step in to remove them. I disagreed and predicted (an opinion since proved true) that disruption alone would not foster goodwill, and much of the public would be grateful that the police had stepped in.
It is a privileged position to be able to protest (those you hold up may be fired if they are late to work) but it doesn’t mean they don’t believe as you do. I was playing devil’s advocate. I’m pretty sure that because I dared to question their strategy, I was cancelled.
* “You dumb f***. What is wrong with you, Faryal?...What the f***’s wrong with your head?” That’s boxer Amir Khan to wife Faryal Makhdoom during a prank set up by the latter and filmed in their kitchen for YouTube.
Faryal told “King Khan” that instead of sending £20 to someone online she had inadvertently transferred £2 million.
The language was abhorrent, of course, and my overriding thought? It’s not sarcasm that’s the lowest form of wit — am I the only one who hates a prank?