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  • Philip Bryer

Dope and OAPs

My father-in-law was 75 when he asked me to bring him some cannabis when we next visited. Among other things, Rex suffered from Raynaud syndrome, which is spasm of the arteries leading to reduced blood flow, which causes numbness and intense sensations of cold and tingling to the fingers and toes It caused him great pain.


Rex had heard about cannabis’s potential for pain relief and had gone as far as asking his GP for a prescription, and while his doctor was sympathetic, he explained that he wasn’t in a position to help, although he did deliver some heavy hints that there was nothing to stop Rex from making further enquiries on the open market.

As Rex pointed out, while lighting a post-lunch cigarette, draining his wine glass and sliding his large cognac into position, he despised all forms of drug use, but, for the sake of his health he was prepared to make an exception. He pulled a fiver from his pocket and passed it to me.

“What’s that for?”

He glanced around the restaurant and whispered, “It’s for the dope.”

Now, like most of my generation I had smoked it for a while, but that was a long time ago and I had never actually bought any, but I told Rex that I had a feeling 20 pounds or so might be nearer the right price.

“Twenty quid?” he spluttered, “I don't want a whole boat-load. I thought it’d be about the same money as a packet of fags. It had better be good stuff for that sort of money.”

At the time I was working for a large media company in London, where I made some discreet enquiries. It didn’t take long. One morning my boss slid a package across my desk, I slipped her 20 quid.

“Thanks Jan,” I said, “It’s for my ailing father-in-law.”

“Yes,” she replied, “Of course it is.”

Sandra and I decided we should put the spliffs together for Rex and set to work one evening with cigarette papers, a few spare Silk Cut, the block of resin and an old rolling machine. Before long we had a tidy stack of about 20 slim little joints. I snatched one up and lit it, we passed it back and forth for a few minutes. Sandra was fine. Me? I put it down to mixing filthy, illegal drugs with a few glasses of wine, but then it never really did agree with me and to be honest I never liked it all that much. But at least I wasn’t sick this time, even when I’d stopped giggling.

We drove to Sussex and took Rex out for lunch.

“Have you got the stuff?”

I swear he was speaking out of the corner of his mouth, he may even have been chewing on a matchstick.

We assured him that we had it, and that we would stay for as long as he wanted, to keep an eye on him as he stepped through the doors of perception. On the way back to the house we, well Sandra, made a roaring great mistake. Rex asked if his two grandsons (who were now in their twenties) had ever been users. Sandra answered that they had probably smoked quite a bit for a while but it never had any great noticeable effect on them. They key words here of course being great and noticeable.

Back at the house, he lit up. We advised him to go carefully. Rex, the D-Day tank driver, the tough guy, the boozer, going carefully? Well, anything those two young pups of grandsons could do, right?

I smoked a cigarette as Rex puffed away on his joint.

Soon he was grinning inanely. His eyes like mirrors and his eyelids appeared to have turned inside-out. He took a few more hits and then insisted on getting himself a glass of water. He stumbled out of the chair, somehow almost falling from a sitting start, and bounced of a wall. Really bounced, but managed to keep his footing. I put him back in the chair and Sandra fetched his water.

Rex gave me a huge, saucer-eyed grin.

“Alright Rex?” I enquired.

“Absolutely no effect whatsoever,” he announced in slurry tones.

“Come off it Rex, look at you.”

“No, no. Can’t feel a thing. Just like the boys. Think I’ll have another one.”

Some time later we left him snoozing in the chair and drove home, hoping that the next call wouldn’t be an order for cocaine or ecstasy.

Sandra phoned him later that evening. He reported that he had smoked half of them.

“Well,” he explained, “I ran out of fags.”

The following morning he reported that by the time he went to bed he’d smoked the lot.

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