I was answering calls for the National Lottery. There was eight of us squared around a table answering calls from ‘the public’ about how they were sure they had lost the winning ticket to this weeks win. The people I worked with were the new working class. Cloth caps and hands covered in coal-dust had been replaced with a nice suit and a headset. It was an eight hour day with a fifteen minute break in the morning and afternoon, and believe it or not, an hour long break for lunch. If I thought working hard would get me away from the drugs and the booze, I was soon to be disappointed when invited for a quick line of coke in the toilets. A handful of people I worked for enjoyed the same entertainments as I had and it was difficult to escape that lifestyle. I tried my best to say no but my weakness of character and desire to please would insist that I joined in on any company recreational activities. The occasional lines in the loo allowed me to deftly deal with the irate customers on the other line. As is always the case in terms of who we attract, the old cheesy adage, ‘birds of a feather flock together’ materialized, and I had found a new friend in Mad John. Mad John was a traditional alcoholic. The type who bought several two liter bottles of cider along with the occasional piece of fruit for his poor kid. I would pick him up at six in the morning for a shift and he would be finishing his first drink as he opened the door. He would down a double-vodka at lunch to my pint thus allowing me to distance myself to the idea that I had a problem. I kept all my past incidences firmly to myself and presented myself as a cheery chappie type without any hang-ups. At last the heavy drug days were behind me.Well, nearly. It was moderate Chris from now on. The job and life fell into its suburban tumble as telephone call after telephone call came rattling down the line. My responses quickly became automated and the only thing that we lived for was the pub lunch and the occasional sniff in the loo. Mad John and I and a few others had bandied together and instead of all weekend warehouse raves it became cheap Nightclubs and middle-of-the road House Music. After a few more months of family life and watching another soap-opera fight in the Queen Vic plus nights out at nightclubs plastered with neon signs and cheap celebrities I had decided that I needed something, anything to make me feel excited again.
Clearly drugs were off the menu but they had always provided me with a sense of escapism, a certain kind of high that I felt changed me. And I wanted to know where I could get this buzz again without the four-day hangover. A package arrived for me one day from one of my clubbing friends, Mara. She was one of the few rare ones I actually remained in touch with. She too was seeking something else and had started to embark on some kind of spiritual path. The book was called: The Autobiography of a Yogi.