'Poppy Dream - the story of an English addict' Joe South
'Overwhelming' Geraldine Nichol The Book Bureau Literary Agency
There have been very few coherent life stories of drug users. This book is an exception; perhaps it an authentic history of the modern English drug scene.
A true story of how one man’s fantasies and dreams become reality – sometimes with terrible consequences, but ultimately resulting in something hopeful and good. Imagine ‘Just William meets Junky’ - it’s a very funny, human and sexy ride.
This story is not your run of the mill television movie script, “I Came Back from a Drug Hell,” kind of thing, but is an extraordinary tale about temptation, desire, adventure, death and bravery. A story for our time. Loaded with larger than life characters and bizarre situations, both hilarious and very sad.
Starting in the 1960s in the City of Oxford amongst beatniks, gangsters, debauchees, intellectuals, anarchists and poets the story moves to the glorious hills and coast of West Wales and finally to Paraguay in South America where Joe falls hopelessly in love with Latin life.
At 17 he was Oxfords first major drugs dealer in cannabis and purple hearts selling to, and befriending rich, famous and infamous people along the way. (The first drug squad to be set up in the UK was probably formed in order to tackle the consequences of his trade) After his friend Josh Macmillan (the Prime Ministers grandson) died from a drugs overdose at Balliol, Special Branch began to pay special attention to Joe. The Rolling Stones, Jack ‘The Hat’ McVitie (friend of the Kray Twins), Phil Seaman (Air Force drummer), Howard Marks (Mr Nice) and Alexander Trocchi (poet and author) all bought drugs from him at one time or other.
Joe earned extra cash by hiring out his body for sexual favours. It always puzzled him why people fought so hard to justify their particular sexual orientation when all he wanted to do was to luxuriate in sensuality, passion and lustful sex with either men or women. These memorable sexual encounters and risky escapades take place in the time-warp dream of Oxford in the 60s.
“I Can Resist Everything Except Temptation” Oscar Wilde.
* The Oxford hard man who liked to dress up in his mothers clothes whilst he had sex.
* The Oxford Don who loved two young men to beat his bare bottom with their belts.
* The musky, spicy smelling, large breasted Jewish undergraduate who wanted lots of anal sex and who always seemed so impossibly sad.
* The academic sisters who liked to tie Joe up.
* Vicious knife fights and winning a game of Russian roulette.
* A close encounter with Mr Ronnie Kray.
* A fortune found and lost all in one day.
“Being Born With A Penis Is Like Being Handcuffed To A Maniac For Life”
After spending a year locked up in the then notorious M3, a double locked ward in the city’s Warneford Hospital, in the enforced company of the mad academics of the University, he became hopelessly addicted to heroin, cocaine and methedrine. During this period most of his friends died as a direct result of their drug consumption. He says, “Heroin, sex, they were ways of controlling my imagination. A way of not acting out on my terrifying feelings. My sensitivity drove me like a mad thing and it hurt me too. Every day I hurt”.
The First Fix of Horse:
Life, as you know it, stops in a silent rush of new blood. A moment of pure bliss, quiet beatitude. A sublime tranquility which will last forever. Heroin has arrived.
Sure, there is the near-painful, glorious ecstasy of sexual release. There are the all too brief and few moments of rapture that come, unbidden and unexpected to any life. There is the rocket propelled, super sensuality of speed and cocaine and then....there is something more....there is Heroin.
William Burroughs reckoned,in his book 'Junky,' that Heroin could suspend the aging process,stop cells dying,and keep you looking young. All these things then: eternal youth, unimaginable euphoria and perfect peace. So what does it cost?' Lenny Bruce - Billie Holiday - Paula Yates - Jim Morrison - Alex Trocchi - Gilbert Friesen - Dave Edney - Sid Vicious - John Belushi - Jerry Garcia - Charlie Parker - Max Parker - Josh Macmillan - Kurt Cobain - Chris Farley - Hillel Slovak - Pete Moore - River Phoenix. All these guys, bless 'em, paid the full price.
'Junk is the ideal product... the ultimate merchandise. No sales talk necessary. The client will crawl through a sewer and beg to buy.' William S. Burroughs
Much later, and on the run from the law, Joe fled to Wales where he began to shake off his habit. Drugs and alcohol no longer provided the pain relief that he required and were now presenting him with more problems than they solved. During his rehabilitation he built, by hand, without the benefit of electric power or running water, a five bed roomed house. Later, now clean and determined to repay his debts to society, he founded, built and ran a successful treatment centre and helped many people. Joe was supported throughout by Princess Diana, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Lady Macmillan. (The rehab was featured in BBC2’s Your Life In Their Hands series in 1994) Here he meets his soul mate in Hilary and helps her to establish the first drug-free treatment unit for the emotionally ill in Great Britain.
Each of the locations for the story is, by coincidence or grand design, completely cinematographic and beautiful. A counterpoint for the nature of the story.
*Oxford. The golden dreaming spires of this magnificent city. The morning mists on Christchurch Meadow, The narrow, ancient streets with its super hip, eccentric inhabitants and the renowned hard men of Oxford town.
*M3 Warneford Hospital. The famous double locked ward of this small lunatic asylum. Chintzy curtains, polished wooden floors, sunshine coming through the barred windows. Rattling key chains and starched uniforms. The cosy sitting room with its coal fire and psychotic residents. Narcosis therapy and lobotomies were some of the treatments of the day.
*Aberystwyth. West Wales . The dramatic seascape and the glorious hills.
*Havana, Cuba. Sun, salsa, colours, black friendly faces. “The factory for human beauty” Graham Greene.
*Asuncion, Paraguay. “The lost paradise at the heart of South America ”
‘Joe South gives no excuses. This is an honest and moving story about someone who had the courage to turn his life around.’ Andrea Machain. Paraguay Correspondent. BBC, The Economist, El País de Madrid, Proceso de México.
If You are a recovering addict,a member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA),Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or any other 12 Step Anonymous Fellowship you will love this book, if you love a good read you will love this book and if you love life you will love this book.