Off Your Head

 |  July 3, 2018

“Life is a classroom and Boredom ‘s the usher, there all the time to spy on you; whatever happens, you’ve got to look as if you were awfully busy all the time doing something that’s terribly exciting or he’ll come along and nibble your brain.” Louis Ferdinand Celine

“I was bored,” snivels the chastened kid whose mother is standing over him waving a bottle of dad’s homebrew in front of his face.

You’ve been caught stealing, been caught drinking, been caught lying and the reason, you tell your disappointed mother, is, “I was bored.”

In the meanish streets of 80s industrial England boredom was the precursor for trouble and often the reason to experiment with all manner of substances that would, if only ephemerally, add some spice, or at least liberating confusion, to otherwise lacklustre days. Not uncommon to see eleven year olds donning melodic ‘diggie’ watches and Farah slacks, swaggering down the alley with a fag in mouth and a can of Kestrel Super Strength in hand, looking back you might think that childhood was somewhat compromised. But it didn’t stop with the booze, teenagers in the eighties — predominantly working class — throughout the UK were experimenting, this was a time of postmodernist self annihilation.

Cigs and homebrew cast their spell and off went Jack and Jill up the hill of drug experimentation. Glue bags could be seen dumped in thistles, butane gas cans behind the Co-Op; Tipex (white out) and Tipex thinners were in high demand but hardly ever used as stationery; some kids crushed paracetamol into beer, flicked fag ash into Cola; inhaled hairspray, air freshener, nitrous oxide from whipped cream cans, and oven cleaner; they breathed into their lungs the vapours of rags soaked in petrol and nail polish remover, they’d have probably snorted Shake ‘n’ Vac had the ‘freshness’ not played havoc on the nostrils.

And when all else failed, when the household drugs were scarce, kids would just hold their breaths and make themselves faint. For years dinner ladies would run frantically around the playground picking up the bodies of collapsed children.

The Drugs Don’t Work?

In the nineties the kids were older and a little bit wiser, the music had overcome its mid-life crisis, and in place of the cheap and now frowned upon solvents, designer drugs encroached into society’s insatiable stomach, although there were those who still maintained that getting high could rightly, and adequately, be achieved for pennies. For those who thought glue was expensive, a more hip and dignified gratis drug was needed; on the streets, in the house, under the kitchen sink, there were a lot of freebies to be had, an overdose of chemical and natural concoctions lay in wait for the desperate adolescent.

The Great Banana Swindle

If you ever tried this I’m afraid you’ve been duped by some playful minds that were out to see just how far people would go in their quest to get stoned. The hoax started when a recipe for the extraction from banana peel was published in an underground newspaper called the Berkeley Barb in March 1967. The recipe informed the reader that bananas do indeed get you high and all you have to do is extract the substance bananadine from the peel and you’re on your way to a chemically induced fruity nirvana. A true believer in this was William Powell, who later reproduced the method of extracting bananadine in the subversive and anti­establishment Anarchist Cookbook in 1970. It was said that by scraping the inside of the peels you could extract a psycho-active substance called tryptamine that yielded similar effects to those of LSD. It was said that bananadine could be injected although this could be dangerous as it contained the chemical strychnine that could cause crystals to form on the spine.

Matters weren’t helped when the sixties hipster Donovan brought out the single ‘Mellow Yellow’ which was purportedly an ode to the becalming properties of bananadine realised by Donovon after doing a hit of the yellow elixir

‘Electrical banana

Is sonna be a sudden craze

Electrical banana

Is bound to be the very next phase”

Donovon denied the song was about getting high on bananas, blaming other people for starting the rumour, but of course it does nothing for his reputation as one of the leading heads of the sixties to admit he may have made such an artistic faux pas. Still the hoax carries weight and other songs have been written about getting stoned on bananas after the sixties. Both the FDA Food and Drug Administration) and researchers at New York University have not yet discovered any substance in banana peels that can transpose the mind from its current terra firma state to a higher plane.


“It combines the kratom leaf, cough medicine, crushed mosquito repellent coils and that manifold super soft drink, Coca-Cola”

It is true that this seemingly benign spice can get you off your rocker. In fact, if you decide to take a king’s portion of this ‘armless looking drug you may find yourself stuck on cloud nine for much longer than you expected.

Up to sixty grams of nutmeg can be fatal according to the world’s drug experts, while 10-40 grams will provide the user with a somewhat stilted trip, mild euphoria and runny tummy. It’s not a popular drug, as after you’ve waited the SIX hours to come up, the side effects are many, including chills, •dizziness, constipation, fast heartbeat, anxiety, nausea . . . the list goes on and ends in death. Nutmeg can also have adverse effects on almost anyone, a small boy died in the US in the nineties after eating just two nutmegs.

Licking Toads

Another psychedelic hit is available free of charge from quite an unusual source: the Colorado River Toad or Bufo alvarius, whose skin contains hallucinogenic tryptamines. It was widely thought in the sixties that by licking the toad’s back a person would instantly be swept away on the kaleidoscopic wonder-wheel, although this theory was later debunked after a lot of people found themselves more poisoned than high. According to scientists the act of slurping your tongue down this poor animal’s back would only result in making you very ill as the skin contains various poisons. Imagine those Californian hippies in the sixties chasing the hopping creatures around the Colorado dessert for hours only to find that the slick and slimy hind of the toad induced nothing but a stint in a hospital bed.

All psycho-savvy people knew that you didn’t lick the toad at all, rather you stroked its chin in an attempt to inveigle some of the toad’s poison. Once it has ejaculated its spit, all you have to do is collect it, dry it, ingest it and you’ll feel extremely high. One toad is only good for a milking a month, and considering how difficult it might be to catch a toad and milk it successfully, you might be inclined to understand why many drug addicts say that the process of attaining, arranging and ingesting the drug is half the buzz.

A Kansas man with a predilection for toad tripping called David Theiss was arrested in November 2007 for possession of a toad with the intention of using it as a hallucinogenic. It’s not known whether he planned on licking it or milking it. Clay County police in Kansas City said this case was the first of its kind and it did cause some confusion. Theiss was released on bail while the toad was kept in custody. The psychoactive substance Bufotenine — the ‘good’ bit in the toad’s spit — is a Class A substance.

Ash and Cola

There is absolutely no information at all that establishes this as fact. It’s more than possible that school kids all over the UK may have been the brunt of a practical joke.

Iron Brews

My Thai

In this, the new millennia, lighter fluid and model plane glues as stimulants are laughable anachronisms that have been bypassed by many other innovations in chemical escapism. In Thailand, mainly the south, it has been reported that there is a new fangled concoction that affords the disenchanted user a few hours’ mind nullification.

4×100 is the name of the newest Thai drug that gets you off your head for almost next to nothing. It combines the kratom leaf (from a plant that grows widely in South East Asia, the effects of the leaf when chewed or boiled and drunk is similar to an opiate), cough medicine, crushed mosquito repellent coils and that manifold super soft drink, Coca-Cola – I’m sure Pepsi would do, as yet there’s been no challenge. It’s thought this power drink originated in the deep south as many of the disenfranchised Muslim kids, whose religion, and possibly earnings, renders booze verboten, started to experiment in the production of a drug using the few substances available to them. According to one of its users a hit of 4×100 gives an almost immediate rush to the head that causes dizziness and disorientation as well as providing euphoria, this then mellows out to leave the user sedated and hallucinating, which can lead to paranoia if the person persists in taking the drug or takes huge doses.

4×100 quickly spread to Bangkok where it is now popular in the poorer suburbs.

As police became aware of this new drug the creators and users also became aware that 4×100 was not structurally

cemented, in fact there are mind boggling proportions this protean drug can take on: recently hitting the streets was the all new 5×100 and then quickly after 6×100. New ingredients have included yoghurt, coffee or Alprazolam (Xanax) and even the powder from the inside of fluorescent light bulbs. This ever changing cocktail has police baffled and left legislation sitting limply on the fence.


Thailand can rest assured that its youth have not yet had to scrape the bottom of the almost bottomless barrel where human dissolution is concerned. ABC news in the States recently reported a new drug on the streets called Jenkem. This scatological fiend of fermentation is produced by allowing your – or anyone else’s for that matter – faeces and urine to ferment in a bottle. The top is sealed with a balloon and left to fill with methane gas. The rumours of Jenkem started at Collier County Sheriffs Office in Florida where the cops were tipped off about Jenkem users by a worried parent, although to this day it is still being hotly debated whether or not American teens are huffing their own excrement as there has not been any solid proof . . . this might be because of the vigorous attitude users have to keeping their habit a secret due to its worst side effect: loss of dignity.

In Africa Jenkem is no laughing matter, no swindle and no hoax, it is the real deal the BBC reported in 1995 saying that Jenkem was being brewed regularly by street children in Zambia who trawled their ingredients from local sewage. A street kid told the BBC that it gives him a euphoric high for about an hour tempered with nostalgic hallucinations of his mother. “It’s better than glue,” said the kid, “Glue makes me hear voices.”

And the kid’s got a point, better to stick with your drug of choice. We are virtually a world of junkies, whether your fix is the gas from your own crap, a shot of smack or a regular diet of Pinot Noir; evading boredom through chemical escapism, from the plains of Saskatchewan to the jungles of Mae Hong Song, seems a defining human trait. It’s not surprising we are all off our heads.