With the 20th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana rapidly approaching at the end of this month, there’s been a glut of coverage of her life and untimely demise in the media as they try to exploit what could be the last big opportunity to capitalise on her fame.
Well, here I am, doing the same thing, because below is a brief extract from my book, ‘Personal Use’ about the night she died.
But unlike other accounts of that fateful night you may read, your friendly neighbourhood hippy spent the evening under the influence of some very strong blotter acid otherwise known as Lysergic Acid Diethylamide or LSD.
If you enjoy this extract, I hope you’ll check out my book, ‘Personal Use’.
9th August 2017
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Extract from Chapter 13, Random Stuff…
The fourth time I took LSD is also the last time I took acid. I remember the date clearly, it was Saturday, 30th August 1997. You’ll understand why that date stands out, shortly.
Mrs. Hippy and I hadn’t been living together that long and we had been out for the evening. We had a nice meal in a restaurant and had come home in a good mood, quite relaxed and chilled. A friend had given me a couple of blotters weeks before and I thought it would be a good night to try it.
Mrs. H had never had any psychedelics before and being the good (or bad) influence that I am, I suggested we sample it. Don’t blame Mrs. H, it was all my idea.
We took the blotters around 10pm and waited for the come-up. It was happy acid, a bit giggly and clean. We were both enjoying it, as we watched TV.
I had cable TV at the time, which meant we had a wide variety of channels to dip in and out of throughout the night. We were transfixed by an infomercial for Toaster Bags. They appeared to be the most ingenuous product ever produced. You could cook anything in these reusable miracles. The guy in the advert was reheating cooked pasta, making toasted sandwiches, all sorts of miraculous acts of kitchen wizardry. If I could have worked the telephone and read out my credit card number, I would have bought half a dozen. And it would have become my exclusive cooking method.
Eventually we ended up on CNN, when the news broke that Princess Diana was involved in a car crash in Paris that night. Shit.
Only a week before, I was at work, instructing freelance cameramen in France to try to get shots of Diana and Dodi Fayed together on holiday. This will come into play shortly, as you will see.
Now, Mrs H was a big fan of Princess Diana. As a young girl, Mrs. H was drawn into the coverage of Diana’s fairytale wedding and nightmare marriage to Prince Charles. She was very upset by the news.
I just wanted to know if she was dead, so I called my office and spoke to the overnight news editor. He was happy to hear from me and begged me to come in and help.
As fucking if! I was in no condition to be in a newsroom, I was on heavy drugs. I giggled and explained this to my friend. You can imagine how impressed he was with me. Oooops. No, no I can’t come in. Coming in would be BAD.
All I wanted to know was if she was alive or not, and as far as my friend knew, she was alive. He told me another friend and colleague of ours, who was a cameraman based in Paris, was already in the tunnel and filming. So I phoned him.
My friend in Paris was jazzed and full of adrenaline. This was a big story and he knew it. He thought I was at work, and I quickly explained my current situation. You know, on heavy drugs, tripping balls, blah blah blah. Just another Saturday night at my house.
I only had one question: Is she alive or dead? As far as he knew, she was still alive.
Finally, the news broke, and it was confirmed that Diana was dead. Mrs. H wailed and cried. She’d lost one of her childhood heroines. She was also on heavy drugs.
Now you can understand why I am so precise about the date. My last acid trip coincided with a event of historic proportions.
And then on CNN, Tom Cruise phoned in. He was talking about the paparazzi chasing him through the streets of Paris, and how dangerous it was. He said the press killed Diana.
Everyone was saying the press killed Diana. A week before, I was shouting down a phone line at someone to get pictures of her, no matter what.
I helped kill Diana, or so the television and my twisted drug-fuelled brain told me. I was part of the problem, along with anyone and everyone who ever worked in the media.
The narrative that the press killed Diana lasted longer than my LSD trip. There are people today who still say the press killed her, but I call bullshit on that.
A drunk, dangerous driver killed Diana. Or the security services, though personally, I don’t buy that because I am not a conspiracy theorist. The most obvious explanation is usually correct and that explanation is a drunk driver.
The next day, I began a run of a week of nightshifts and it was easily one of the worst weeks I’d ever had professionally. My colleagues who were tasked with covering the huge outpouring of grief were spat upon and abused by members of the public, for killing Diana. I don’t think I was ever busier, it really was relentless.
In my LSD hungover state, I felt guilty and I questioned whether journalism was the right career for me. Thankfully, the questioning and the hangover didn’t last long and things got back to normal after the funeral, a week later.
After one of my shifts, Mrs. H and I went to Kensington Palace early in the morning to see the massive floral tribute that had been left there in her memory. Before I saw the flowers, the smell hit me. It reminded me of walking into a funeral home, only more intense. The floral scent was overwhelming, as was the absolute sea of flowers spread throughout the gardens.
I haven’t had any LSD since that night, around 19 years ago. I definitely prefer psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. The high is far cleaner, purer and less artificial. LSD is too speedy for me, but never say never. If the right opportunity presented itself at the right time, I could be tempted to take it again.
And no, please don’t send me any. I try not to take head candy from strangers any more.
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The northlondonhippy is an anonymous author, online cannabis activist and recreational drug user, who has been writing about drugs and drug use for over a decade. The hippy’s first book, ‘Personal Use’ details the hippy’s 35 years of recreational drug use while calling for urgent drug law reform.
“Personal Use” is available as a digital download on all platforms, including Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s iBooks and Barnes & Noble’s Nook. The paperback is available from all online retailers and book shops everywhere. 10% of all profits from this book will be donated to drug charities, annually.
You can also find the northlondonhippy on Twitter: @nthlondonhippy