A Modest Proposal.
The other day I was on the phone with a mate, and he was telling me about his sadly homebound mum. In this, he was just the latest in a long line: right now a number of my friends have parents who are falling ill, and encountering the miseries of old age.
Normally I nod in empathy when I hear these stories - and think nothing more of it. But as this latest friend told me about his poor old dear a puzzling thought struck me: nature has provided a sovereign remedy for the nastier affects of age, yet we ignore or abjure this remedy - until it is too late. The remedy, of course, is heroin. AKA Smack. AKA Horse, Brown, Skag, Boy, 'The beige', H, Uncle Harry, Gear, Scratch, Hammer, Jive, Nanoo, Easy, Caca, Pure, Dooly, Dirt, Scat, Downtown, Skid, Antifreeze, Life Saver, Aunt Hazel, Junk.
I speak with some authority because, as you probably have guessed by now, I am a one time heroin addict. The mistake I made with heroin was to do it when I was too young. Heroin is wasted on the young. Heroin kills your sex drive, dulls your looks, removes all ambition and makes you easily tolerate extreme boredom. These are not affects you need when you are 25 or 45. But at 75 or 85...? Who needs a sex drive then? And ambition can only be irksome at 80, surely? Likewise, I imagine good-looks are at a premium, anyway, when you're over ninety. And as for tolerating extreme boredom - frankly when I'm a doddery old wreck I'd welcome something to brighten up the day in the Happy Valley Retirement Home.
There are other factors to consider. Heroin is the best painkiller we have. Not a bad thing when you are gouty and rheumatic. Also, giving heroin to old people would give everyone a reason to look forward to old age; at the moment all the good stuff comes earlier in life, and the back nine holes are rather repetitive and drab. But if we promise everyone a painfree, smacked up, blissed out old age, it would surely balance things a bit. No?
So convinced am I by this argument I've actually thought of acting on it - by seting up my own pension plan, the Thomas-Randall Pension Plan (I came up with the idea with a mate). The Thomas Randall Pension Plan consists of a kilo of pure heroin, and a bungalow in Benidorm. We aim to take up the Plan when we are 75.
I jest, natch. But there is a serious point here. What is it that stops us easing the pains and boredoms of old age with such a natural cure? Some twisted morality that says you have to be fully compos mentis to enjoy the indignities of infirmity?
Actually, I reckon this might make a nice article. In the Sunday Telegraph, perhaps. Or Saga magazine.