Friday, July 15, 2005

The English Opium Eaters


Poppies in Surrey, yesterday.

I went for a lovely walk yesterday, along the North Downs in Surrey. And I saw these poppies in a cornfield.

This reminded me of a friend of mine, who was once a total drug fiend. He used to smoke English opium. Apparently there is just enough opium in the English poppy to get you high - what you have to do is harvest the pods, mulch them down into a golfball sized dose, then dry them, then smoke the residue. According to my friend, who was living in rural Berkshire at the time, a lot of rustic tramps do this. When they can't afford cider.

The only problem is you need about 2000 opium pods, as the English poppy has a fraction of the narcotic strength of its Middle Eastern cousin.

That said, I'm not sure the strength of Middle Eastern poppies is all its cracked up to be. I once spent an entire afternoon collecting poppy-pods by the Krak des Chevaliers, the famous Norman Crusader castle in Syria. I got back to my hotel and squished the poppies into a sappy ball, and tried to smoke them. It took me about three hours to prepare the pods, after four hours of collecting, and in the end I felt like I'd taken two aspirin.

Perhaps its better just to look at them.

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