User's Story: A China-White Christmas
User's Story: A China-White Christmas
Christmas, that special time of year when families and friends come together to celebrate the birth of a saviour that 80 per cent of us say we don't believe in. When even the most wayward of souls think about "home" (whatever that means) and head towards it. People exchange gifts, greedy little kids expect bucket-loads of toys, technophiles get their paws on the newest gadgets, book shops sell tonnes of memoirs by such esteemed souls as retired cricketers and politicians, record companies churn out collections of greatest hits and just about everyone gorges themselves on ham, poultry, prawns and pavlova.
Ah, it's not so bad if you've got a home to go to or a family who'll have you. It's even fun watching movies or Boxing Day cricket, drinking beer and eating leftovers. Sucks a bit if you've got a habit though, 'cos Christmas is that time of year when everything's a little bit dear, especially, you guessed it... gear.
So for this Christmas tale, cast your mind back to a more innocent time, before Zero Tolerance, before the streets were covered by CCTV cameras and the Dog Squad patrolled everywhere with their pesky pooches. A time when all sorts of goodies were available on the street, in caf‚s and arcades. When it wasn't too hard for an enterprising lad and an able cockatoo to ply their trade.
This particular year found yours truly badly stocked-up for the silly season and working the holidays as a result. In those days I supported my habit by busking and selling sticks. The good news for me that year was that there was plenty of good quality old China-white around. And whilst Sydney was in the grip of a pot drought, I had a plentiful supply.
That Christmas I had a really big bag of compressed. Remember the Dorrigo dust? Weet-bix? Compressed heads, dried out, packed down and put away for just such occasions as the drought Sydney was suffering that season. Not nearly as tasty and strong as the sticky buds that everyone prefers, but way better than nothin' when there's nothin' going. The Weet-bix is also really good for cooking. I made a fantastic lamb shank and veggie soup with some of it. I also mixed hash butter into some chocolate for a dessert. You get a fantastic body stone that lasts for hours. It was an orphan's Christmas dinner but a beauty.
First things first: I needed to make sure I had enough white for Christmas. Early Christmas morning I went up to the Cross to sell some sticks and score some rocks. I had a little mate with me who used to stand cockatoo at the top of the one-way street that I worked halfway down. He was a trusty little streety, a pot-head who helped me out in return for a stick. We took up our possies and set to work.
The sun rose into a cloudless sky. It was dry and stinking hot. The streets were almost empty which only seemed to amplify the heat radiating off the deserted concrete and bitumen. Merry Christmas! It looked like being a long day.
The couple of cafes that usually supported the pot trade in the Cross in those days were both shut for Christmas. Happy days. At least I'd have a fair chance of getting a slice of whatever was happening business-wise. Sure enough, one by one the odd Christmas Eve reveller looking for a smoke to come down on started to drift down the street. One by one my little sticks of compressed were selling and I was getting closer and closer to my China White Christmas.
Now I must point out that my sticks weren't cheap, and they were quite small. When a couple of idiots complained about this I felt compelled to remind them that most workers are on double time at Christmas. Consider it a public holiday surcharge. That's what happens in the hospitality industry. You don't complain about the price of groceries at 7-Eleven on Christmas Day, do you? No. You're just bloody glad they're open.
The morning ticked by, my bunch of sticks was shrinking and my stash of cash grew fatter. I was engrossed in a deal with some punter who was trying to haggle. I heard something and I looked up. Right there in front of me on the narrow street was a divvy van with two coppers in it. Oh, shit! Great work, cockatoo. There goes Christmas Day.
They both met my wary, strung-out stare with friendly eyes. The cops were smiling! The officer in the passenger seat stretched his arm out of the paddy wagon and said, "Merry Christmas." He was holding a bag of mixed lollies and a piece of Christmas cake. Wow.
"Thanks," I said, "Merry Christmas." I looked up the street and there was my little mate, smiling, hooking into his chunk of Chrissie cake.
The cops rolled off down the street and I really did feel a weird touch of Christmas spirit. It reminded me of those stories of unofficial truces on Christmas Day during World War I. I felt a brief but very real sense of good-will and let the haggling punter off with a generous discount. Some crazy, wide-eyed candy raver came down the street to score and sprinkled glitter all through my hair. Blessing me and telling me I had "a really amazing energy, man." I had enough cash together now so I gave my little streety mate a couple of sticks for Christmas and headed off to get on.
My regular dealer wasn't around, so I found a friend, a working girl who was also working Christmas, and asked her if she'd help me get on in return for a taste. We went around to her dealer's place to sort it out. They seemed pretty cool and I was allowed to go up. We sat down and out came the gear - beautiful, tasty rocks.
Here was the White Christmas I'd been looking for! It was a bit dear though and suddenly the shoe was on the other foot. There I was, in the house of this bloke I'd only just met, talkin' tough and trying to haggle for a bigger deal.
He was a much tougher nut then I ever knew how to be. I was lucky I didn't get rolled and rorted on the spot. He told me that, being Christmas Day, I was lucky to get on at all (familiar?). He assured me it was quality gear and that I would be most satisfied with my purchase. He then observed that I was covered in glitter and wondered if I knew how foolish I looked.
He had a point. I wasn't looking too streetwise. I'd done well, time to quit while I was ahead. I sorted out a taste for my working girl friend and went dashing with the snow to go tuck into a little White-Christmas of my own! The dealer was right, it was really good gear. Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells!
Merry Christmas, you lot. I hope Santa finds you.
Illustration by Tony Sawrey