I’d told Shannon that in 2002 Brixton had pioneered the downgrading of marijuana on a national level. She was amused to hear that even a guy like me — who looks every inch the off-duty policeman — is continually offered ‘skunk’ ‘weed’ and ‘marijuana’ every evening in the throng of humanity between the Tube station entrance and the bus queues. She laughed her ass off at the prospect of hearing British guys offering her drugs, and couldn’t wait to hear it firsthand and flip them a caustic comment.
The first time we did the fifty-yard push through the crowd there was not one mention of drugs — no deep voices muttering those magic words anonymously but directly at us. “It must be the time of day,” I said, disappointed. “It’s lunchtime.” The following day we emerged around four o’clock, to be met with silence again. “You just wait until we’re coming back from Edinburgh late on Thursday night.”
That Thursday we emerged onto the street around half-seven, straight from King’s Cross. “Prime time,” I said. We walked through the crowds without a hint of interest from any of the usual suspects. “I can’t believe it,” I said. “I swear, every time I walk through there I get offered, and I look like a damned cop.”
“Maybe it’s me?” she said. “They must know I’d just laugh and call them pussies.”
She got a taxi to Heathrow at six on the Sunday morning. I went over to water my parents’ plants and do their mail at ten. I came out of Brixton Tube at half-eleven, the sun high in the sky. “Skunk,” said a deep voice. “Weed,” offered another.