Prospect's prisoner was released last June, but for the second time in two years he was unable to resist the pull of London's drug-soaked, criminal underworldby Peter Wayne / May 20, 2000 / Leave a comment
My mother would have called it “navy.” But it was an altogether more unusual shade of deep Prussian blue-sleekly tailored, double-breasted, three-quarter length, velvet collared-a cashmere overcoat which overwhelmed me with the desire to own it. That I hadn’t the money to buy it never entered the equation. On the afterwave of the crack cocaine I had ingested minutes earlier, the coat already belonged to me. As I stared at it in the window of Crombie’s exclusive emporium in Jermyn Street, I knew what I must do.
It was four days before Christmas, and the interior was decked out accordingly. Two immaculately dressed assistants were attending to a haughty-looking matron, deliberating over a selection of poplin cotton shirts piled high on the counter. The trio looked preoccupied enough as I swept past them with a nod of the head and a convivial “Good afternoon.”
Heart beating preternaturally, I snatched the prize from its hanger and stuffed it into my capacious bag. I was just about to help myself to a grey number further down the rack, when I noticed the lens of a CCTV camera recording for posterity my impulsive hoist. As the drug furies raged inside me, chiding me for my idiocy, four burly security guards materialised out of nowhere, surrounding me before I had a chance to bolt for the door.
Like a pack of rugby forwards, the overweight swatsquad dived and felled me. The realisation of sure arrest and imprisonment sent my spirits plummeting into utter desolation. Christmas was the Holy Grail from which I was never destined to sup. And all because I had thought myself a Master of the Universe-cracked up, scagged up, totally fucked up-who really had to have that magnificent new overcoat to wear among the revellers on millennium eve.
Aeons ago. Or was it only late last summer? I was still a relatively fresh-faced, semi-addicted ex-con taking in the many wonders of the fin de millennium. Under tall irregular beeches and horse-chestnuts, on a quadrangle of grass in genteel Bloomsbury, I sat cross-legged trying to catch a glimpse of the much hyped solar eclipse. My companion that day was Rabbie, a misanthropic Dundonian ravaged by viral anti-bodies. Unlike me and the scores of office workers who had thronged the square at the appointed hour, Rabbie sat with his head bent in feverish concentration. He had no shoes and socks, and his…