af Louis Jensen • illustrationer/fotos Alex Jenkins Illegal 14

Aphex Twin, Warehouse Project, Manchester, UK. Who gives a fuck what year it was.

By Louis Jensen

Artwork by Alex Jenkins

Got off the train from Newcastle and the first stop was G’s flat. G lived a semi-nomadic life distributing narcotics across Europe. I like to think of G as a modern-day Henry the VIII, living life with excessive indulgence. Between a specific group of friends, he had an ongoing competition of “who is wearing the most expensive pair of jeans”. He would always carry around a large wad of money which must have counted into four figures.

Every time I met G he would recall some off-the-wall event that had occurred in the interim since our last meeting. Most of these events wouldn’t even begin to enter the realm of the average person. Here’s one:

G’s sitting waiting for a bus at Victoria station in London. Also waiting is a Polish couple with their daughter. Since it’s Christmas time, there’s a Santa Clause across the road who catches the child’s attention. She makes a sudden dart across the road. G sees that a Ferrari’s coming and quickly realises a collision is imminent. G jumps up, runs to the child, grabs and yanks her out of the path of the oncoming car. The problem is, G had taken some Ketamine earlier, so he’s not the most elegant of creatures. As such, he doesn’t have the coordination to get himself out of the way and gets hit by the Ferrari. G goes flying and so does the shopping bag he’s carrying. This wouldn’t have been much of a problem—except the way G transported his drugs was at the bottom of a designer clothes bag. So as G goes flying, so do the contents of the bag. Ounces of MDMA and god knows what else lying across a busy London road outside Victoria station is not a good outcome.

The driver of the Ferrari gets out and starts shouting at G. The next sequence happens pretty fast. The girl’s dad walks up and punches the driver, knocking him flat. The mother runs around picking up G’s belongings and putting them back in the bag. She hands them to G as he starts coming to. He realises this is a very, very bad situation to be in and makes a hasty retreat around the corner. He finds a bench and sits down to collect his thoughts. While sitting there, he gets a tap on the shoulder. He turns around to see the mother holding out a bunch of flowers. She gives them to G and leaves.

I had made a plan to sit down with G to record these types of his stories. However, before I got the opportunity—for reasons won’t go into now—G had to disappear. I’d hear from him now and again. One day, I got a phone call that informed me he had died.

Back to the story with Aphex Twin. We arrived at G’s flat. I later found out that during that time, the apartment was under what ended up being a year of police surveillance.

G said, “Come here, I have something to show you.” He went to his freezer and pulled out one of many A4-sized sheets of LSD blotter paper. The image on the blotter was a Where’s Wally? cartoon. I took a photo of it on my phone.

The night rolled on. We drank and chatted while more people arrived at the at. At some point, G gave me and my friend Sam a few tabs of acid for the concert. He said: “This is my birthday acid.”

In hindsight, I should have asked why it was his “birthday acid”. I later found out he gave it this name because it was the strongest LSD he had ever taken. Said by a man who first took LSD when he was 14 years old gives an indication of its strength.

A few hours later, we were at the Ware- house Project. Luke Vibert had just nished his set and I was super wired on MDMA. Sam convinced me that we should drop the acid. Aphex Twin flowed into his set. He was in one of those moods where he decided to play noise for 2 hours.

And the acid kicked in hard. I was convinced that Aphex Twin designed that set for people who were on acid. For me, it was perfection, and I had the idea that it was a secret nod from Aphex to those tripping, “I know what you are up to, this one’s for you.” You could say that my other friends who were not on acid were not quite as impressed with his set.

Some details from the night I remember vividly. Details such as everyone having a halo of electricity around them that vibrated and buzzed in time to the music. I also remember bodies became transparent and people started to look like ghosts. I sat down on the floor for a while with my back against a wall and watched as people walked through each other.

I found myself at the bar with Sam. We were attempting to order a drink. Somehow (we still don’t understand what happened) we got served a glass of cranberry juice—a drink neither of us like, yet somehow on several occasions whilst tripping have found ourselves with. We were both so gone at this point we didn’t know what to do and an awkward standoff occurred with the bar staff. Miraculously, it all worked out. I have the impression that the guy behind the bar walked us through the paying process step by step. Get your wallet out. Check for a note. Pass me the note. We walked off with our glass of cranberry juice to enjoy.

The real interesting stuff happened after the concert. We went back to G’s at, still tripping extremely hard. I decided it would be a great adventure to make our way back to Newcastle. Sam agreed to it. I bought an ounce of MDMA off G for £250 before Sam and I dropped another tab of the birthday acid and went on our way.

Seeing how completely out of our minds we were, we did a pretty good job of working out what train we needed to catch and where from. At that point, it was about 7 AM. We had some time to kill before our train turned up so we decided to wander around Piccadilly station. Somehow, we started up a conversation with some pikeys. They of- fered us drugs to which I very, very foolishly replied: “No thanks, we’re fine, we’ve got loads of drugs.”

“Show them to us,” said the pikey.

“No,” I retorted.

This back and forth continued and the atmosphere became increasingly aggressive. It dawned on me that we weren’t in a good situation but I couldn’t help myself from starting to laugh because the pikey’s face was melting away. This caused the pikey to become very angry and he started throwing out threats. I turned around to see that Sam was already three-quarters of the way down the escalator we were standing next to. I made a run for it, chased by the pikeys. At the bottom of the escalator were two police officers. Although there was an ounce of MDMA in my bag they proved to be our saviours. The pikeys spotted them and gave up the chase mid-way down the escalator.

With that commotion behind us, we got on the train, found some seats and started our journey back to Newcastle. We decided to get out some of the MDMA and make lines on one of the tables that fold out from the seats in front of us. I think it’s important to review the situation: we were on a very busy train at around 8 in the morning, shared with many people on their way to work, heads loaded full of extremely strong acid, cutting lines of MDMA, from an ounce of the stuff, on the table in front of us. Sam later recalled how he maintained eye contact with an old lady through the gap in the chairs when snorting one of the lines.

Once we were on the platform, I looked at Sam’s face which was blowing away in the wind like a light sand. Both of us were at a loss of what to do so I called G.

“Hi G, I’m in a box,” I said.

“Ok Liam, what’s outside the box?” he asked.

“A platform,” I replied.

“Liam, this is what you need to do. You need to go outside the box and read to me the names you can see.”

G managed to successfully direct us to get on a train back to Manchester and sometime later we found ourselves once again in his apartment. Having explained I lost my wallet, he gave me back the £250 I paid him for the MDMA. We set off for round two of our journey—not before, I should add, dropping yet another tab of the birthday acid.

Piccadilly station, and then we found ourselves on a train again heading towards Newcastle. We spent much of of the trip making doodles which made sense to us but no one else.

Upon arriving at Newcastle Central station, we decided to get a taxi to a friend’s house. The taxi ride was fantastic. We were enjoying it to such an extent that I offered the driver a sum of money to keep driving until the amount ran out. He refused. I pushed him, but he was very much against the idea. He seemed quite keen to get us out of his cab. This is probably an indication of how disturbing our acid-fuelled presence was to sober people.

Upon our arrival, we convinced another friend to join us and drop acid. Shortly after, we left to go home, leaving our friend at the beginning of a 12 hour trip on his own. Sorry, Olly! I went home and my girlfriend came over. I didn’t tell her I was on acid and she didn’t notice, so I guess I was returning to normal at that point.

Sam and I were going to host an exhibition of our train doodles. Each doodle was done on the reverse side of a printed picture of a guy who I met once. I had printed a photo of his face 10,000 times on pieces of paper measuring 2 × 4 cm… another story. However, I lost all the doodles. Luckily, the memories remain… just about.