To a seedy back alley behind the supermarket in order to meet my drug dealer. He is late, and when he eventually shows he is wearing an expensive Hugo Boss suit and carrying a briefcase.
“What happened to the hoodie and the ill-fitting jeans?” I ask him.
“Market forces, innit?” he says with a shrug. “Don’t you watch the news? That boulder-blasting politico from Canada? That moustache-wearing mutha****** from the Co-op with the Tina habit? Dealing’s gone high end, bro. It’s a whole new world out there.”
“Are you talking about Rob Ford, the Toronto mayor who has recently admitted smoking crack cocaine?” I ask him. “And the Reverend Paul Flowers, former chairman of the Co-operative Bank, who was caught buying crystal meth?’”
The dealer nods eagerly. “Mos def. The fat CEOs are going crazy for crack and meth, man. Paying premium prices, too. And if you want face time with these six-figure f**** you gotta dress the part, innit? Anyway, what you want?”
‘The usual,’ I say, reaching in my pocket for a £20 note. ‘A gram of coke, a rock of meth. Just something to get me through the day.”
“Six hundred, man,” the dealer says. My jaw drops but he raises his hands. ‘Listen – I get a rep for being cheap it’s bad for business, innit. Nothing personal, but I’m trying to get a foothold, bro. After this I’ve got a meeting with the leader of the city council and if he hears I’m still dealing wraps in alleyways he’ll go somewhere else.”
“Don’t tell me we’re being shafted by the bankers and the politicians again,” I say. “Class-A drugs are all that keep us going.”
“Listen, man, I’m doing you a favour just being here, innit?” he says, checking his Patek Philippe watch.
“I’m a writer,” I tell him. “I don’t have £600.”
“Then that’s too bad.”
“How about ketamine?”
“Out of your price range, bro. I got some cough linctus.”
“I can buy cough linctus in the supermarket,” I remind him, at which point he shrugs one last time and leaves.