Warning: Magic mushrooms are illegal in Britain, France and most of Europe except Portugal. Whether or not you respect and observe laws of the land is a decision only you can make, based on whether you feel the law has a moral authority over your own free will. Whatever decision you make, whether you topple a statue of slaver or imbibe the mind expanding fruit of certain fungi, we, at Wavelength, we will judge you not. Especially if you subscribe.
I was relatively late to drug. My initial intoxications were pint of Foster’s-based, and at very moderate consumption levels. As a particularly fresh faced youth, I couldn’t really get in a pub until I was 17 anyway. This being the early 90’s, there were also car park toots of what was known as ‘puff’. We’d go in £2 quid each between six of us to get an eighth of soap bar, or red seal, from a member of the local traveller community. It was hardly Scarface levels of debauchery.
One weekend I went to a house party, but got there a bit late. By the time I’d donned my Stussy ‘old skool stuntz and Buddha bluntz’ long sleeve tee and Plan B jeans, my friend, who’d recently become a mushroom enthusiast and had organised a supply for us both, had started alone and early. The fungi and the cheap vodka didn’t agree with him that night, and by the time I’d got there, he’d already puked so hard that he burst a blood vessel in his left eye. In the meantime, Catherine Rudge, who’d made no secret of her amorous intentions towards him, wasted little time in getting off with Scott Durkin instead. Thus his pain was both physiological, and emotional.
My own psilocybin experiment thwarted, I stuck to the luke warm bottles of Sol our friend’s mum had got us from the offie. Shrooms never became part of my teenage vibe, and for one reason or another, went completely untried until this, my 45th summer.
Earlier this summer, we ate a few on the beach around a midnight driftwood fire, watching the comet. They tasted delicious, kind of like a mushroom Wotsits. The effects were still fairly pronounced the next day, when I moved mostly slowly but with a profound sense of purpose, and made my wife and children call me the guru. I said “The guru says…” before saying anything for the duration of a very chilled out day of camping. “The guru would like a cup of tea now, etc…”
“We decided upon six drops each, in our coffee…”
So when, about a week ago, a friend called Bryan was over from London, saying he’d brought a bottle of shroom tincture that he uses for microdosing, I suggested macro. It cost £110 from a WhatsApp based drug dealer who guarantees delivery by 6pm that evening, as long as orders are in by 3.15pm. The narcotics trade has moved on since the awkward soap bar transactions in the Iron Duke car park, it seems.
We decided on six drops in our coffee (organic fair trade Malongo). We parked up, and sipped our coffee excitedly whilst waxing. The fun started almost immediately; I first felt bit of a hot head, generally druggery vibe. Then I noticed the sound that the overnight rainfall, dripping off the branches in the forest and hitting the warm, almost steaming forest floor was making. I could almost hear all of them separately, a chorus of hundreds if not thousands of delicious, fat rain droplets going squelch all around me. Bryan had been assigned my Bradley asymm for lefts (“You’re not fucking surfing a symmetrical thruster on shrooms”) with an option to swap and surf my single fin egg. The single and the assym, surely an appropriate quiver for forays into the pyschedelic. We set off.
We walked through the woodland without seeing a soul. A gentle puff of offshore wind reassured us, our chosen bank was an away from the crowd, reeling left, in the sand point style. I’d been advised not to be in too crowded a place, so a walk through the woods to a semi remote peak seemed like the ideal place to be headed for a mid week 9am hallucination.
Ten or so minutes in, perspiration kicked in, but my sweat felt amazing. I could really feel it evaporating from my skin, almost as if my new found supersensitivity was registering the very hydrogen bonds themselves breaking, the entropy of my own homeostatic maintenance. “I’m doing a really cool sweat.” I said, then started to chuckle. Chuckle escalated to chortle, then a full guffaw. I was laughing like a madman at basically, nothing.
“A walk through the woods to a semi remote peak seemed like the ideal place for a mid week 9am hallucination…”
We mounted the dune with the aid of the moderate easterly at out backs. Glassy, 4ft of swell, with running lefts just slightly perturbed by the lowest tide either of us had ever seen. By the time we hit the sand, I was flying. “I’m fucking flying Bryan”.
Bryan was non-plussed at this stage. Whether having built up a tolerance from microdosing a drop or two once a week, or as I inferred at the time just being, “A waste of good drugs” he was stoney faced and slightly confused at the same time, the air of a commuter whose train is late, but no later arrival/departure time yet announced.
I gave it 20 minutes before paddling out, to let the tide bottom out. As I left Bryan, now beginning to feel something but not overly enthused, I said “There’s a 100% chance of me getting tubed today.” Lefts were doubling up dredging, on the low, spitting dry in the channel.
I did a bit of mediating at the water’s edge, even a headstand. By now the sun had come out, it was a beautiful, blue day with only a couple of other surfers in sight as far as you could see in either direction. By now, I was also completely off my face. I struggled slightly with the string on my boardies, giggling.
Surfing on shrooms felt relatively easy, well very easy. Alas, no video evidence exists to confirm, so we’ll have to go on the anecdotal. Paddling felt fast, and amazing, like I was going about 6 knots. Riding my first wave I felt elastic, loose, fast. Again, no evidence exists but from deep inside the gates of my own super perception, I was ripping like I’d never ripped before.
I felt the shrooms added fruitiness, an exaggeration. Grab rail bottom turns, one foot floaters, a new expansive repertoire had suddenly opened up to me. Timing was easy, take offs felt instantaneous. By the time Bryan got the lineup on the assym, I wasted little time giving him a debrief of the session so far.
“I’m fucking ripping, man. It’s pumping. I think this might be the best surf I’ve ever had, etc.”
His look suggested either a) he’d been looking the other way during the sets/my waves b) perhaps the outward appearance of my performance to the rest of the world wasn’t quite as impressive as it appeared in my own third eye.
I asked if he’d seen my (second) tube. He hadn’t.
Water was dancing on the deck of my board. Little shiny bow waves washed over the purple tint, surging over my wax like a miniature tsunami of brilliance as I paddled or sat on my board, I was laughing to myself almost non stop. Two people paddled out and probably wondered why I was cracking up to myself. A couple more. One is known for being a bit of an eccentric, his French nickname even means ‘the crazy’ . He said something about the tide or wind, I said something abstract as fuck, then howled with laughter.
He looked at me, entirely baffled, as if to say, ‘Who’s this cunt out crazying the crazy?’
I felt truly amazing.
After about two hours continual paddling, I gave Bryan the egg, and came in for a sip of water. My shoulders and back were a bit sunburned, my face muscles aching from grinning. Perhaps feeling a bit of the edge wearing off, I re-dosed. I first tried to put a drop in my hand, but it instantly disappeared into my wet palm’s lines, its red propagation into tiny meandering wrinkles looking like a Yann Arthus-Bertrand aerial photograph of a river delta somewhere in Siberia. So I did what one takin drugs from a dropper should probably never do; I dropped straight into the open mouth, unable to really control the exact dosage.
“You’ve surrendered your paddle strength, and not an insignificant portion of your soul”
By the time I was back at the water’s edge leashing up, I’d started to see little flashes of pixelated colour. I jumped off on a bomb after straightening out and whilst getting rolled underwater, saw flashes in front of my closed eyelids, a bit like an old video game icon. By now with more tide filled in, the surf had become much easier to line up, the rip had almost disappeared. There were a few more crew now, maybe 7 in total including us. Nobody else seemed to be having much of a good time. I was finding their faces (miserable, big noses/chins) hilarious. The more miserable they looked, the funnier it was.
Bryan, meanwhile, was having a bit of a shocker. He kept finding himself too deep on the bank. He’d do the walk around, and then somehow be instantaneously too deep on the bank duckdiving, and have to do another lap. I couldn’t help pointing at him and laughing. “It’s not your fault,” I offered. “Actually it is your fault. You’ve turned your back on the ocean for the rat race in London. You’ve surrendered your paddle strength, and not an insignificant portion of your soul.”
I wasn’t trying to be a cunt, but just didn’t seem to be able to help it. Luckily, he was laughing too. It was all going to be fine, just fine.
Surfed and paddled out, and having completed a total of what I considered five tube rides, and about 50 waves, I returned to the beach and lay in the sun, towel over my head. When I could muster the necessary to sit up and peer out, I was getting weird colour filter changes, where the whole beach scene would get the colour desaturated and the contrast pushed, like a 2012 Instagram filter. Then a sepia, then maybe a beige. It was as if the lenses on my sunglasses were being changed every thirty seconds. Fucking hell.
It’d been a total of four hours surfing and paddling under the beating sun in 30 degree heat. We had water, but chastised ourselves for not having victualled adequately with snacks. “You haven’t got any chocolate have you?” asked Bryan, almost pleading. I felt, after being too honest with my appraisal of his lineup shortcomings, that I couldn’t say no. We both looked in our backpacks to see if there was any secret chocolate that’d somehow fallen in without us knowing. There wasn’t.
It took both of us some time of lying prone in the midday sun to muster the energy to make the walk back through the woods. Low on energy, but already feeling some way back to normal, I made it all up to Bryan by showing him the delights of the Arbutus unedo, or tree strawberry. Not only had he never tasted them, he was unaware of its very existence. Ripe earlier than usual due to a sweltering summer that started back in April, we struck red gold as soon as the canopy started on the lee of the dune. We feasted on the delicious, spiky skinned little beauties.
Arbous on shrooms after 4 hours surfing is as close to heaven as bush tucker gets in SW France.
In summary, the session was about as much fun as you could possibly have on a surfboard, on drugs. Uncrowded, fun waves, warm water and blue skies. Perhaps most reassuring, the narcotic effect seems to wear off almost as fast as it comes on, I felt pretty normal by mid afternoon. Judging by the amount we seemed to have consumed (Bryan spilt some) I’d estimate we got through a couple of pound’s worth at most, an impressive return for the potency and level of stupification.
You probably wouldn’t want it every paddle out, but for a treat when your only real responsibility that day is to deepen your perception of the world around us and the waves that break upon it, well then I’d happily add liquid psilocybin to the long list of good things that come to those who wait 44 years before trying.