Only Fools and Horses

Image by Clare Power

With Regretamine use now so widespread that even Grannies in deepest Kent know what it is, Mudbone reassess the merits of the white stuff. Harmless fun for munters or retard powder for rank outsiders who need to take off their blinkers? Or is it just horses for courses? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist…)

So, The Sun has finally discovered ketamine. In the words of Stewie Griffin, ‘the last horse crosses the finishing line,’ and if we’re to believe the gutter press, every child in Britain is waiting in the stable, probably injecting K directly into their eyeballs.

The tabloids tried to whip the country into hysteria and create another good old fashioned moral panic, but it didn’t take them long to get tired of this and get back to blaming the country’s problems on hooded tops. Their brief but ridiculous moral crusade simply made a few Grannies tut and continue to vote for the Tories, simultaneously giving K users a chuckle as they cut the articles out and stuck them to their walls.

As anyone who does not live in a cave on Mars (or the home counties) is aware, K has been around for years, having been used by clubbers since at least as far back as the 70s. It sits in a niche that it has carved out as a cheap (£10-£20 on the gram), low commitment, semi-legal drug of choice for ravers. Its effects only last a fraction of the time of more serious hallucinogens such as acid, so any effects such as time and space distortion (or the dreaded ‘K-hole’) are short lived. This makes it ideal for people who have to be sober not long after having taken it, such as Des the driver (although they would be wise to wipe the polo-shaped marks from underneath their nose; the law frowns on that). Another benefit is that it does not show up on a urine test; so it has gained popularity in the most unlikely of quarters, not least of which is the army, as I am reliably informed by an ex-military friend of mine who used to take it for just that reason.

Not all of us have to regularly piss in a cup though, so why is K so popular outside of those on the straight and narrow? Is it just something for those who can’t afford coke and want something to sniff? Perhaps they like to see pretty colours and shapes but can’t be bothered to deal with the long and drawn out nature of an acid trip. But there are many reasons for K’s enduring popularity besides the obvious fact that people simply enjoy the high.


In rave culture K has a lasting place as a status symbol; K use implies being down with the scene, since it traces back to the mythologized Spiral tribe and their associated munters. It’s this factor which accounts in a big way for the European obsession with the stuff. After their Public Nuisance charge – which cost this country a fortune in what was the longest legal battle in British legal history – the Spirals had too high a profile to get away with raving in the UK any more. In the wake of the Criminal justice Act the Spirals traveled to Europe, bringing the free festival with them.

If you head out to any teknival this summer, you’ll see a hundred different photocopies of Spiral Tribe soundsystem, with very few rigs deviating from the “spiral techno (hardtek) all day and night for days on end” blueprint. This extends into fashion, musical taste, style of party, artwork and, most relevantly, drug use.

Whenever our soundsystem turns up to a European party a line quickly forms as the Euro-munters queue up round the block to get their hands on “la Keta” from “les Rosbifs”. Since K sells for four times cost price over there, the incentive for exporting it is clear. The funny thing is that sporadic K use leads to a very small tolerance, so the Europeans have only got to take a small amount, unlike the people who sell it to them, who can happily hoof a gram line the size of a caterpillar. The punters unfailingly misjudge the amount they have to take, and it is never long before our rig is surrounded by k-holed Euro-munters littering the ground like swatted flies. Hopefully they will never realise that they can import the stuff directly from India; if they do there really will be an epidemic!

Unlike many European countries, where K is on the same legal footing as heroin, UK law has not been too harsh on this particular horse. Previously ketamine was controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act and therefore its possession was not a criminal offence, but it was supposed to have been a prescription only drug. God alone knows what condition in a human would necessitate the use of K, perhaps being bored by techno, an overdose of reality, or unhealthy levels of balance and coordination… wanting to hallucinate and act like a dribbling spastic is hardly likely to convince a doctor though, is it? As of January 1st 2006 however, ketamine has become a class C Drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1971 alongside cannabis, now that it has been downgraded. Perhaps if the Sun gets told to distract people from illegal wars again then it will get bumped up to a higher class, but for now K has drifted back out of the public eye.

Personally, I can’t stand the stuff, I don’t enjoy the high, as being turned into a dribbling spac with no balance, brain power, or motor abilities is pretty low down on my list of pastimes. That’s not really a problem however, since no one is forcing me to take it, but the real bitch is that so many of my friends love the stuff and K is a time consuming habit. If they aren’t talking about getting it, they’re getting it, cooking it up, weighing it up, chopping it up, doing it, being on it, talking about being on it, and so on. Powder goes up one nostril and coherence out of the other, as for the next fifteen minutes or so an oversized retarded baby replaces the person I was having a conversation with. It’s like anti-sociability in powder form: the anti-party. I don’t do MDMA, but I can appreciate the vibe-enhancing positive effects it has on a gathering. Ecstasy is an involved, loving, feeling, dancing mood enhancer. K draws people into themselves, it introverts them and removes them from any sense of collectivity, it is the enemy of productivity, turning intelligent, inspired and well-meaning people into incapable idiots. Worryingly, K is also blamed in no small way for the increase in violence and muggings at London parties, since it destroys the feelings of unity that pills create and makes defenceless targets of the people who are on it.

I don’t think that making K illegal is going to help anything, it certainly didn’t stop the rise of pills, which continue to thrive – amongst other things, their price has dropped to the point where they are literally cheaper than a drink in most clubs. Prohibition didn’t work with alcohol in America, it isn’t going to stop K here… but c’mon though, this K shit has got to stop! Only fools and horses use K, so for the sake of your dignity, wipe the polo from your nose, and stop being such a fucking plonker! He who dares Rodders, he who dares…


Illustrations by Clare Power


  1. k-lover says:

    I don’t know who your friends are but they are also obviously taking too much, there is no need to become a retard on k,The universe connects while we are having a k sesh all dancing,chatting playing wii and as loved up as any pill will get you…..come sesh with us and maybe learn the beauty of k.. cheers Heather..

  2. b says:

    I agree with you Heather

  3. k-lover says:

    love your happy horses 🙂