If you're out with a friend and he advises you on what pair of trainers to buy, does he then have a right to those trainers? Can he borrow them? No of course he can’t; being in the shop with a mate does not mean you are buying them together. So why is it that if you buy something big (a sofa and arm chair, let's say) with a woman you are sleeping with, does she think her advice constitutes a percentage share of the purchase?
With Chaz firmly put in his place, and Jim and Dave both on my side of the long-running disagreement, things slowly calmed down. The town had quickly changed with a massive influx of Polish and other European-originated residents. My trading was more part time but still a very nice earner -- it seemed construction was clearly for me. Steve, a friend of a friend (a straight up guy who loved the camaraderie of the pub but not the dealings and wheelings of the locals) had taken me under his wing, so I was getting training, an earning, and proving my worth by organising shifts; working hard where I was asked. It also helped that I didn't want to let Steve down. Construction money was good, and it felt like something I could do for a while without burning out...plus, the fact I was adding an extra £2,000 to £3,000 a month with my side-line, was a definite incentive.
It felt like I had my stuff together, and took little-to-no risk. I had three or four growing tents in mates' flats; they took care of the growing, maintenance, and chopping down, with sometimes a little supervision being all that was needed, and an occasionally-stern telling-to, to sort their shit out. I always paid them promptly for their work and was as generous as needed with smoke they could keep as part of their pay -- that’s the main reason they were really helping me out. To be honest, it was amazing really, as they took all the risks -- all I would do was loan them the equipment; help set it up, then barring a few short, unexpected inspections, I would wait for the product and take the lion's share of the profit.
The new customer base from our European neighbours helped with shifting gear; I made one good contact and he would pay up front for as much as I chose to give him. Jim often worried that the “Poles” would take over by hostile force with a Scarface-type shootout.
Dealing with Polish guys never bothered me, Jakub (very Polish-looking, with cropped hair and a lovely range of tracksuits) was cleaning up and selling to his national brothers. He was, thankfully, a very simple guy to deal with; I often took delivery and shifted 80 per cent of the skunk in one go -- Jakub could not get enough, but I always kept 20 per cent back for myself to sell in smaller deals at a better margin (and obviously to smoke).
The girl I was seeing had a familiar take to it, we started great and then carried on, getting slightly more hostile, with a few break ups; four claims of infidelity, and two pregnancy scares...and you then get to celebrate your 6 month anniversary, ha. Jen was great, a lovely girl, worked in Iceland and had once sent in a picture that was used in Nuts. But the arguments could be loud -- actually, "vile" best describes the stuff we would say to each other. We just brought it out in one another; we knew exactly what to say to push the other person's buttons, but of course this also had positive benefits, with the "making up" proving rather "energetic."
We lived together for weeks at a time; mostly at my place as she lived with her sister. God, did I hate her sister -- her annoying, meddling sister. Anyway, we needed to be alone and have space for our argument-and-make-up themed relationship, and she could always return to her sister's house (a 5 minute walk away) once a month, following an unresolved misunderstanding. We did all the normal things any couple does together, such as shopping, where she helped me pick out the new furniture for my living room -- a TV, rug, mini glass fridge, all of which I paid for.
Nights out, meals, and cinema nights; she was the first girl I had done such domestic things with -- we even went to a festival together! She was the one, with the arguments just being proof of how passionate our relationship was.
Working with Steve was great; he wanted me to do well, and I wanted to work for him. I was even on the books, and happily contributing to society. It felt like for once I had a lot to be happy about, and a lot going right for me. Plus my flat looked awesome; it was a pleasure to be in, even with Jen there most of the time. My Mum even liked Jen, and always told me “don’t you mess this one about.” I would complain about the pre-judgement but knew my mum was right; I had a history of semi long-term, chaotic relationships.
The latest batches of skunk were almost ready to go; we had problems contacting one of the guys who was baby-sitting a small crop in his flat, however. He lived above a parade of shops which featured a kebab shop; the smell of the fat and waste easily overpowering any smell from our production, it was easily the best location ever. After a quick visit, we found the missing Tony, who had merely lost his phone and could not be bothered to pop 'round and see me. All fine, and as Jim had come with me to find Tony, we decided to go to the pub to have a quick pint. I think most people know the trouble with a quick pint -- they lead to several more quick pints. Now, Jen was cool, it is not a story of me returning home drunk to have a row -- don't get turned off now. Jen actually joined us in the pub the minute she escaped her personal Iceland till-hell. The night quickly escalated, and with no work the next day, a small group followed myself and Jen back to my place. Jen acted the host and encouraged several phone calls to supply the house guests with Bolivian marching powder.
As quick pints go, this was a long one -- at 6am the last of the small group left, allowing Jen and I to tidy and survey the flat, too wired to sleep. It quickly became apparent during our tidying session that people had not finished their Columbian takeaway and myself and Jen had ourselves a little party kit. W,e wasted no time and by mid-afternoon a second (more sedate) session was in full flow. We had lunch in the pub and a few pints (or vodka and cokes for the ladies), before returning home after a fun day, wired and drunk, in time for MOTD.
Somewhere in there something happened. Something snapped.
It only took a sentence or two, and the tensions that bubbled under the surface of our relationship quickly erupted, with Jen screaming about a barmaid I was being overly nice to; I complained equally about some bullshit that I can hardly remember. We were both hammered -- almost 30 hours of party, excessive tiredness and knowing each others' tender points didn't help. This was an epic, pushing-our-personal-best of intense screaming. Quickly this became our biggest fight ever, and clearly my neighbours realised this too. As we crashed through the house, my frustration got the better of me and I booted the still-new sofa and smashed two glasses that were on the coffee table, as I recoiled in pain after tommy toe-punting the hard frame of the DFS special edition.
The tap on the front door was unfortunately timed for me -- I was in the ascendance, winning by shouting louder; Jen by this stage was packing a few things in a bag, while holding her mobile in my direction, her sister on the other end. “See what he is like; he's like this all the fucking time; fucking liar, he knows who I’m talking about!” Jen would wind her sister up with our arguments, and constant coming and going. God, I hate her sister.
As I opened the door, the two officers' faces told the story that it had been a long night already and this was all they needed, another domestic. Jen instantly burst into tears, slurring her angry outbursts -- she was still off her face. Jen then said I was violent and pointed to the table and smashed glass; fortunately there was no sniff left, but there was all the apparatus for rolling a spliff, damn it where was the skunk.
“Ahhh, there it is," the male officer exhaled -- he had seen me before, knew what I had a rep for. But seemed less excited about the find than expected. The female officer had stood over Jen, she was playing the victim of course, with the argument being relayed to the officers with added spice for my part in the proceedings; Jen quickly admonishing her part in it all. I was in trouble, that much was for sure.
Being led to a police car is embarrassing enough, but knowing that you are going because of a day of binge drinking and three quarters of a bag of average herb certainly adds zing to the bad feeling. Now, for this sort of misdemeanour, I expected an eight to nine hour stay in a holding cell and a release in the morning.
I waited in the car for an eternity; the female officer finally emerging with Jen and her sister carrying two bags of stuff. They walked off together, evidently en route to the station. Both officers were jovial on the drive to the station, asking casually about the day and I chatted with them; the female officer even cracked a joke and laughed at mine, thinking about it now she may have been laughing at me -- I was still trashed too, my cocktail of vices hindering my ability to communicate. The drive served to hasten my drunkenness, the station and booking is lost to me, however I do remember laying on the thin mattress, with the end in sight. Or so I thought -- Jen’s embellishments on the truth had lead the police to believe Jen, her sister and her sister's kid would be in danger if I was released.
My hearing was set for Tuesday morning, with three days on remand as I would be too close to Jen and her family, and still posed a threat apparently. I had never hurt a woman in my life, = and now I was a threat to Jen, the woman I loved?
I was released Tuesday afternoon and did something unusual -- I stayed at my mum's; it felt like the place to be, when I woke up I think she could tell I was upset, so I got the full works for breakfast and was told everything would be OK. A lecture soon followed, and then I felt compelled to call Steve, apologising about missing work. He told me not to worry, “shit happens, see you tomorrow -- you will have to work twice as ‘ard!” Steve still seemed to believe in me, or so I hoped anyway. The next day I went to work from my mum's, and then popped to the shop and post office to keep a promise I had made in my short stay in jail to a local gezza. I then repeated this for another few nights until my mum took me home Saturday morning, feeling a bit worse for wear after a few Strongbows the night before.
As mum dropped me off, I walked slowly towards my front door. The flat looked quiet, no Jen to either moan or smile as I walked in; either of which was preferable to this.
“Where the fucking HELL is my sofa?!”
I was so angry I surveyed the room three times, each rotation revealing another missing item -- had I been robbed, and by who?
It was obvious -- the TV, Sky, Xbox 360 and games were still there. Jen hated the massive TV, but loved the furniture. The gaps were punctuated by the tobacco, weed and Rizla outline left on the carpet; it looked like an illegal crime scene chalk outline for a dead sofa and most likely enough for 2 little spliffs.
I stomped out the front door, still swearing at everything I could think of, and approached Jen’s sister's place; the large window at the front framing my leather sofa, now covered in crappy cushions and a blanket. Couldn't see the armchair though...oh, there it is, behind the conveniently-placed fridge in the living room. I rang the doorbell but there was no answer, so I phoned Jen, no answer but I can hear her phone; several rings later and she answered her phone.
“Hi, what do you want?” Jen asked the most stupid question ever as if she meant it, and was truly intrigued to hear my answer.
“What do you think I want; I WANT MY FFFU...” I calmed myself down.
“I want my FURNITURE back.” I struggled to contain my rage, while reminding myself that I would get the stuff back. I could prove I paid for it, after all.
“Yeah ok that’s fine, but I'm not in at the moment; I'm actually out of the area.” She could lie, this girl.
“No you're bloody well not, I'm standing outside your sister's, and I could hear your phone ringing,” I smugly belched down the phone, holding the phone in front of my face to make sure she heard every word. “Now fucking let me in to get my sofa back,” I slowed my speech, every word separated by a furious pause.
Jen appeared from the kitchen and walked towards the front door, lowering the phone as she walked rapidly across the small living room, which was full to the brim with my shit.
“I am not letting you in, you have been drinking.”
“No I have not, it's 11:30am; don’t start with the lies, I just want my sofa and arm chair, keep the shitty table” I tried a new tactic.
“It's our furniture, we bought it together” replied Jen,
“I paid for it; it's my furniture,” came my retort.
“I paid for all the shopping, and paid your bills you tight c*nt” Jen made her point and slammed her fist against the inside of the front door repeatedly as she continued to scream obscenities and vile filth at me.
“Fuck you, I'm calling the pigs,” I declared. For once I would be on the right side of the law. To put an exclaimation mark on my statement, I flicked out my left foot and kicked the bottom of the guttering; it flexed and made a crunching sound against the bricks, knocking the milk bottles over and making a horrible clanging noise. Jen screeched in faked fright and began to cry very loudly, and equally as forced. I googled the local police station's number on my phone and within minutes was reporting the theft of my sofa set and the location they were being kept. I was not as polite as one could have been, and demanded my sofa's delivery. I listened enough to follow their instructions to wait at home, and I gave them my address, but surely they had it on file?
As I waited in my house, I could not bear it and went to my secret stash -- a quick spliff in the garden would calm my nerves, I thought. “Fuuuuuuuucking bitch,” I exclaimed, realising she had completely cleaned me out of my supply. Calling her, I screamed down the line that this was the final straw.
Three hours later and a patrol car turns up on the drive, with two sturdy-looking officers appearing from the car. Good, I thought, they can help me carry the sofa.
“You c*nt Snoll; you said you would send me a package.” It's true; I had promised a delivery to my prison pal during my previous short stint behind bars. Thankfully, he got the package the next day and was extremely grateful, all the while shaking his head at how quickly I had returned. What was shocking to me was that I managed to beat the post back to prison. A suspended sentence and a silly kick, done in anger, had put me back inside. Not to mention, teamed with Jen placing a call in with the police and reporting my “drunken threats of murder” and criminal damage. It looked like she really wanted that sofa.
For the next few weeks I will be looking at my time in prison, and some of the guys I met while I frequented HMP.
Jamie Snoll is a pseudonym for a drug-dealer born and bred in Essex, who offers up a view from the different side of the law to our Friday columnist Matt Delito. Check back this Friday for Matt’s next episode.