And it's real, and it's real, one more time
Commenting on US healthcare reform over at Joe's blog reminded me that I recently watched a BBC Horizon documentary called Pill Poppers, about our increasing appetite for, and dependence on, medication. They interviewed various people addicted to prescription or over-the-counter drugs, such a painkillers containing codeine. These typically don't contain enough codeine to have any effect on their analgesic power (beyond what the aspirin or ibuprofen in each tablet is already providing) but do contain enough to get you addicted.
Our government may be too scared of the power of the big pharmaceutical companies to take them on by trying to ban over-the-counter codeine, but it's perfectly happy to propose to ban mephedrone (a qat derivative, so I suppose it's like privet in a pill)(yecch). Once again, the sane advice of the chair of the Independent Committee on Drugs - the same guy who when he was the government's own advisor warned them not to recriminalise cannabis use - is ignored. Because who wants independent scientific advice when it's so much easier to listen to political appointees who are constantly lobbied by the tabloid press to fight a "War On Drugs"?
So the government takes a firm line on making legal drugs illegal, but only if they're pleasurable and not addictive. If they reduce you to a dependent mess but donlt make you feel good they;lre OK.
Hands up if you remember this song, which kept running through my head as I watched the Horizon documentary.
While Anna Wayland doesn't have Buffy Sante-Marie's amazing voice, she does the whole song in this clip:
For me, the saddest lines in the whole song are these:
But, if I die tomorrow, still one thing I've done,
I've heeded the warning that I got when I was young.
My one satisfaction, it comes when I think
That I'm livin' my life without bendin' to drink.
Not just sad in themselves, but a perfect analogy for our government's missing the point and warning against all the wrong things through ignorance.
Someone once wrote in to Broadside magazine to say that when he'd first heard the song he'd thought the refrain was "It's real", while the published lyrics (following on from the line "I'll reel and I'll fall and I'll rise on codine") gave it as "It's reel", which he felt was a far less powerful image. Buffy Sainte-Marie said that in fact she'd had both meanings in mind, in a kind of poetic pun, so that it would be more accurate to think of the refrain as "And it's reel/real, and it's reel/real, one more time". So now you know.