When party pills first came on the market I thought I’d give them a spin. They were sort of alright but you felt like crap the next day, never actually got that high and they didn’t have a creative edge to them.
I got a job with a painting outfit called Crikey Dick on an old girls’ borstal that was being converted into Weta Digital headquarters. My boss was a serious Christian with his own branch of it and could get angry very quickly but I got on alright with him and he tolerated my Tibetan Buddhism and respected my abilities as a painter. I got to cut in all the colours of the trim on the outside after we’d all prepped it. It was a huge wooden structure and I had my own scissor-lift.
We had a party, my girlfriend and I, one Sunday afternoon up at her house in Mount Cook – a barbeque. I’d bought a 15-pack of Carlsberg and drunk the lot, did all the cooking and had a great time – I’d taken a couple of the party pills beforehand and I didn’t even feel drunk at the end of it.
Next morning when I woke up for work something was wrong – I felt like I was suddenly blind drunk. All that beer from the day before finally kicked in and I was slurring and staggering just to get out of bed. Part of my mind was still intact but my body was all over the place.
I had to go in – I was on a warning for being late too many mornings after Spines gigs. My partner got me in her car and a coffee and told me to walk upright and try not to talk to anyone. Normally I slouch and have a lot to say for myself so it must have appeared quite odd me walking on to the site like a robot that could only utter single syllables and had trouble getting into overalls.
My job that day was to paint the gables in a dark maroon colour right up at the top of the building with the scissor-lift at full stretch. I was never a great car driver but was good on those contraptions with their joystick and buttons – it was a left brain / right brain thing.
There was a group of the top brass from Weta and the various contracting heads discussing the project and I went whizzing past them beeping loudly and standing very tall and stiff at the controls and trying to appear sober. The ground was rough but I managed to get the lift in place without spilling too much paint, I put down the legs and took off skyward.
It was the greatest acting performance I’ve ever given – mind over matter. I was playing a painter at great height and had to think through every action I took and in real time. The scissor-lift makes a lot of noise when it moves and I had to keep trundling it and adjusting it to keep the flow of the maroon paint happening – the powers that be below looking up every time I beeped.
By the time I had to come down for smoko I had sobered up, could talk properly and got through to the end of the day when Crikey told me I’d done well but hoped my spine would be alright.