Musician needs money for drugs
Funny how things work out isn’t it? I never really imagined that I would resort to raising money for drugs on a public platform but strange times call for strange measures and here we are.
Of course I’m not looking to raise money for any ILLEGAL drugs. That would be foolish …and illegal.
The drugs I am seeking are completely legal, they certainly aren’t recreational and they might keep me alive a bit longer.
My name is Will Carruthers and for most of my adult life I have been a working musician. I played bass for over thirty three bands during my "career", perhaps most notably with Spacemen3, Spectrum, Spiritualized, the Brian Jonestown Massacre and Dead Skeletons. During that time I helped out with upwards of twenty albums and I played more than a few shows in more than a few countries. When I wasn’t playing bass I sustained myself as a jobbing builder. You can read about some of my adventures in the books I write.
The most recent one, “Playing the bass with three left hands” was published by Faber and Faber last year.
The great Alan Moore, (V for Vendetta, Watchemen, From Hell) had this to say about the book.
“In these front line despatches from the arse end of Satori, Will Carruthers nails perfectly the glorious shimmer and swoon rising out of the unspeakable lifestyles of alternative Rugby, and demonstrates how something bordering on the sacred can emerge from the hilariously, painfully profane. Written with a naked honesty, Playing the Bass with Three Left Hands expertly captures the sticky textures of a place, a time and a sound that will never be repeated. It is a chronicle of hepatitis and heroism that no one interested in the music of transitioning centuries can afford to miss. Buy this immediately.”
I can’t really say anything about the heroism but I certainly got the hepatitis C.
Stewart Lee ...the comedian said this:
"As well as a being a fine comic writer, Carruthers is a social historian, documenting a strange chapter of the British counter-culture, where poverty and impossible freedoms lived alongside each other"
Which means I am both funny and sticky, (but rather skint) and I have a life threatening disease. I guess I have had it for thirty years but I can’t be sure. It pecks away at my health, drains my energy and saps my strength. I know more than a few people who have died of it because I shared blood with a few of them and we all caught this disease by sharing blood through dirty needles. Yep ...I did some silly stuff when I was seventeen and if you want to know more about that go and read the book.
For many, many years I never even knew I had it. When I was first diagnosed I was told there was a cure (of sorts) available. which in some cases could be worse than the disease itself. A nine month course of injections that were punishing, toxic and a far from certain cure. About a year and a half ago I received news that there was a new cure available with high success rates and limited side effects. All you had to do was eat a pill a day for three months and the chances of a complete cure were over ninety percent. Ordinarily this would have been good news but there was one thing that stood between me, the disease, and those ninety pills. The price. Each of those little pills had a great big price tag of one thousand dollars. One. Thousand. Dollars. Per pill.
At nInety thousand dollars for the cure who could afford not to die?
It was a strange feeling to know there was an almost certain cure available that was beyond me.
Those life saving pills seemed as far out of reach as the stars in the sky.
In early 2016 After finishing writing my last book I couldn’t get out of bed. I slept and slept. Falling behind with my work, I began to consider the fact that maybe this disease had come out of remission and decided my time was up. I lay in bed and considered the cure. I considered seeing a doctor. I considered my finances. Those life saving pills seemed as far out of reach as the stars in the sky. I didn’t see a doctor. I haven’t seen a doctor in a long time. To buy private insurance in Germany with a pre-existing condition was financially impossible. Working on the building sites, I used to joke that not having health insurance was the best insurance of all because I really couldn’t afford to fall off the damn ladder. I kidded myself that was the reason I never fell off.
Magical thinking right? Luckily, I never fell off.
I realise, that as a British person I am entitled to free health care, so why not move back to Britain and get the pills from the NHS? It’s not as simple as that I’m afraid. Due to the high cost of the drug, it is not available to everyone on the NHS.
The system simply cannot afford to pay the high cost of curing the population of this disease without bankruptcy. Plus most of the people who have it are, (or were) druggies anyway and maybe it’s hard to care about them
Yep it’s one of THOSE diseases. A Guilty disease.
The people who own the license for this drug are in a slightly different position
In the first couple of years Gilead made about 28 billion profit from the drug after paying eleven billion for it from the company that originally discovered the cure. A fairly healthy profit, although perhaps at the expense of some actual people’s actual health. Maybe I am just being selfish here. I suppose everyone has got to make a living.
So, here we are again and I am literally in the position of trying to make a living as in, I mostly want to stay alive.
Considering the options
Faced with the possibility of a cure I have considered the options.
I briefly considered armed robbery …but the sound of gunfire plays havoc with my tinnitus and I have an irrational fear of getting caught and thrown in jail. There was the possibility of the Spacemen3 reunion …but then there are fates WORSE than death and it would also play havoc with my tinnitus. I considered going back to the building site and saving up a hundred quid a week. I considered all of these unrealistic options while laying in my sickening bed with a wonky liver. I considered not fucking bothering at all and hoping for a quick kill and some strong painkillers when the end arrived. I considered the death of David Bowie. “How did Mick Ronson die?” I thought. The magic of Google quickly brought me an answer to that question that I kind of wished it hadn’t.
Anyway …let’s not get too maudlin here, there is a cure after all. A modern miracle of a cure with a correspondingly miraculous price tag.
Why wouldn’t you pay a billion squillion dollars for a lifesaving drug or at least consider going out and getting it BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY if you didn’t have the cash?
Desperate people do desperate things after all, like buying shotguns, …or helicopters to carry them off to private islands guarded by robot snipers and genetically engineered attack dogs when things get weird.
Perhaps there is another way I thought …and LO …there was.
The good old charity fundraiser, which, although uncomfortable to consider, may prove to be considerably less uncomfortable than liver cancer or hanging around for a few more years while I wait for the prices of the drug to fall faster than my health.
It makes me itch to ask for money for nothing. Happily, fortune has smiled at me in another unusual way.
Cost, worth and value
I was quickly and unceremoniously evicted from my apartment in Berlin recently.
“What am I gonna do with my stuff” I thought, because really, apartments really aren’t that easy to find in Berlin now that so many artistic people have decided it is such a groovy and bohemian place to be.
“Sell the stuff you can no longer carry” I thought. Genius I thought. People get stuff and i get a cleanish bill of health. I began to think about simple economics.
Cost, worth, and value. The elusive spirit of the age. I thought about how much of my stuff I could actually carry. I thought “Maybe if I sell that old bass I have been carrying around for years I could afford to buy some pills?” The bass is quite heavy and I don’t really play it anymore. I thought “Maybe if some collector were to pay ten thousand euros for it, I could buy ….ten pills" Ten whole pills …That is over a tenth of a cure!
This seemed very hopeful. Especially the ten thousand pounds part.
“Perhaps if I convince people to buy a handmade book I could get somewhere closer” I thought.
After some brief mathematics I worked out that selling one handmade book would buy me one tenth of a pill.
“That seems fair” I thought. I only have to sell ten books to be able to buy a whole pill.
My liver twanged in anticipation …(I HOPE it was anticipation anyway).
Luckily I don’t need to raise ninety grand. (I know, big relief right?) Gilead licensed the drugs to Egypt and India late last year. I suppose not too many people over there had a spare ninety grand kicking around.
You can buy the whole course of drugs for under two grand if you get it sent through the internet chemist .
Of course I’ll still probably need a doctor to do the tests and whatnot and I could probably do with a bit of a checkup in general.
Realistically I only need to raise about four grand to get the pills, get me tested, get well and hopefully see myself through to a few more years of writing stupid books and being annoying.
I haven’t got four grand…but I have got some stuff I need to sell.
Maybe you want some of it. It would be a fair swap because I need a working liver more than I need any of the things I have left. You can donate through this fundraiser OR you can make your way over to my website and buy some of the stuff I have for sale there. I really do need to get rid of it. This is no time for sentimentality on my part and, in a way, I am quite enjoying the process of getting rid.
The bass will be the last thing to go.
Just for the record, I haven’t used a needle since 1989 and I am currently without any drug habits, (except for good old cigarettes). In case that makes a difference.
Thanks for your time and support.