It was the year 2000 and I was co-presenting The Breakfast Show on Atlantic 252 with a guy called Tony. Those in their forties might remember the longwave station and it's various cheesey straplines. Ours at the time was "Non-Stop Rhythm & Dance". Now, I'd probably change that to "a bit of a din with youths shouting in-between songs".
The idea behind the legal high thing was to test them out on behalf of our listeners. Give them a second hand experience of what it would be like, via me. And it tied in nicely with the release of Afroman's hit single that summer, 'Because I Got High'.
Commercial radio back then tended not to be too fussed about rules & regs. I was actively encouraged to make the headlines – spawning a favourite feature of ours at the time: 'Let's Get Sued'. So when the boss came to me and suggested I sampled (legal) drugs on air, it seemed the natural thing to do. What could possibly go wrong?
We ordered five enticing packets off the internet, with designs varying from psychedelic bug-eyed cartoons to leafy landscapes in calming hues. Oddly enough, there was more info about how mega I'd feel, than any hard facts about ingredients. But hey, we didn't care, it was radio, we were young and wacky, right listeners?
Day one. The stuff that looked a bit herby. Down the hatch at 5am and on with the show. 6am came and went, as did 7am, but by 8ish, I started to feel a bit odd. Nothing major. Just a bit, you know, not right. I was bracing myself for the big high to kick in but sadly that was the best/worst it got. Really, nothing to report. A bit disappointing if I'm honest.
On the second day I went for a capsule wrapped in rainbow foil. This one promised to make everything hilarious and we couldn't wait to be in stitches during the weather forecast. But another false claim. I just felt rank. I was very green around the gills that evening, but reasoned it could have been the fizzy hummus.
We didn't make it to Friday. By Wednesday, mum was on the phone begging me not to do any more drugs. She was concerned I'd do myself some long lasting harm and besides, what would they say at the golf club?
But spurred on by my ego, I powered through until Thursday. More oregano/dust was swilled down at daybreak but by lunchtime I'd called it a draw. The boss was panicking after witnessing me doubled-up (and not with laughter) during the showbiz round up.
I really did feel ropey. The only thing I can liken it to is the eleventh week of morning sickness. That utterly wearying, half-hunger-half-nauseous state which gnaws at your guts and threatens to send you sprinting back for the coil.
How could I have been so stupid? What on earth was I thinking? Cool packaging = I'll be cool. Says 'legal', so it must be safe-ish. I was so lucky to get away with a few sick days then back to broadcasting.
Parents (like me, now) will be very happy about the new UK legislation – basically, a blanket ban on all legal highs. Now I know this isn't going to prevent teenagers doing what they want to do, but it might just make them look elsewhere for their kicks. With my eldest daughter turning sixteen sooner than I would like to admit, I'd rather she did pretty much anything else than drugs.
So if you're reading this over my shoulder Molly, you hereby have my permission to drink yourself dizzy and vomit in a cab, fail (a few) exams, sleep around (a bit, but with nice boys), get dreadlocks (if you must), go vegan (ditto) but please, don't blow your life away because you got high.
End of lecture. You'll thank me one day.*