W Shortly afterthat we arrived at the Phuket Merlin, and it was so tacky, the rattiest hotel we’d been in. It wasn’t nearthe water at all. I came into the hotel —we had been travelling tor about lourteen hours—and out came this guy working on the lilm crew, a Thai, and he had this bucket tilled with what looked like a mound ol phosphorescent lungus glowing blue. And he said, ‘I’ve got them. I’ve got them. I’ve got all the magic mushrooms, all anyone needs.’

Just blooming blue, they were glowing blue, these incredible magic mushrooms just giving off an aura of blue. lthought, there’s no way I will take any substance from a man who smiles so much. He made me paranoid, he was so happy. It should be againstthe law, all that happiness- it was shocking. l was afraid that it I ate those mushrooms I’d never come back. That I’d end up staying on as a happy schooheacher in Thailand.

Extract lrom Swimming to ' Cambodia by Spalding Gray, published by Picador.


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The List 4— 17 May 199015