This morning I was saddened to read a text from a friend of mine at 2am ‘Howard Marks has died!’
Of course, My friend had messaged me this because I’m a cannabis writer and thus would need to know for tomorrow’s news run.
There was also another reason it was important to me, however. His book: ‘Mr Nice’ - an autobiography of a convicted drug smuggler and Oxford physics graduate, was a large part of my reading as a young adult.
I first read Mr Nice when I was 17. At this point in my life, I hadn’t started smoking yet, but I would read the book once a year over the next few years. Not least because I had lent the book to my younger brother and thus the book remained at the side of the toilet, next to our bedrooms that we had used growing up.
When headed back for family gatherings over the holidays, I would shut myself away in that claustrophobic toilet cubicle and re-read the book, every year.
What makes Mr Nice such a fantastic book? Well, for a start, it covers the evolution of cannabis from the free and easy sixties, through the start of the drug war in earnest in the eighties, to the culmination of cannabis culture today.
More so however, it truly captures the feeling of nostalgia for a time that you were never there to witness in the first place.
For those of you who have never read Mr Nice, go and get yourself a copy right now. It will enlighten you in regards to the interconnectivity of the IRA and hashish smuggling in the 70s. It covers the unfathomable rise of a boy who grew up in a mining town, speaking Welsh for the first five years of his life; to being the lynch pin figure in cannabis culture across the world.
For those of you that have read Mr Nice, you probably don’t need to be told why to read it again.
I know i'll be reading it again tonight. A fresh copy though, not the one that has been sitting in my brother's bathroom for years.
Rest in peace Howard.
P.S If you're too lazy to read a book you can finish in one sitting, then you can also watch the impressive film adaptation.