The Two Charlies 2004


The ‘Two Charlies’ was a research and communications project for the city of Salford. It came about after a well known ‘local business man’ was sent to jail and ‘crack’ cocaine became available locally for the first time. This started to cause problems among a group who were very ‘actively’ engaged in a criminal lifestyle. Among this group the use of cocaine powder was seen as both acceptable and ‘harmless’, whilst the use of heroin was heavily stigmatized. ‘Crack’ cocaine was at first viewed in the same way as cocaine powder. The booklet is about the difference between the ‘Two Charlies’ and the stigma of heroin use.


Research was used to identify the target group and to find out what was going on. At first I tried employing a well known comedian, Mike Gunn, to try and devise a series of jokes that could be used to spread a message within this target group. Mike, who had done a stand up show about his former drug use, came down to Salford and met some of the target group. However, the message was too complex to work as a simple joke, so I had to expand it and wrap it up in a longer story that I thought would relate to the lives of the target group.


The target group said that the only place you could guarantee to reach their peers was the cells of the local police stations, as they ended up there on a regular basis. While in the cells they got so bored they would read anything. The book was originally designed to be exclusive for those arrested in Salford and who had tested positive for cocaine. It was given a high production value to make it prestigious and desirable. It was also a bit rude, so it came in a plain brown cover. The rhyme on the cover originally said.


“Pick me up and read me, go on you might as well, you’ve got fuck all else to do while you are stuck inside this cell’.


This was later changed to the following warning:


“This book contains foul and offence language throughout and features graphic depictions of: sexual acts; extreme violence; canine and equine scatology; illegal drug consumption and various other criminal acts too numerous to mention. This book is only to be read by drug misusing offenders aged over 16 years. If you think you are likely to be offended by its contents, return it unopened to the person who gave it to you.”


The book was written in rhyme and made large format so it could be read aloud to those from the target group with reading difficulties (a number of our main research contacts couldn’t read). I tested this out with a group of young offenders, who at first seemed, somewhat puzzled is an understatement, as I read from the book. However, they gradually started laughing at the mucky rhymes and crowded round to peer over my shoulder at the pictures as I read. This experiment was repeated by leaving the book with a group of young offenders and observing there behaviour. This led to one reading and the others crowding around and looking at the pictures. Like most things I did, I would have loved to have the ‘Two Charlies’ evaluated, but could never get the money to do this.


Zoe Smith and myself did the research. I wrote and illustrated it, while Astrom Chang inked up the drawings and Louise Thompson (Rees), did the typography. I later turned the Two Charlies into an animated film.


> Read online


> Crime & Punishment

The Two Charlies 2004
Out of Jail The Two Charlies Lickin Shot
Misuse of Drugs Act (Poster) Subutex The Tart, the Mermaid, the Cockfish and the Subutex
The Link Mr Mange Goes Over