Drugs: Trips down memory lane

Jon Snow was undone by a slice of flan laced with LSD, but he's not the only establishment casualty of acid

Among the subjects invited to sample MDMA ecstasy for Channel 4's Drugs Live programme this week were an acclaimed novelist and a priest. The experiment recalled the early days of LSD, when respectable members of the establishment took the psychedelic drug for the purposes of public research. And it gave one of its presenters, Jon Snow (top right), a vivid flashback.

Snow claimed, in a blog written before the programme was broadcast, that he once ingested the hallucinogenic inadvertently, aged 22 or thereabouts, by eating two slices of an LSD-laced strawberry flan at a party in Oxford. He then attempted to drive home to London, but was forced to yield the wheel to a non-tripping passenger, after he became convinced that the Mini they were in was too large to fit beneath a motorway bridge.

Earlier this month, Strictly star Bruno Tonioli revealed a similar experience when he had a drink spiked in a Munich nightclub in the 1970s: "I thought I was Roger Daltrey," he told The Sun.

And Sir Sean Connery warned an author not to take LSD because he had experienced a bad trip when he tried the drug himself, it has been claimed.

Writer Edna O'Brien revealed in a new memoir that the star advised her against the drug. She claimed that Connery told her how his trip with psychiatrist RD Laing had a "freight of terrors".

Disgraced former Tory MP Jonathan Aitken was similarly critical of the drug when he "reviewed" it for the Evening Standard in 1965. "This drug needs police, the Home Office and a dictator to stamp it out," Aitken opined. Yet the art critic Brian Sewell, recalling the period more recently in the same paper, wrote that his LSD visions had "made the paintings of Salvador Dali in his prime seem the poor, pale, pedestrian inventions of a plodding mind".

Other high-profile individuals besides The Beatles have been similarly effusive in their recollections. Cary Grant took LSD regularly during the 1950s, as part of his psychotherapy. The DNA pioneer Francis Crick was reportedly a fan of its mind-altering properties, and even allegedly "perceived" the double-helix structure of his discovery while tripping.

Crick was a devotee of novelist Aldous Huxley, who wrote of his own experimentation with hallucinogens in his stories The Doors Of Perception and Heaven and Hell. The Apple founder Steve Jobs described his LSD use – he took the drug up to 15 times during the early 1970s – as "a positive life-changing experience".

Roger Sterling, the fictional scion of the Sterling advertising dynasty in Mad Men, was also converted to the pleasures of LSD in the most recent series of the 1960s-set drama.

But Snow might be more reassured by the news that Dan Rather, the esteemed former US news anchor, has also confessed obliquely to drug use – all in the name of journalism, naturally. In a 1980 interview with Ladies' Home Journal, he said that "as a reporter – and I don't want to say that's the only context – I've tried everything. I can say to you with confidence, I know a fair amount about LSD… my curiosity has carried me into a lot of interesting areas".

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company provides global satellite communi...

Austen Lloyd: Practice / HR Manager - Somerset

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A rare and exciting opportunity for a Practice...

Ashdown Group: HR Executive

£20000 - £23000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A mainstream Secondary school in C...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade