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Gavin Haynes Sleepless Nights

Getting to Grips with the Tulisa Cocaine Sting

Another drugs nightmare designed by the Sun.

This weekend, the world was introduced to a hot new bit of youth lingo. You probably don't know this, but in London's gangland underworld, all the cool drug guys are going around calling drugs "sweets". As in: "Alright mate, have you got any sweets?" and "Yeah mate, I've got loads of sweets." "White sweets," we were told by the Sun On Sunday's "Tulisa in Coke Shocker!" splash, refer to cocaine, while "green sweets" are what you say to avoid suspicion when you want "cannabis", a popular street drug with relaxant properties. "Brown sweets", we were simply left to infer, are what you ask for if you want heroin. "Blue sweets" ar probably for Viagra. And "Yellow sweets", of course, refer to Lockets Eucalyptus And Honey Lozenges. This is the canny code created by youth icon Tulisa, she of N-Dubz and X Factor fame. Tulisa had been set-up by a couple of nice folk from the Sun, who took her to super-posh restaurant Nobu, and explained to her that all they really wanted was some cocaine. They were gagging for it, totally, but the problem was, well, they just had no idea at all where to get any, short of standing in the street and just shouting for it. So they decided on a simple-yet-impossibly-complex plan of action: 'Why don’t we ask a popular celebrity where we can get some?' As you do. I can’t tell you the number of Friday nights I’ve sat in chilly Plaistow houseshares, wondering aloud who is going to get the gak in, only for someone to pipe up: “Anyone got Tulisa’s number?” There’s often a moment’s pause at this point, while we all scan our contacts lists, before a more solemn pause, when we all realise that, no, none of us does. Tulisa’s number is a closely-guarded media secret. It is only known to Cowell, Clifford and Sun journalists trying to sting her. And so cocaine will forever be outside of our grasp.


Nowhere in the Sun’s report do they refer to the exact means by which she was caught, but the byline says it all: Mazher Mahmood. Fleet Street’s legendary "Fake Sheikh", who has been running around pretending to be an Arab prince for donkey’s years, in the process snaring everyone from Fergie (“I can get you access to Prince Andrew – at a price”), to Kate Middleton’s uncle (A crushingly familiar refrain of “Yeah sure, I can get you some cocaine and some hookers”). Tulisa’s downfall was inevitable because she disobeyed the first golden rule of being a celebrity: if a man pretending to be a sheikh with a Brummie accent comes along and asks you whether you’d like something that’s just way too good to be true, walk away. For Mahmood, this seems to have been a fairly uneventful sting. In fact the copy he’s turned in smacks slightly of a journalist padding it out to enough words for the requisite two-page splash. He’s put in lots of the slightly-repetitive sweets dialogue – though perhaps that’s also a rare key to the sense of humour of a man who has carefully guarded his own privacy even as he’s inserted himself right up the aorta of other people’s. It’s pretty amusing stuff: "Wearing a figure-hugging black dress, the multi-millionaire casually scrolled through numbers on her mobile phone and explained how she uses a secret code to order drugs from a dealer. "She said: “We talk in lingo… I can’t call him and go, ‘Have you got any?’ I’ll say, ‘Hi, have you got any sweets? And he’ll be like, ‘Um, how many sweets do you want?'" Nothing suspicious there. After all, The Old Bill well know that part of being young is having a sweet tooth. It’s a rite of passage for each generation: sitting around Stockwell houseshares wondering aloud whether anyone’s got a number for Nestle. “And I’ll say, ‘Oh just a nice bag of sweets.’ And he goes, ‘How big a bag?’ I’ll say maybe like ‘Four sweets’ — and I’m referring to what he knows is what. Like we have a whole lingo... it’s all codes.”


Americans talk about Molly when they mean MDMA. As in: “Have you seen Molly?” “Do you know where I can find my friend Molly?” “I really want to snort a half-gram of Molly, do you know where I can buy illegal drugs?” Compared to Tulisa's "secret codes", this idiotic subterfuge seems like subtletly itself.

Mahmood then ran off to score a whopping half-ounce from Tulisa’s dealer-pal. A bloke and sometime rapper called Mike GLC. Unfortunately, Mike doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Goldie Lookin Chain. Nor does he seem to be particularly bothered by the firestorm presently engulfing him. Bar an RT of someone else’s sympathetic comments, he has remained mute on the subject, instead choosing to pass the hours of the maximum amount of fame he will ever have by narking on tediously about football, posting a link to a comic and giving a timely re-up to some of his rap videos. He shuns the limelight, Mike GLC. He’s a beacon to rappers everywhere about what dignity there may be in not endlessly bragging on about your coke-dealing ways. The Sun refers to Tulisa’s biography, Tulisa Honest, in which the singer mentions the fact that she doesn’t take drugs any more. And indeed, she politely declines Mahmood's invitation to gobble white sweets with Mahmood – a man who must’ve seen more cocaine in his time than Pablo Escobar, yet somehow has never, ever inhaled. Ironically, that makes it more difficult to plot a way back to the ITV mainstream for her. Perhaps they can still put her in the Rehab Position – a la Moss when she was stung. Two months in The Priory smoking fags and talking childhood. Recovering from her addiction to… err… giving people dealers’ phone numbers? Sadly, the little piece of pageantry via which she could easily be welcomed back into the red-tops’ embrace is unobtainable. The road is unclear, and it’s going to make it a semantic nightmare for The People to run a "my drugs hell" exlusive interview splash next week. If you haven’t actually done drugs, it’s much harder to put yourself in the passive voice: "what they did to me", "what they put me through", etc. For their part, the Sun On Sunday – though with Mahmood and big stings back onboard it’s basically News Of The World Part II – is dobbing her in. They close by saying that “Our dossier on Tulisa and her drug contacts has been handed to the Metropolitan Police.” No mention on what became of that half-ounce of white-sweets, though. Presumably because they’re keeping all of that delicious gak back for the Sun Christmas Party. As much as you’d like to hack into the mainframe: wear a wire and a dishdasha and expose their editorial team, the problem with that would be that, post-Leveson, there would be no public interest defence for stinging Sun journalists. The public interest with Tulisa comes from her marketing of herself as a positive, drug-free, yet slightly-urban icon to tots and teens. The hypocrisy is what’s at stake. With the Sun, it’d just be saying that a bunch of professional hypocrites are hypocritical. Any judge in his right mind would turn around and go: “Yeah, we know. Appeal denied.”

Follow Gavin on Twitter: @hurtgavinhaynes

Previously – Have the Chinese Replaced Americans As the Worst Tourists in the World?