Last week I was on a business trip to a conference in Vancouver, Canada.
I've read quite a few times that Vancouver is one of the best places in the world to live so I was looking forward to seeing what all the fuss was about.
Yeah, I can see it could be a nice city, but when we got there is was really quite dirty. I had expected it to be all perfectly clean like some Scandinavian city, however, it turned out that the people who clean the streets and empty the bins were on strike. Way to go and make your city look like dump!
It rained almost all the time we were there - my best investment all week was an umbrella.
The weirdest thing about Vancouver was the level of deprivation. I never expected that there would be so many homeless people there. Loads of bedraggled looking people wandering around collecting all the cans and plastics from the bins.
Then, on the first day I had off, we took a walk to the Vancouver Police Centennial Museum. Now the museum was great and I would recommend visiting it, but I would suggest you don't take the same route as we did.
We decided to walk there along Hastings Street. What we didn't realise was that this is one of the most deprived areas in Canada, if not North America. While walking along there, we slowly realised that there were no normal people there. Everyone looked like zombies - the living dead. They had sunken faces with sallow skin. They're mouths were rotting and most of them looked disabled in some way. It was as if some hideous mutant bomb had gone off.
They are all crystal meth addicts. Dozens or hundreds of them that have been shepherded by town planners into the most squalid disgusting area you can imagine.
Since then I've become kind of fascinated by crystal meth and started reading up on it. What is most morbidly fascinating are the before and after pics of addicts. They look like they have aged about 30 years in 18 months. You would have to be absolutely insane try this stuff - its more like a slow suicide.
I also find myself feeling slightly guilty that these people are so ill and at the same time apprehensive about the though of this drug taking root in the UK. It's already here, but in other parts of the world it has ruined communities.
I hope I never have to see somewhere like that in the UK.