Saturday, 17 May 2014
Count me out
I had a friend who would drag me along to these all-night parties in trendy Notting Hill. We would be there till the small hours, he enjoying himself immensely, me getting more and more bored and longing for my warm, cosy bed.
Everyone else would be getting sky-high on drugs or booze and raving about the latest fashionable gurus (R D Laing, Tim Leary, Abbie Hoffman, Huey Newton, Germaine Greer, Valerie Solanas). I wasn't keen on either mind-bending substances or personality cults so I felt a bit out of the loop. I would have preferred a searching one-to-one conversation to a roomful of lazy name-droppers so I was forever frustrated. I felt like a 70-year-old grandad who'd somehow stumbled into a kids' party.
Funny, because the rest of the time I was an instinctive rebel, disputing anything and everything from news values and dress codes at the local newspaper I worked for, to prejudice about gays, women, socialists and modern art, to parking restrictions and speed limits. There was virtually nothing I would happily accept, nothing I wouldn't promptly question and challenge and argue with. I drove my parents crazy with my endless scepticism and disagreement.
So you'd think wild parties would be right up my alley. But I suppose the truth is I found them distinctly unrebellious and predictable. Getting stoned? Getting drunk? Idolising a few alternative celebs? It was pretty tame stuff as far as boundary-breaking and tradition-smashing went. Hangovers never changed the world. Drugged stupors never put an end to poverty. Celebs get attention but seldom change the world either.
So if you fondly imagined I spent my teenage years in an addled stupor of non-stop partying - then think again.
R D Laing: radical psychiatrist who questioned definitions of madness
Tim Leary: psychologist and advocate of psychedelic drugs
Abbie Hoffman: one of the founders of the libertarian Yippies movement
Huey Newton: one of the founders of the Black Panthers
Germaine Greer: author of The Female Eunuch
Valerie Solanas: author of the SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men) Manifesto