Saturday, 17 May 2014

Count me out

When it comes to wild partying, I was always old before my time. I never quite saw the attraction, even as a rebellious teenager who was pretty wild in other ways.

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


  1. Hello Nick,
    We can well see that, contrary to what most of the party participants may have thought, they were not really rebelling at all. Merely they were following another kind of uniform pattern. Indeed, we often lament how difficult it is today to find real individuals who swim in the opposite direction from all the other shoals of fish in the sea.

    What depresses us even more these days is to find that the majority of young people have no cause at all that they wish to rebel against. It seems as if they really cannot be bothered to get steam up about anything at all. That we find to be deeply sad.

  2. Hey Nick,
    We weren't big partiers either. We did drink a bit in college, maybe even heavily at times, but we were not into the drug scene at all. And like you, we were skeptics and questioning of authority in may other ways instead. It makes us happy that our sons are not in the drug scene, and that they also take firm stands on issues that matter to them.

    (When did we switch to plural on your blog? It's exhausting.)

  3. Jane and Lance: You're right about the absence of seriously dissenting individuals. So many people nowadays don't dare to question the party line or their employer's line.

    I don't really know about young people. Some of them seem to be very concerned about climate change and animal welfare and what-have-you. But there's certainly nothing like the militancy of the sixties and seventies.

  4. Agent: Yes, I can imagine the drugs and party scene wasn't for you. I'm glad your sons also take a firm stand on things and don't just let everything wash over them.

    As for the "we", I think Jane and Lance genuinely speak as one on many issues!

  5. I used to think that wild partying was for those with nothing interesting in their lives.
    Still do.

    Echoing the Hattattians in their worry about the lack of dissent in the young...even climate change seems to be a majority opinion...

    I expect they go to wild parties instead. It dulls any pangs of conscience one might otherwise have...

  6. I was never into too much noise and not much into drugs either, tried a few, didn't like, went back to booze, I was the folksinger at most parties:)

    As to the comments about the young. Look what they've inherited, a trashed world! I find them totally engaged, looking at alternative lifestyles and certainly not supportive AT ALL of the oligarchy we've allowed in our time.

    I'd say: talk to them! And yeah, listen.


  7. Helen: I'm sure some people genuinely enjoy partying for the experience, not necessarily because there's nothing interesting in their lives!(says he generously)

    www: Good to know you've met plenty of very engaged and politically concerned young people. And yes indeed, what a degraded world they've inherited.

  8. Helen: I'm having a lot of trouble with Wordpress blogs at the moment. When I try to post a comment on your blog, Wordpress tells me "You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down." Whatever that means.

  9. Eee lad, I bet thee were a reet party-pooper in them days!

    I agree with you, I cannot understand what people see in wild partying, especially paying the price next morning; shouting for "Hughie" down the toilet, headache, mouth like and open sewer, empty wallet, and the lectures, "I told you this would happen!" etc.

    Being a Wordpress user I find that I cannot comment on the newer Blogger templates, like "Awesome", but I can comment on the old style templates like yours

  10. There is a problem on Wordpress from time to time...goodness only knows why.
    There is a dead silence from the outside world and then one day a whole load pop up from nowhere...
    Sorry it has hit you.

  11. I'm not a party person. I went to a reasonable amount when I was in college, and it was good experience. There was drinking, of course, but they were more sophisticated than rowdy, and it was before drugs became popular. I mostly avoid them now because I get bored. I'd much rather play with my toys, get immersed in projects.

  12. Keith: I've been hungover about three times in my entire life, and that was quite enough for me. It was totally hellish. How people can endure regular hangovers baffles me.

    One reason I've stuck to the old Blogger template is precisely because of the major glitches a change might cause. Anyway, I like this template!

  13. Helen: I just had another try and I think my comment may have got past the ruthless Border Control procedures and be awaiting moderation.

    Jean: It sounds like you have much more fun with your projects than you could ever have at a party, wild or otherwise.

  14. Anything done to the excess will result in problems. I partied quite a bit throughout my teen age years, when I was already working and my working years and it has not caused any problems for me because it was not all partying but the regular partying life style.

  15. I was never into the drug scene, though most people I knew in college smoked pot. I will admit that I like alcohol.

    I've had a lot of problems commenting on Wordpress blogs for a month. Usually, my comments went to their spam folders, but some comments disappeared completely.

  16. Ramana: It looks like your parties were fairly restrained affairs and not the sort of sheer reckless abandon that you find at so many parties nowadays.

    Bijoux: I imagine that for every person who genuinely enjoys leisure drugs in moderation, there is another who only does it to be cool and/or wrecks their health by over-consuming.

  17. In my last year of college I went to bed at 10:00 pm. I turned the TV on "fuzz" to drown out the youngsters. Boring.

  18. Susie: Goodness, how very sedate and respectable you were! Another old head on young shoulders?

  19. I wanted to get married. Dumb. Divorced three years later.

  20. Susie: I'm sorry to hear that. You must have been very smitten with the guy in question!

  21. The best thing about those days were not the parties but the freedom to argue, debate, disagree. I grew up when towing the line was the thing and only later on did I feel I had the right to ‘rebel’.

  22. Friko: Absolutely. I was also brought up in a very conventional household, and the free-thinking culture of the late sixties was a real breath of fresh air.

  23. I'm with you, Nick. The one in the corner wondering how soon she can go home. And have you noticed that drunks find the strangest things hilariously funny?

  24. Liz: "The one in the corner wondering how soon she can go home" I can certainly identify with that feeling! And yes, the drunk sense of humour is a wonder to behold.