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Howay The Lads

Over the past few days I've watched a couple of documentaries that show me a world I do not understand and have never understood. The first was a programme about drugs with a bunhc of 19/20 year old urban partygoers who all took drugs like Ketamine and MKat (which I believe is what the call meow meow) and something else called GHB. The second was an episode of a fairly ludicrous 'documentary' about kids of the same age going to the Balearic's or similar destinations called 'Sun Sea Sex and Suspicious Parents'. 

I just don't get the worlds I'm watching. I don't recognise these people, in myself at that age, or the lives they live. I've never been to any of these rather sordid looking holiday destination, I can barely hold my drink, and I don't do drugs. I guess I must be one of the most boring people that ever lived, certainly to people like this.

That's not to say I've never tried drugs. Like most people I've 'inhaled' on multiple occasions, but Cannabis has always made me feel pretty sick. Maybe I didn't get the good shit? I tried speed once, but didn't really feel anything, and have no real compulsion to try anything else. I wouldn't know where to go to get some drugs and I'd much rather spend the money on other things. I'm not in favour of prohibition even remotely, but I don't condone the use of any drug. I don't trust my mind to stay in one piece. But that's just me. I just don't see the point of taking this stuff; I'd rather remain in control of my faculties and enjoy myself that way. 

Similarly I've never really enjoyed alcohol. I'm not teetotal, although I can't remember the last time I drank anything alcoholic. I just don't need or even want it, and, as far as drugs go, it's a pretty pathetic excuse. There are much better things for people to take, but it's become the social lubricant that people rely on. Perhaps if I spent more time in pubs I'd feel differently, but I don't go pubbing nor clubbing. The pubs near me (which I couldn't afford) are insular sad places full of old boys who I'm sure drink and drive (I can't imagine people of that generation ordering a lemonade instead of a hearty point of grog on their way home from work). Clubs always seem to be places full of people I don't understand; image conscious judgemental tribal and intimidating. The few times I've ever been to a nightclub i have felt violently out of place. I don't adorn myself with faux tribal tattoos and I don't chisel my abs daily. 

When I see these kids in places like Magaluf or Aya Nappa necking insane cocktails and being forcefed everything from Sambuca through a pipe in a dentist's chair to inhaling gaseous alcohol I wince. That would kill me! Of course these kids would say 'they just want to have a good time' or 'you're only young once' (though I draw the line at drinking my own sick), which is conceptually fine, but when did all this become the norm? Why is this the accepted way to have a good time? Is our society now so far gone that people need to get so violently wrecked, so utterly drunk or stoned, even to the very real potential detriment of their health in order to feel alive? I'm not trying to be judgemental here; everyone wants to have a good time and life just gets harder on a daily basis it seems, but I look at these holiday destinations and it just looks like some grubby British seaside resort with a spray tan. The streets are coated with sick and the scenery is nothing but a row of charmless cheap holiday apartments, bars, fried food/gutbuster breakfast establishments and places to stock up on insane amounts of booze. The native culture seems to have given way to the English customer and his euros. Isn't that a bit sad? Lovely Mediterranean islands paved over by the British drinking establishment so blokes can feel up young women who themselves seem to end up lying in a gutter with their tits out.

It's a world I don't recognise. I'm not even sure it's a world I want to live in. I've never ever felt comfortable in that kind of 'howay the lads' social unit. But that's what these kids, particularly the boys, are defined by. Each of these lads looks a carbon copy of the other and, with the help of the programme maker's narrative, they are assigned a role in the group: the joker, the babyface, the mother, the virgin (who will get teased mercilessly for being a virgin in these places - probably not what he signed up for), the pro, the cool kid, and so forth. It's like they are positions in an RAF squadron, soldiers in Afghanistan, or football players in a team. So much for individuality. 

They are all toned and honed in a way I never was (and still aren't!), all preened and proper. When I was that age the last thing on my mind was buying expensive brands of aftershave and deodorant, or going to the gym and working out. That seems to have become popular with later generations; I don't even live near a gym. But nowadays it's all about qualifying for the master race it seems - not being a young person examining the world and finding about it. Instead of learning about life and the world in a more traditional sense - it's preening, getting preloaded, taking party drugs, seeing the world through the lens of some grotty britishcentric party destination and following some prescribed path of social evolution. Even the phenomenon of the gap year passed me by. I dont' recall it being something that anyone I knew did, nor was it ever discussed. I think the only thing was the Camp America stuff, and a couple of kids may have done that - working in summer camps in the US (and other countries I'm sure). 

Even back then I never had the money for such things - I still dont' even own a passport. Whereas nowadays these kids are all armed to the teeth with modern accouterments. They get smartphones and computers as a matter of course from their parents as birthday or Christmas presents. That's fair enough I suppose, although I question why young kids need the full reign of smartphone technology per se, but that's not my decision to make. These kids are all loaded and are all seasoned travellers as their parents are of the generation that could afford and avail themselves of the boom in cheap travel and less restricted world travel. The world wasn't that small when I was their age. 

It's just such a change from my generation to the present that I don't recognise the world these kids live in, yet I have to compete with them for work. These kids will have their gap year doing all sorts of amazing and outrageous things that I don't have the chance to. Again, fair enough - that's the way the world is now. But that will become the norm; that's the standard used for judging my application for jobs (never mind health issues) alongside these young dynamic upstarts. How can I compete with that? I'm not a lad, nor a bloke (except genetically of course!), I don't really enjoy football, I don't particularly want to drink alcohol nor take drugs. I dont' see any room in this society for me? It's just a society I simply don't recognise. Everyone seems to speak through the prism of football parlance. Everyone has to compete, and if you can't handle your ale you're a LIGHTWEIGHT!!!! Oy Oy!

I'm not pissing and moaning (well not too much). I just find myself surrounded by a massive cultural change I don't understand and am not comfortable with. I have a football pitch near enough that I can hear them scream (and I mean scream) and swear (including racist abuse ffs) whenever there's a match. It gets ridiculous: as if 11 men are going to benefit from a crowd of armchair pundits shouting 12 different sets of directions at them. Why does football attract this level of 'passion'? Why have people, especially blokes, got to be so leery? What has made us this way?

Comments

  1. Have you ever considered the possibility that the rest of the world is normal and its you who are an introverted, bitter person squandering the precious resource of life hating the world around him?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The rest of the world? Hardly.

      This culture represents a tiny portion of the whole. It may or may not even by in a minority within this country, which these holiday destinations seem solely aimed at given how they appear (english bars, english breakfasts, english booze, english kebab houses, etc).

      This isn't about hate.

      Are you normalising the kind of drinking that these places seem to be about? Is that healthy? Is that what constitutes this precious resource of life?

      Aside from sex that's all these holidays are about: hedonistic abandon taken to extraordinary levels. We all enjoy a good time, but in the process these places seem to promote attitudes and behaviours that I don't think really are healthy: peer pressure toward treating women as sex objects ("get yer tits out!" or "be a nappa slappa!") and ridiculing anyone foolish enough to reveal their status as a virgin.

      Is that all you can think of to comrpise having a good time and living the precious resource you call life?

      Delete
  2. You're not the only one who thinks this about the culture presented to us as 'our' culture by mainstream media. Sure a lot of people fit into it, quite a few don't, and a lot probably waste themselves trying.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. these sorts of places are superficial and intrinsically judgemental. Sure everyone likes to have a good time and get laid, but it's not based on anything but image and looks. So we get young blokes trying to get the body of adonis and likewise girls pandering to probably malecentric notions of beauty. The blokes then try and pull, but there's nothing beyond (if they are lucky) a one night stand that, in the morning, will probably be nothing more than "wow he/she wasn't all that" because there's nothing more than the physical aspect. That's the best case scenario; it could mean pregnancy or an STI, though I have no idea how common an outcome that is for a 'sun, sea and sex' holiday (club 18-30 as it was back in the day).
      So for me, as someone that isn't a chiselled greek god and who never aspired to be, i'm instantly marginalised. I don't even like taking my t shirt off in the summer!
      I'm not knocking these people per se at all, I'm just commenting on how much of a cultural divide there is. I just don't recognise that world, it wasn't one that was part my youth at all - and at the time I didn't miss it.

      Delete
  3. But this blog by the writings here and on he Guardian website seems to hate and resent so much of the world around them whilst living in their own little bubble of misery for which no responsibility is taken.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, the magic R word. I don't know what this is really meant to mean but I suspect that when people crticise others in this fashion they are, ironically, being critical of themselves. They see their own weakness and rail against that. That you use a term as exaggerated as 'resent so much of the world around them' shows me that you aren't really reading what I say and more responding to a projection of yourself, accurate or not.
      Now I'm not having a pop at you, but you've posted something that's pretty crazy hyperbole. I post 99% of what I write on the GUardian in respect to one issue: welfare. This is something that is under unprecedented assault so yes I'm hugely negative - but of the government and the system it espouses. However that's just a part of it. I post from a perspective of wanting a better society. We could be living in a much better world so easily if only the will was there. Sadly there are many who would rather buy into the right wing neoliberal sham and continue dividing people. End result more kids will want to spend their free time getting out of it on alcohol or drugs.

      TLDR I post because I give a damn.

      Delete
  4. I'm like you mostly - I've never understood the appeal of "clubbing", taking drugs, or getting hammered out of my skull. The latter especially, ever since the one time I did drink too much and was ill all the next day - an experience I have no intention of repeating! I have seen plenty of leery blokes (and women), and I realy cannot understand the appeal of getting drunk and aggressive with a group of "mates", especially when you see the trouble that can result.

    No, you are not "abnormal" - you are you, and I am me, and we all have a right to do what we want and not be expected to conform to some sociatally imposed vision of how to behave.

    Like you, I often despair at the sheer stupidity, banality and incompetence of so many people and the systems and organisations that influence us all; unlike you I don't really have the writing skills or werewithal to write a blog, so I read yours instead. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never really had a taste for alcohol. I don't consider myself teetotal, but i simply don't drink. Same with drugs. In fact I'm pro legalisation: legalise, tax, regulate, educate. That's the only sane answer IMO. Religiously inspired prhobition is tantamount to criminal collusion.
      Anway it's not a judgement thing, but it seems to be taken that way. I just don't do these things. Marijuana always makes me feel nauseaus when I smell it and i've only ever thrown up when i've tried it. I've enjoyed getting midly drunk a few times, when I was younger, but I simply don't bother with it. The money is much better spent elsewhere. Maybe i'd feel differently if i had more money, but lack of money teaches you thrift and that is something you never forget - and that's no bad thing!

      Delete

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