Friday, 25 January 2008

RIP Excess

I miss the good old days. Not that I was alive to experience them, but I hear they were pretty good: Free love, drugs on tap, and no annoying government ministers or jumped up pastry chefs telling us how to run our lives, or care for our bodies. It appears that now you can’t even chew gum, without a government warning declaring that excessive consumption may cause diarrhoea. Whilst the innocence surrounding drugs disappeared quickly, smoking has gradually changed from a sociable habit, to a social faux pas, and is now the equivalent of waving a large banner reading: ‘Judge me! I’m a reckless fool!’ above your head. Long gone are the days when people looked up to the libertines of their era, shooting several boatloads of pure heroin into their foreskin, going onstage, insulting the crowd’s mothers, then dying halfway through an attack on the monarchy. Nowadays, a band looks out of place if they’re not wearing a crisply ironed tuxedo. Artists that check into a clinic can safely say goodbye to their career, and get ready for a lifetime of writing books titled : ‘Me and Charlie -Overcoming Addiction.’, as the only way to sustain their escalating and publically ongoing habit. People today are more concerned about their health than ever, to the extent that the front page of the widely- read Daily Racist for the last month has been about the poor victims of a virus that is, essentially, jumped up food poisoning.
So it seems that we have kissed goodbye to rock ‘n’ roll excess, a lamentable fact that will be lost on the conservative world of today. But, to the unhappy few, that long for the days where you weren’t supposed to be able to see your date through the smoke filled air of the pub, this is a real cause for mourning; black armbands and all. For it forces the person to experience reality, in all its injustice and pain. It removes the stabilizers, and takes away the mattress, meaning that when you fall, you fall hard. By clearing the smoke, it forces you to see that the shapely figure you were surveying, is marred by a hideously disfigured face. To this small band of buggered it means that finally, we have to actually feel pain, as opposed to listening about it in songs, and dreaming about it in opium-fueled stupors. I can’t say this for certain, but I’m pretty sure that you’ll find that there are more suicides per year today, then there were back in the days when cocaine was offered as an hors d’oeuvre. Simply because people nowadays are rapidly running out of ways to comfort the pain of living.
Now I’m not saying it’s a bad thing that we (most of us) have more mature attitudes to drugs, alcohol and sex, or that we have less overdoses per year, better treatment for addicts and better knowledge of the dangers of using and sharing. Of course it’s not. It would be akin to claim that it’s a pity we broke off the Holocaust. But what I am saying is that we, all of us have room for a little more excess in our lives, and time for a few more vices. Life is bloody hard to get through without some sort of support, and so, the next time you see a drunk staggering home from the pub, or see some teens having a crafty joint in the park, don’t be so quick to judge. Because a decade or two earlier, or in different situations, that could’ve just as easily been you.

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