THE SUBSTANCE

4639f10cf6d22f795ac20caa63594174As I watched a guy snort coke off a nightclub table top last week, I thought… well, I didn’t actually think anything to be honest. But that in itself made me realise that it just (rightly or wrongly) isn’t something that shocks or surprises me anymore.

I’m not sure whether it’s because I’m a Londoner or not, but drugs seem to have been a staple on the party scene since I first stepped off the tube and into the bright lights of Piccadilly.

During sixth form, Nu-Rave was at its peak. And it wasn’t just the 80s clothing that people were replicating, but the whole rave culture. If you’re not sure what I mean by this, 2005 – 2007 (for people of a certain age) pretty much consisted of pill-popping, endless bottles of Evian and a whole load of shit music that you wouldn’t dream of dancing to sober.

Then came university where, cliche or not, weed was pretty popular in halls and student houses. I’m sure you can picture the scene: a host of sweaty post-pubescents, surrounded by piles of pizza boxes behind a green haze. Then came graduation, and with that came jobs, money and easier access to the stronger stuff. Having never entered the heels and suit-jacket type of workplace myself, my knowledge is minimal, but I’ve heard countless stories of coke in the staffroom, sharing grams with the boss and week-long benders that started out innocently as a client lunch. Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that Class As are used in places outside of the banking district, but I think you can see why I’m using this as an example.

Sounds like fun, right?

It probably is, until the time comes for our generation to feel the effects of this hapless drug use on our bodies.

We look at pill heads from the eighties, now in their 40s and 50s, and you can see it. The hours of partying etched into their deep seated wrinkles, some still clinging onto shaved barnets with ink scrawled across their bodies with the 6am musings of a barely-conscious paralytic. And we’ll be no different. I know some really quite successful people who use on a daily basis, there are tons who dabble each weekend and very few who have never tried some sort of substance. The scary part about recreational drug use is that with all the new types available on the market, we just can’t be sure what the effects will be and what sort of long-term damage we might be faced with; we just have to sit tight and wait.

A good few of my friends, however, are already feeling the effects, with a slow demise into depression, anxiety and addiction and most of them are under 30. I’ve watched people I know go from being the life and soul to quivering wrecks, unable to even go to the shop for a pint of milk; these are intelligent, good looking people who are now shadows of their former selves. There are also people I know who have turned to it in times of desperation, as a way of blocking out reality and existing in what they deem to be ‘a place of peace’. You might think I’m exaggerating, and so be it. Maybe in twenty years from now, you’ll look around you and realise that those people you partied a little too hard with are now looking somewhat dishevelled. And then you might look in the mirror and realise that you’re one of them.

This post isn’t here to judge or point fingers and lots of people who dabble end up having only great memories to show for it, but my intention is to hopefully make you think about maybe giving your body a rest- for at least 1 weekend out of 52. It’s already trying to cope with the alcohol running through your veins, let alone the crap that you’re shoving up your nose as well.

A night out V your future? I’ll leave it to you to decide what’s more important.

To me, it’s obvious.

Have a good week.

The North

Noel GallagherI’m a proper southerner.

I question the sanity of anyone who lives past Highgate and opted out of cheap beer for a university in Devon, but somewhere between my love of Ted Hughes and a burning desire to have written Wuthering Heights, I have ended up with a Yorkshireman.

Here in the south, we are still perplexed with prejudices about northern men. We mock them for being those “Brit-abroad” types: sunburnt in the Costa Del Sol, sipping on a Pina Colada in an England shirt – sounds a bit like my recent trip to Italy with a bunch of them actually – (I jest) – but I’m pretty sure that it’s not just the northern contingent who partake in such delights. So do the men of Essex, Plymouth and dare I say it… Chelsea. But for all their boisterous ways, they make up for it by being the most chivalrous, well mannered and caring of the male variety. They have a naturally warm nature and are fiercely loyal. They will pull your chair out for you, they know what a proper ‘brew’ looks like, and after five minutes you feel like you’ve known them for more like five years. They are, for the most part, quick witted and humorous, but they don’t mince their words and they’ll soon dig you out for wearing too much fake tan. But because they elongate their vowels, they somehow get away with it. Being called ‘our lass’, however, is something I don’t think I’ll ever get my head around.

But it’s not just the northern men that I’m here to praise. You know when you meet girls in the bathroom on a night out and you form an unbreakable bond for the next six hours, sharing tampons and lip gloss and tales of torment from the smoking area? The women of the north are like that, but all the time. There’s no time too short for a quick chat or a glass of vino and you’ll be hard pressed to find better company on a night out. But God forbid you sit in their chair or push in front of them in a queue – there’s no stiff upper lip action from these women – prepare to be told.

Not only are the people top dollar but the north comes with all the trimmings, and I’m not talking Yorkshire Puddings. Northerners are matter of fact, they don’t pretend that pastry isn’t the best thing ever invented and they don’t deny that, sometimes, a triple vodka just isn’t enough. They don’t cheat you out of £7.60 for a single gin and tonic and beer will never cost more than a fiver. But it’s not all cheap booze and laid back attitudes. The north is home to some of the UK’s biggest and best creatives in both the literary and music scenes; the Yorkshire Moors are (albeit terrifying in the middle of the night when you come across a dogging site and a lone hitch-hiker) one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been; Whitby is the birth place of none other than friggin’ Dracula and Hull… is, well, shit. But we all have our flaws.

It IS far colder in the winter, there was that whole Northern Rock debacle back in 2008 and Paddy McGuinness isn’t exactly my favourite person in the world, but it’s hard to explain: the north feeds my addiction to nostalgia and is comforting in a way that the south will never be, a bit like beans on toast or ITV. 

But for all the fish and chips, industrial towns and Rovers Returns in the world, am I ready to leave the big city after 25 years?

Haway man.