I come to you from the dog end of a hangover. You know the phase, the worst of it is long gone but you still never feel quite right for the rest of the day. This particular self-inflicted punishment today is the purest form of hangover because it is literally the theme of last night stretched out and casting its shadow over the entire day after. That theme being: I am feeling not a little old before my time.
As I’ve said before this isn’t something I am unaccustomed to. My general bastardry has made me seem a good deal older in the brain than my peers. My ‘maturity’ was spoken of when I was very little but only because they hadn’t worked out it was actual the result of a sick brain transplanting experiment whereby a evil scientist (probably a Nazi one for the full flavour) replaced the brain of a newborn boy in North Yorkshire with that of a muttering seventy something who spends his weekends glaring at his wife for making those irritating little noises when she eats. For every year my body gained, my mind gained about five and this is never more apparent than in such establishments as the one I was to be found in last night. Clubs. I visited my first club in the first week of university in the spirit of jumping in feet first and meeting as many new people as possible. This is despite having a perfectly serviceable club in my home town that I refused to patronise on the basis of being a little too involved with my musical tastes and what kind of person they made me. I like clubs. There are fewer things more enjoyable than a having a group of good friends dancing like epileptic people trying to shake off cramp. There will always be however, a moment or two that makes my compatriots exchange worried glances. Let me tell you, last night I was the only one who was really into This Charming Man. I blame the fact that there were two eighteen year olds with me that night but it’s not as if I was around to enjoy The Smiths at the point of their most celebrated single. I don’t feel guilty about it, it’s a brilliant song but in the eyes of those around me I must have gained a fair few pounds, bent over a good few degrees and acquired a network of wrinkles spreading out across my face like time-lapse photography. Then again it was probably the dancing.
I’m more of a talker, much more a pub person than a club person. I’m always the one who wants to leave about an hour before the notion occurs to the rest of the party. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one in a UV lit warehouse standing five deep at the bar gazing into the middle distance wondering why it is we feel the need to chuck what equates to bleach with a bit of salt (salt! Licking a lump of salt would never seem like a good idea at literally any other time. Because it’s not a good idea!) down our throats in order to feel just the right amount of confidence required to perform our anaphylactic-shock-set-to-music routine. I feel like I missed out on a set of crucial seminars on how to behave and carry yourself as a twenty something in a club. Somebody somewhere decided I should skip these classes and jump forward several hundred mental ages presumably so I could get to work as soon as possible on such epic bodies of work as this. I shudder to my very core when I see the white-shirted git, gurning away, and alcopop in hand making his looming advance from behind on a girl half his size. If I haven’t medicated myself with enough salted bleach I begin to feel embarrassed for the dancing masses because they can’t see how silly they look shuffling back and forth, arms by their sides like one of those wind-up nuns.
When I first started going out to clubs it was with a terribly pretentious attitude akin to ‘if you can’t beat them join them’. I’m ashamed to say it but the hangover of my ‘God we are so achingly cool’ early teens meant that there was still a lingering feeling that I was somehow above all this. Like I was slumming it for the night. This is bollocks of course. Nobody enjoys themselves when you start making up social hierarchies you just have to forget it all and jump in the deep end but telling people like myself to stop worrying is like telling Bob Geldof not to be a sanctimonious prat. Now I approach the battlefield that is the nightclub (who says ‘nightclub’? I’m so old!) in a different manner, like a tourist. It should be my world but it isn’t. I enjoy myself and let it all go but hope I don’t get found out, that the music won’t come to an abrupt halt, an announcement is made and I am politely asked to quickly and quietly remove myself from the club, making my way, head hanging in shame through a sea of disapproving faces muttering things like ‘old inside, he should never have been let in’ and ‘well what did he think would happen?’ and then they all presumably return to having a great time after I get turfed out.
Mind you this is a world where I have actually had to explain to people only four years younger than myself who Morecambe and Wise are. That’s not exactly a world I want to immerse myself in. I think I’ve just brought my headache back…