“All the Interesting People Go To Hell…”

July 20, 2013 at 12:36 am

Yesterday I turned 28 and, inwardly at least, it provoked a little period of reflection. I don’t think this reflection was as a result of my age, or even of just getting a bit older, I think it was probably caused by the realisation that another year has passed. Another rung on the ladder has been climbed, slowly heading to the top.

A ladder is actually a pretty poor analogy for life though. If you’re climbing an actual ladder, and you decide after climbing 22 rungs that you don’t really like this ladder you can’t just hop on over to another one. You either keep climbing the one you’re on or you climb back down. In life, unless you’re Benjamin Button, you can’t really go back down. You also can’t get a new life either, though the way in which technology and science is progressing I wouldn’t rule this out before my current life is out.

If that does happen, I think I’ll choose to be some kind of Astronaut. Space is intriguing, seemingly infinite possibilities. But back to the ladder of life, you can’t climb back down or hop on to a completely new one. The reason a ladder is a bad analogy is because at any point in life you can re-invent yourself or change direction. You don’t have to keep going up and up and up, sometimes you stop climbing for just a second and think:

What if I were to actually look up, could I see where I’m going?”

The answer is no. You can’t successfully predict the future, but you can see where you think you’re going. If you’re on a ladder, you can’t really bend or contort it one way or the other unless you possess Uri Geller-style spoon bending abilities. Also, you can’t really re-invent your ladder either. You can’t suddenly make your red ladder turn blue. But in life you can re-invent yourself, if you’re working in a dull, monotonous, dead-end job you can quit or get trained in a new field or something.

That was a bit of a digression within a digression there, so back to reflection. I don’t think I’ve had to re-invent myself just yet, I think I’ve got to where I am today through a series of evolutions (try evolving a ladder!). I don’t mean that I’ve developed super-sensitive hearing or x-ray vision, though I could have a long debate with myself about which would be most fun, I mean that while 28 year old me is hugely different to 18 year old me that’s not down to a few one-off events, it’s more down to lots of tiny little ones.

You may think it’s obvious that I’d be different 10 years on, but I’m not so sure about that. I’ve lost contact with a couple of groups of friends that I had because I could see that whilst I was changing, they were not. At 20 I completely cut all ties with my school friends, some of whom I’d known all of my life, others since I was 11.

My closest friends used to go to clubs like Cream, Godskitchen and Gatecrasher (as did I) from the age of 16. From the outset I could see there was a difference between me and them. I went for the music, I was fascinated by it and was enthralled by it. They started that way too, but the allure of drugs was too much for them to resist. I didn’t get involved with all of that, I didn’t need or want it. I was already having great times as it was. It began with Ecstasy and weed, progressed through to Cocaine and Ketamin and pretty much anything they could get their hands on (mercifully not Heroin or Crack).

I could see all this happening and still took no part in it, the problem with drugs though is that even the lightest of users eventually become associated with batsh*t crazy addicts and/or some absolute filth. You’ll hear horrific tales of people hallucinating on Acid, thinking the world is out to kill them, leaping out of windows thinking they can fly. You’ll rub shoulders with bad influences, some just out to get as high as possible, others out to financially exploit them.

And so it was that I travelled across the country for a mate’s 21st to see Armand van Helden play at some club (he was awesome by the way). But it was a life-changing weekend for me, nothing drastic happened. My mates all took their drugs, got high, had fun and lived to get f*cked another weekend. It was what happened before we went out that changed everything. We were in his house, a three-story, terraced, inner city student house. There must have been 15-20 people in the house, spread out on all three floors getting ready for the night. On every floor the talk was of one thing: Drugs. Who was ordering what? When was the dealer getting here? Can he be trusted? How much do they cost? What time shall we take this? What time shall we take that? I tried talking of other things but it always came back to that.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so out of place in my entire life, and these were my friends. I think maybe I could have tolerated it if it weren’t for the following patronising sentence being repeated to me endlessly:

I’ve got big respect for you, not needing the drugs and sticking to your principles.”

So I cut contact, and I think it may well have been eight or nine years now. I still have them on Facebook but I never interact with them, and every now and then I have a look at what’s going on in their lives hoping they might have changed. Not yet.

So after that I found myself getting more involved with a different group of friends, these were heavy drinkers. I’d actually started drinking in pubs and clubs at about 15, not binge drinking, just socially. But from 19 through to 22 I was a full-on binge drinker. It was fun at first, though looking back I can’t ever put my finger on why it was so fun. I actually began awakening to this when I met a very special woman who showed me that life didn’t have to be like this. Then I heard a friend repeat a quote:

I think I’d rather go to hell, that’s where all the interesting people are.”

I don’t think this was his intention at all, but I really got to thinking about that and how it could be matched up to my life. If interesting people are those that go out to pubs or clubs and get hammered with their mates every night, what kind of tales would they actually have? It seemed to me that all their reminiscing could be put into a formula:

I went to <club x> with <friend y> and <friend z> and drank <drink a> and <drink b> and the DJ played <song c> and we all went mental, then I got off with <person d> and ate <greasy takeaway food e>.

It’s so boring, you can even make a formula out of it. Why am I doing it? So I stopped. But my friends didn’t, and still haven’t. And just as my old school-friends’ lives and conversations revolved around drugs, my uni-friends’ lives revolved around alcohol. So again, I couldn’t really engage in any kind of conversation with them. Again, I have them on Facebook but I don’t interact with them either.

I may come across as harsh for cutting them out, but I don’t regret it. If I didn’t do it, I dread to imagine where I’d be now. A small part of me still cares about them deep down, but I’m not prepared to be patronised again or have to adapt myself to fit in with their lives.

Now I find myself looking to the future and wondering where I’m going to be in one, two, three, five, ten or twenty years and I honestly don’t really know. I look around at the world and often don’t like what I see, and I’m not talking about people drinking or taking drugs. There are two big things going on:

  1. The rich and the powerful are becoming richer and more powerful at the expense of the poor and the weak.
  2. Those in the middle either don’t notice, just sit and watch or fight amongst themselves.

I’m in the middle, and I definitely do notice but, aside from writing the occasional blog post or tweet here or there, am I just watching?

The answer is yes. It’s time to paint this ladder a new colour.