THE SUBSTANCE

Health

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 hapless drug use on their 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 CITY

Culture

42e595bc8aa84fd82e38df3d1cb4c45a“The man who can dominate a London dinner table, can dominate the world.” – Oscar Wilde

When people think of their happy place, it’s normally a vision of white sands, blue skies and Caipirinhas on tap, right? Well my happy place – even after 25 years – is right here in this big city, and I will tell you why.

By day, we only notice the grumpy faces, the brisk walks and the litter on the pavement. It’s hard to see past the endless rows of chicken shops and aggy kids on the bus on the way to work. You seem to always need an umbrella, even in springtime, and you pay a fortune for pretty much everything- not to mention your bag getting knicked from right under your nose.

On a good day, however, the city comes alive.

And although I love my shabby home town and was oh-so-territorial when every man and his dog moved here after university (only to realise that they had all moved to Clapham and then I didn’t mind as much), it isn’t all about this little place that I call home; it’s just urban life that I love. And I love it for the things it has taught me.

Paris, for example, is where I learnt that (unfortunately) racism does in fact still exist in the 21st century. I also learnt here that it was okay to wear black everyday. Barcelona was where I, as a twelve year old, discovered the art world. It was also where I learnt – the hard way – to keep my belongings close to my chest in public places. Bucharest is where I learnt how to survive a coach full of people en route to a festival (you stock up on water and more booze and hope for the best). It’s also where I realised that it’s possible to buy beer for a pound. London is where I learnt to fall in love. And New York? Well, that’s where I learnt how to live.

I was so excited on arrival – having known I belonged in the Big Apple since birth – that I spent over an hour at passport control; discussing teaching opportunities in the city and the best place for cocktails. It wasn’t until I noticed that my passport was busted that I realised he was just trying to suss me out- being Irish and a trainee teacher at the time did me a lot of favours, let me tell you.

But going from London to New York felt like flying home, rather than heading into the unknown. I padded those streets like an extra in Home Alone and pretended it was no biggie that I found myself in Brooklyn. Forget jungle exploration or bumming about on a beach, this was my Nirvana. The concrete, the smell of food, even the smell of “trash”, the greyness, the bustle, the paranoia, the anonymity. It felt so comforting and familiar, so akin to something else I’d known before: my first love, London.

They say the world is your Oyster, but I say there’s only one city where there’s an Oyster Card, and it’s right on my doorstep. So if you’re unable to travel the world, then find yourself a place smack bang in the middle of the capital. Yes, it’s expensive, but each borough, district or quarter is like flying to a foreign land and is therefore worth every single penny. With an array of delicacies, cultures and occupants, a tube ride from home can give you a completely different experience from anything you’ve seen before. And I mean that.

This Ode to My Hometown is nothing you haven’t heard spouted from the mouths of Londoners a million times before me, but in the depths of winter, when the Christmas lights have gone and summers spent in Hyde Park seem too far away to even think about, it’s very easy to forget how magical this place really is.

If you’re still not buying into it, head to Kings Cross Station, to platform 9 3/4 and see where THAT train takes you…

THE EX

Relationships

large (9)I will never be friends with any of my exes, ever again.

Not because they are monsters, in fact quite the opposite, but really- what would be the point in it?

In the past, I used to think that it was a good idea to meet for a coffee every now and then, or check in with how their mums were getting on, but as the years go by I realise that they rarely check in with me and my parents and the only reason we actually ever had an interest in each other’s lives is because we were sharing the same bed.

You’ll probably think that I’m being a bit harsh here and that all of the people who touch our lives should remain in our lives.

But here’s the thing: I get far too attached to the past.

I hold my hands up to indulging too long in nostalgic moments. Lengthy glances out of the window happen on an almost weekly basis, as I remember how good things were, as opposed to the greatness of now, so it really is no option for me but to let things go quickly (and without much thought) before it’s too late. But even if I weren’t the type to relish in reminiscing, I think I’d still adhere to the same lack of contact post-break up.

I do understand that when you date somebody in your friendship group, it becomes a little more difficult to do this. You bump into them at brunch and nights out end in discussions about what happened in a corner of the bar whilst everyone else  works out how they’ll pick up the pieces in the morning. But if you have the option to never see or speak to them again, then do it; it’s great to know that they exist, but you don’t need them in your face- sort of a bit like sharks, or Katie Hopkins.

An important thing to remember is that from the moment you break up, what they do is no reflection, whatsoever, of you – or what you had together. Even if that means that they sleep with someone two days later, which might be a little hard to swallow- frankly, it’s none of your business anymore. Just as much as it’s none of their business that you’ve just downloaded Happn whilst you wait for your ready meal to heat up.

Although it’s idealistic to assume that every break up will be amicable, particularly as they pretty much never are, just make a pact to be at the very least, respectful. Even if the remnants of your relationship seem like they are strewn across the bathroom floor, don’t plaster your new lease of life all over Facebook or shove photos of your new fling into the public forum; be discrete. After all, you did love – or even just like them – once upon a time, so there’s no need to rub salt into the wounds of what is probably an already traumatic break up. Because, let’s face it, they’re all crap.

And that’s another things about exes- you aren’t the only one to have them. Be mindful that your boyfriend might have left a trail of destruction in his path and be patient with previous partners. Harsh words about you, or endless messages declaring their love for your chosen one come from a place that you should sympathise with, instead of show anger towards. Just think about how long it took you to get over that ex and remain calm, however tempting it might be to throw warnings her way.

Lastly, don’t try to convince each other that you can be friends because you think it’ll be less painful. It won’t be, so instead, look through your recent calls or texts and you’ll see a list of people just waiting for you to get in touch with them. And keep reminding yourself that you were never friends, you were in a relationship, and that those are two very different things.

Fingers crossed I have found “The One” and won’t have to add another ex to the list ever again. But if I do, then I assure you, I will be adhering to all of the above.

And for those of you who have stumbled upon this at an appropriate time in your life, then I urge you to follow these simple instructions to start moving on: meet with your ex one last time and hug them – and when you do, squeeze them really, really tight – then tell them that you love them as though it might be the last time that you will ever see them, and then step away. For a really long time.

It’ll be painful and you’ll cry, but I assure you: if you are able to do that, then you’re already half way there.

EX O EX O