Monday, 19 January 2009

The Lowest Common Denominator - A Frustrating Fraction

I’ve always been puzzled to just how the masses put up with listening to the same fifteen songs on the radio for six months without wanting to push a kebab skewer down their lugholes and scream for the endless ordeal of weak playlists and banal DJ chatter to end.

So, going out to hear the same songs being played all over again in ‘fun’ pubs (who on earth came up with that name?), whilst drinking a health destroying amount of cheap alcohol and acting like an utter dick is obviously the best night out I could possibly dream of.

The redevelopment work undertaken on Botchergate after all those accidental, but spookily well timed fires, is something the planners should really give themselves a huge pat on the back for. Their godlike, visionary genius in constructing the future of Carlisle’s nightlife has fully embraced the 21st century in Cumbria’s own backwardly, inimitable way, by offering weekend thrill seekers a thick slice from the huge pie of polished turds.

We can stand proud, lift our heads high and rejoice in the fact we don’t need any local music scene or alternative culture; we’ve got Walkabout and Terminal One, so all the real music, art and originality of other cities can stand aside or be washed away on a tsunami of Blue WKD, chunky neon vomit and sexually transmitted disease.

This article was meant to be about experiencing Botchergate completely sober and it seems that after more than a decade of black outs, blow outs and bad heads, the moment has finally arrived to sit back, sip my orange juice and casually observe the self abuse rituals of other people.
From the white haired, old woman passed out in the chip shop with her purse wide open and pennies on the floor, to the curly headed teenager, joyously watching his own piss flow down the cracks of the pavement and giving an up to the minute commentary on just how well his wee was running; or even the couple who unsuccessfully try to resolve a drunken dispute by screaming at each other while the bloke protests his innocence. He eventually calls his girlfriend a “fucking divvy”, kicks some bin bags to bits and storms off in a self righteous huff.

These are the scenes to be seen week in, week out on Carlisle’s ‘golden mile’ and it never fails to astonish me just how little we are aware that alcohol is one of the most destructive drugs on the planet.

My own relationship with drink was never a healthy one, for every friend made and laugh had, there were the cycles of depression, isolation and feelings of inadequacy - I shouldn’t forget the stomach ulcer I gave myself before the age of 25 either.

Not all of it was a direct result of alcohol per se, but its easy availability, along with the ingrained social acceptability of getting drunk, made for an easy way to self medicate any underlying problems away for the night.

Even though I have my own issues with the bottle, it often makes me curious as to why others find the need to get themselves into such a state?

Take, for example, the girl who pulled my mate up to dance in Walkabout. As he stood there stiffly shuffling and looking like he’d left the coat hanger in his shirt before leaving the house, she moved herself in a co-ordinated and sultry manner, which exuded a rare kind of class you don’t often see amongst the throngs and thongs of un-rhythmic, stupefied young women, who end up oblivious to the fact their supposedly alluring dancing doesn’t look half as good in the real world as it does in their drunken heads.

Using a few drinks as a social tool to relax and let a few inhibitions fall is all well and good, but when two hours later you see the same girl in a bar across the road, stumbling around the floor and dancing like she’s recently recovered from a stroke, it’s at these points I wonder what makes it seem necessary for us to drink at such dangerously high levels?
I’d have loved to have known what was going on in the minds of a few people the morning after the night before.

I don’t think I’ve laughed as hard in a long time after watching the girl with that ‘junk in her trunk’ (even though she could have done with unloading most of it at a car boot sale to be honest) make a terrible attempt to dance like Beyonce or any of the other myriad of over-produced, commercial R&B charts invaders over the past ten years.

Not only was she dancing with all the rhythmic precision of an arthritic, elderly relative at a wedding, she had also failed to notice her massive right breast had popped out the side of her badly fitting T-Shirt,still fully intact inside bra, bouncing around for the world to see.

To make matters worse she was trying to sexily crouch down low, only to realise on getting right down, she didn’t have the strength to get back again and had to push herself up using my mate’s knee for leverage.

I would like to say this type of behaviour does absolutely nothing for you girls in any efforts in attracting men, but just like the moth, compelled to repeatedly smack its face off a light bulb, along came ‘Tapper’.

I remember seeing a wildlife program showing two swans perform a graceful, ballet together on the water as a pre-mating ritual. Well, once Tapper had arrived it was more 'mucky puddle' than 'swan lake'.

He was checking his environment for potential mates by shuffling from side to side like a horny crab, using his hands like pincers to touch as many girls’ arses as he could then scuttling off before they could catch him.

He must have known he’d hit the jackpot when his eyes gazed upon an overtly sexual pantomime cow with its big udder hanging out.

Next thing you know, they’ve become intertwined, and in one particularly smooth move, Tapper pushes the poor girl up against the bar and starts dry humping her at the speed of a faulty pneumatic drill.

Whoever said romance was dead is a liar, it’s alive and well and lives down Botchergate.

Unfortunately for Tapper, the ‘we serve drinks not drunks’ policy was exercised by the bouncers and he saw his potential ride for the evening being chucked out onto the street for making a show of herself.

The drunken love dance of Tapper and Ermintrude encapsulates just about everything Botchergate stands for. Newspapers across the land may constantly condemn Britain’s binge drinking culture, but when all the local council offers you is the option to experience the small town mentality of drinking, fighting and fucking what else are you supposed to do?

The scary thing is, now that many of Carlisle’s alternative venues have closed down or are struggling to get people through the doors, the mixture of corporately owned chain pubs and the over-priced ‘classy’ bars frequented by hairdressers and Top Shop twats may one day be the only option for nights out on the town.

Carlisle was never a cultural hotbed of anything in particular, but since the regeneration of Botchergate it has become even more unimaginative and soulless.

It’s often in these times of recession, the art world and music scene blossoms as people experiment with new ideas. Greedy club owners may begin to feel frightened they aren’t making the money they used to and allow different music policies into their clubs to see if it will attract new business.

The ease of sharing, promoting and producing music, brought around by advances in technology and the internet revolutionising the way in which music is consumed,has seen so many genres and sub-genres mash with one another it eventually went on to surge a new pulse of life back into the underground clubs of Britain.

It seems like with all this going on, Carlisle is still scratching around in the dirt of the dark ages; something even more apparent when you look at what's going on only an hour away in Newcastle.

If the Bothcergate lifestyle is your thing; go out, get out of control, enjoy yourself and wake up the next morning feeling like death.
This may be a top night out for many, but what happens to the rest of us who crave something that little bit different?

By Tim Forrester