Merseyside Police are currently on a well publicised, heavy handed raiding spree across Liverpool city centre’s nightclubs.
First, some facts. We will always dance and take drugs. Police officers will always dance and take drugs. Customs officers and nightlife svengalis will always dance and take drugs.
The only person unlikely to dance and take drugs is Anne Widdecombe (although, if she did, chances are she’d do it in Garlands).
Sadly, I no longer dance and take drugs. Primarily because, at this age, I’m more likely to be arrested for my dancing.
The equal and opposite of this, of course, is that club owners will never give drugs their due. At least, not in a round table debate. James Barton never said ‘thank you [insert German chemist’s name I can’t be bothered to Google] for giving me a career. And he’ll certainly not these days, now he’s Global God of EDM. But it is true, they did. And MDMA brought Liverpool kicking and screaming back to life. Way before Liverpool ONE and the Giants. It’s also true, thank you James and Darren, that Cream gave the city some of its best nights. Ever.
But it was a closed system. A carefully controlled, locked down biosphere where amazing things could bubble up, but where you felt, amid the chaos, there was order. Respect. And law, of a sort.
I can’t tell you how many times I had a security guard climb up over the cubicle wall to check that I was only pissing. I guess when the hourly rate’s so low, you take your thrills where you can find ‘em. But I didn’t mind. We both knew the game. That this was compliance, not clampdown. This was Cream being clever. In a way that Jon Pleased Wimmin never, really, was.
But it was more than that. It was Cream (and, for Cream, read any clued-up club. There have been many. Garlands used to be one. I’m sure it will be again) cleverly and surefootedly showing its punters that it cared about the whole ecosystem. That, actually, it wasn’t about drugs. It was about showing punters, staff and artists that they were part of some Saturday night co-ordinated community. Respect it, and you can come to the party, and get home safely. Albeit with curious footprints over the back of your Boxfresh shirt.
Because there is a dance we have to do, when it comes to drugs and the law. It’s a choreography which we all need to keep in step with. And if we make a misstep, or show that we couldn’t give a fuck about those around us, the malleable, flexible, blind-sided law will stiffen, shatter and come raining down on our parade. And we’ll only have ourselves to blame.
I know that there will be more cocaine consumed at any of the city’s horse races this April than there ever was in the Lomax, Republic or any of the clubs in the crosshairs right now. And I know that Merseyside Police wouldn’t dare raid them.
Because those types of events are our crown jewels. They’re on telly and everything. And our nightlife (which pulls in more cash than any Arabian thoroughbred) is still considered to be a bit of a nuisance. But give the boys and girls in blue any excuse, and they’ll choose shooting fish in a barrel over politically awkward manoeuvres anytime.
We can ruminate all we like about how, back in the day, you could get a phial of Colombian fun from George Henry Lees, and your friendly GP would administer a wrap of speed to rub on your teething baby’s gums. About how prohibition is a class war set in motion at the outset of the first world war. About how decriminalisation is the only sane way forward. We can wear tight trousers and try to start a revolution on the back of our new book.
We can do all these things. But, meanwhile, we’re stuck in the real world. A world where Cameron’s pushing back on advice from his own appointed drugs czar. A world where policing by consent means policing where the constabulary can make quick gains and keep the UKIPpers and the Echo readers content. Feel safe in their beds.
A world where we continue to regress to the mean: swagger through social media with our inflated sense of entitlement, fight amongst ourselves, don’t give a fuck about the bigger picture because it’s all about me, yeah? It’s all about my fun. My selfie. My worldview. My agenda.
We’re at a tipping point in this city. And I think the cavalier attitude, in some quarters, to the consequences of our choices is key. And says a lot about the sort of city we’re in danger of building. And why we’re fighting, the world keeps on moving. And Liverpool? We go to war over padded headboards. And as we do, every one of our tourist attractions’ visitor numbers are down. And other cities plough ahead with major new projects. Stop the in-fighting and become northern powerhouses.
I was going to post something a little incendiary for relaunch (apols if you saw my Facebook status). Then, out of the blue on Friday, I spotted a tweet from someone publicly and needlessly slagging off another’s music event. Someone doing something decent for the city. To what end? What are the possible outcomes of this zero-sum game? We think something can be made better? Let’s do it. Show not shout. We’re all fighting for our lives here, right?
What are the possible outcomes of me having a pop on here, again, at those who evidently don’t want to be part of the bigger picture? Why waste what little time and energy we have for this site on stuff that divides us; that drags us into the gutter? Sure, there’s frisson of electricity as the hits pile up. And a ripple of excitement from our legal team. But if we really want to change, we have to change ourselves. Our habits. Be the best we can be. And, in doing so, without sounding too much like Patsy Kensit in the BB house, hope that something of this radiates outwards.
“We are what we repeatedly do,” as Aristotle mused. “Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” Or, if like us, you look more to Taylor Swift, haters always gonna hate.
Because, right now, it’s not the drugs we’re addicted to. It’s ourselves.