Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Parties Make Me Anxious - Paul Morley (1988)

In December 1988, Paul Morley wrote an article for Marxism Today magazine entitled 'Towing the Party Line':

'Parties make me anxious. Everything makes me anxious, because living means living anxiously, but the thought of a party, let alone the reality of a party, makes up for a certain, monstrous kind of apprehension akin to the feeling of knowing at exactly what time I am going to die. Just the thought of it makes me very concerned and disheartened. Dying I mean, not going to a party. I suppose I'll choose going to a party before death, but only just. Just the thought of it makes me very concerned and disheartened. Going to a party, I mean. I break out into a warm sticky sweat: I can see it now . . . it's party time . . . the door opens . . . I'm forced into the flow . . . Imust mix . . . people at the party laugh as if things were going better and better, as if they did not know that the abyss is there . .. they smile at one another, are nice and friendly and polite . . . they exchange kisses as if they adore each other. And yet they are well aware of what is waiting for them. They pretend not to know.

How brave they are, how patient they are, how ignorant they are, or perhaps how wise, or perhaps they have some secret, unconscious knowledge of things that I don't know, that I cannot succeed in knowing... Yes, life is a party, and  parties make me anxious. You start off all fresh and confident and hopeful thinking it can never be as bad as all that and I'll never be that unhappy again, and think of the new friends that you'll make, and you're pleasant to  friends and strangers, and you try talking to them for a bit, and you get bored, and you turn, as you must, to whatever drink you can find, and it will all end in tears, or  certain death, and then the hangover...

I remember pre-80s that the hipper parties would consist entirely of a soundtrack of deepest dub - the first dub is the deepest - and rarest reggae, drilling or raking the party to slow death. These days, the hipper parties resound with the sound of burning house and various, complex continental beats that you purchase in strange shops as if you were selecting exotic forms of cheese...

Why do we always have to talk to each other? Can't we just stare each other out and have another drink? Why is it so important to talk to people that you don't know? Just so that you can get to know them and then have
arguments and perhaps kill each other and be sentenced to a party life after death, where you are always suffering that moment when you walk into a party and everyone turns and looks at you . . . except they're not looking at you, they've just spotted somebody who once appeared on Jonathan Ross...

And now I find out that I've written the wrong column. I should have written a piece on political parties at Christmas. How on earth am I going to begin that article...? Political parties make me anxious'.

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