Tuesday, March 30, 2004

behind the scenes at the House of Blood & Treasure
Well, it finally happened the other night. One of those rite-of-passage, pass-the-baton moments which breach the yearning gulf between youth and age. One of those moments after which there is nothing to do but wipe the tear from the eye, the drip from the nose and retire into the shadows while waiting for the legalisation of euthanasia.

Yep, the stepson came home pissed for the first time. Not rat-arsed, you understand. Not completely bladdered. Just a bit later than usual, kind of loose in his demeanour and emitting fragrant billows.

About time, too. He’s been eighteen for over a month, and frankly his mum and I had been getting a touch impatient. There was a practical reason for this. Sometime sooner or later he was going to come home in drink, and we wanted to see how he handled it before he went off to university. It’s better to start one’s drinking career staggering home along familiar streets, crawling on hands and knees up well known stairs and laughing into the great white telephone of home.

But there was an element of ‘what’s today’s youth coming to’ in our concern. Like everyone else I knew I had been on the ale as soon as I could get away with it – old enough to shave, old enough to puke. It’s an ancient British liberty. I believe it’s in the Magna Carta. No, go on, look.

This didn’t apply to Mrs Treasure, of course. But Stella Artois became available in Britain for the first time in the early eighties and she spent a good part of her middle teens working up an acquaintance.

We are now both Responsible and Mature, though not at the same time. But all of us want the kids to share familiar points of reference as we journey through the wider cultural landscape. Some folks hope their kids will be vegans or trots. I’d be happy with a civilised drinking man.

And civilised he was. Back in the earlies, I used to occasionally come home in a truly disgraceful state. By contrast, our kid was just a bit more talkative than usual and quite happy and friendly. He’d waited till he was legal, which maybe shows some want of spirit, but he made up for that by conducting himself with better sense when he got necking.

He wasn’t even hung over. This was a bit of a letdown. My mum had told Mrs T how she used to hoover my bedroom singing loudly and off-key, while I huddled miserably under the sheets, just as a way of teaching me that life went on and that I had to face the consequences of my actions. Mrs T had been looking forward to doing something along those lines, but it wasn’t to be.

But there was a nasty postscript. It turned out that he’d been drinking alcopops. Well, never mind – it’s only a beginning, as the soixante-huitards used to say.