Playing the generation game with Sex On The Beach at Klub Koncrete | Steve Canavan

I teach at a university (I know, hard to believe isn’t it, but then again standards in higher education have been slipping for a long time) and the other week a group of my students graduated.

Friday, 29th October 2021, 3:35 pm
Updated Friday, 29th October 2021, 3:35 pm
Come on Steve, one more little dance won't do any harm...' Picture: Shutterstock

As a staff member, I always enjoy graduation because I get to wear a mortar board and a long black gown and sit on a stage and applaud people and generally feel really important.

Each year I send my mother a picture of myself in my gown and she always sends me a message back saying how she is ‘so proud’ of me.

She then forwards this photo on to every single person in her phone’s address book.

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They presumably delete it immediately while muttering to their partner, ‘why does Pat send us a picture of her son in a bloody gown each year? We don’t even know him.’

It’s tradition after the ceremony is complete for the lecturer to have a couple of drinks with their students.

However, because I’m so young, trendy and wonderful hilarious company (my words, definitely not theirs), my students wanted me to stay for longer.

The alternative was going home and spending time with my wife and young children, so naturally I stayed out.

We ended up in a Wetherspoon’s pub, which was OK, though I must admit I did feel slightly uncomfortable hanging around with a bunch of 20-year-olds because it was clear there were differences between us.

While I wanted to talk about big, heavyweight issues like the unstable political situation in Bolivia or the dwindling turtle population in south east Asia or how the arthritis in my right hip was increasingly troublesome, they seemed to prefer to chat about things like whether Quentin from Love Island was going to get off with Nat, or the price of Quavers (I must admit they have a point about Quavers – they’re about 90p a bag now. Outrageous).

The age gap was also noticeable in the choice of drinks.

I drank bitter, which everyone did in my day.

These youngsters, however, ordered pitchers – huge jugs containing about three pints worth of lurid-coloured cocktails with weird names like Pornstar Martini or Sex On The Beach or Lengthy Queues On The M25 containing rum and vodka and tequila and gin and which made me feel queasy just looking at them.

More incredible still, these pitchers weren’t ordered to share around. They ordered a pitcher each.

This huge vat of alcoholic liquid arrived with a straw in it and they preceded to drink it in about 10 minutes flat.

I swear to god, the NHS will soon be on its knees not with Covid but people in their 20s suffering from acute liver disease.

Young girls wandered around in dresses so skimpy there didn’t seem much point having them on (one girl was, as far as I could see, wearing bra and knickers and for a moment I was genuinely tempted to go over and ask if she’d got ready in a hurry and forgotten to put clothes on).

The lads looked like clones – every one of them wore jeans that stopped at their shins, shiny shoes and no socks (since when did socks become unfashionable?) and had their greasy hair slicked back with so much gel they must go through a tub of the stuff every other day.

It got to about 11pm (I’d been out since lunchtime) and I was desperate to make tracks.

I began to say my goodbyes while muttering something about having to catch my train, but somehow – and I’ve always been easily led (I once paid a travelling salesman £14.99 for a light bulb he guaranteed would never run out; it exploded after two weeks and fused the entire house) – they persuaded me to accompany them to a club.

In my head I could hear a little voice saying ‘this is ridiculous, you’re 45, you’ve not been in a nightclub since 1997 and even then you didn’t like it’.

But feeling brave after drinking about seven beers too many, I found myself at just gone midnight walking down a dimly-lit side street with 20 or so youngsters towards a wretched-looking place called something like Club Dazzle or Liquid Disco or Concrete but spelt with a K and not a C (‘Hey Jeff, I’ve had a thought about this place we’re opening. If we spell it slightly different to normal, people will think it’s really cool and interesting and they’ll flock here’. ‘God damn it Tim, you’re a genius - let’s do it!’)

I looked around the queue and realised, with a moment of sobering horror, that I was old enough to be everybody’s father. At this point I started to have serious misgivings.

But it was too late, the students were all showing their IDs to get in.

When it got to me, I jokingly remarked to the bouncer, ‘there’s no need to see my ID’ (essentially I was looking for some moral support and for a nice comment back from someone my age), to which he replied, ‘no, just a bus pass will do’.

My already floundering confidence plunged and hit rock bottom.

I lasted about 10 minutes in the place.

During that time I witnessed a fight, got threatened in the gents by a guy who screamed ‘what you looking at?’ while I was having a pee (at which point I looked at him for the first time and tried to gently explain that I hadn’t previously been looking at him, but quickly realised reason and common sense don’t work with a drunk youth in a nightclub at 1am), and listened to the worst song I’d ever heard (a monotonous thumping dance beat and a woman warbling the same lyrics – ‘Gotta feel your love’ – for five full minutes).

Then, while the others weren’t looking, I slid out of the door and staggered, tired but happy, in the direction of home.

Thank god there’s only one graduation a year – my body couldn’t cope with any more.

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.

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