This post would maybe not have happened if we’d gone to the Groucho Club. I love the Groucho. I always flirt and laugh and dance at the Groucho. Suzanne said she’d been there already twice this week. I pointed out that you were allowed to go back as many times as you wanted but she was steadfast, a position she’d later come to regret. The reason we like the Groucho is very, very simple. It is full of adults over 35 and beyond, who know how to mingle, dance and exchange bon mots freely and volubly. In a word, it’s fun. Even the smoking area feels like you’re joining the naughty kids behind the sheds at school.
But we didn’t go there, did we Suzanne? No, instead we ended up in the bar of one of London’s new breed of front-on-the street-cool-out-of-a-box boutique hotels. I was barely at the door when Suzanne The Errant sent a text. “This place is so noisy. I don’t like it.” Ok, that was certainly very promising.
“The best things here are the waiters.” She was right. They were. Not because they were eye candy – a few definitely were – but simply because they radiated an energy, and individuality, that their customers lacked. Engaged and alive, they merely seemed to emphasise the room’s lack of soul and perhaps, ideas. It was so desolate and sad, that we lost the will to comment, but nonetheless, did our best.
“They’re too young,” she said. They shouldn’t be but they’re not ready for this world. They’ve given up too much of their existence to a screen so they have no idea what to do without one.” We looked around the room. Hesitant huddles of boys watching closed circles of girls who, clearly, had gone home and dressed up to come here and look available (yes, Fourth Wave Feminists, they were dressed for Men. Don’t fuck with me on this one).
Everyone looked. They were vacant stares from people who were technically alive but were not living. No glimmer of cheekiness or danger in the eyes, nothing approach a signal. It was watching but of the passive and flimsy kind, and you couldn’t help feeling that social intercourse had now recessed into an anaemic shadow of what it once was.
“They will see God before they get laid,” I said. “And probably Allah as well. Together.”
“Nobody is getting laid,” said Suzanne. Her son Josh, a charming twenty-something had told her that already. Now we were seeing it in inaction. “Josh read your stuff and said that none of his generation have sex like that. It’s too wild. Well, they don’t have sex like we did.”
“We do.” I corrected her.
I looked at the girls in their powder, paint and pretty clothes. They were about twenty-one but seemed like newly hatched chickens, unsure of where to look and how to move. I felt sad for them. And the boys, many of them probably nice, thoughtful boys who were waiting for the girl to give them a sign, to drop the handkerchief and say, ‘Yes, you can talk to me.’ It wasn’t going to happen. Meanwhile the boys were probably thinking, “How will I know if she wants to talk to me? What if I approach her and upset her?” Yes folks, it has come to this.
Fundamentally what we agreed what had happened was that our generation got liberated, got out there and got what we wanted. Now we seem to have regressed into a world where men and women are on opposite sides of the room, in every sense, waiting for someone to tell them what to do next.We discussed the surge of antagonism, dressed up as progressive feminism and propagated heavily by The Guardian, a paper that appears to have made its mission the War on Men. It hasn’t been easy to garner spurious evidence but by the sheer volume of articles pointing out the failings of men, the violence of men, the anger of men, the privilege of men, well they’ve almost managed it. “This is worrying me,” said Suzanne. “It’s all about blame and it was never meant to be about that. Feminism was about wanting rights and taking responsibility for ourselves. The girl who goes out drunk in a mini skirt and bra top is not taking responsibility but expects everyone around her to act responsibly. Or does she? It’s difficult to know what either sex hopes or expects these days. Maybe just being in the same room is enough for them.
“Nobody wants the blame,” said Suzanne.
Nobody is getting laid.