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All time



On Australia Day at my local beach I watched a charming fellow scream "you f---ing slut" at a policewoman before offering to have sex with her in an unconventional and painful manner.

The constable and her male partner were 10 metres from this chap. He was in his early 20s and intent on giving the impression he'd just been released from a North American prison where he'd learnt complicated handshakes and slouching.

I was stunned. It seemed a needless provocation, so I leant against a railing to watch the cops give him his wish of jail time. Instead, they walked off.

I was on patrol for my surf club, wearing a fetching quartered cap and lurid red and yellow shorts, so my bad-boy friend certainly wasn't fussed by my presence.

I left him to his histrionics and, as I'd been assigned to "rove" the beach, headed out to the point - a sandstone headland where kids and kiddie fiddlers congregate because it's out of sight of the sand.

Instead, my colleague and I found a colourful party going on. A generator and sound system thumped on the rocks where about 250 people were drinking, dancing and occasionally diving into deep water off a slippery ledge.

The police worked their way out there as well, a group of six officers, who good-naturedly ignored all but the most flagrant flouting of the blanket alcohol ban.

Another fellow enamoured of American thug life screamed "Po po coming!" and the party guests shoved beer bottles, wine glasses and joints into rock pools, crevices and hand bags.

High tide was approaching, there were a lot of drunk people and, at dusk, still three hours away, the boozers would have to make their way over 200 metres of slippery, sharp rocks.

The police were damned whatever they did. Break up the party, they were wowsers, let it go and someone could break their neck and no doubt sue the local council. Or the cops.

As I walked back to the sand, I reflected that the battle between these opposing forces was increasingly defining our national day, in fact almost any public holiday, whether it be Christmas, New Year's, Anzac Day or the Queen's birthday.

Most of us see them as days off where we can relax, maybe have a drink, enjoy our families or lie in bed, while others view it as a free pass to do whatever they want, behave however they want.

Anything that fetters that right is wowserism, it's "unAustralian".

It used to be you'd go out looking a good time and, if you were lucky, you had a great time. For many people, nowadays, even that's not enough. It has to be "epic", it has to be "all time".

At the patrol tent, a young lifesaver reported he'd just seen a couple having sex on an inflatable lilo out in the surf. Moments later, a drunk girl appeared clutching a broken forearm after falling on those slippery rocks.

We helped her to an ambulance, then I headed home, happy to leave the celebrations to others.

Unfortunately, a rooftop party next to my apartment had drawn more than 500 people. The crowd choked our street. Revellers urinated outside my door, broken bottles and vomit caked the path where my daughter should have played on the weekend.

A group of guys in my own building smashed bottles on the road, and ripped the roof racks off my neighbour's car. When they were challenged by another neighbour, five of them threatened to bash him.

I tried to sleep but I was wired by anxiety.

I felt invaded.

I felt like I'd just got really old.

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here. His email address is here.

34 comments so far

  • Unfortunately I think part of the problem is that society needed to crack down on the 'epic' stuff like what happened around your place, Sam, and they cracked down too hard. Now those of us looking to have just a good time out feel the need to defend the idiots in order to stop society crapping on our legitimately good honest fun that isn't hurting anyone.

    Date and time
    February 22, 2012, 4:46PM
    • I don't know if it is any different today than when I were younger aside from different language and no record of the nights out on the interwebs. Young people are hedonistic by nature and have a sense of being indestructable as well as challenging figures of authority.

      There have always been people who disrespect and destroy other people's property. There have always been young men who shout obscene statements at women. There will always be young people who undertake risk taking behaviour. Getting older can often be making the choice not t o participate in any of those things.

      Personally I would take a quality nap rather than be a part of anything that would risk my own or anyone else's safety let alone damage another person's property.

      on the wrong side of 35
      Date and time
      February 22, 2012, 7:31PM
      • Nobody wants to stop others having fun but people can have fun without behaving like sub-humans. I have no urge to defend idiots Regularchap - let them drown in their own vomit.

        When I visited New York city last year I felt safer than when I go to Sydney. I felt safer on the trains. I felt safer walking around the streets.

        It hasn't always been safe in New York.

        People can have 'fun' without abusing others, damaging other people's property and making life miserable for the majority. This was the belief behind the 'Broken Window' policy in New York. Police zeroed in on people who were disorderly - not just the "epic" stuff - the major crimes with the excuse that "we don't have time for the less serious crimes".

        Disorderly people - those who can't seem to have 'fun' without making life miserable for the rest of the population ARE a serious problem.

        Date and time
        February 22, 2012, 9:03PM
        • I used to visit something of a party house a lot when I was young. We didn't think about it at the time but now I feel sorry for the old people next door. Hopefully they were deaf.

          Now I hate it when people have partys near me, it's the constant doof sounds and my jealousy of not having my entire life ahead of me and girls wanting to screw me without money being a factor. Well, not as much, the guys with the cool cars always had that as an advantage with the girls.

          I think the wowserism is definitely unAustralian. I think we've become quite clinical these days. There should be more places for youngens to go wild. From what I've heard you can't even have a party in a surf club anymore. So do gen ys turn 30 when they're 20 these days? How utterly boring.

          Date and time
          February 22, 2012, 9:25PM
          • charming writing

            Date and time
            February 22, 2012, 10:39PM
            • I blame generations raised by TV, the opiate of the masses.

              kermit the log
              Date and time
              February 23, 2012, 12:04AM
              • Yep. Sounds not great. Then again, I wonder about what we pick to let bother us.

                We lived through the Africa Cup of Nations here recently and I loved the noise coming from all sides during and before and after the matches. You could tell how the game was going by the shouting and music and honking of horns streets away. There was drunkenness and disruption but it we were invited to their party, somehow. It wasn't great for sleep but I like it...

                The things that recall my past poor behaviour, though, I can't stand. I am unfairly critical of the over theoretical earnest do-gooder workaholic young women I used to be (or sometimes still am). Patience-free for the promoters of gender anything and sometimes downright snappy to the people who fight in their corner during meetings I run - who fight as I used to.

                Grumpy old woman that I am, I am not so tolerant of my younger self. Others' younger selves I find sort of charming.,,or at least they seem to get less under my skin.

                am I alone here?

                far away
                Date and time
                February 23, 2012, 4:10AM
                • Far Away, It's worth noting you are far away from the boganism and western excess drug fuelled sense of entitlement of some youngsters in Oz now days so can maybe look at it with Rose coloured glasses. I'd fairly sure it would bother you if you were here and it was on your doorstep whether you "let it" or not.

                  Date and time
                  February 23, 2012, 12:18PM
                • Fair just doesn't seem so pervasive when I am there...but sure, not there can't judge.

                  far away
                  Date and time
                  February 23, 2012, 4:14PM
              • That picture! Those shorts! Someone is wearing socks with their sandals.... admit it!

                admit it!
                Date and time
                February 23, 2012, 7:41AM

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