Katy Guest: Old Etonians! Our cokeheads need a moral example

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The Independent Online

In my self-righteous earlier years, my reply to anyone who offered me cocaine was: "No thanks; I'm boring enough already." It was usually met with a laugh, followed by a perplexed expression and after that a really boring evening. People I liked would become people to avoid in the time it took to roll up a tenner.

The latest figures from the British Crime Survey, therefore, make for depressing reading. Cocaine use in Britain is up 25 per cent in the past year. Almost a million people admit to taking it. Nearly half of these are between the ages of 16 and 24. Are you kidding? Aren't the tedious cokeheads getting younger these days?

When I first became aware of the drug on moving to That London, there was a very specific type of person who took cocaine. A boss I had once would take a daily constitutional at about 4pm, after which he would spit when he talked (or shouted) and his eyes would pop right out of his sweaty red face. "It never affects my ability to do my job," he ranted, shortly before he was sacked.

Even in politics, there is a telling divide: people we respect had an early dalliance with cannabis; people we despise, with coke. Bill Clinton may have made an embarrassing denial about inhaling, but what did Boris Johnson say when asked about his view on drugs? "I've forgotten my view on drugs. I think I was once given cocaine but I sneezed and so it did not go up my nose. In fact, I may have been doing icing sugar."

Cocaine, traditionally, is the drug of bankers and bores (and people like Boris). It's for middle-aged white blokes in pinstripes standing bawling at each other outside nasty chain pubs on Friday nights. It is for flighty types in the media who abandon their mates in dodgy minicabs while they go off to score (yes, that has happened to me), or suburban tossers passing round Tupperware bowls full of it along with their car keys. And the coverage of the latest statistics has focused on this image of the "dinner party drug". Recently, though, something has changed.

Perhaps it is the upselling of cannabis from a sweet hippie drug to schizophrenia-inducing skunk that makes people more inclined to trust cocaine instead. Maybe the smoking ban makes people seek out new ways to increase exponentially their chances of an early death. Or maybe the dealers are putting special offers on in the recession. The Kate Moss debacle certainly can't have helped to put youngsters off cocaine: once, when children's role models were caught taking coke they were thrown off Blue Peter; now, they are designing clothes for Topshop.

Whatever the cause, the result is that there are more than three times as many people using cocaine as there were 15 years ago. That is almost a million British adults giggling in toilets like grubby children and then trying to chew off their own faces while shouting incomprehensibly at their so-called friends. What larks.

In The Independent on Friday, John Heyworth, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, said "something must be done" to address cocaine use. But this isn't a job for governments. It is the moral duty of some public-spirited Old Etonian to get coked up to his eyeballs and tour schools with a big red dribbly nose shouting at children that this is what a cocaine user looks like. Only when they get that message will coke begin to seem less attractive.

Polo party? Do remember to wear nice knickers

Those of you who are attending the polo this weekend will be surprised and relieved in equal measure that I am now in a position to be able to offer you sartorial advice. Last Sunday I somewhat improbably attended the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup at Cowdray Park, rubbing shoulders in West Sussex with models, sportsmen and the handsome literary couple Jake Arnott and Stephanie Theobald, who seemed as thrilled and perplexed as I was by the glittering canapé glasses and the tiny teaspoons.

Happily, dressing for a high society polo match is deceptively simple. DO pretend to be Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman: wear a spotty dress and drunkenly put about a rumour that you are Julia Roberts's bottom double, but only if you want to experience being chased by the paparazzi, just once. DO take a hot date in a fancy hat who will claim to have seen one of the waiters before – in gay porn. DO act ashamed when you are caught accidentally flouncing out with a big yellow Veuve Clicquot umbrella. And DO, ALWAYS wear nice knickers: it is windy, your dress is flimsy, and it is the only way to feel at all superior to sick-makingly beautiful teenage supermodels in hideous black polyester body-shaper pants.

Just point out the DJ's equipment

While obviously nobody condones the use of violence, anybody with experience of mardy DJs will surely feel some sympathy for footballer Steven Gerrard (right). The Liverpool captain was acquitted of affray on Friday after he hit a man in a nightclub who refused to let him choose a song.

Give a man a set of decks and suddenly he thinks he is in charge. We've all been there, shouting over the music to a self-appointed Mr Cool, who is more likely to take a track off his playlist than put it on and risk making someone's evening. But fists are no solution. The answer is to tell everyone in the club that the DJ has size issues in the trouser department and that's why he's such a git.

The politics of garden envy

Hats off and forks raised to Sarah Brown, who has clearly been inspired by The Independent on Sunday's Let them Grow campaign and has built a vegetable patch in the garden at Downing Street for little John and Fraser.

As a busy modern woman with a job, a family and a pressing need to spend her weekends hanging out in wellies with supermodels, Mrs Brown must understand the trials of the urban gardener. After all, who among us doesn't know those typical frustrations: when a snail is inside your best tomato; when you get home late from an important foreign policy meeting to find everything wilting in the sun; and when Michelle Obama turns up for a surprise garden visit and tells the whole world that her veg patch is 10 times the size of yours.