PsychoGeography: Journey's end

Will Self
Saturday 04 October 2008 00:00 BST

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


In Ibiza the night proceeds according to plan: we set off in convoy, several cars full of us. True, we're going to a party in a swanky villa on the other side of the island, but while half our company are teenaged, the rest of us are past the age when we can do any raving – except against the dying of the light. Then: solid darkness, with headlights gouging it out to expose switchback roads and useless signs. The mobile phone calls begin: like the echo location of decadent bats. Some Ibizan parties can be found by following lizards stencilled on walls, others by pink balloons, but the turning for this one – or so we're assured through the ether – will be clear to us because of a strategically placed pile of three white phones.

"Phones!" Our radio operator-cum-navigator expostulates to general in-car hilarity. "Three white phones!" She reiterates – and the mirth continues, until having driven the required kilometre back from San Miguel we find the pile of three white stones. If only we were – stoned, that is – but we're simply victims of a contact high as big as the island itself, a tenebrous and fizzing cloud of methylenedioxymethamphetamine beneath which our hired Seat Ibiza struggles to gain purchase on the bumpy track.

Then, suddenly, I'm sitting at a poolside bar, drinking Coke and being talked at by a well-groomed posh hag in a see-through dress. Her arms are as brown as mahogany, her pupils as big as school pupils, her breasts are like the jowls of old men grafted on to her ribcage by psychotic surgeons. And she's drawling, "Honestly, I was just setting off for the airport when that plane crashed ... it couldn't've been a worse time, I mean, I absolutely hate flying." It is, manifestly, all about her – not the 153 souls fried on the Madrid runway. "I mean, I can cope with flying, but only with headphones on, my music playing, and absolutely blotto on Valium."

Her name is Patsy Bunbury – or somesuch implausibility – and she, her banker husband, and a brace of Google-brained teens, are all revolving around the party as high as kites that are about to crash into the ground: they jig and spin on the end of invisible strings of intoxication. It's very Ibiza, this, the transgenerational narcosis, and it gives the entire mise en scène – the pool with its artificial shingle beach; the enormous patio crowded with bohos, trustafarians and aristocrats; the trestle tables laden with truckles of tender beef – a certain Pompeiian air. You don't have to be a Cassandra to suspect that it's all about to go "crunch", as the liquidity is sucked out of the revellers and they're left in their poses, freeze-dried for eternity.

The following day I decide to go for a walk around the northern cape of the island. This will be a modest five-miler in the 30-degree heat, from Cala d'en Serra along the cliffs to Punta d'en Gat and the Cala des Pou, then on to the lighthouse at Punta des Moscater. From there it looks to be a simple stroll down to the resort of Portinaxt. However, nothing's ever as simple as that. My wayfinding – and that of my companion, Mark – is erratic. The underbrush is scrubby and thorny, the rocks are sharp. With many backtracks we make about a mile an hour. The Med sparkles, on the horizon the superstructure of a freighter piled high with containers wavers in the heat.

I begin to worry: will we become lost here in the Ibizan hinterland? Meeting perhaps with other Brits who've gone feral? A lost tribe of Bunburies, buck naked, who call themselves "the E", and enact weird psycho-sexual rituals. Mark, on the other hand, is unconcerned, chatting away about how his dad made a fortune buying up ex-MoD Cold War bunkers in the Channel Islands, then growing mushrooms in them. And how weird is that?

Late that day I go to check on the teens who're bunking in a villa about a mile from where we're staying. The villa, as cubicular and white as a sugarcube, is called "China White". That's Ibiza for you – a not-so-funhouse mirror of Surrey, where premature retirees live in houses named after varieties of heroin. It's a beautiful evening, the sun lazily declining to the sea. From a villa down the hill floats the hypnotic strains of a song that was ceaselessly played during my own summer of ersatz love: "Fade Into You" by Mazzy Star: "I look to you and I see nothing / I look to you to see the truth", the ethereal girl singer warbles her timeless existentialism.

And so you leave me, dear readers, on that Ibizan hillside, just as you leave Ralph fulminating in his Kentish atelier. For this is the last PsychoGeography that we will pen for the Independent Magazine. Au revoir, à bientôt, auf wiedersehen – fade into you ...

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