With Apologies to the Late, Great Hunter S. Thompson
Strange memories on this nervous night in England. Two years later? Three? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. England in the late twenty-teens was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . .
History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.
My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights—or very early mornings—when I left the city half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the beige Rover 75 across London Bridge at 30 miles an hour, wearing a barbour and a tweed suit. booming through the Blackwall tunnel aimed at the lights of Greenwich, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at roundabout too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for first) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as old and angry as I was: No doubt at all about that. . . .
There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the river, then up the west end or down the A1 to Hertfordshire or Down in Kent. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .
And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Young and Free. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our patriotism would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .
So now, less than three years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Hampstead and look South, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.