Random Polaroid #1: Jarvis Cocker on How the Election of New Labour Ushered in a Long Hangover

By Cocker, Jarvis | New Statesman (1996), April 11, 2011 | Go to article overview

Random Polaroid #1: Jarvis Cocker on How the Election of New Labour Ushered in a Long Hangover


Cocker, Jarvis, New Statesman (1996)


The worst hangover I ever had in my life occurred on the morning of 2 May 1997. On the evening of 1 May, a "playback party" took place at Town House Studios on Goldhawk Road in west London. This meant that certain friends and colleagues were invited to hear unfinished recordings of the songs that would eventually make up the Pulp album This Is Hardcore. Drinks and refreshments were to be provided for the guests, and the band would get to gauge the reaction to the new material they had been working on in a "controlled environment". And 1 May 1997 also happened to be the day of the UK general election.

As events in the country at large began to unfold, so the level of interest in events at the studio began to wane. Once Michael Portillo had lost his seat, the music playback ceased altogether and election coverage was piped through the control-room speakers and projected on to a pull-down screen. After all, this was history: none of us had lived under a Labour government since we had been of voting age. This was our time. Our side was winning. And yet ...

I came up with the term "Cocaine Socialism" one night in the Groucho Club in Soho. I was very pleased with myself. Champagne socialism was over, we were the new breed: preaching the doctrine of human brotherhood while ingesting the one substance on earth guaranteed to cause you to lose interest in the rest of mankind. Plus, weren't a socialite and a socialist kind of the same thing anyway? How clever--don't mind if I do ...

Anyway, talking of political parties, I'd been invited to the one Labour were going to throw on the South Bank of the Thames if they won. Aft it became increasingly obvious that they were going to win, I wondered whether or not I should attend. I could be part of this historic occasion. It was just a taxi-ride away. Share the magic. But I didn't go--I carried on watching it on telly. Everyone was getting drunk. The memories become hazy, but I do remember the South Bank celebrations as they were relayed in the studio on the TV later: people hugging each other in the weak early-morning sunlight to the sound of "Things Can Only Get Better" by D:Ream. I thought to myself: "Yeah? Really?" If our side had won then what did that actually mean? Could things "Only Get Better" in a society of people interested "Only In Themselves"?

People trickled home from the studio. My girlfriend spelled out "I Love You All" on the shared lawn behind our apartment in Maida Vale when we got back--using rolls of toilet paper to make the letters. …

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Random Polaroid #1: Jarvis Cocker on How the Election of New Labour Ushered in a Long Hangover
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