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Surfers' paradise

Dixe Wills


I know there are people out there who have professed a desire to shake the hand of the man who put the bop in the bop-shoo-bop-shoo-bop. Speaking personally - and I think we've known each other long enough now for me to do so - I've never really rated this achievement. Even the putting of the ram in the ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong leaves me cold. The man or woman whose hand I'd like to take in mine is the coiner of the word 'neologism'. I'm guessing they might be Greek. And ancient. And very very pleased with themselves.

Passing to the other end of the scale, there have been some darned ugly neologisms surfacing of late (you know who you are, shrutt, klepbowser and responsibilise), the undisputed king of which is neknominate. For those who haven't neknominated yet, this is the word given to the craze wherein someone uploads a film of themselves onto a social network in which they are seen necking (that is, m'lud, drinking with some celerity) an alcoholic beverage in copious quantities or bizarre circumstances before goading some named friends into outdoing the deed.

A quick sweep around You Tube will throw up (I use the phrase advisedly) a Canadian imbibing while being pulled behind a car on a snowboard; a woman riding a horse into a Tesco's to pluck a can off a shelf and down it (at least it makes a change to see some live horse flesh in Tesco's); and a man filling a toilet bowl with beer and getting his friends to hold him upside down so he can drink it all. Yum yum yum.

There are the extreme neknominators - people who save themselves the trouble of hiring a snowboard, horse or toilet and simply consume excessive amounts of alcohol ('Bottle of gin in 20 seconds? That's just the aperitif, mate.'), and then there's the bloke who mixed half a bottle of vodka, some chilli powder, a generous shot of de-icer and that ever dependable mixer, Mr Muscle, and downed it in one. His video shows him becoming seriously ill pretty much immediately, as might be expected. At time of writing five people (all young men) are thought to have died as a direct result of their neknominating neksploits.

Cue moral panic. (And if you're a teenager buckling under peer pressure to down three bottles of WKD while riding a llama into a lake perhaps it is a consolation to know that adults are morally panicked by the whole thing.) But few people seem to be asking what attracts youngsters to such risky pursuits. Is there a chance it's the emergence of some latent desire to validate their existence in a seemingly meaningless universe, for example? Or might it be a blatantly nihilistic response to such meaninglessness, however unconsciously expressed?

As Gwendolyn Eccles, the self-effacing writer of Ecclesiastes, so sagely pointed out: 'I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly,' - a course of action that didn't exactly work out for her. Though perhaps everyone has to find that out for themselves.