Thursday, 2 July 2009

Youth of today (grumblings from a nearly 40 year old)

Yes, well it happens to all of us eventually... We turn into one of those "things were much better in my day" orators. We even find ourselves moaning that we can't hear the words on songs and asking what gender the lead singer is in that noisy band on the TV (mind you, let's face it, the first time we saw Boy George we all wondered didn't we now?). So, here we go...

Youth of today eh? They just don't know they're born. Take my boyfriend's 16 year old son, Tyler. He has ambitions to go to university, study media and become a journalist or work in TV. Not wishing to dash such fresh-faced hopes, I put my wise old(ish) woman hat on and advise him, using my many years experience of the real working world, how to ensure he gets himself noticed. The more observant among you will have noticed that I quite like blogging, so naturally I steered him in this direction as a virtually effortless method of seeing your work in 'print' instantaneously with a potential readership of millions (not bad for a free online tool). If he's willing to put in a bit of extra effort he could even start a school e-zine distributed via Facebook or at the other end of the spectrum if he wishes to communicate only in short sentences (he is a teenager remember... grunts are an integral part of his vocabulary), then twitter could be his channel of choice. Let's face it, the opportunity is endless. The effort fairly minimal.

What is essential of course is that he approaches his University applications with some tangible evidence of his passion for his chosen profession. Faced with a pile of identical applications and predicted grades, he will need to stand out by demonstrating determination, ambition and writing skill. Lecture over, it is now time for me to indulge in a spot of reminiscence... and when Tyler you read this (no doubt under extreme duress) at the weekend, I will be able to lament that you never had it so good.

Back when I were a wee gal the word blog didn't even exist let along the technology to power it. The closest thing to a net I had at home was one used for catching fishes in Cornish rock pools. If we wanted to keep a diary we bought one and wrote in it using a pen or pencil (often with real ink that came in a pot!).

My first magazine editorship - the imaginatively titled Pelargonium - consisted of one childish scrawled and illustrated copy that had to be passed around its expansive readership of the other kids in the street and my family! I was so dedicated that I wrote 6 of them!

When a group of us started a school magazine in the 6th form, it was mainly hand-written with a few 'special' pages typed on an old machine called a typewriter (powered by fingers pressing very hard on keys on stalks), then the whole thing was photocopied at great expense and drawing in a few favours at a local print shop (and let's not even mention Banda machines - remember them? The original wind up photocopier). Also, when we went on holiday we used to buy these little pictures, write on the back and post them back home to friends and family... postcards I think they were called...

I think there's still something very special about the physical presence of an old diary or notebook. My sister has some old diaries belonging to my Grandmother. Most of these date back to the 1940s during the war years in London. She describes a life seemingly full of wash days, dodging bombs and going to the movies. It seemed that, despite a lack of money, the threat of a doodle-bug landing on your head at any moment and being heavily pregnant, nothing would get in the way of a weekly trip to 'the pictures'. Communication with loved ones was not the instant gratification of the 21st century. I can just picture her waiting for cherished letters every day from my Grandad serving in the army.

It is wonderful to be able to treasure these records of the past. I wonder if my future grandchildren will ever read this blog, created on the ancient and clumsy Internet. A technological dinosaur where you actually had to sit down and type words into the computer rather than just 'think them' onto the mobile screen that transmits from the device embedded in your wrist...
Youth of the future eh?


  1. I laughed my head off with this post but I'm afraid you lost him around paragraph 2. Things have changed tremendously since we were kids though. Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth...But we should pat ourselves on the back for moving with the times!

  2. This is a great post. I love your nostalgia - I'm with you there, too!


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