Monday, April 16, 2007


'Your Sons and Our Daughters are Beyond your Command', Discuss. Pt 1

Rafael Behr in The Observer yesterday touched on a perennial social problem: youthful anti-social behaviour. He laments the 'premature onset of Victor Meldrewism among thirtysomethings'; how much more intense then is it in my own 'baby boomer' generation? [read on and you'll find out] Behr makes a shrewd point about privacy in that so many people act- with an apparently unthinking entitlement- in public as they would in private, and thus impinge upon that of others: speaking loudly on mobiles in public; listening to loud music; turning one's car into a mobile sound system and turning the volume up to 11 as they career around residential areas; swearing loudly and obscenely in public; and spitting on the pavement, especially when a gobbet of chewing gum is included for good measure.

Personally, what I find unsettling is the tendency to hang around looking menacing in my local town and city centres. This group usually comprises a group of young men who wear the obligatory drab black shell suit topped by the obligatory(often black) baseball cap. And they all seem to bear that kind of hollowed out feral look which not only intimidates but makes one feel acutely for the wasteland their lives most probably are. It is for this reason that myself, my partner, and most of our friends, avoid local town and city centres in the evening over the weekend as they are more often than not occupied by what seems an alien army of drunken, urinating, swearing and otherwise dangerously volatile young men. Looking any of them in the eye risks an unpleasant confrontation; conversations with my people of my age confirms this experience to be widespread.

Walking around then next day one in struck by the heaps of casually cast away food wrappers, the metal skeletons of bus shelters their bases crowded with crystaline piles of broken glass. Nothing, it seems can be left in a public space unprotected for fear of the mindless destructive violence which is so much a feature of our time. The civility and respect for others which was drummed into my generation, seems to have faded away totally. But, one sometimes hears, all modern societies have similar problems with their young males and always have. But do they? Tomorrow, I'll say something about that as well as try to explain why we have problems singular to our own society.

Twas ever thus?

From a review in Saturday's Guardian:

The daily brutalities and low life-expectancy of the new industrial cities created precocious, unruly teenagers. The phrase "juvenile delinquent" was coined in America around 1810. By the end of that century, teenage gangs with their own dress codes, rituals and street-corner poses were filling newspapers and socially conscious novels. The Daily Graphic described an 1890s London gang: "All of them have a peculiar muffler twisted around the neck, a cap set rakishly forward, well over the eyes, and trousers very tight at the knee and loose at the foot." In 1899 Clarence Rook's south London novel The Hooligan Nights featured a "highly strung" 17-year-old male protagonist with a darting gaze "like the eyes of a bird", perpetually "prepared for conflict". It is not hard to imagine Victorian adults keeping away from him on the top deck of a tram.,,2055766,00.html
More good sense from Hughesey.

Skipper... if that's from the Dylan lyric, it should be 'command' not 'control' and it makes even more sense. But the next couple of lines also ring true...
Your old road is rapidly aging
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand,
For the times they are a-changin'.

Yes, I saw that review of the book by Jon Savage and am quite aware of the timeless lament of the older generation regarding the new. However, I think we have a special problem compared with other countries, as I will explain in my post today.
Well spotted- I've made the correction thanks to you. See above for my response to your further comment.
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