Friday, March 9, 2012
A few days ago, I looked at the three boys in my house and something dawned on me – I am raising a company of clones.
With their floppy fringes immaculately blow-dried to hang over their eyes, their low-slung chinos rolled up at the bottom and their plain hoodies unzipped to halfway so that all could see the motifs on their T-shirts, they paraded in the current uniform of the coming generation.
If only they were all the same size. Then I could reduce the bill to one set of clothes and wheel them out one at a time.
Other members of the same regiment can be seen on the streets of any town or city on a Saturday. And they are probably in your family, too.
They look like audience extras from the children’s TV show Friday Download – or rejects from the auditions of The X-Factor: the ones who narrowly missed out on being in the boy band One Direction.
Of course, there’s no way that I was ever a slave to fashion faux pas.
At least I thought that – until my mother kindly reminded me of a brief dalliance with white, tassled golf shoes allied with grey flecked trousers and pink, grey and white shirts and jumpers (with diamond patterns).
So I plead guilty to crimes against fashion. But that won’t stop me from trying to pull the wool away from the eyes of the current flock of young sheep.
The irony is that young people will tell you that they are “expressing their individuality” by dressing the way that they do. That being so, how do so many “individuals” end up looking almost exactly the same as one another?
Surely, if they were individuals, they would pierce their thighs, tattoo their grandparents and wear gardening gloves, a cocktail dress, a policeman’s helmet and one over-sized Wellington boot?
I suppose I should be grateful that they don’t. But I cannot help being overwhelmed by grumpiness at the youth of today’s lack of passion for non-conformity.
If only they would use the huge amount of energy employed in getting out of bed and moping around to summon up some indignation and raise a rebellion. It should start with clothing, then graduate to aiming anger at the authorities.
Are they not angry about the disgraceful dismantling of the NHS, the best health system in the world? And what about the fact that their parents and grandparents, who are supposed to look after them, are trashing the world that they will have to live in? Oh, and surely there is some consternation at the rising tide of youth unemployment, which could leave millions of young people jobless, hopeless and listless.
While so many young people seem intent on wearing teen-army-approved clothing and listening to a playlist ratified by their peers, I’ve got enough negative energy for them all.
I rail against their taste in “music”. I rage against their favourite TV programmes (except the wonderful Horrible Histories). And I rant relentlessly about their choice of clothes.
But I also feel guilty. For ours is the generation that stands accused of sucking the spirit out of our children.
We have molly-coddled them, indulged their whims, eliminated risk from their lives, then sent them to schools where a large part of their time is spent in learning to think the same things and answer the same questions as their peers.
All of which equals preparation for the production line – not the edginess of a truly fulfilling life.
•This article was first published on March 6, 2012.