Tuesday, 1 April 2014

School's out. (Not really about indyref. Feel free to pass.)

Just a very quick note...

Listening to the young folk I know, they were talking on Sunday night about how many days they had left of school, they seemed surprised and excited to realise it could be measured in single figures. There was wistfulness, uncertainty and concealed excitement in the air - most will be off to university, others haven't secured a place yet (but probably will) while others still have no idea what they'll end up doing.

We all know Scottish independence day wouldn't be for a couple of years - there would be two more years of school leavers before Scotland became properly independent (or as independent as most countries can ever be, ) but the parallel is there. These young folk can't stay at school for ever so have no choice but to move on and for the most part, they're doing so with optimism - there is a little trepidation but then should there not be? They are clever & self-assured - confident they'll handle what ever appears on the horizon, would that the rest of the country reflected that attitude.

I couldn't wait to get away from school, I hated it. I well remember that period of time between leaving high school and starting further education - I had my unconditional offer from Jewel & Esk Valley College (or Drool & Veg as it was also known.) Even then I was under no illusions - it wasn't a difficult place to get into. But the thing is - and I'm glad I noticed because normally this sort of thing passes me by...

I was well aware those weeks between finishing school and starting college were unique - I still remember leaving the school buildings at North Berwick for the last time and realising; I had no worries. I was going to college and didn't really know how it worked but since thousands of other people seemed to manage, I reckoned I'd muddle through.

I was trying to get this across to those young people. I've known them for a long time so you'd think I'd be able to communicate this simple idea, but they just looked at me in that patiently disdainful way young folk do when someone they perceive as being quite old says something they view as being quite dim.

Anyway, I hope they enjoy this window, it is a skylight through which one can see true sky. When the holidays are over and Uni or the workplace beckons, the smog of life starts to build up - few are immune.

(Although it is my sincerest hope, these young folk are among them.)

In the meantime, all that stands between them and a worry-free summer (well, for those with unconditional offers anyway) are some exams.

A refreshing aspect of spending time among the youth of today is the constant threat of being mugged - I'm joking. Its constantly being brought back to earth with a bump, although I would say, being asked if you wrote your exam answers with chalk on bits slate is now officially unoriginal.*

Here for your study is an updated list of things to say to people who are older than you.

You're so old if I told you to act your age; you'd died.You're so old your national insurance number is 1.You're so old; when you were in school, history class was called current affairs.You're so old your memory is in black and white.
You're so old you have a picture of Moses in your yearbook.You're so old your birth certificate says expired on it.You're so old you knew Burger King while he was still a prince.You're so old you were a waiter at the Last Supper.You're so old you took your driving test on a dinosaur. You're so old your birth certificate is in Roman numerals.You're so old you drove a chariot to high school.
You're so old you owe Fred Flintstone a fiver.You're so old you walked into an antique store and they kept you.You're so old you used to baby-sit Yoda. 

* All my past exam papers can be found here.


  1. One of the things I find about kids is their optimism.

    Everything is possible. Nothing out of the question.

    I find it refreshing that they don't start every sentence with "nowadays" followed by a moan.

  2. Aye.

    The young folk I know are incredibly lucky, coming as they do from decent backgrounds.

    They're a good crowd in any case.



  3. Pa

    I work fulltime with young people as a CLD worker and I find that I can come across both sets if you like.

    In my main job , youth politics, I work with a group of highly motivated and very intelligent young people who only lack really experience and can be a bit naive. We tend to lose 4 on average each summer as they move on to university and the difficulty is then replacing them with motivated young people who want to get involved in decision making.

    However, the other group I work with with have very difficult home lives and feel very disaffected with life and school in some cases and unemployment in others. They tend to feel that they don't fit in the UK and see their lives as being that of their parents and grand parents in Dundee, sadly that may revolve around alcohol, drugs and poverty. I am generalising to a degree as some with a lot of support from people like myself do aspire to greater and sometimes do ' get out ' as we say.

    Like you I hated school, I lived in Whitfield in the 80's as a teen and hope was thin on the ground and poverty not. I eventually got moving and went on to Uni in my early 20s with support from my family and friends but sadly I was one of the few of the people I grew up with, Thatchers children if you like.

    You often hear people say ' oh I wish I was young now ' but I don't to be honest. Young people have it very hard now and there is a view that if you don't get that leg up early either through education or knowing someone to get a job your stuck in some ways and the future can be a bleak.

    I also don't think that it seems to be a coincidence that every time the tories are in power young people, from a certain background, find their life chances dimished greatly.

    Just my opinion. But the young people I support are in the main really great and the key is nurturing that to give them a chance.


  4. I'll be honest, I'm totally middle class, while I've worked with fairly impoverished groups in the past, I've never experienced it myself and neither have any of the young folk I work with.

    Personally, I remember complaining about 'being skint' but the reality was - I didn't know the meaning. Same goes with these young folk although, I don't think I've ever heard any of them say they were skint as such.

    I think it probably boils down to self-respect more than money though. Yes, these young folk come from good financial backgrounds (some of them are positively rolling in it) but none of them are arseholes with it, I find it very difficult indeed to criticise them for being lucky and, I'm not into the envy/lowest common denominator/if-all-don't-have-it-no-one-should rubbish.

    They just have decent support structures and confidence, its a social & familial infrastructure thing I think.

    I sometimes think we could/should be doing something for young folk who don't have it quite so good but in all honesty, I can't think of a way to do it that wouldn't seem incredibly patronising.

    As an example of how middle class this group is; while in a chip shop, one of our members didn't know that if you asked for salt & sauce - it would be brown sauce.

    He was expecting ketchup.

    So, much as I think people like Cameron and Osborne etc are braying public school out-of-touch toss pots, I can't quite criticise them for it with any vigour (although sometimes I try.) They're just a product of their own environment...

    Then I remember they didn't have to then get into politics and foist their shitey neo-conservative, poor-hating ideas on us at which point, I feel absolutely fine about ripping into them.

    None of my crowd are that upper class though, well, there's one but we're working on him.


  5. Pa

    I think one of the issues we still have, and we are both a victim of it also, is in this country we are all still defined by class.

    What school/college/uni did we go to, what jobs did our parents have, where did we grow up and what we own.

    It's all sad and one of the reasons I am for ending the monarcht as a starting point and we have to somehow get control of the pl;itical parties as they are a huge part of the problem. But as long as we are saying to young people that they have to bow to the Royal family even if it's the little baby we can't win, it's all designed to keep us down and something that a YES vote might just start to change in the longer term.

    I have always resisted class as much as I can, I have met most of the main Royals and never bowed, even when told to by employers or their hangers on. I have alsways said give me the day off on pay or hide me away because I will not be bowing to anyone, I have never even offered my hand to them I have always waited until they have offered theirs and never bothered to say anything to them.

    It's just how I feel about class. From the Royals to the toffs in the political parties, including some in the SNP, I just can't stand it and refuse to be cowed by it. But I do think if we could somehow change the perception then our young people might have a better chance.


  6. Nothing to argue with there Bruce.

    As you may know, its Scouts I'm involved with but I won't wear a uniform (because its silly) and I point blank refuse to salute the union flag or swear allegiance to the Queen.

    I'm not against per se, but like you, I'm not going to force any one to swear allegiance to an archaic outdated institution like royalty.

    I'd be saluting a tourist attraction.


Thanks for comment as always and I apologise if you have to jump through any hoops to do so. Its just that, I'm still being spammed by organisations who are certain I can't get it up or when it is up its not big enough or that I don't have anyone to get it up for.

Who knew blogging could be so bad for ones self-confidence?