Poynted remarks

IssueOctober - November 2019
Comment by Claire Poyner

We’re all going to hell in a handcart!

Well, no, we’re not really, at least not in the way most people who say this mean it. Other similar sayings: ‘standards are slipping’; ‘young people nowadays have no manners’ and ‘don’t know how to talk proper (like what I do)’.

But still, who here is concerned with runaway climate change when young people nowadays persist in saying ‘LOL’ and ‘bruv’ and ‘sick’ meaning ‘great’? Or worse, when the older folks are copying them. Yes, I have been guilty of saying LOL sometimes (for the oldies, this means ‘laugh out loud’).

There’s an increasing gap between rich and poor, austerity continues even though the government says it’s over, people are struggling on Universal Credit or having their payments suspended for being five minutes late or being in hospital, homelessness is on the rise, the Amazon is on fire, and humans are destroying the planet, but what’s really important is that young people (or foreigners for that matter) are perceived as having fewer manners than we had back in the 1950s. Apparently.

As a reminder, back in the 1950s, you could quite legally put up a sign saying: ‘No blacks, no dogs, no Irish’. But at least people were polite then.

If you’re male, you could quite legally beat your wife with a stick and she had no right to refuse you sex whenever you wanted it. But hey, no one queues for a bus any more, how rude!

Back in the day (before the late 1970s), polio outbreaks were common, and children died, or ended up in an iron lung being unable to breathe on their own. Advances in medicine (vaccinations mostly) have resulted in the last polio case in the UK being in 1984. But don’t get me started on how many children leave school totally unable to read and write, you never had that back in the day, but it’s probably because teachers aren’t allowed to cane kids any more.

To be clear, I do not think things were better ‘back in the day’ for many reasons. Yes, things are far from perfect now, and the worry of ‘our planet being on fire’ is a major concern, or it should be for all of us.

One of my many bugbears is people who really should know better, or those who would have had most to lose if they were around in the 1950s and earlier, complaining about how things are not what they used to be.

Someone I knew talked of going to the bank in person in the 1960s, sitting down with the bank manager, having a coffee and doing her banking. Everyone present (bar me) expressed wonder at how much courtesy was involved, totally forgetting that a) said person was not in a 9-5 job and presumably had time for all that; and b) there are many, many more people who have bank accounts these days and it would not be practical! But, no, the problem was not these very reasonable issues making personal banking on this scale practicable, the problem was the lack of respect ‘these days’.

As far as young people’s behaviour nowadays is concerned...

‘Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannise their teachers.’ – Socrates, a few years ago.

So, no change there then.

Douglas Adams said: ‘Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re 15 and 35 is new and exciting and revolutionary. Anything invented after you’re 35 is against the natural order of things.’

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