This article forms my column in the Birmingham Post to be published tomorrow, 15th November. you might see that it’s very similar – without the more gruesome parts – to the post I made yesterday entitled “In the words of the Mitchell Brothers…”. This is because the Mitchell Brothers piece was the original – and something that I wanted to get ‘out-there’ whilst this piece is what the Post published. Both are entirely my writing but the Post were worried about libel etc and you can’t blame them for that. So no conspiracies, no falling out…both myself and the Post very happy with the outcome…
Having recently become a single parent if widespread opinion is to be believed, then my three kids are on a slippery slope towards wanton crime, educational underachievement, ASBOs and at least one teenage pregnancy. Personally, I hate these knee-jerk reactions that lump all single parents, young people or indeed whoever together as they are extremely dangerous. Unfortunately, it seems to be something that as a society we increasingly do.
Nonetheless, making the transition from ‘happy family’ (tongue placed firmly in cheek) to ‘single parent family’ does require some support. I have to say though, there’s not too many places so far that I’ve found where this is readily available.
It’s funny because when you’re thrown into this type of situation, you begin to think about what ‘family’ means and about what you think being a part of family is. For many of us, we look over our rose-tinted and nostalgic shoulders to the ‘Good Old Days’ when you could leave your doors unlocked and when policemen would clip kids round the ears (I’m welling up with emotion already…!!!). Not now though, not with the youth of today…
As a population in the UK today, we’re ageing. That’s not to merely state the obvious, but to note that a larger percentage us will in the very near future be much more ‘distinguished’ (for distinguished read ‘old’). Given that we’re also living longer, there is the distinct possibility that the older population will become much wider, where two or three generations could all be ‘OAP’ at the same time – all of whom were once young I hasten to add.
These changes will mean that it will be very difficult to generalise about who or what ‘old people’ are in the same way we do about young people for example. Even more so when we have an OAP population that lived through the swinging sixties, the summer of love and in about a decade’s time, the punk revolution. God help us all then when John (Johnny Rotten) Lydon enters his twilight years. To use the old adage, you would think that he knew better at his age (Mick Jagger also please take note).
Knowing better for their age is not something that you can charge kids with. Yet seeing the way that they have responded to recent family events has reassured me that they not only have good sense but that they are reasonably balanced. No addictions, arrests, attacks or ASBOs have yet to arrive at my door.
Despite what society might think about young people – especially those from non-idealistic ‘2.1 kid’ backgrounds – we shouldn’t always presume that they are inherently bad, troublesome or a scourge on society. Things are always far more complex and the mere number of years alive cannot be used as a marker against which your value – or lack of it – in society can be measured.
Given the increasingly ageing population in the UK, maybe we need to re-think the phrase ‘help the aged’ (Lydon and Jagger again take note) as maybe it will be they rather than our youth that will be teetering on the edge of that slippery slope – or at least looking back into it.
If this is the case, then maybe in just a few years time ‘being old’ will become the new ‘being young’.