Wednesday, 25 July 2012


For anyone who has never lived in Britain, summer here is a brief and glorious affair, usually lasting about a week, before we return to rain and gloom. People are hugely overexcited when the temperature rises to 25 degrees and they rush outdoors to get sunburnt and go loopy in the heat. Yesterday, I decided to join the masses by sitting in the park with a sandwich and a bottle of water. Cambridge is renowned for its university, so throughout most of the year I am used to seeing bespectacled students reading tomes on nuclear physics or lecturers with extravagant facial hair and bowties sipping lattes. This was not the case. The park had been invaded by youths.

Without wanting to appear like an angry pensioner, which I am not quite, I have to admit I was a little disappointed in the next generation. Although I spend my year teaching them, in the safe environment of a school, observing a bundle of teenagers interacting in the park was hideous. They engaged in a whole range of activities that seemed entirely pointless. One chap with a pony tail nearly long enough to touch his waist kept repeatedly calling out random words. ‘Placenta,’ he shouted, whilst being ignored even by his own friends. Hilarious. Two emaciated boys with black hair swept forward over their faces removed their tops to reveal their skull-white bodies and made a half-hearted effort to throw an American football to each other whilst drinking cheap cider. An award for the most unlikely candidates to appear in the NFL must be heading their way. A girl in very small shorts performed some ineffectual flirting by kicking a football a short distance and giggling at how useless she was. Some of them smoked badly rolled cigarettes. Because his shouting was being ignored, the boy with the pony tail slapped one of his apparent friends on the back to leave a big red mark and then did some loud swearing and pointing whilst a woman with a small child walked passed. Then they moved on, leaving a swathe of empty cans and crisp wrappers behind them. National service anyone?