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?


  1. Yes. National service. Or jobs. Give them a real life, a real purpose, and I'd bet they'd prove to be as interesting, intelligent, and worthwhile as any other adult.

  2. Kids these days! No, seriously. I think they're getting more random in their behavior all the time. That's why it's so hard to try to have a decent discussion about literature in the classroom, or a discussion about anything for that matter. Their randomness just consumes them. I know, blame the teacher! Oh there's so much to blame, but maybe being "entirely pointless" is the new hallmark of what our times are coming to. Who knows? You post encapsulates a lot by showing rather than telling. Nice!

  3. phil you jumped 30 thats all,
    no doubt 30years ago another teacher sat where you did and dismayed as such the callow youths at play.in30 years time there will be no education system as such and we shall all despair

  4. Hi Phil,

    I despair at the youth of today, nearly as much as my father did when he saw me grow longer hair as a teenager. I like your theme, the text is large enough for me to read without squinting. I won't get too enthusiastic though. I think I might have to decipher a captcha before this comment will be accepted. I think teaching must be rewarding, I only mentor university students; I'm too old to cope with teenagers now!

  5. I'm only 25, but teenagers scare me, as they did even when I was one. The lack of respect for others is most unfortunate. Granted they aren't all this way, but those who are ruin it for the good ones. Half the issue is that kids are getting more and more spoiled, and it leads them to believe that they don't have to do their share. I know a girl who is almost 21, has never worked a day in her life, and her only stress is what people are saying about her and how to furnish her new apartment that her parents are paying for. The younger generation doesn't understand stress because no one has made them responsible, and that will be a rude awakening for many of them in the future. Again, that's not every youth, but it's a higher percentage than people realize. I'm in the United States, so I don't know how different it is in the UK, but here we definitely need to be doing a better job at teaching our children how to respect others and work for their share after a certain age.

  6. Grace from twitter :p9 September 2012 at 08:05

    I love castle park in the town where I live but, I don't go in their on the school holidays for these reasons 1- the amount of frolicing on display 2- stepping over the couples that frolic !!
    Call me jealous cos I'm single blah blah but it is also a park for kids & local tourist as it has a Roman castle surrounding the grounds & a kids park with couples who look like they are getting it on !! If you don't believe come see for yourself