Tuesday, 10 December 2013

OECD : Office of Essential Capitalist Dissemination and thoughts on China and Sri Lanka, Oh! and Andrew Mitchell

It would be good to know more of this very clever  -  much more clever than any of us, you know  -     international body called the OECD which last week told us our useless kids and their useless teachers are trailing light years behind those hard working and nice non-hoodies, Korean and  Chinese schoolchildren, in the pursuit of doing sums. To tell the truth I am pleased about the success of children from far Asia, because for so long my generation was told that people from those countries  were either technologically neanderthal or copycats and certainly they were, we were informed,  culturally rather backward.

How things have changed, for while our UK prime minister, David Cameron, MP sniffs the posterior of  Chinese government and Chinese industry and their gold, he feels rectitudinally big enough to exercise his cane on the backside of the Sri Lankan government which has treated some of its people rather poorly. I am sure, because here in the United Kingdom we are a respectable and fair people with a respectable and fair government, that our prime minister will  provide us with evidence that the Sri Lankan government is nastier to its people than the Chinese government is. There can be no doubt that if this were not so, our noble and very wealthy prophylactically helmeted leader, our top Etonian, would be courting the world media to report that China is not too hot on human rights and so maybe we oughtn't to make trade deals with it.  It is mere happenstance that the Sri Lankans don't have the financial muscle of the Chinese and it would be cynical to think the relative poverty of Sri Lanka, and the less attractive trading opportunities it offers, allows our government the "moral strength" to front up to the human rights violations of the Sri Lankan government and, at the same time,  to wipe out from our collective memory some of the human rights atrocities that have occurred in China in recent decades. Actually when I come to think of it we're not too good on treating people humanely. As well as giving the nod to a little bit of torture here and there, our interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have hardly lessened the suffering of humankind, and as for the way we treat our own poor.......

"Well, that feels better. Got rid of a lot of stuff there."

Getting back to the OECD, I think it tells us that China is on the right lines and how it is going to be the greatest economy in the world soon - indeed it may already be so. And well, well, well the OECD isn't holding out much hope for the Sri Lankan economy.

It is an irony, though perhaps rather small beer,  as we simple folks try to make sense of all the big issues which are far beyond the thinking capacity of our little minds,  that the OECD is now telling us, that we, the United Kingdom gas consumers, are sadistically wounding and bankrupting those deserving shareholders of the energy companies who blithely, merrily, happily, verily and rightly stitch up, and keep cold, the poor and the less well off. You'll understand now that it's not right to vote for wee Ed in the next general election because he'll put a stop to their rightful and justified profiteering.  What an undeserving economic disaster that would be for "them thar"  paragons of energy  -  what with Christmas coming up so soon too.

I do hope I voted for the OECD. I am sure I must have done because its proclamations are delivered on the BBC daily and nobody seems to provide a dissenting voice. So that proves OECD must be right.

Us plebs  -  sorry Andrew, I am, in some measure, so sure you didn't say that word even if you did say f**ckin' -  have got to break free of our negative and fallacious obsessions about the selfishness of the important people  -  who are, let's face it, so much more worthy than you and me,  -  represented by the  OECD. We are drowning in our envy and the OECD is saturated in its altruism.

"OK, I'll come quietly officer. Oh ! don't tell me I've got it all wrong again. No, I don't necessarily support the OCCUPY movement.  I was only......................"

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Three cheers for the increased support to children in foster care ! Now let’s do it for those in children's homes

My lack of sympathy for the current United Kingdom Conservative-led coalition government is a secret I have tried desperately to keep, though not, I confess, entirely successfully. It is a government which has not altogether covered itself in glory in its treatment of troubled families and troubled children and so the announcement made today, December 4th, 2013, by the government minister for Children and Families, Edward Timpson, that children being looked after in foster care in England will continue, if they so wish, to have their foster care and support funded until the age of 21, is one to be welcomed. This is something that foster carers and others involved in the care and education of children looked after in the care system have long called for. 

Mr Timpson, whose own family fostered nearly 90 children, stated that the government would pledge £40m to this initiative over three years and the measure will be introduced during the third reading of the Children and Families Bill next year. I congratulate Mr Timpson. His intention will give us something of which, as a community, we can be proud. 

There is of course another smaller, though significant, group of looked after children. These are children in children's homes and they are perhaps the most vulnerable group of young people in our community. They are children who for a variety of reasons are not available for foster care. Too frequently their difficulties are seen as 'more problematic' rather than - as they should seen - ‘different.’ So the residential care they are provided with becomes, quite wrongly, understood as a  'last resort’ sump of care when it is clear that for these children it is a ‘first resort.’ It is what they need. Let us hope that within a very short period of time the government will announce a similar level of support for children and young people who are in residential care beyond the age of 18 years. Their needs for further support may well be different, perhaps more expensive, but if such support is provided it will be a further welcome sign that as a community we are attempting to edge towards becoming civilised. We will have demonstrated that we are as determined to establish, as much as we can, positive future prospects for young people in residential care, which are equal to those now being put in place for children growing up in foster care.


John Stein writes : 
I agree with your comment about residential child care being 'first resort' rather than last resort. I couldn't agree more. (Except that I strongly prefer the term, 'residential treatment' to residential care). Virtually every child I met in residential placement needed coordinated treatment in the life space. 'Care,' especially here in Louisiana, implies 3 meals a day and a roof and a bed with an adult with no more than a high school education to look after them. After all anyone can care for kids. That attitude is all too pervasive in our social work profession here, and it runs the programs.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Dens Road Market

I was up seeing the Dundee match against Falkirk last weekend  and instead of getting a bus or a taxi from the station up to the famous stadium, I walked through the Wellgate, and then up the Victoria Road and round the bend on to the Dens Road to get to Dens Park. And what do I find on my way ? The Dens Road Market is closed. 

A closed Dens Road Market, Saturday, November 16, 2013

Of course this may be history to people living in the town but it was news, and sad news for me but I guess everything under the sun has its day and goes.  It says on a notice that its moved tae the Hulltoon or something but surely it cannae be the same as it was in the glory days of the 70s and the 80s. 
So, so many great second hand bargains and first hand memories.


Joyce Billingham writes

Never to be forgotten .

Jennie Thomas recounts

That's very sad - my man and I bought our first furniture together at Dens Rd. I also have happy memories of stovies and bingo from visits there as a child.

Stuart Russon remembers

Yeah, its sad.... My memories are similar, I can hear the bingo caller's tuneful number calling even now. I used to opt for the mince roll rather than the stovies and I remember buying a Madness LP at the record stall. Following the trip to Dens Road Market we would have to sit and wait in Grandad's Volvo whilst Grannie and Grandad went round the Cash & Carry. Our patience would then be rewarded with sweets and a drive up the Law Hill.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

My Wee Pal,"Me", the BBC, Democracy, the "Most Powerful Man" in Britain, and a Gable End in Leith

I was watching the TV last night and a BBC reporter on the six o'clock news,  while commenting about a new investment programme to create even more nuclear based energy, referred to David Cameron as "the most powerful man in Britain,"   and here was I not thinking that along with every person who has the right to vote in this country, I was the most powerful person in Britain? I mean that's what the politicians and the media like to tell me to think when they are talking about free speech and letting me know what great privilege it is to live in a "democracy" like ours. Up to now I've always really tried to believe this last noble bit of their message.

Sunshine on Leith : pictures of some of the people whose labour made Britain powerful.

Perhaps you'll say that in accepting this vision I was just being too much of an unweaned bairn not to see that the world of media and politics is busy being fed by and feeding off the members of its own small clique, while they give each other bigger and bigger helpings of power and wealth. You'll tell me I can hardly expect them to have time to be concerned about being of service to my fellow citizens and me, even though, according to the romantic myth of democracy they dole out to us,  each one of us has equal rights. True of course until that is we turn up with tuppence and they turn up with a tenner.  Well I just can't swallow their fake food any more.

Friday, 11 October 2013

18 years of age : old enough to vote and die but certainly not to drive

The United Kingdom  government  -  which these days doesn't very much like many of the citizens it is supposed to serve - is thinking of not allowing young adults to drive until they are 18 or 19 years old and even then they may not be allowed to hold a full licence. Government ministers are due to publish their proposals in a Green Paper following a report by the Transport Research Laboratory.

Of course everyone wants to see a reduction in the number of road accidents with their potential for destroying lives and this should be addressed by looking again at the way driving is taught. Nonetheless questions of  equal rights and equal privilege are raised when a government declares an intention to withdraw a privilege from a certain section of our citizenry. This appears to be what is happening with the proposal to prevent 18 years old adults holding a full driving licence. Should the voices of these adults be heard before any legislation is prepared ?

I imagination these are the same 18 years old adults who are old enough to vote, who for two years have been old enough to get married and who are old enough to be killed when serving in the United Kingdom armed forces. 

Apparently the statistics show that the plan to ensure young adults are well and truly off the road is valid and reasonable. Did you know that drivers between 17 years old and 24 years old cause 20% of the serious accidents on our roads ? The rest of us cause the other 80%  so we'd better watch out or the government may catch on to that. I'd be devastated if I wasn't allowed a driving licence until I was 69. Still maybe it would really be fair enough -  since the likes of me have been causing 4 out of 5 of all road accidents. 

Finally, a message to young adults :  I would warn you not to protest about these proposals. You know what happened when those badgers moved the goal posts.


No driving licence until 19?  Richard Wescott, BBC on 10.10.13 at   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/24481574
 Driving test age rise considered for teenagers, BBC 11.10.13 at 


John Stein writes :

I read with dismay your piece on driving licenses for young people.  My personal experience here in Louisiana, where kids were able to get learners permits at the age of 15 (they require a licensed driver in the car), was that kids who started driving earlier learned to be responsible, while kids whose parents didn't let them get a license until later, like the age of 18, went right out and had an accident very soon after getting their license. 
I'm not convinced that waiting helps.  I think teaching responsibility and safe driving is the better way to go.  The younger they are, the more likely they are to learn.  At 15 (they could get a full license at 16), it is a REAL privilege.  Only a few years later, it becomes a right.
But, just my opinion from a different place and a different time...

Monday, 23 September 2013

Friday nights started at Frankie Davie's

Friday nights started at Frankie Davie's Café just after school with an ice-cream soda in winter, or a bowl of strawberries and ice cream in summer : the compliments of my Grannie Jackson. I used to think this was my treat because I was very special. My younger sister never came with us and my youngest sister was still a toddler. My mother put me right about this some years later, letting me know I was a very exhausting laddie and she wanted me “out o’ the road” so that she could spend some time with my sisters.  My Daddy never approved of my jaunts with Grannie, frequently reminding my Mummy how “ Your mother is turning my son into a spoilt brat.”  Nonetheless from early 1955 until late 1957 this sweet 4 o’clock indulgence marked the start of an end of the week ritual for my Grannie and me.

At a quarter to five when I had cleared this 'paternally frowned upon' confection out of the way, Grannie and I left the café and took a tram from the terminus in front of Lochee West Church, at the back of Liff Road School. The tram swung and bumped us all the way down to the Nethergate where we got off and paid a visit to a sweetie shop where Grannie bought me a quarter pound of boilings which I sooked and crunched my way through for the next two hours. Grannie always tried to insist that I sook them but I couldn't resist the temptation of gambling even further with  my teeth's long-term health and so after an initial sook I crunched them anyway.  When she saw me do this Grannie feigned to skelp me and would say, “N’ dinnae tell yer Da Eh bocht ye’ them or he’ll murder us.”

Once in receipt of the sweeties we'd go to the Palace Theatre which was just by and behind the Queens Hotel near the place where Dundee Contemporary Arts now stands.

We were at the theatre to watch the six o'clock performance of the variety show, which took place there twice nightly from Monday to Saturday. In exercising my memory back those 50 years and more, I enter a 10 years old boy's mind for detail which demands me to inform you that as well as the nightly performances there was a matinee performance on Wednesday afternoons. Wednesday was half day closing for the stores in Dundee and the matinee allowed frustrated shoppers and those who served in the shops of Dundee an extra opportunity to see the show. I know this because I had asked Grannie what a matinee was.

When we got into the theatre we'd go to the box office where Grannie bought us the cheapest tickets which gave us seats up in the gallery. I've heard people call the gallery of a theatre "the Gods" and certainly being up there felt like being an all seeing god. Usually we were the only people in the gallery and from where we sat it felt to me as if we were unseen onlookers who were secretly spying on everything and everyone.  It was thrilling to be looking down on the stalls, the orchestra pit and the huge shiny dark red damask curtains that hid the stage. We were always early and I enjoyed watching as members of the audience  arrived in ones and twos to take their seats in the stalls.

A few minutes before the show was due to start the members of the orchestra would appear from what seemed the bowels of the earth and climb up into the orchestra pit which itself was at a lower level than the stall seats in the auditorium.  I use the word ‘orchestra’ in a loose sense since most weeks the orchestra's complement was a very old female violinist, an even older male piano player of considerable girth and a younger male drummer who had slicked back Silvikrinned or Brylcreemed black hair. For the shows headlined by the bigger stars such as Jimmie Logan, Johnny Victory or Lex McLean the orchestra appeared to grow with the addition of a trumpeter and sometimes a trombonist. 

Once they'd got to their places the musicians seemed to fidget around to settle into their playing positions before beginning to tune their instruments  in a desultory way until, without signal, but with a precise urgency, each player took up a poised attitude:  the trumpeter with his trumpet to his lips, the violinist sitting upright with her instrument under her chin and her bow suspended in the air ready to brush the strings, the pianist, both hands poised in the air staring intently at his keyboard  and the drummer leaning forward holding still his cymbal.  The chatter of the audience decrescendo’d to anticipatory silence.  The auditorium lights went down and momentarily plunged us into darkness. The cymbal smashed and the  orchestra struck up with "Happy Days Are Here Again" as the stage lights came up and the curtains rose and there in the spotlight was a troupe of dancers, the Moxon Ladies, kicking up one leg after another in unison. The magic had started and the show rollicked on for almost two hours through a series of performances by  jugglers, acrobats, a duo of balletic dancers, a middle of the bill comedian, a magician, a solo female singer, a male crooner  until finally the star of the show, usually a comedian like Johnny Victory would do his main turn. Often the show was interspersed by comic sketches acted out by the star and some of the other performers. For the grand finale the dancing troupe would return and each of the performers would in turn take their bow all to the tune of "There's No Business Like Show Business" and we in the audience would clap our hands in applause until the curtain came down. If there was a big audience the applause would continue for a while longer and the stage curtain would rise again and the entertainers would take another bow. We'd continue clapping until the curtain was lowered again but that was that. The orchestra fell silent and the artistes did not re-appear. Grannie told me they never did more than one curtain call for the early show because they needed a rest before the second performance went on at about 8.15 pm.

 Afterwards Grannie would take me to the Deep Sea Fish Restaurant nearby where she'd have a fish supper and I would have a dressed white pudding supper. Just to let you know, a plain white pudding was fried without batter on it but a dressed one was fried with batter. 

A Dundee institution : The Deep Sea Restaurant

After this feast Grannie would take her 'stuffed to the gunnels but well entertained' grandson home on the tram back to Lochee. From the terminus we'd walk up to Clement Park. She'd knock on the door and I went in and would go straight upstairs to bed. Grannie would never come in if my Daddy answered the door. If my Mummy answered the door she’d usher Grannie into the kitchen for a cup of tea and tell her to “hud yer wheesht, Ma, Chic’s in the living room.”  My Daddy would be listening to the radio or watching the television there.

After an ice-cream soda, strawberries and cream, a quarter pound of boiled sweets and a dressed white pudding supper I was, as my Daddy invariably predicted I would be, sometimes sick. When that happened he would say to my Mummy, “Never again,” but there was always an again even after the last tram left Lochee for the Nethergate in 1956. From then on Grannie and I went 'doon the toon’ on a number 20 bus until in December 1957 our Friday evenings came to their end when my last train left Dundee for England.

 The site of the tram terminus : photograph of Lochee West Church on the only day it rained in August 2013 .

Friday, 20 September 2013

Down and Out in Coventry, April 1941 and 1968

"Where were you at the bomb blast
when the cathedral bell tolled its last
and the inner bishop said, 'You're bound for Hell' ?"

"I was in mother's womb before I fell."

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Of Badgers and Men

It is interesting that leaders of western democracies seem to want to kill people in the middle east. They always say they are doing it for the good of the inhabitants of the countries they attack and yet after completion of their military campaigns they leave each country in a worse state than it was before their intervention. After exercising their "kinder, cleaner machine gun hand" our democratic leaders leave behind them a trail of chaos, violence and fear.  This is true of Iraq and Libya and soon it will be true of Afghanistan. Many would argue that it is already true. Now it seems that the people of troubled Syria may require our leaders' special kind of supportive gesture.

I disapprove of the Assad regime and it may well be responsible for a deadly poisonous chemical attack upon some of its own people and if this can be proved to be the case then a decision upon action which insists that justice be done, preferably diplomatically rather than militarily, might be considered.  And so,  it's difficult to understand why the leaders of the western democracies are unwilling to wait for the UN investigation team examining evidence of the use of chemical weapons in Syria to file its report.  This impatience does not rest easily with democratic principle. It is as if they are saying, "It is more expedient for us to shoot to kill now and answer Joe Public's questions later." 

Well here in the UK our political leaders have not yet been able to give themselves permission to rub out those of their citizens they don't like, so they have diverted their aggression toward badgers who they are gunning down because they may be a cause of the spread of bovine tuberculosis - though the scientific evidence for this is far from convincing. 

Those responsible for leading the cull of the badgers say that if shooting the badgers takes too much time, then, in the name of efficiency, they will turn to using poisonous gas to speed up the process.


8 pm August 28th : the Labour Party has forced the UK prime minister David Cameron and the  coalition government he leads to climb down from its intention to initiate immediate military action against  Syria. No further decision will be taken on this issue until the UN investigators have completed and presented the report of their investigation. Good news for the time being but sadly no good news for the badgers. 

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Primary school kids had it coming to them : government plans to shame the 11 years old who have failed us.

The deputy prime minister, Nick "student loans" Clegg, and the schools minister, David "faulty expense claim" Laws, both members of the Conservative led United Kingdom government announced today that, while putting back a little of the big bundle of dosh this government had previously taken from children's services - of course at a time when it was morally imperative to prioritise easing the plight of the needy rich  -  they are now to introduce a new policy for primary school education. This policy will ensure that every 11 year old's school performance will be published to let us know which of them are slacking and are therefore likely to become nasty welfare skivers and which of them will be very clever and become  toadies to a disgraced political and financial system and so make sure that we will all, very sensibly, doff the cap to, and remain in debt to, the powerful few.

Why oh why do some  deluded people still think  kids deserve a childhood ?  And,  don't these kids know that there are very important people in Westminster whose arms are twisted behind their backs by even more important people with "global" financial interests that those self-same politicos have so astutely allowed us to become indebted to?  Can't these youngsters just grow up, like now, like today, like learn their responsibilities ? See how I'm even trying to use their kind of talk to help them understand how crucial Mick "the PM's pompous prying prefect" Gove  knows this to be?  Like, like they don't get it when Mick tells them  for a fact that their conning of the 13 times table by rote will solve all the nation's problems? Don't they like understand that all over the globe those countries whose children know their 13 times table are more economically powerful than us and like if we don't sort it out soon we're going to fall further and further behind in something or other ? Come on kids !  get a grip and stay cool !

And that's why folks I've felt it necessary to bring this new government announcement to your notice. The announcement was made by David Laws just after prime minister's question time on July 17th, 2013  and I thought I would take a lead from the prime minister, Dave "has anyone got a fag?" Cameron, and use his  unique method of selective quoting. So I provide here for anyone who might read this, some excerpts from the new education "initiative."

"low bar"
"raise the bar"
"Floor Standards"
"below the floor"
"higher floor"
"lower floor"
and again "lower floor"
and again  "lower floor"
and again and again and again and  again  'cos we are from 
"lower floor."

Source The government announces plans for higher standards and a bigger premium for primary schools

ps The government notice which I cite here seemed to disappear about 5 minutes after this blog was posted. Oh ! no !  GCHQ  or, even scarier, OFSTED  must be on to me ! Maybe I can get asylum in the corridor of a Russian comprehensive school.

Glossary : a "fag" is an English colloquial term meaning cigarette and by sheer coincidence and sadly not by any smart aforethought on my part it is also a word which refers to a junior boy at an English public school - like Eton College - who acts as a servant to a senior boy. 

Monday, 24 June 2013

Failing and shameful OFSTED lets down students and schools

OFSTED's shameful announcement last week of its negatively biased judgments on schools in seaside towns and in rural areas was a cheap shot to sustain for itself government support for an education inspection system which is driven by what the political classes and big business interests judge to be a good education. The latter is an education which discourages imagination and free thinking in favour of jumping through hoops and conning by rote.   It is a system configured to provide the powerful with people prepared to toe the line, in the same way that many of the heads of our diminishing number of state schools do, for fear of being labelled as being in charge of " failing schools."

I do not for one moment believe these schools are failing their pupils but perhaps the problem for our schools in rural and littoral situations is that they are less well financially endowed than other schools. They may be the schools which can't afford to pay fat consultancy fees to off duty OFSTED inspectors so that they can carry out a MOCKSTED before an official inspection. So much for a random system of inspection. Yes folks, this actually happens. A system which should be random  can actually be rehearsed beforehand if your child's school can afford it. 

School in rural setting

So determined are some schools in attaining the targets set for this narrow form of education, that many children can find that rather than getting on with their education week after week in a calm, creative and industrious way in the company of their teachers they are now becoming the most observed people in the country. Imagine this. No don't imagine it, because it actually happens. Schools where the senior management of a school and its governors fall into line with the martinet regime favoured by our political masters set up programmes such as : week one, teachers and classes observed and assessed by senior management of the school ; week two, two days of MOCKSTED when off-duty OFSTED inspectors give the school an unofficial going over; week three, governors come into the school to observe and assess the teachers and the classes ; week  four, official OFSTED inspection takes place. The long term result of this : anxious teachers and so anxious children. 

School in seaside setting 

In relation to its recent proclamations, OFSTED failed to show basic human respect to the pupils and the teachers of the schools upon which it pronounced its dubious and probably spurious judgments.  OFSTED knew that its "conclusions" would cause headlines which would be upsetting and damaging to both pupils and teachers of these schools, but hey, why bother about a little thing like that when you can guarantee that OFSTED  is creating headlines that will delight a punitive education minister and a punitive government and allow OFSTED to spread its tentacles into other areas, like, for instance, the NHS. 

Monday, 3 June 2013

An adult rants : lay off our youth, we - or I - are (am) the real problem.

Now before anyone begins to mouth off  that I’ve become too adolescent-centred let me  say that adults can say, do, and, not do things which can be considered very good for young people and so also for themselves. I think the self- same adults can also say, do or not do things that are an injustice to young  people.  Too often adults give young people a bad press. This was confirmed for me when recently I read a report in my local newspaper about a public meeting in our Town Hall which had been called to discuss a general concern about street crime.

Don’t get me wrong; destructive and violent street crime disturbs and frightens me as much as the next person, but on reading the newspaper report it became obvious within the first few sentences that the meeting considered young people to be the principal villains when it came to street crime.

Naturally,  epitome of good citizenry that I am, I was not at the meeting, and to be fair, the report seemed to suggest there was a consensus in the meeting that young people should not be stereotyped and that only a minority of young people were involved in delinquent behaviour. Nevertheless it appeared that for many at the meeting delinquency on the town’s streets could only be put down to youth. 

Street crime : not happening

One of the reasons wheeled out to explain this problem was that there was not enough organised activity available for youngsters and so with nothing else to do they go out on the streets and rampage. There is usually some truth in old chestnuts but adults who totally fall for this one are in serious denial. They have consciously or unconsciously blocked from their memory what it is to be young.

Hasn’t it always been the case that for some young people to be involved in organised activity like the scouts or to be a member of the youth club has been cool, while for others, perhaps those of a more solitary nature, belonging to such organisations has always been uncool? That a substantial number of young people do not join in the activities of a youth organisation does not necessarily mean there is a shortage of resources, neither does it mean that  youngsters who do not join organised youth activities are more likely to be street criminals.

We forget too that like us before them, teenagers either quietly or more obviously, are embarking on that often embarrassing and painful search to find an adult identity. As part of this process youngsters need in some way to break away from their parenting figures and sometimes they do this by rejecting what adults provide for them.
These rejections can be painful for adults. Few of us can be perfect parents, and this is a time when both generations, parents and youngsters are meeting new experiences, and so mistakes are made, but parenting adults have a vital role in allowing enough space for  a youngster's quest for adult identity to take place.  At the same time as keeping our young people as safe as we possibly can we should ensure that young spirits are not broken. Adolescence is a time for using  the mutual trust that has built up through the childhood years to allow the risk-taking that necessarily has to take place as young people grow into adulthood.

This is why it is so regrettable that our idea of the adolescent period is largely centred on the behaviour of young people, rather than being seen as a time of re-negotiating personal positions between two generations. If there is a relationship problem between two generations, then the older generation has to take some (and in my view, most) of the responsibility for it, since after all it is supposed to be wiser.  So, when, as we walk up the High Street of our local town or city,  we see or hear something which suggests to us that the behaviour and values of our young people are deteriorating,  we should be more open and tolerant in our thinking when we ask what has caused this “deterioration.”
My particular generation, those people who were teenagers in the late 1950s and early 1960s, were the ones who believed they had revolted against what we thought was the repression, (particularly of emotional and sexual matters) suffered by our parents’ generation, and so it seemed we should offer our children greater freedom of expression.

Street crime may have happened

In any such social developments there is a down side as well as an up side. It is all too easy for us to forget, when we complain about the foul language of some young people nowadays, that from the late 1960s and early 1970s, in the spirit of freedom from repression (some called this “ becoming permissive”), our generation allowed for the first time sexual intimacy, sexual swear words, violence and sexual violence to be increasingly viewed on the cinema and television screen.

I happen to think that there are more positives to having less censorship rather than increased censorship, as long as the problematic issues which arise are discussed sensitively between generations, and between parent and young person. I do not think these discussions occur often enough or when they do they tend to turn into adult rants (like this know-all one you may still be reading now).

More worrying is that when we adults lay the responsibility for increasing anti-social behaviour in our society at the feet of young people, we conveniently forget our part in cultivating a social environment in which anti-social behaviour can flourish because we have failed to take on our full parenting responsibilities.  We do not always work very hard at being positive role models for our youngsters. All too frequently, we leave this to social networks, the internet, television and computer games, the youngsters’ peers groups, and other adults. At the same time we deny the paradox that those very acquisitive, aggressive cultural role models and values - which we adults, from the righteousness of our moral pedestal,  condemn as powerful negative influences on our young - are in fact the values of a political system and marketing and media industries which we,  directly or indirectly, in our clamour  for greater financial wealth,  have allowed to develop and flourish.
It is not helpful to deny that there are serious problems facing young people in our community or that there are some youngsters who are behaving in a way which harms others and themselves. But shouldn’t adults reflect on ways to solve these problems by first acknowledging a significant responsibility for their creation, rather than passing the blame on to young people, or indeed on to their teachers, youth workers, social workers and the police? Isn’t there a need to recognise and accept the necessarily perennial inter-generational problems involved in the process of growing up? Adults have a responsibility to contain these problems but also to accept them as a normal part of life.