Parties. When you’re tiny they mean presents, games and all the e-numbers you can eat. When you’re a ‘tween’ (that period after primary school but before body hair) they mean shit pop music, all the boys on one side and all the girls on the other and at the end of the night, an awkward slow dance with whoever hasn’t already been asked. Ah, bless.
Teenage parties, however, are a whole ‘nother animal completely. Aside from the obligatory stabbings, fag burns in the carpet, broken windows and underage drinking, here’s a few of the partygoers you may bump into: Continue reading →
So a week has passed since, to quote the immortal Martin Lawrence, ‘the shit got real’ in various areas of London, Birmingham, Manchester and some other cities I don’t care about enough to look up.
Many more eloquent and learned people than myself have shared their thoughts on what caused this spectacular series of events in the days that followed… and David Starkey too, so I’m not about to offer my theories on the whole affair. Instead, here are a couple of observations on the reactions to the disorder:
Social networking tools are the new Gangsta Rap AAHHH!! A new thing the establishment doesn’t fully understand.
At first it was down to Facebook. Then we all realised that the people who were using that to organise looting were too thick to implement the security settings on their account and were therefore easy to trace and laugh at.
So blame then moved to Twitter, but those of us that actually use it and don’t get needlessly defensive whenever the site is mentioned soon stepped in to explain that it is just spambots, celebrities, aspiring writers and people who have transcended Facebook status updates that use Twitter and anyways; that shit’s more public than Facebook, just ask Paul Chambers.
Then someone in the news media heard about BBM (that means Blackberry Messenger, Grandpa) and got confused enough to get scared. Ladies and gentleman, our ‘fall-guy’.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s it was Gangsta Rap-influenced young people that friendly middle-class white people were instructed to fear. While young people are still terrifying, it is only occasionally that Hip Hop is considered scary nowadays so we top up our fear with other things that will herald the apocalypse… like video games and hooded sweatshirts.
Extreme behaviour wasn’t restricted to the streets As I grew up in Croydon, plenty of people on my ‘friend list’ on Facebook are also from the town. Last week, as the BBC News Channel broadcast live pictures of Reeves Corner burning (and I’m sure those images were in no way influential in anyone’s decisions to go robbing, by the way. Absolutely certain they didn’t exacerbate the situation even a little bit.), the statuses started.
From the obligatory ‘Just saw you on the telly’ message from friends in as yet unsmashed towns to people sharing their outrage and disbelief, all emotions and ideological perspectives were soon covered.
However, disturbingly enough, the status that appeared more than anything was ‘they’ll regret burning down the chicken shop when it’s lunchtime tomorrow’ and variants of. In fact, before long, there were so many racist statuses popping up on my newsfeed that Facebook even started lumping all the racists together in a useful bundle for easy avoidance.
Yes, stealing is wrong. Yes, of course attacking people is abhorrent, nobody is saying otherwise. But your persistent casual racism? Just as emblematic of the issues facing twenty-first century Britain as every second of footage recorded last week…
As you grow older, certain people in your peer group will begin to reminisce about your school days. If you are really unlucky, you will know someone whose life is so depressing that during these periods of nostalgia, they will utter one of the two most soul-destroying phrases ever to leave a person’s lips: ‘Those were the best days of my life’ or ‘I wish I could go back.’ Things have got to be bad if you long for the days of curfews, pocket money and head-lice.
To celebrate entering my 27th year this week, here’s a reminder of why being ‘grown’ is far superior:
Not giving a shit about what others think
When you’re a teenager, you are so deluded that the opinions of other teenagers ACTUALLY mean something to you. If everyone says a certain brand’s latest ugly, over-priced trainers are the mutt’s nuts, then those were the trainers you were begging your mum to buy you in Footlocker the next week. The sensible, reasonably priced Hi-Tecs she proposed got shot down every time. As you get older, you realise that there are better things to spend your money on than £200 trainers and those Hi-Tecs do look awfully comfy…
Of course there are times that you should still give a shit. For example, if ALL of your mates think your other half is batshit and sucking the life out of you, maybe they have a point.
A willingness to learn
The older you get, the more you realise you don’t actually know all that much. A sense of regret builds inside you, reminding you over and over again that you wasted your schooldays being too concerned with looking cool in front of girls. Books transform from instruments of torture and misery into goldmines of pub quiz answers and other interesting things… Unless you’re one of those morons who considers themselves ‘too old to learn’ and takes pride in their ignorance, of course, in which case, I hope you enjoy treading water.
A sense of perspective
You ever listened to a bunch of teenagers at the back of a bus? I mean really listened, not just been aware of the cacophony behind you? Chances are they’re talking about something REALLY unimportant, usually some bullshit about being ‘disrespected’ by someone while showing that respect is the last thing that they deserve. The way they go about it though, you’d think they were a task force handed the responsibility of solving the problems between Israel and Palestine.
Luckily, as most of us age, we realise that we’re not that special, no matter what our mums tell us. It slowly dawns on us that everyone has their own shit to deal with and our shit is no more special that the next person’s. Of course, this isn’t universal. There will always be a few people you know who remain completely wrapped up in their own dull existence well into their adulthood. You will grow to pity them.
No ridiculous slang
I can’t remember how it worked when I was younger, maybe we got more ‘cool’ points the more slang we could drop in to a single sentence, or maybe it was a symptom of our lack of perspective and we thought that what we were talking about was so controversial that it had to shared in code. Whatever the reason for it, one thing was certain; we sounded like fucking idiots. What a difference employment makes, eh?
Not that there’s anything wrong with slang; the odd word slipped in at the right time can spice up any sentence, but you try being taken serious as a grown up after you tell your middle-aged colleagues the girls at the club you went to the other night were ‘bare (sp?) peng’.
More to come, but until then, have a browse through the archive. Got plenty for ya to read.
Despite what Olay, Loreal and the rest claim in their adverts, there is no cream, treatment or procedure that can halt the inevitable passage of time. You can inject refined disease into your face and have bits ‘tightened’ or sucked out of you but eventually we will all get old and die. How gracefully you go about this process is, of course, a completely different matter.
As you grow older, certain things that were once the punchlines to jokes you told become a reality and all the face-lifts and botox injections in the world can do nothing to stop them.
Things such as:
Ridiculous injuries If you told the teenage me that in years to come a simple cough could result in serious injury and time off work, I would have told you to fuck off. Some of the younger folk reading this are probably thinking exactly that right now. But, alas young bendy people, it is true. As you grow older, a mis-timed sneeze, cough or sudden movement has the potential to cripple you for weeks through torn muscles, slipped discs, trapped nerves and all sorts of other delightful ailments.
You don’t even need to exert yourself in any way; you can also injure yourself sleeping. Yep, the world is a cruel, cruel place.
Gruesome hangovers Once upon a time, it was not unheard of for me to go out on the piss, get up the next day, go to work and then get back on the piss again. This would be repeated most days of each week. The mere thought of doing that now makes me feel a bit sick.
Nowadays, I pretty much have to clear my schedule for the next day if I want to get shit-faced, which I will admit, is rather depressing… But once you hit your mid-twenties, it is viable to expect a two day recovery period for every evening of heavy drinking you partake in.
Want proof? Check your Facebook newsfeed on a Saturday morning. I bet every person that moans about being hungover in their status update is over twenty-five years old. If you don’t have any friends that are over twenty-five, then take heed and make the most of the time you have.
The terms ‘retro’ and ‘old-school’
You want confirmation that you are getting old? Look at the Toy sections of any retail website. Everything on sale that is labelled ‘retro’ is something you have fond memories of from your childhood, right? Almost as horrifying is seeing nightclubs advertising music from the 1990s as ‘Old-Skool’.
Diminishing cultural awareness When you were in your teens, even if you didn’t get involved, you were still aware of any cultural phenomenons that were occurring around you. You knew what was popular on commercial radio and what was actually popular with people who have taste (yeah, I said it). I remember being very much involved in Drum n Bass music/culture around the turn of the century… Fuck knows what’s going on with it now…
The older you get, the more likely it is that entire cultural movements will pass you by. I bet my old man wouldn’t know what Lady Gaga was if she fell on him. Yes, you will pick up on certain things through cultural osmosis (think back to Biology class- I recall something to do with potatoes) but these days, due to the speed that information is shared globally, by the time you have caught up, that shit will be old hat.
Eastenders picking up on ‘jog-on’ a few years ago is a good example. The term became popular among angry young men via the classic work of cinema ‘Football Factory’ (Danny Dyer’s in it, so it must be good…). By the time the ‘Stenders writers became aware of its existence, the only people in Britain still saying it were your parents.
Got a smartphone? Does it confuse you sometimes? I said, DOES IT CONFUSE YOU SOMETIMES, DEAR?
It’s not just teenage communication habits that have changed in the last ten years. Here’s a selection of the other things I thought of that the young people don’t do no more (oh, yes- bask in my double-negative-ness):
Go to record shops I may be showing my age here but when I was a lowly Office Junior raking in £75 a week, the first thing I’d do on payday would be to hit Beano’s (the greatest music shop that ever existed) and pick up half a dozen CDs. I was seventeen so most of them were shite, but I digress…
What’s the equivalent these days? As @Syph79 tweeted to me after the last ‘teenager’ post, ‘You can’t hang around in itunes!’ Of course, no-one other than me seems to buy music anymore and Beano’s has since shut. As have most record shops (we touched on this in the nightclubposts). If you did some research, you could probably find a correlation between the closure of record shops and the increase of scary hood-wearing children hanging around menacingly…
Find porn in the woods Now arguably, this one isn’t restricted to teenagers. When was the last time you or anyone you know stumbled across (heh) a carrier bag full of grumble-mags? What was once a staple of a young man’s developmental years (or a young woman’s- we don’t discriminate) has all but vanished, replaced by Google image searches for ‘boobs’ (safe-search off), Pornhub (Don’t act like you don’t know what that is. Just don’t.), and if they can stay up (heh) late enough, Babestation (again, your claim of ignorance is fooling no one).
Thanks to the internet, all children in the world (except China, maybe) will only ever be a few clicks away from ‘Two Girls, One Cup’ being one of their first sexual experiences. Just think about that for a moment. The copy of ‘Razzle’ your mum found under your bed all those years ago doesn’t look so bad now, eh?
Blag free phone-cards OK, one more communication-habit-change. Back when mobile phones were too expensive to buy for children and pedophiles didn’t lurk on every street corner, if you were out and you wanted to get in touch with someone, rather than walk to their house, you could ring them from a phone box (do they even exist anymore?).
If you possessed a little forethought, you could ring the operator and claim that the phone had eaten the pound coin you ‘put in’ and not allowed you to make a call. Then by simply giving them your name and address, they would send you a phone-card of the same value. Once done a few times, you had yourself a stash and could ring ANYONE; the world was your lobster.
But that was when a call cost 10p… Probably wouldn’t be worth doing now…
In this ‘digital’ age, it is easy to get swept up in the rate at which society is adapting to, and becoming reliant on new technologies. What people are slow to notice are the certain character defining events in a young person’s life that this new technology makes void. Here are a few examples:
Now everyone’s got a mobile phone, the only reason to have a phone line in the house is so you can access the internet which, along with the introduction of instant messaging has changed the face of teenage interaction forever. Long gone are the days when the only way to contact the object of your adolescent desire was to ring their house and run the gauntlet of speaking to their family members.
Every now and then you’d get off lightly and the person you wanted to speak to would answer, saving any embarrassment or awkwardness, but more often than not, it would be a parent that picked up. Now I can’t speak on how this experience was for girls, but as most of you know, can remember or are currently experiencing, teenage boys aren’t as smooth and calculated as they like to think they are. No matter what you planned to say if her dad answered, when presented with the reality, it was impossible to stop the voice in your head reminding you that you wanted to hump this man’s daughter and he fucking knew it. Scary.
If you could get through those conversations without making a twat of yourself, you were laughing. Next time you rang they’d normally invite you over for dinner. If they didn’t…
What’s the equivalent these days? Saying hello when one of their folks walk into the background of a Skype conversation? They’re getting off too easy, I tells ya!
Knocking for people
Again thanks to mobile phones, as well as social networking and tabloid media-fuelled fear of paedophiles, everything is prearranged these days. Before mobiles, if you wanted to get a group together to loiter menacingly outside some shops or go to the park to drink shit cider and 20/20 but couldn’t get hold of certain people on the phone, you had to go to their house/flat to get them.
If you wanted to speak to the person you fancied but didn’t have their phone number, you would recruit a friend to join you for moral support and go knock for them. Again, you would run the gauntlet of family member awkwardness, but it’d always be a hell of a lot worse for them, especially if the family already knew your name. Then you’d spend the next few hours standing on their doorstep doing exactly the same as teenagers do now on Aim, Facebook, MSN, Skype and the rest; talk a lot about fuck all. But you’d do it in person. With vowels.
Keep their lives private
I realise this has been covered in a previous post but it needs reiterating.
If Facebook had existed when I was between the ages of twelve and eighteen the last thing I would’ve done is add my parents to my friend list. They know what you’re up to, they just don’t want to admit it, so why let them know explicitly by giving them access to your social life? Why hasten their disappointment in you? Can any good at all come from your mother having access to photos of you vomiting in a nightclub toilet? Or that one of you passed out on the floor with a penis drawn on your forehead?
There was once a time when your mum wouldn’t find out that you smoked weed until that time you were too stoned to hide it properly and she found it in your drawer while she was on one of her routine snoops around your room. You must’ve been stoned when you accepted the friend request too because now you’ve also given her the power to cyber-snoop! Now all she needs to do is look at what you’ve ‘liked’ on Facebook, wait till you post a ‘…was so baked last night’ status update or see you tagged in a photo with a spliff in your hand. Why do it to yourself?