Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

An Evil Generation

I try to avoid getting into fruitless arguments, but when my mother-in-law started off about today's young people being "more evil" than earlier generations (hers for example) I couldn't stop myself  telling her she was talking crap. 

(I didn't say "crap" I said "rubbish". I censor myself around the old folks.)

I suppose the tiff made me feel better.

Afterwards Ailz and I were talking about kids with knives. There's a whole moral panic in progress in Britain right now about kids with knives. And we were saying, but hold on a moment, we used to carry knives too.

I'm talking about the fifties and  sixties. I had as privileged and sheltered an education as it's possible to imagine, but I carried a knife as a matter of course- A pen-knife; I used it for carving chunks out of desks and throwing at trees. And some of the meaner kids used theirs for purposes of intimidation.

Every schoolboy and many schoolgirls (Ailz for instance) carried penknives. Ailz says she used to play a hair-raising game called "split the kipper" which was all about trying not to stab oneself in the fingers.

I also owned a couple of sheath knives. If I wore them on the street- and I'm sure I did on occasion- passers-by would have simply assumed I was a boy scout out of uniform. 

It's all about perception. If the politicians and press barons back then had wanted to create a moral panic about alienated youth and terror in the playground they'd have had little difficulty finding  their evidence.

I had an air rifle too.

And then Ailz started reminiscing about her uncle George who- as a teddy-boy in the early 50s- not only carried a knife but wore razor blades sewn into his lapels.

Kids and blades-  they go together like peaches and cream, like motherhood and apple-pie.

My friend Rupert Head brought a sword to school. Lord Patrick Douglas Hamilton kept a pistol in his locker.

I could go on and on...
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