Tuesday 24 March 2015

These foolish things

Now I’m as devout an atheist as any, but the bible – for all that it is based on an unprovable and basically childish premise - contains some wise words. For example, verse eleven of the thirteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians states: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” To those of us who have long worked for a living and long now for a return to more childish pleasures in our dotage this is a passage which invokes a truth we have experienced personally.

You can still have fun, still enjoy a youthful interest in novelty and wonder but our wilder excesses are tempered by that steady counsel – empathy. I may not sympathise with your cause but I can pretty well empathise with how you will feel if, for instance, I invade your personal space with my rancid and unappealing opinions about you and what you stand for. And while I might have a go on Twitter, or blog about you in distasteful terms I would draw the line at throwing eggs in your face, painting a swastika on your door or turning up mob-handed and scaring your kids.

I well remember the Rag Weeks at university – oh what witty wags we all were back then when we were so sure we were the only generation to ever have discovered drink, sex and spectacular swearing. But the idiocy of our cocksure strutting was quickly brought into sharp focus when the world of work opened its doors and we discovered, quick-sharp, that the time for play was over. But some people can’t seem to relinquish their grip on these foolish things and one such thing is the belief that maintaining the soothing fictions of your cosseted world of academia will sustain you into adulthood.

University is a privilege not afforded to all and often unappreciated by those who benefit. It is a time for experimentation with ideas, lifestyles and allegiances which will ultimately shape your world view and your future self. But it is supposed to be a period of transition from the child you were to the adult you will one day become; it is not meant to be a blueprint, Peter Pan-like for your forever-land. Barrie called it Neverland for a reason and only the lost boys remain trapped there, in infancy. This week, one little lost boy – the still-a-student-after-more-than-a-decade – Dan Glass - tossed his rattle out of the pram.

This former Sussex University union president is now in his early thirties but prefers to cling to the naïve affiliations of his student days, hitching his horse to any old bandwagon so long as it has the right new-age, lefty, any-cause-will-do credentials, furthering his bent for petty headline-grabbing with a succession of high jinks and pranks posing as political activism. From what I can glean, no tiresome juvenile crusade-du-jour goes un-banged-on about. Climate, gender, page 3, breastfeeding, HIV ‘rights’, etc and any activity, it seems, that wage-earners engage in, is fair game for disruption.

What cuts? No idea, but I might get on the telly...
Free the aberrant apostrophe!

We have a right to protest in this country and even the likes of Dan Glass are allowed – quite rightly - to express their opinions. But others have rights also, which is a counterpoint often unacknowledged by those whose opinions are formed in the lukewarm crucible of the school of soft landings. Those of us who have experienced Big School, the one with the hard knocks, have no time for these annoying, squabbling, half-formed ‘kidults’ and just one piece of important advice for the likes of Mr Glass. Grow up.

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