As I sit here on yet another day off spoiled by even more rain, I can’t help but reminisce about when I was the same age as my son, who at sixteen has just left school and will start college in September.
I left school with no qualifications and hated my school in that steel town of Corby in Northamptonshire. I moved to Weymouth in 1991 and shockingly it was the first time I’d met anyone that had gone to university. Upon meeting an old teacher of mine years later I mentioned this to him and his answer was equally shocking. He told me that as teachers they were not encouraged to prime us for university, as we were to become workers for Stewart’s and Lloyd’s Steelworks. I’ve often thought about his words and what an eye opener it was. Here was a teacher entrusted by my and every other parent at that school to give us the best possible start in life and who was actually setting us up for the local corporation as “cannon fodder”.
I had my own dreams and aspirations to become a professional drummer, which I did upon leaving school, and somehow still manage to survive and make a living. I had plans. I would pass my driving test at 17 (which I did); buy a car to transport me from gig to gig; move away from home (which I did) by the time I was eighteen and set up in my own flat. I remember how happy and grown up I felt buying my Green Mk II Ford Cortina at the age of 17 and a half (the half made a big difference then) and I moved to Bournemouth, where I rented a 2 bedroom flat. I then started playing on average 5/6 nights a week, and touring for two weeks at a time, on occasion, both home and abroad.
As I started off saying at the beginning of this article what if I was my son now facing the same challenge? The driving test has become so much harder to pass, and if he does pass at 17 and buys a car, how will he ever afford to insure it? Youngsters of that age upon passing there tests are quoted £2k/£3k a year insurance…why? ”Oh it’s because they are a big risk” you often hear. Shouldn’t the real answer be from the insurance companies “We’ve just become so greedy and we don’t look for loyal customers any more, we just want to make as much profit as possible quickly, because competition and compare sites mean that customers don’t stick around any more? I mean, seriously, two to three thousand pounds for our youngsters to drive a car? I remember meeting a group of 4 USAF F16 jet fighter pilots at a gig in Ramstein, Germany. They were all about 18 or 19, and were fighter pilots because they had the lightning quick reactions that were needed to fly these super quick machines. Yet my old dad…(god rest his soul) was still driving at the age of 85, and as a passenger, I perceive it a more harrowing experience than walking around the big cat enclosure at Longleat, with a leg of lamb tied around my neck. His insurance was dirt cheap though?
Would I be able to make a living as a young musician now? Probably not, because the gigs aren’t there anymore. The smoking ban, increasing rents for venue owners and landlords have seen pubs become a rare excursion on the occasional Friday and Saturday. Political correctness is often rammed down our throats by the cretinous governments (of any party) in the guise of looking after our health, yet pubs were a large part of our culture, and if they were genuinely interested in our health, then stop selling cigarettes…FULL STOP! I say this as a smoker. And even more importantly…stop advertising McDonalds on the TV to our children. Is it not a case that the government want to discourage us from socialising with each other and possibly discussing how disgraceful it is what is happening with the bankers… invading foreign countries…. the rising cost (an understatement) of food and utilities? The latest wrongdoing by Barclays bank is unbelievable! Think about it for a moment. In the recent riots, 6 months for an unemployed, working class rioter who stole a bottle of water, and what will happen to the bankers for stealing £5 billion? You don’t need me to give you the answer.
Could I rent a 2 bedroom flat these days? Not for under £650 a month. Again greed has taken over with private landlords buying up property to make more and more money, which wouldn’t be a bad thing if more social houses were being built. Margaret Thatcher was keen for everyone to be given the opportunity to own their own house….how kind of her? You don’t suppose it had anything to do with making it impossible to strike because you had your mortgage to pay, and therefore stripping the unions…. and more importantly you of your powers? What hope have working class kids and even middle class kids got to own their own house? Youngsters have no chance of buying properties in the villages and towns that they and their families have lived for generations.
Our kids are bombarded with designer this, designer that, gadgets and expensive possessions, which have turned them into a ‘want it all now’ generation. They are given role models that have become famous from reality shows, or from sleeping with someone famous, or from sleeping with someone from a reality show? And then we have the outcry about youngsters getting pregnant in order to get a house and housing benefit. Why is that? Our ‘whiter than white’ politicians harp on about the financial burden they are putting upon all of us as taxpayers. Don’t make me laugh! It is a drop in the ocean compared to the waste of financial resources bestowed upon us by the same said politicians and greedy bankers and tax dodgers who are continually unaccountable for their actions.
You only have to look at The Olympics coming to Weymouth to see where it’s wrong and to find great examples of waste. We have local hoteliers and guest house owners on the news telling us that bookings are down… Is it not just a case of they are disappointed that they aren’t actually going to make a killing after all? Could it not be that in typical fashion Weymouth council have not been able to see any further than making a quick buck. What an opportunity for Weymouth to say to people ‘look at what a great place Weymouth is to bring your family on holiday for the next few years’, but no!!! The parking is extortionate, the road system is a joke, the high street is full of charity and phone shops, the traffic wardens should be wearing boots and goose stepping in-between handing out misery to the next grockle. I was asked to do a gig outside the Pavilion for the Olympics with lots of other bands and acts… great I thought, only for the police to insist that all acts can only play acoustically. Seriously, you couldn’t make it up! It’s the same as every summer season in Weymouth, the fish and chip shops set the precedent when the prices go up and the portions get smaller. The reason the hoteliers and Weymouth will struggle is because they have made a rod for their own backs.
I despair for our kids and don’t see it getting any better….ever!
I’m sure plenty of you have teenagers out there, and hopefully you will understand why they slouch and grunt….it’s because they don’t see a future and as the 90’s BLUR album title says ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’.