Kids These Days

If we ever met, I’m sure that Boris Johnson and I would have plenty of ideological differences. But I have to admit that he’s never less than entertaining and his blog is well worth reading.

Today’s entry is a good example. He’s interviewing for a new researcher and can’t resist the urge to compare today’s graduates with his generation (which is also mine).

Their A-level results cascaded down the page like a suicidal scream. They were magazine editors, union presidents, champion mooters, and they had blues for everything from rugby to lacrosse. They had prestigious New York awards for their film-making; they had been semi-finalists in University Challenge 2004-05. They had already published important articles in the Guardian and served internships throughout the FTSE-100. They had fluent French and confident German and unblemished driving licences and they had managed to secure the top firsts in disciplines from English to Engineering to History while playing squash to county standard.

I’m not sure I fit in with one description of his generation:

When I talk about my generation I mean the bunch who graduated about 20 years ago, and what a sharp-elbowed, thrusting and basically repellent lot we were. We were always bragging or shafting each other, and in a way we still are, with our pompous memoirs and calculated indiscretions. When Toby Young began an article in Cherwell with the words, ‘I work harder and achieve more than anyone else I know’, we all chortled in approval of this ghastly ethic. But would any 20-year-old be quite so brazen today? On one side of the political divide we had Thatcherites, voluble or silent. When Gordon Gekko said ‘Greed is good’, we did not exactly cheer, but we smirked. When Tebbo said ‘On your bike’, we thought, yah, he had a bloody good point. When Ronald Reagan said the Soviet Union was an ‘Evil Empire’ we thought the language a bit strong but the analysis broadly sound; and though we were a bit sad for the miners, we thought they were cruelly abused and deluded by their leadership.

But then he goes on to say:

On the other side of the argument there was a symmetrical sense of engagement. Some of our girlfriends even went to Greenham Common or held hands outside South Africa House, and two decades later I know a prosperous barrister who still goes ‘oink, oink, oink’ and hisses ‘piggies’ whenever she sees the police. When poor Keith Joseph made his doomed attempt to reform university finance in 1984, he was so pelted with eggs that he backed off.

Which sounds far more like me.

I’m not sure that he’s really got a reasonable cross-section of all of today’s twentysomethings, but it’s an interesting (and amusing) read anyway.

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