Nobbut laiking: Ross Brewster

Date: Tuesday 22nd May 2018

IT was the headline in the Guardian that caught my eye. “Young Britons have never been unhappier,” it proclaimed.

Apparently this being young is a truly miserable business. A survey undertaken by MORI for the National Children’s Bureau concludes that a majority of young people today believe their lives will be harder than those of their parents.

If you think modern youth is out of control, out all night doing booze and drugs, think again. The images of drunken men and women brawling in the streets or staggering out of night clubs at 3am are masking the truth. According to the survey of 2,700 11-16 year olds, this generation is more likely be stuck at home worrying about debt and their future job prospects. The world may be their oyster and opportunity may never have knocked so insistently, and yet here they are, sitting alone in their bedrooms playing computer games and worrying themselves sick.

I used to think getting old wasn’t the fun lots of people suggested it might be. Great if you have health and wealth, but as you get older time is not so much measured in days and weeks, but in medical appointments — the doctor Monday, the dentist Tuesday, nurse on Wednesday, hospital Thursday, back to the doc’s on Friday for the test results.

However, it’s becoming readily apparent that, for all our aches and pains and our medical complaints, us oldies haven’t got such a bad deal after all. Not compared to the under-35s, one in five of whom, according to the Office for National Statistics, are suffering from depression, anxiety, limited job satisfaction and the inability to find somewhere to live other than with mum and dad.

Some half-baked think-tank has deemed that we pensioners should sub these poor lambs with 10 grand, ostensibly to help them on to the housing ladder, or to start a business. More likely to squander on holidays and a status car or the latest smart technology.

They’ve spotted that, our arthritics apart, us oldies aren’t spending our final days mooching about in miserable loneliness, and boy do they want to make us pay for our happiness. We may have difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, but most of us still live in our own homes, take holidays and days out and learn new skills by joining organisations like the U3A.

Young people are “significantly more likely” to be affected by loneliness than older age groups, says the research. Millennials claim they are the first generation to be worse off than their parents, but this is the age of entitlement where young people feel dispossessed if they don’t drive a BMW or Merc, have the latest gadgets and live cheaply off the bank of mum and dad.

Baby boomers are sick and tired of taking the blame for the indolence and inadequacy of today’s 20-somethings. Dare one respectfully suggest that this repressed section of modern society simply mans up and takes responsibility for its own problems and issues, just as older generations once had to do?

Never been unhappier? Are we forgetting the war? I suspect being young during the war was no jolly. My parents lived through two of them. They didn’t have any spare money. They saved up if they needed something. Didn’t have it if they could not afford it. They never went abroad. In fact, they rarely had a holiday. They worked hard and I don’t recall them complaining. They just got on with it because that was how the cards fell for them.

The Resolution Foundation, led by a politician nicknamed “Two Brains” because of his exceptional intellect, warns of a widening generational gap, but it is actually adding to that gap with its harebrained and divisive idea of pensioners propping up the 25s.

Throwing £10,000 at this age group, assuming they want to use it for housing, will not do anything to make property affordable. Quite the opposite. It could further inflate house prices.

It’s absolute nonsense to claim that young people today are having a tougher time than their parents and grandparents. And just because some pensioners worked hard, saved hard and made a few bob for their retirement does not justify this vilification that seems to be at the root of the depressing picture being painted by groups like Resolution Foundation.

Turn off your phones and your tablets, kids, and get out there and smell the grass. The older generation, not having as much time left as you do, know how sweet it can be. Don’t punish them with your anger just because they are happy.

A REAL TEAR UP

HEARING about plans for 30km of pipeline, with tunnelling and use of agricultural land, I feared we were heading for disruption once United Utilities (UU) started work in earnest on the scheme to take water from Thirlmere to service homes and businesses in West Cumbria.

At the very moment when Prince Charles unveiled a stone edifice in Keswick’s Crow Park, marking the Lake District’s inscription as a world heritage area, what I can only describe as desecration has been taking place on land in and around Keswick.

Clearly there was always going to be visual evidence of the works, but I didn’t expect it to be on this scale. I’m amazed that local councillors, planners and environmental groups are not up in arms. Surely this is not good for the tourism industry either.

Around Bassenthwaite they’ve gouged out great tracts of land, while in Keswick itself, there’s a massive operation which, albeit temporary, is an eyesore, nothing less, just a few yards from one of the most popular routes up Latrigg fell.

UU says there will be no lasting visual impact. But the very fact the pipeline will not be up and running until 2022 suggests the pain involved for locals in this £300 million scheme is not transitory. It is UU’s contention that Thirlmere represents the best source of drinking water for West Cumbria and it is capable of meeting the demands for the next 25 years. Crikey, given the cost and the environmental damage, I’d want more than 25 years for my money.

During the public meetings which preceded the operation, some locals cast doubts on the eventual cost, the story about protecting the world’s most expensive molluscs and even suggestions that a supply would be needed in the event of new nuclear build at Sellafield.

Now we are witnessing the scale of the job, world heritage status, in this part of the Lake District, might as well be put on hold. I would not want visitors from all over the world to come, drawn by the inscription, only to see our blot on the landscape.

STOP SAYING SORRY

IT’S time to draw a line in the sand. To say enough’s enough. To stop apologising.

British-based academic Richard Lebow made a funny while trapped at the back of a lift on his way to a conference in the United States. When the occupants were asked which floor they wanted he said “ladies’ lingerie”. An old joke. An Are You Being Served-type joke. Harmless. He’s been accused of sexism by a fellow traveller, a professor of women’s and gender studies, promoting high-minded debate on both sides of the Atlantic and threats to his career.

Is humour off-limits these days? Prof Lebow says that, if he apologises, it will be another chilling victory for the #MeToo brigade. He says that there is a growing “unhealthy trend to suppress free speech”.

It’s appalling that good men like him should be harassed by the hashtag army who are following some politically correct agenda, not advancing the cause of women’s or anyone else’s rights one jot.

And don’t go thinking this is just some nutty protest. Our own universities minister, Sam Gyimah, has warned higher education leaders they need to stamp out “institutional hostility” towards free speech that he says has taken root in their campuses.

There’s the rise of “no platforming” where student societies shut down debates in an attempt to stop someone expressing their views simply because they are unfashionable or unpopular. When feminist author Germaine Greer and veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell are ruled persona non grata you wonder just what is going on behind the walls of some of our seats of learning. Once exemplars of free debate they are now only strong on democracy while it agrees with their point of view.

While we wimp out and keep saying sorry it will only get worse.