Wednesday, 2 May 2012

14

I've been thinking a lot about being fourteen lately.

I suppose it's because my son is fourteen - at least for another few weeks - and its a period in my life that I remember quite well, in parts.

Of course I was fourteen so long ago to write about that period - something I think of doing more and more - amounts to historical fiction.  I recognise much of myself in my son, but our lives could not have been more different.

I will regularly bore my son with an evocation of a world in which there was no video recording, no DVDs, no iPlayer or in fact any way to watch a programme again or see one that you had missed or in fact watch anything other than what happened to be on one of the three television channels at the time - BBC1, BBC2 or ITV.

There were no computer games - or personal computers of any kind, other than pocket calculators.  There were no iPods or iPads or mobile phones.  Music was only available through the medium of the radio or via vinyl records.

It sounds like hell, doesn't it?

Well, I can't build up much of a case for the early 70s being a golden age, but I don't feel like I missed out.  We had more freedom for one thing.  The dangers were perceived to be less - with good cause - and so we were allowed to simply wander off into a world of our own making.

That world - the world of the child-becoming-an-adult is a really interesting one, I think.  It manages to bring with it a lot of the wonder of childhood, but that wonder is combined with new forces, many dark and confusing.  It is a time when you are trying on the you of the future and seeing how it fits.

Increasingly this time is being branded 'young adult' when in fact it is 'pre-adult'.  Children of this age are still children, regardless of whether they engage in activities that are considered adults.  These not-quite-adults are starting to get a sense of what the world is really like.  They do not fully understand that they will never fully understand it.

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