Friday, October 17, 2008

Smells Like Teen Spirit

I’m getting old.

I can tell.

Not from the fact that my hair is going grey at the sides (though this is a definite indication of approaching decrepitude). Not from the fact it takes very little these days to give me a bad back. And not even from the fact that if I have to run anywhere I no longer take any pleasure in the sensation of getting there quicker.

I can tell I’m getting old because ‘young people’ annoy the living hell out of me.

Young adults. Youngsters. Teens... OK, OK. To be more exact: students.

I’m now into my last academic year of a part-time English degree that has taken me well over a decade to complete. When I started it back in the nineties I felt I had far more in common with the young full-time students who shared the seminars than the grouchy semi-retired mature part-timers. I felt I was still young and hip and wore my spring chicken-ness with pride along with my indie band t-shirts and my waist-length hair (oh yes, it’s all true).

Now I have short hair, wear sensible boots, clothes that don’t endorse anyone or anything at all and regularly armour myself with an unfashionable waterproof hill-walking jacket (hey, you just never know, right?) – and my trips to Uni make me so grouchy I must surely be walking around with a snarl big enough to make any student’s union rep wet their baggy-arsed trousers through to the gusset.

I can’t help it. They slouch around like they’ve got the whole effing day to waste (which they probably do) – while I’m having to rush around like a maniac to get to my seminars and then high-tail it back to work so that I don’t lose too many hours and therefore too much money. They punctuate every third word with “yeah?” and start every sentence with “Ok right...” They seem proud of the fact that they haven’t done the preparatory reading that I’ve slaved over for the last two days or attended the lecture that I panicked about getting to.

But most, most of all one of them actually complained the other day about getting up “early”. “Yeah, like, I woke up this morning at 8.30, yeah? And it was like, way too early, and I just thought, right, that I only had to be on campus for the New Lits lecture at 11, yeah? And I just thought, right, oh man, I just can’t be bothered, right? 8.30 is way, way too early so, like, I went back to sleep cos, like, I’d had about 7 pints the night before, right, at the union bar and I was totally wasted, it was too much...

For the last week I’ve been regularly woken up at 5.20am by my eldest boy. I haven’t had a lie-in (i.e. slept past 7.0am) since 2003. Neither Karen nor I stop from the moment we get up until the moment the kids are both in bed in the evening. And we do it day after day after day. It’s no big thing really. It’s just life.

Now I realize I’m probably being unfair and knee-jerk and reactionary and an old fuddy-duddy but I just can’t deny my feelings. And if it makes it sound any better I can honestly say that – hand-on-heart – I didn’t particularly like other teenagers when I was a teenager. They annoyed me then and they annoy me now.

So maybe I’ve always been old?

Or maybe I’m not getting any older at all – I’m just staying the same while the world gets younger?

Who knows? But if these young whipper-snappers don’t learn to get out of my way when I’m walking about in a hurry I shall tan the backs of their hairless little legs with the rough end of my walking stick and no mistake! Harrumph!

32 comments:

Deirdre said...

...and the old age/grumpiness creeps up on you so quickly does'nt it!!

Steve said...

Deirdre, not so much creeps as runs up behind you and belts you around the chops with a big hammer...!

Inchy said...

Welcome to my world, my young apprentice.

I find myself muttering things like "...mmm...mmm...wouldn't have happened in my day!" etc etc, and I'm damn well all for bringing back national service.

It's so hard to resist knocking on the window of some 'yoof' in his slammed Saxo with its 'banging choons' and screaming "Have you even fucking heard of Neil Young?!"

Bah humbug.

Steve said...

It's nice to know that I am not alone, my Master...

Inchy said...

It's to be expected. I pass into the realms of my 'late thirties' in approximately 4 1/2 hours.

Best make sure I'm inebriated then, hadn't we!

Steve said...

Have a whisky on me, my master - and have a great birthday! I look forward to reading the results of your hangover on Sunday. ;-)

The Sagittarian said...

Patience is wasted on the young, me ol' mucka!!

Steve said...

Alas, Amanda, 'tis wasted on me too! Grrr!

kate5kiwis said...

Bulldog gave me a heads-up the other day explaining that "The Young And Hipsters" in university lectures tend to talk and text instead of listen and write. (uh, cos the last time i was in a university theatre was nigh on twenty years ago. *shock* and i was probably chatting to my mates. see all this bad karma is about to bite me in the bum.)

of course, in my head i'm still young and hip... with my indie... t-shirts and my waist-length hair...
young and hip indeed... i'll be needing some walking stick manoeuvring tips from ya i think.
X

Steve said...

Kate, the walking sticks are great but the walking frame and the colostomy bag really play havoc with my limbo dancing...

KAZ said...

In my part of Manchester I am absolutely surrounded by students.
I still haven't decided whether they make me feel old or keep me feeling young.

Steve said...

Kaz, I suspect most of my crankiness towards students is due to plain old jealousy at the amount of time, energy and stress-free quality time that they seem to have...

Daisy said...

steve...you are not alone...i went back to uni when i turned 30, had a son, husband, dogs, house and actual responsibilities...at that time i used to work odd jobs for extra money and one of them was as a seamstress (for whatever rich people wanted a wardrobe made to fit them)...which meant i don't remember sleeping...i would hear little tarts bitching and moaning about how they had to go to this party or that party and going to class was cramping their style...here i was trying to struggle just to get through...oh and the talk of hangover drove me nuts...i had no time to get a hangover!...and would always make sure to make lots of noise when someone else did have one (it was my giving back to the school :))...i went back to uni again when i turned 40 for another degree (glutton for punishment) and found they irritated me even more then! i was sleeping even less as i had added a foster son to the home...was working a full time job (where i am now) and i was the grumpy guss...and more to the point...i didn't care...i actually lectured a class (not as a teacher) about priorities and what is really important in the real world...i was on such a rant that the instructor just let it go for the full class...she thought they needed the lecture as well...didn't help anyone but me, the instructor, and the other 3 "older students"...sometimes you just have enough and can't sit by any longer...

Matthew Rudd said...

Acquire yourself a traffic cone for your bedroom.

Steve said...

Daisy, if I reserve you a place can you sit next to me in class next week? ;-)

Matthew, that's not a bad idea - it would go very nicely with the copper's helmet (not a euphemism)...!

Daisy said...

steve...not next week but november 10th is good for me...lmao

The Poet Laura-eate said...

No, it's not you getting old Steve, student types really are getting more and more inconsiderate/annoying/cliched.

Plus you are run ragged with a job and young family (not to mention a blog) to uphold. what responsibilities do your younger fellow students have except the odd bar shift perhaps? And managing to turn in an essay once in a while.

Cut yourself some slack man!

Flaming Nora said...

I think you have to start kicking them to get them out of the way. It's the best thing for them. Either that or national service.

Steve said...

Daisy, consider your seat reserved!

Laura, consider the slack duly cut!

Nora, consider yourself the next prime minister!

Ranting Teacher said...

When I was a student, for one whole term I didn't get out of bed before 4pm. But then, in those days, we were privileged to be there and it wasn't just a rite of passage like Club 18-30 for those with A-levels. So I felt obliged to live like the Young Ones just for a little while, and enjoy drinking up my student grant before the government abolished them.

Steve said...

Ha ha: "Club 18-30 for those with A-levels" - that is so spot on!

-eve- said...

> my waist-length hair (oh yes, it’s all true).
Wow, i'd never have guessed! LOL! :-)

very well-written; your 'teenage talk' captured the feeling completely - i can just picture them saying it like that (although all i have to go on that they DO sound like that is the movies ;-)).

even reading about your day stresses me out - you must be so, so tired... worked to the bone, really...

Steve said...

Hi Eve, nice to hear from you again! How are things with you? Yeah, I do feel very tired at the moment but thankfully I have a week off next week - and I am so looking forward to it. I plan to do absolutely nothing at all!

Reluctant Blogger said...

Oh they are definitely more inconsiderate and demotivated than they used to me. They are also more stupid. Sheep are more intelligent than a lot of the students I try to teach. Oooooh they make me so cross sometimes. I want to knock their heads together.

Not that mature students are always a bundle of laughs either. My worst student (as in most annoying) was a mature student who moaned about everything he was asked to do, refused to wear a helmet on site visits and then claimed he was discriminated against when he was not allowed to take part, and then complained about his degree result when he finally graduated. At least the young ones don't have the energy to do all that.

Lucy Fishwife said...

I've found myself to be totally invisible to teenagers - which is fine by me, although the implication is that I am no longer either interesting or hot. Bah humbug. Who cares what they think? (weeps behind Saga Cruises brochure while pouring self another small dry sherry)
Have tagged you by the way. Soz.

Steve said...

I must admit Gina, there a few "extra mature" students on campus and I do wonder how the tutors cope with them: they never stop talking, are obsessed with their own personal history and the career they long retired from and don't appear to retain any new knowledge. Bah humbug! All students are irredeemably bad!

Lucy, to be overlooked by teens is a glorious state of being, believe you me - the alternatives are to be lampooned mercilessly or to be showered with unending requests to lend them money or buy them some fags from the nearest offie. As for the tag - I feel honoured and shall take a look. I may make it the subject of my mid-week post!

-eve- said...

Hi Steve :-)
I've been pretty free this week, and yet still tired out - but got an exam next week, so must start psyching myself up for it ;-) Enjoy your rest! :-)

Steve said...

Good luck with the exam, Eve - I think just anticipating such things can exhaust you as you expend so much nervous energy!

Brother Tobias said...

This is a great post Steve! especially the yoof-speak (with my slight OCD tendency I find myself counting 'likes' instead of listening. Never missed much yet...)

Steve said...

It's something I never used to pick up on, Brother T, but as I get older these linguistic yoof foibles seem to stick out a mile and irritate the hell out of me!

Elizabeth said...

Hi!

I was the one wondering aloud 'whatever happened to Stephen Blake?'

Funny to see you writing about the person I remember from the part-time degree - the young man with the T-shirts and long hair and refreshing attitude. It sounds as though I wouldn't recognise the up-do-date version.

I finished the degree in 2000, eventually went on to do a masters in children's literature at Reading, and earlier this year I started a PhD - still at Reading - on children and food. All of it on a part-time basis.

I share a blog with my partner: http://inversionlayer.wordpress.com/ but that's about Serious Stuff, you've already seen the more diary-type thing.

Should you want to email, lamentable [dot] photo [at] gmail [dot] com will find me.

I shall now continue reading backwards in time to find out what else has happened to you!

Steve said...

Hi Elizabeth - I remember you (I suspected it was you)! Hopefully I've not turned into too much of an old fogey - just a grumpy 30 something! I'll email you soon and fill you in on the juicy details! Thanks for getting in touch!