I was making my way along Old Kirk Street on Saturday, having purchased a couple of jam doughnuts from the Bakery for my elevenses, when I met with some of the younger folk of the town, what you call “teen-agers”. They were laughing merrily at some prank or other, and I think possibly they’d been playing conkers or marbles or somesuch and had got caught up in the excitement of their games. Perhaps that was why they made some rather unkind remarks about my size and the contents of my shopping bag, implying that this was not the first time I had tried the aforementioned local delicacies.
In my day, young people would have kept a more civil tongue in their heads, on pain of severe reprimand. Not for the first time I lamented the passing of the good old traditional “clip round the ear” that was once upon a time administered appropriately by Constable McPlod. I remember when young Billy Perkins and I got caught scrumping apples once, just before the War, and we had to spend about a couple of weeks in jail, handcuffed to the wall, and no food or water either. We thought twice about misbehaving after that I can assure you. Those were the days when you showed a bit of respect to your elders. Nowadays it’s all computers and drugs and rappy music, where’s the sense in it I ask you?
I was making my way along Devil’s Lane on Saturday, having purchased a couple of cream buns from the Bakery for my elevenses, when I met with some of the younger folk of the town, what you call “teen-agers”. They addressed me in a most indecorous and uncouth manner, making mock of my apparel, which if I may say so, was actually quite respectable. I was wearing my usual blazer with the badge of the Old Contemptibles in the lapel, a maroon cravat and neatly pressed flannel jodphurs. Nothing wrong with all that for a casual stroll about town, I thought. Not according to the youths in question, who seemed to find something comic in my appearance. Meanwhile they were each dressed as something between a deranged scarecrow and a desperate refugee, but I was much too polite to say anything about that.
It seems to me that in this day and age, young people have entirely lost the sense of what it is appropriate to wear. As you know, I am generally a very tolerant man, and not one to impose my views on others less fortunate than myself. But really and truly, is it too much to ask that these teenagers could wear a smart suit and tie as they gad about? I was brought up to respect a neat appearance as a sign of integrity and authority, and say what you like about our antagonists in the last War, they were always very well turned-out. But I suppose those good old days are gone.
Rather than engage in a rowdy exchange in the street with these riff-raff, I simply shrugged off their jeers and repaired to my home, where I may say I thoroughly enjoyed my cream buns. In future though, I may remove my blazer before indulging, as cream is rather hard to remove from ones lapels.
I was making my way along Fisher Street on Tuesday, having purchased a couple of apple pies from the Bakery for my elevenses, when I met with some of the younger folk of the town, what you call “teen-agers”. Naturally I asked them what they were doing hanging about the streets on a school day. They actually jeered at me in response, which seemed to me to underline their need of a good education. In my day, that education would have been administered rather strictly, but fairly, with liberal doses of corporal punishment to encourage the slackers and wastrels in the class. Nowadays alas, discipline in the classroom seems appallingly lax, with pupils in some cases even being on first-name terms with their teachers. I remember when our old Latin teacher, “Stinky” McGrew entered the room, we would all jump up and salute, but you don’t get anything like that now, and more is the pity. We lived in mortal terror of “Stinky” and his leather tawse, and I am sure it did us no harm, apart from the odd broken wrist here and there.
As I reflected thus, those apple pies tasted bitter on my tongue, though I swallowed them nonetheless, as it doesn’t do to waste good food.
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