Robert McNeil: Young persons beware! The brain doesn’t fully ripen until you’re 52. Fact

READING two articles mocking the younger generation this week reminded me of when my generation was similarly derided.

In our day, it was our hair and heady psychedelia that attracted the ire of crusty old fogies. I think, too, they were discomfited by our revolutionary politics. We wanted to sweep everything away and start again.

Had we succeeded, malnutrition would have been widespread by day two and the trains wouldn’t have run at all, never mind on time. Still, we meant well.

Today’s woke are a risible phenomenon but, I’m sure if I were 21 again, I’d be among them. It’s just the way it is. The brain doesn’t fully ripen until you’re 52.

Looking back, we believed we were a new, better people and also had a similar penchant for becoming disillusioned by cultural phenomena that had been much loved parts of our childhood, but which we then discovered to our horror had been written or performed by someone who’d once voted Conservative in a by-election.

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I’m pretty sure we tried cancelling people just as much as the woke do now, though we’d fewer platforms from which to ban them, and our gripes rarely related to genitalia.

The young have been getting it in the neck this week because, growing up with takeaway meals and automatic dishwashers, they allegedly do not know how to do the dishes. Faced with a pair of marigolds and a bottle of Fairy Liquid, they get a fit of the vapours and faint clean away.

However, a year or two of a postgraduate degree course in Basin Studies would easily solve that problem. When I first left home, I didn’t know how to cook and got by on Smash (powdered potato squares activated scientifically with the addition of boiled water) and Fray Bentos tinned steak pies.

Today, working expertly with oven chips and Quorn sausage rolls, I’m a comparative gourmet. Still, at least I was always able to do the dishes, even rinsing off the soap suds.

Indeed, I do this meticulously after reading that ingesting chemicals in sud residue from a badly rinsed plate interferes with the hormonal, er, matrix and causes male baldness. True, I read that in one of my own columns, but the logic from so little evidence struck me as impeccable.

It was also reported this week that the young will never know how to use the gears on cars because they’re opting for simpler “automatic” tests – say what now? Never knew there was such a thing – partly in the expectation that electronic cars won’t have gears anyway.

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Makes sense to me, but the sub-text was that gears were somehow more manly and that, once more, the snowflake generation was opting for an easy life.

But why make driving more difficult? Everyone I know who has changed to an automatic absolutely loves them. I must admit that, if I were me, I’d like to keep the element of control that gears offer.

But that stated desire disguises a dreadful conceit – because I’m rubbish at gears. My own car has one of those systems where first and reverse are right next to each other, meaning I often go forwards when wanting to go backwards, and vice-versa.

Once, when learning in a mate’s similarly afflicted car, I shot off backwards down a hill from a junction. It was only a blessing there was nobody behind us. A famous YouTube video shows some poor gal driving her car into a basement on attempting a U-turn, but her detractors failed to see the reason lying in the absurd gear arrangement. She’d obviously lurched forward while aiming backward.

It’s not just gears that are a pain in vehicles. I’ve had my current car for six years and still have to press 32 buttons before accidentally alighting on the one that demists the windows.

So, young persons! By all means go automatic, and that applies to the dishes too. You don’t want to be risking baldness with the suds. Get a machine to do it.

Looking back now, I feel sorry for folk like my dad, who was of the generation that put on a suit and tie to wash the car. Discomfited by my girlie hair, by short skirts everywhere, and by Robert Plant’s private parts being clearly visible through his tight loon pants, it must have seemed to pater like the world was going to hell in a handcart. But it always is.

Thankfully, it never quite gets there, thus proving that it is better to travel ludicrously than to arrive disastrously.


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