Teenage Stress Today. To some extent, auto suggestion prompts a lot of the ills of today. With the vast amount of material needed for TV, and to fill the pages of the copious newspapers and magazines on sale, editors are probably less critical than they might be of material submitted. I suppose I come into the latter category – so be it. Through their lifestyle young people in the 30s, were not open to these opinions, they were more interested in sport and their social life, not hunched over a TV, or reading magazines I would never have been allowed to bring into the house.
Prior to World War II all of us played simple games within the house and outside, and the only stress that we suffered, in general terms, was caused mainly by our schooling. There were some, like myself, single-parent children, who suffered more stress than others, but we were unaware that this was supposed to be detrimental to our psyche, and so I believe, we just accepted our lot and got on with our often unhappy lives. Sport played a great part in the lives of all children, from they were toddlers. In those days, throughout the land, areas, such as village greens, parks etc, which had previously been common grazing land, were where we all played. In many of the Commons, there were tennis courts, running tracks, and everywhere in the summer, small groups of children were playing a crude form of cricket. The older children skated in the winter at commercial rinks, and most schools played football or rugby. Later teenagers formed small groups on a regular basis to play games like tennis, football and cricket and then these developed, as they grew older, into local teams, especially football and cricket, on local open spaces.
WW2 put an end to all this, what with the Dig For Victory campaign, subsequent house building, and other reasons, many of these Commons have since disappeared with the result the young people are now thrown back on their own meagre resources, tribal rights and wars, or a more monastic life mainly spent in front of a blue screen in their bedroom. It is therefore not surprising that some of the tougher, more bolshie elements make trouble. If the money thrown away on so many government advertising projects, which do not seem to bear fruit, was used to provide more facilities for the young, we might get somewhere. At one point in my chequered career I joined a youth club. My outstanding memories were that it was an aesthetically cold place, poorly run by amateurs, that I enjoyed little, and left in a hurry. I believe that young people have a fair idea of what they want, most do not want the moon, but they do not want second-best, this is an insult and gives exactly the wrong impression. Perhaps they should be consulted. I’m not equipped to advise on what should be offered, and how it is run or how it is funded. A nationwide survey of successful clubs might be rewarding and give a benchmark for future design. Aspects I think important are, that the club should be better in every way than the homes the young people come from and therefore valued by them. Abuse and therefore banishment would really deter bad behaviour, and that respect is a two way street. I am merely making these points from the basis of my own experience, and trust
that that experience is not unique; otherwise this piece would be pointless.
Livingstone to London, Real Trauma??? The journey was long and tedious, especially from Livingstone to the Cape We were trapped in a small compartment on a very long train, all day everyday, even washing in the compartment in a hand basin that emptied by tipping the water out onto the track. Parts of the journey were on the high plateau and going up and coming down the track took torturous turns and twists, as trains do in Switzerland, so that the guard’s van passed the engine. Periodically we stopped to take on water and fuel, and at the stops we found Africans lining the route, selling food and their exquisite handmade ivory and wooden crafts, which today would fetch a fortune and then cost only a few pence. It was my misfortune that a neighbour of ours accompanied my mother and me, as far as Bulawayo. He was one of these hearty cheerful chaps who can be a bane. Prior to leaving London my mother had purchased a topee for me, that was already out of date, dull khaki, half an inch thick, as if made of dough. I was ridiculed by my peers from the day I set foot in Africa, as theirs were of smart design in thin compressed cork. I hadn’t the wit to smash the wretched thing for a replacement, with the result I tended to go bare headed and get sunstroke. It finally wore out a few weeks before departure, two years later. At eight years old, I was whiling away the journey, imagining the reaction when I returned to London with my stories of lions, snakes and crocodiles, while wearing my brand new hat. Shortly before we arrived at Bulawayo, the ‘friend’, whisked the hat I had practically been sleeping in, out through the window of the train saying ‘You’ll soon be home so you won’t need this.’ I was devastated and inconsolable. Traumatic? I can see it all now, 77 years on!