It’s late August. The last remnants if the summer are swept away in a scourge of last year’s games kit and M&S have been promoting “back to school” buys for at least three months. But something else is about to happen; an air of tension and nervous excitement pulsing through the brick work and vibrating around the gates of schools and colleges across the country. When the public examination results are finally revealed and the predictable, posed photographs of jumping girls in flowery summer dresses (though read this for an interesting take on the politics of results day pictures) literally leap out at you from the front page of The Times, spare a thought for those same teenagers who will have their achievements waved away like a swarm of irritable flies by the time the following day’s news drops through the letterbox.
“A-Level results are up in Britain by an overall figure of 5%” announces the Radio 4 newsreader, whilst the pompous proprietors of educational supplements will mock these findings incredulously with a chortle of “oh well they’re surely making the exams easier then!”. Why this incomprehensible need to put a negative slant on the painstaking hours of work and revision from so many students across the country? As someone who is on the brink of sitting the first in a long line of external exams this summer I find it ridiculous that the significant measure of time and effort allocated to what I have been educated to believe are some of the most important exams I will ever take has the frightening potential of being blown out of the water by someone at News International who decides it’s about time the youth of today were on the receiving end of some criticism for a change.
Sadly, it’s not the only item on life’s agenda we’re ever reprimanded about. All too often, sweeping statements are made about the attitude of the under-twenty generation, be it a lack of interest in current affairs or our supposed appreciation of all things rebellious and anti the establishment. Unfortunately, more often than not it is the people who issue such generalisations whom are guilty of shunning the very portion of society they complain about. This manner of discrimination I find indescribable, though I am not short of examples and none so obvious as when we are paying passengers on public transport. If I had a pound for very time I’d been refused a child ticket whilst still legally a child, or had the details of my ticket unnecessarily scrutinised by an officious employee of the GMPTE I’d have been wealthy enough to avoid the aforementioned people by chartering my own private jet for even the most local of journeys.
I can still vividly remember, although the memory isn’t so much tinged with anger as it is saturated, being publicly humiliated when boarding a bus into my nearest town. I was fourteen years old at the time and after cheerily greeting the driver I politely asked for a return child ticket to my destination. After receiving the most obvious once-over, the driver sneeringly told me to “pull the other one love” as he blatantly believed me to be lying about my age. I wasn’t trying to scrounge the saving of a measly 47p or whatever it is by saying I was younger than sixteen; I was younger than sixteen! I do apologise if my smart appearance suggested that I might actually be an ambassador for the polite and educated contingent of Britain’s youth population. Or rather, I don’t apologise one bit.