Tuesday 4 April 2017


As far as we know, you can't choose your own parents or the era in which you get born. And that covers all the bases in the nature vs nurture debate about what contributes to health and happiness; character and demeanour. My folks, although 'comfortable', nevertheless grew up in the hungry 30s and fought in WWII where they encountered, ate with and watched die people who came from desperately poor backgrounds. My mother, for example, encountered girls, recruits to the ATS, who had never worn underpants and whose hair was crawling with lice Pediculus capitis. When they came through the ordeal and had children, my folks were determined that no child of theirs would experience such extremes of deprivation. They believed that knowledge, and training in its use, was the best hedge against an uncertain future and bought us the best they could afford to ensure my very expensive education.

I acknowledge that I am steeped in white privilege, male privilege and an expectation that things will go well. But I am also reasonably self-sufficient and resilient: I'd rather make my own dinner than buy take-away, and I can do / have done most of Robert Heinlein's definitional tasks:
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” Hog butchering and gallant dying are on my bucket list; I have no intention of invading anywhere.

There is a pejorative term out there to refer to Millennials - those who came of age in ca. 2010; they are the snowflake generation who melt into a big wet heap at the least hint of adversity. These are the kids who grew up in the boom times when Ireland was awash with money, opportunity and debt. Where anything a kid desired could be had on account and s/he didn't have to wait for a birthday or Christmas. Heck-and-jimminy, they didn't have to wait for the weekend before they acquired the latest game, trainers, or haircut. A year or two ago, one of my colleagues complained that her Millennial son (now 26 and still living at home) had borrowed her car, driven to Cork with his pals and returned the vehicle empty of fuel. He has an allowance! she cried. Ehem? Why is a 26 y.o. still sucking at his mammy's teat in this way?? and, yes, I blame the parents.

ANNyway, I was driving to work last week listening to NewsTalkFM, where the two fifty-something presenters Shane Coleman and Paul Williams were having their usual right-wing rant. Apparently, some wise-acres in the US have brought out a Snowflake questionnaire to smoke out any useless, entitled Millennials when they present for a job interview. I never heard the end or the upshot because I picked up a hitch-hiker.  You don't see many of them about any more since they all morphed from impoverished students into jobbing axe-murderers. Or is it the drivers who are axe-murderers? Probably both. We were then six days into a strike by the semi-state bus company Bus Eireann and when I saw a girl thumbing beside the road I assumed she had missed her connexion and was trying to get somewhere important. I barely noticed 4 burly lads were walking in the same direction, but it transpired that they were a party.  I started to explain that I was only going 300m along to road to the back-gate of The Institute but the young lady said "that will do nicely, I hate the rain" and hopped in. The four lads all piled in the back seat, one of them sitting on my lunch, and off we went for the 12 second journey. I made some comment about just hearing about Snowflakes and how they-my-passengers fit the bill quite precisely being so afeared of a touch of drizzle. But it fell on deaf ears, Herself had already whipped out her smart-phone and was ignoring anything I might have to say. Snapchat was waaaay more interesting.
Well, really!

1 comment:

  1. Rude to the extreme Bob, the least she could have done was chat to you for those 12 seconds. Hope the sandwich was all the better for the warming bum!