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Raucous Youth

A noisy lot on the train – July 2006
We went to Euston to take a train to Watford Junction. The day was the one where England lost to Portugal in the World Cup, and on the train were lots of youths whose conversation would be boring to others, and probably to themselves too, at the best of times, and who had had a lot to drink which made them very loud as well as very boring, each trying to raise his voice against the other. So we changed carriage, as did a number of other people who could cope with the tedium no longer.
Some young people – and this probably lasts until they are about twenty – have a tendency to shout each other down, the loudest voice gaining the most attention. Maybe the loudest voice does indeed gain the most attention, so that perhaps the shouting works, if attention is something you crave. Oddly, as you get older, the shouting causes your friends and acquaintances to find an alternative room to sit in, so that shouting has the reverse effect: shout and you shout alone, as an adult. I wonder why the change.
The other aspect of youth, or of some youth, is to pick upon a topic that is considered to be beyond the pale – I remember in my son’s school in London it was people called Nigel, who they thought existed only in the imagination of satirists – and to do the subject to death. For this particular sample of young Hertfordshire on the train – some of whom may well have been called Nigel – it was parquet floors. They all fell about laughing at the mention of parquet floors. One of them went round the carriage, asking rather timid-looking men in grey business suits whether they had parquet floors in their house, and the timid-looking men would reply in the affermative, which was a bit embarrassing so caused the youths to stop that game before they got to me; I would have extolled the virtues of a keep-clean floor, and asked them how they could even think of calling themselves a forward-looking generation, if they rolled about on dirt-collecting carpets. But perhaps fortunately the didn’t get as far as me before we changed carriage to protect the eardrums.


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