What's the best way to deal with the youth of Britain? Hanging has a certain old-school appeal-- more humane than drawing and quartering but, when properly, um, executed, just as fatal. A firing squad, on the other hand is more festive. It involves more people, more pomp, more circumstance. And it has that son et lumiere thing going for it.
Oh no, I hear you saying, why must the youth of Britain be killed at all? Surely we can just flog them. To which I reply: Flogging is cruel, you heartless bastards. I won't have it.
What has brought on this burst of law and order in this liberal's suddenly-stony heart? Only having My Lovely Wife being told to "fuck off" yet again by yet another youth of Britain.
Now there are times when "fuck off" is the exact, appropriate response to a situation. If, for example, My Lovely Wife had pinned a British youth to the pavement and was slowly decanting a beaker of fire ants into his eyeballs. Or, less extremely, if she and the British youth were friends and joshed in that profane manner that friends sometimes do: "Give me a french fry, you twat." "Fuck off!"
But it was not the appropriate response when My Lovely Wife was riding her bicycle past a nearby car park a few months ago and saw a group of British youth attempting to destroy the wrought iron fence that was surrounding a tree, rocking it back and forth, trying to pull it from the ground. In a jocular manner she said, "C'mon, what's that tree ever done to you?" To which the British youth replied: "Fuck off!" They were 8 and 9 years old.
Nor was it the appropriate response last night when two British youth laughed after their unleashed dog ran into the street, almost toppling My Lovely Wife from her bicycle. She pointed out that the dog should be on a leash, lest both it and she be injured. They responded, with an originality and wit that Shakespeare and Shaw would have appreciated, "Fuck off!"
I am embarrassed to report--though I understand the impulse completely--that Ruth's response utilized one of their two words, and that word wasn't "off."
Such is the affect that British youth can have on you. Not all British youth, of course, but enough that walking down the street can convince you--what with the swearing and the aggression and the limpid pools of binge-drinking-induced vomit--that "Clockwork Orange" was a documentary.
The boys are marginally worse than the girls, but what the girls lack in foul-mouthed incipient ultra-violence they make up in hooker-shaming fashion. The Oxford Skankocracy, I call it: teased hair, kohl-rimmed eyes, trashy blouse, and either capillary-constricting jeans or a mini skirt so microscopic that it seems to have been designed to allow gynecological access. I count it a good day if I can make it to the High Street and back without seeing a stranger's genitals.
God I sound old, don't I?
"Thatcher's children" is how one English acquaintance described the youth of Britain. I couldn't quite follow his argument, but it involved how the go-go '80s infected their parents, whose quest for filthy lucre then caused them to ignore the basic tenets of parenting, which evidently includes teaching your children not to tell adults to fuck off.
Maybe that's true. All I know is that if one more spotty British youth in trainers and a hoodie tells my wife to ...well, you know, I shall be in the market for a rope.