For many years, I have thought that mine was the lucky generation; something that was confirmed on Radio 4 recently when a commentator described my youthful period as a golden age that we were unlikely to see again. Unfortunately, at present, this is also confirmed to me every day with a political situation that I never quite envisaged.
Growing up in the aftermath of World War II, we were witness to massive change, much of it, it seems, due to the fact that those who lived through that period were determined that things would be different afterwards. The seeds of hope and optimism were planted; ones that were to flower a decade and a half later with the cultural and social explosion that was the 1960’s. Deference, stoicism, uniformity and a certain drabness were replaced by challenge, expectation, individuality and colour; these reflected in the music, art and social attitudes of the times. To me, these were the springboard to the future, a springboard that I never expected to see removed. Indeed, with the discovery of large oil fields in the North Sea, the means were there, or so we thought, to create the country that many of us dreamt of. Yet, while Norway seems to have made good social use of its, “once in a lifetime”, windfall, we failed to do so.
Now people, like myself, of a certain generation hold Thatcherism to some account for our current situation. After all, much of that windfall surely went on the large scale unemployment that was created during those years. Interestingly, a recent report by the government’s Social Mobility Commission, concludes that the children that grew up under Mrs Thatcher were the first to start with lower incomes than their parents. They are also, it seems, having to endure an increasingly divided Britain.
Well, I went on to forge a career in the voluntary sector where an ethos of sharing and caring are part of the fabric. As a result, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to make a living out of what I enjoy doing within that culture. So, what Brexit has unleashed in this country is alien to me as is Trump and what might now also be happening in France. However, I still believe that things can be different. Furthermore the finite world that is Planet Earth is likely to have the last word. The need for greater sustainability, after all, requires a little more co-operation and a little less competition than we have been used to of late.
So, do I intend to pull the duvet over my head and hope that all will be well? No I don’t. That generation that is having to settle for less deserves more from those who were the lucky ones. So, I’m going ahead with a project that I’ve developed for schools to help pupils to develop their latent talent. Something that is central to their own fulfilment and the betterment of the country that we live in. If, therefore, you’re feeling somewhat deflated by what is currently happening, take a deep breath and keep going. If nothing else, it beats the alternative.