Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Youth of Today

Now that the longer evenings are well and truly with us, Tramp and I generally set off for our main walk of the day at around 6.00 p.m. Last night we came back past the Church Hall where young teenagers were lining up for Youth Club in a rather disorderly fashion.

The noise of course was astonishing, but it was driven by excitement and anticipation I believe, rather than any desire to misbehave. Two or three of the girls at the end of the queue spotted Tramp and two came over to stroke him, overpowering us both in their effusiveness.

          ‘Oh, he’s so lovely… so cute!’

          ‘Isn’t his fur soft! I just sooooo  love dogs!’

          They were playing to the gallery, of course. They were full-on, but hardly threatening. Eventually I managed to peel their arms from around his neck, and Tramp and I carried on our way.

          There is a lot of grumbling about young people in our village, as I’m sure there is in many others. At the last Church Hall meeting, scuffed paintwork looked like it might become a major issue, but Youth Club members had already volunteered to organise a working-bee to clean all the paintwork, which of course batted away any further objections.

Another recent complaints non-runner was the matter of the lad who had managed to break a window pane at the hall during a rather too boisterous game of table tennis. His father made him buy a new pane of glass from his pocket money, ready-cut to size, then he had to fit it. Finally he had to come back again and touch up the surrounding paintwork. He made an awful mess of it, and neither glazing nor interior design should probably feature in his career development plan, but that wasn’t the point.

This is really our village’s pathetic level of vandalism, if you can even call it that. Personally, I'd like to see a little more rebellion. Sam, the Youth Club worker employed by our Parish Council, often says that the worst he has to contend with is getting the kids to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ And then only sometimes.

He adds, “Yet parents are always saying they won’t send their children to Youth Club because it’s too rough. Here, in this village! Too rough!!” Sam has worked in much harsher environments.

We did have a case of outright theft in the village, though, last year. The shop often sells the tickets for local fund-raisers – this time it was for a quiz night and fish and chip supper (from the mobile van that was booked especially – normally it parks up in the village every week, much like the mobile library). Walking home from the shop one night, Mrs Purton noticed a plastic container and a number of ‘Quiz Nite + Fish ‘n’ chip Supper’ tickets strewn in the ditch near her house. She immediately turned around and took them back to the shop – but the money for the tickets sold, of course, was not there.

I was in the shop myself at the time and it was easy to narrow-down the list of suspects - given Mrs Purton had not spotted the discarded tickets when she left home, and that there had only been one other customer in the shop within the critical time-frame.

“I bet you it was that young Douglas from up the lane,” pronounced June at the shop. “He’s been skulking around the shelves a lot lately, and today he had me go out the back for a packet of Cheese and Onion, which somehow we’d run out of. He must have taken the ticket box then.”

“He would have been casing the joint,” said Mrs Purton, obviously affected by an over-indulgence in crime thrillers since her retirement.

But the matter was easily resolved. June rang Douglas’ father then and there, and within twenty minutes he had extracted a confession and dragged him down to the shop to apologise. He still had the money, and he handed it over, right down to the last penny. Furthermore, he agreed to help clear tables at the Church Hall after the fish ‘n’ chip supper.

No more was said, but I suspect that a life of crime will not feature too prominently on Douglas’ future career path.

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