Saturday, June 16, 2007

A deluge of biblical proportions

Standing barefoot on a cold wood floor,

and looking out the window of my back door,
if it keeps on raining, I think the whole damn house is gonna float away.
Easy's getting harder every day
Iris Dement

Yesterday it lashed it down for 24 hours.
And brought the country to a halt.

Local roads were flooded everywhere railways were closed, our local station was closed because the innocent looking beck (Yorkshire for stream) that flows alongside it was a raging torrent that had claimed the railway track, and people everywhere got thoroughly damp but had plenty to talk about with neighbours.

It didn't stop our house moving endeavours though, no not our house move, a friends house move (see yesterdays post), a pair of friends who have divorced and were going their seperate ways after 30 years of friendship/marriage.

A twelve hour shift of carrying boxes and furniture in and out of vans later I was knackered, wet, tired and I slept the sleep of the dead last night, these fifty year old muscles and bones did the whole shift yesterday unlike the big gang of 16 year old lads who turned up to help, friends of my friends son.

And as we sat on the tailgate of the truck drinking coffee, waiting for the keys to the new house to materialise, my friend and I watched them all and we both voiced the same thoughts - how good it is to observe a team of young lads bonded in friendship like that, just like we were inextricably bonded when we were their age, and we wondered how many of them would be old friends when they reached our age.

Its different now, when we were sixteen we had been to the same schools, we played football together most nights of the year, at sixteen we were starting to go to pubs together on a weekend and already the friendship was strong enough that if one was refused bar service then we all walked out.

Later in life we left school and took local jobs, most of us anyway, we dated girls together, we married locally (me excepted) and we raised our family's locally, most of our gang of lads still live and work in the same local community that we were raised in.

Yesterdays gang of 16 year olds have a different outlook.

For a start they will all expect to go to university, speaking to one of them yesterday that is indeed his ambition and if he doesn't get the grades then he will go to a further education college instead and take a vocational course - we had no such expectations or ambitions at 16, only three of our gang of twenty went to university in the summer of '75.

University will of course break them up, their gang will be spread thinly across the hundreds of UK university towns, it seems like almost every town in the country has university status now and the one massive social change that you can point to in the 34 years since we were 16 years old is the fact that education does not stop at 16 now, you are not thrown uncermoniously out of the school gates at that age and told to go get a job, you are not interviewed by the deputy headmaster (as I was) and told "you are a waster, go get a job" because you expressed a desire to stay on in the sixth form (even though my reasoning was flawed, he was right, I was an idle bas'tad who didn't want to work).

Their friendships may not survive three years of higher education in seperate parts of the country, they may not return to their home towns again, they may take up positions in their chosen careers wherever those positions are offered - todays labour market is of a transitory nature and if you specialise in specific careers then you expect to relocate, on the contrary only a handfull of my childhood friends live more than a 20 minute drive from here.

Then we finished our coffee and got on with heavy box lifting and taking the piss out of the sixteen year olds.

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