Handing over the keys

Hi folks. How are you all? It’s been a wee while. Honestly, I’m a bit worried about you. There are so many wonderful things in the world and many more still to come our way, but I’m concerned that some of you are not feeling it just now with “the way things are”.

“The way things are”

I think it is reasonable to say that 2020 has been a challenging year for most of us. Everyone has had their own experience of COVID and associated lockdown(s) and it has affected us all in some shape or form.

I’ll be honest, I know it was tough for a lot of folk, but I quite enjoyed large parts of the first lockdown. It was really nice to spend more time with the kids (although I am very grateful to the State for taking them off my hands this term) and I was able to get outdoors most days and make the most of my environs. I even had hope that, given how quickly the whole world mobilised to keep the virus under control, this would be the start of an amazing new dawn of community, compassion and collective wellbeing.

But it doesn’t feel like that anymore.

Here in Scotland, we are a few weeks into a second wave of infections and nobody is out clapping on their doorsteps this time. We had this under control, dammit, who left the gate open?

***all heads in the room slowly turn towards the young people standing at the back of the room***

YES! It’s you fucking young people! We knew you couldn’t keep your hands off each other for more than a few months! You couldn’t wait a few more months to save your Gran and her pals?!? How dare you, you selfish pricks?

I’m not a young person. I’m at least a decade outside of that demographic, depending on your benchmark. But I’m not so old that I can’t remember the type of young person I was.

I was a pretty passive wee dude, I went with the flow. Played rugby and computer games, ate toasties, fancied the girls that everyone else fancied (who reciprocated by only being interested in boys from 2-3 years above), drank vodka from quarter-bottles, wasn’t remotely interested in politics or the economy. I figured I would be ok, things would work out.

But that won’t necessarily be the case for so many young people today. The financial crisis was not a leveller – it affected the young and the vulnerable in a grotesquely disproportionate way. And just as they were starting to put that, and the subsequent austerity, in their rear view mirror, along comes COVID to cancel their exams, lock them away from their friends and generally put on hold whatever future they might have had planned.

So I’d like to think that if I was a young person in 2020, I would be mightily pissed off with the world and, more specifically, with the older people that have shaped it.

We’ve sat on our hands while the opportunity to keep global warming under control passed us by, we’ve ignored a burgeoning youth mental health crisis for two decades, and we’ve quietly allowed fascism to re-enter the mainstream.

And now we’ve locked you in your student accomodation before you’ve even had the chance to agree the milk rota with your new flatmates.

An offer

So here’s my offer to you, the young people of the world. Take it. Take control. You can only do a better job than we’ve done the past 20 years. Don’t let us hoard what we haven’t earned.

In return, all I ask is that you let us cut aboot in your new world for a bit. Don’t hang us from the town walls straight away (although I wouldn’t blame you if you did).

You’ve got the tools – surely Snapchat has a practical use? – and you’re quicker than us so we can’t outrun you. OK, we’ve got control of the systems and structures to keep you oppressed, but our numbers are reducing, your time will come.

And you’re so much smarter than we were. You’ve totally got this. So what are you waiting for?

To my fellow old people

I realise that, to people of my generation, this might seem like I am handing over the anarchist’s cookbook here, that I am a Haribo voting for Halloween. But surely a peaceful transition of power is in our interests too?

You never know, they might let us keep the vodka and toasties.


The picture at the top o’ the blog is the underside of the frankly stunning Leaderfoot Viaduct, near Melrose. So, to reward you for getting to the end of my apocalyptic musings, here is a photo of said bridge in all her majestic glory, flanked by her sister crossing, the old Drygrange road bridge (in the foreground).

More on those lads and the many other crossings that have been visited since my last missive, next time.

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