No Surprises Living In Devizes: Do we tar youth with the wrong brush?

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The Boomtown Rats: I Don't Like Mondays


RECOGNISED I’m getting on a bit while peeking out of the imaginary net-curtains at teenagers suspiciously hanging around the children’s playpark. My senior mind began to speculate the malice “bored minds” were scheming, only to realise moments later they were fathers of toddlers playing merrily on the slide!

After incidents of delinquents causing trouble in our humble town, I asked the respectable moaners of The Devizes Issue Facebook group to outline examples where kids shine, as we shouldn’t “tarnish them all with the same brush”.

I got a colossal number of replies which I planned to cover over the next few episodes of No Surprises, if you don’t mind.

Maybe it was badly worded as some comments tried turning the tables; I was now apparently tarnishing adults with the same brush by claiming adults tarnish kids with the same brush; there was so much tarnishing the brush wore thin; you can’t please everyone but I stress it was not my intention.

There’s tarnish residue left on my own brush, yeah I’ll be the first to admit, as in the example above, I’m occasionally guilty. Perhaps it’s fuelled in wrinklies by a natural jealously of youth, or maybe it’s based on a truth; SOME teenagers spell trouble with caps-lock on and a smiley emoji. Still I will detest the phrase “kids of today,” as historically it’s always been an issue.

The expression hackneyed in the US in 1999, after the Columbine High School Massacre, but they failed to account their past delinquent rampages.

Need they only listen to the words of the Boomtown Rats’ song outlining the motives why 16-year-old Brenda Spencer open-fired on pupils at her San Diego high-school in 1979; her reason? “I don’t like Mondays”.

Prior to the days when American broods had access to their granddaddy’s arsenal, wrecking trains was a popular sport, bored teenagers blamed for the 1947 derailment in Walton, Indiana, killing four.

How about the incident in Rochester, New York, where three under-11s were arrested for pouring petrol on a tramp and lighting it, in 1930? And you only have to google the name Jesse Pomeroy to realise teenage delinquency is no new trend, he was a kiddie Jack the Ripper who started murdering at age 12 back in, wait for it, 1872.

Thinking on these lines perhaps swearing at staff in Morrisons isn’t as bad; still it’s annoying and disruptive. What could teenagers be doing to occupy their time more productively?

Alan Beamish was quick to point out many teenagers support people with special needs at the Devizes Food Bank, while others suggested I need only look to Scout and Guide leaders, or brass bands; the Bratton Silver Band and Phoenix Brass of Marlborough, which are kept alive by the influx of new young students.

Annica commented too; she runs the Devizes Youth Club at the Southbroom Centre on Wednesday evenings from 6:30-9pm. Open to 13 to 19-year-olds it’s always on the lookout for new members and helpers. I’ve been invited to pay them a visit to see what “fun engaging activities,” they get up to in there, pass the Just for Men hair dye and I’m in.

We covered Mac’s theatre school a couple of weeks ago and I send best wishes for their first performance of Beauty and the Beast; my daughter is looking forward to it. But BA (hons) Royal Academy of Dance graduate Charlotte Boulton told me about her all new Devizes-based Centre Stage Academy of Dance. They have a huge range of classes from ballet, modern jazz, musical theatre, even a pre-school ballet class but alas, no dad-dancing workshop (of which I excel in, you need to see it to believe it Charlotte.)

For motivated youth, things to do are plentiful in the ‘vizes, if you go hunting. I’ve only scratched the surface; we’ll cover sports and other activities next week. No one could be more motivated then those in the Army Cadet Force though. I heard from a cadet from the Devizes detachment, “we take part in a number of events,” she informed me, “the most significant being the remembrance parade.”

“We’re required to do cadet and community hours to complete our training which involves us helping with the community. I’ve attended for over a year now and have met a lot of amazing young people. A lot of the teens that come to cadets have been able to learn life skills such as first aid.”

Now if any part of said training involves annoying elders with anti-social behaviour in the supermarket then I’m mistaken, but I really feel the majority of the next generation have their heads screwed on, so let’s put our tarnishing brushes back in our decrepit tool boxes and lock them in our pigeonholing sheds shall we?

DARREN WORROW

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