I am clearly no longer a young man and one of the ways this shows itself is that I do not understand the language of youth. I understand this, it is as natural as the creaking arthritis that is becoming a more constant companion and the desire to hear the words in music. I am not completely oblivious to the altered interpretations of language that the youth use, I don’t dive for a bucket when I hear them say that something is sick. For me the youthful adaption of the language is quite unpleasant, the desire to mimic cultural tones of those less educated than oneself demonstrates a sad lack of identity and confidence. But the youth, by their very nature, will always be younger and always trying to differentiate themselves.
There are some aspects of the development of language that are more disturbing as they creep into general use. I am deeply unhappy, for example, that welfare has become “pay” or “money” in the UK since this softens the reality that the state is sponsoring a person. For some reason I got to thinking if I could educate the world as to one piece of language what would it be. The answer that I have fallen upon is the difference between the words ‘want’ and ‘need’. I think that if we could educate people as to the true definitions of these two words the world would be a happier and more fulfilled place and, more importantly, I wouldn’t get so angry. I set out to establish some easy examples and came up with:
You ‘want’ chocolate’ but you ‘need’ oxygen
- You ‘want’ takeaway but you ‘need’ food
- You ‘want’ beer but you ‘need’ water
At this point I started struggling, I could find loads more ‘wants’ but struggled to justify more ‘needs’. A home came to mind but, as many prove nightly, that is not a true need. Human life is a simple mechanism that requires fuel and hydration to survive, if it’s not one of those then you don’t really need it. We have complicated our lives and I fully accept that we need to pay the mortgage or fill the car to get to work but we don’t need to go the pub or visit friends, they are nice things to do but not essential.
In part this fuels the welfare culture, this belief that we need Sky or we need beer or, perhaps most sadly, that our children need toys. The happiest children in the world have little more than the love and attention of their parents but society, especially in the UK, creates artificial aspirations and beliefs. So we have parents who believe that their children’s happiness and welfare is directly related to the volume of “Made in China” labels under the Christmas tree. An aspiration to provide toys for your child is normal and correct but this has been manipulated and mutated such that, for so many, it is impossible to achieve. So we end up with badly educated parents trying to achieve the unachievable, giving up and getting drunk.
The result of this ‘feast or famine’ style of parenting is that little Johnny is fed garbage all year in a vain attempt to pay the loans taken out to pay for last years Christmas. By the time this Christmas comes around little Johnny’s parents will despair that they cannot afford more junk so will slip into self pity. The truth is that with no loans little Johnny could eat better and he would be happier making jam tarts with his mum than watching a drunk dad racing cars on the X-Box that the family ‘needed’. Next time that you find yourself saying that you need something just stop and check if you mean that you want it.
That’s my early morning philosophy done for today, next up the devilish train operators. I find myself on the first London departure from Derby today as I have to head South for a medical, the train departs at 04:37. Now normally this is the 05:00 departure but before Christmas they took to retiming it and running it on a diversion route. Without going into the technicalities of the diversionary paths from Derby station I will just say that the train departs in the normal direction but then stops and continues the journey in the reverse direction. I know this and so I claimed a seat at the ‘rear’ of the train facing in the ‘wrong’ direction.
My traveling companions did not seem to be aware of this twist to the journey and so they boarded the ‘front’ of the train. The train crew clearly knew as well as I do that the position of a commuter’s seat is more important than the arrival time, they ‘need’ to be at the front. So before the train sets off the train crew announce several times that the set has been retimed but will follow the timetable after Derby, no mention of the reversing move. With the doors locked and the train setting off in the ‘right’ direction tickets were checked as normal. Then comes the devilishness, an announcement that the train will shortly “come to a stand for a few minutes whilst the driver changes ends and will then continue with first class leading”. This announcement generates a stampede to join me in the ‘rear’ of the train. The thing that I found so English in this whole scenario was that following the first station stop the tickets were checked again and every one of the ‘end changers’ was greeted with “can I see your ticket please” before their flustered look elicited a “oh did you change ends”. No matter who you are in life you will always have a chance to know more than somebody else!