There are often articles in the newspapers regarding the ever changing use of language, every year they add and remove words from the dictionary. I would like to nominate the word ‘skint’ as a word whose definition has changed substantially over the generations. Like some sort of wordy inflation the word had moved from its original definition as people become more materially needy.
When my parents were ‘skint’ they had no money, it was that simple. They weren’t a little poor, they didn’t have less than they needed, they had nothing. For their generation ‘skint’ was a transient condition that was endured by increasing the layers of clothing and coming up with ingenious recipes to use the food in the store cupboard. Short term loans were a terrifying prospect that would only be considered if you couldn’t pay your bills. That last bit is particularly interesting, it wast food, heat or warmth that triggered a move to borrowing but the ability to pay your bills.
The aspirations of my generation meant that we had higher basic standards. We considered ourselves to be ‘skint’ when we couldn’t put fuel in the car or go to the pub. We borrowed more often and for less important reasons but not, in the main, recklessly. We were a generation born into the dream of ever growing prosperity and so debt was always considered to be something that would be inconsequential when measured against future earnings. More of us lived on overdrafts and friendly loans than the previous generation but we paid our bills and our debts.
The dream of ever growing prosperity ended in my generation, it’s ok it wasn’t our fault, but seemed to mutate into absurdity in the next. In the next generation the dream remains although there is absolutely no justification for it, it is as fantastical as Santa. Their aspirations are higher and their effort lower, ‘skint’ is not going clubbing, buying clothes or eating takeaway. Bills have become an option as the state and utilities struggle to cope with the PC brigade, after all cutting off somebody’s water supply is inhuman but not paying a bill is not. When they are ‘skint’ they message the fact from £500 smart phones which, in their skewed world, have become a basic essential of life. This is a generation that borrows to fund takeaway and vodka and then doesn’t pay the debt.
When you question this generation over how they will pay their debts or lift themselves from what they believe is poverty they have no real answer. Sure they say that they will get a job but there is no plan, they train for careers that are not available or simply scan the job pages on their smartphone but they don’t know how they will get there. Our parents were born knowing that life would always be hard work. My generation was born knowing that if we worked hard we would be rewarded. The next generation was born knowing that they deserved all that they could see and that is the least sustainable of all.
please note that references to generations do not refer to all people of an age they are simple generalisations
I have some more, recent, “you know when you’re ….. when…..” examples to share with you today. The first was when I awoke to a news article and the presenter was saying “later on we will be speaking to a games industry expert” I honestly wondered what he wants to be when he grows up. As I walked back past the TV I was fully expecting to see a scruffy schoolboy and not the adult who was being interviewed. Having considered that this was a moment of ‘you know when you’re old when’ I consoled myself with the fact that he was obese so at least one of my assumptions was correct.
Checking in at the hotel I walked into some of the management and this gave another example. Having exchanged pleasantries I was told “we have to arrange drinks soon so that you can meet the new GM General Manager)”.That has to be an example of ‘you know when you have been in a hotel too long’. The manager that I spoke to mentionioned that a lot of our team has now moved on and she was eager to ‘replace us’. I wondered off wondering if she really did think that we could just rustle up a few hundred room nights for the benefit of the hotel. Do they think that we are like lemmings, you lose some so you breed some more? I shall have to explain to her that we are a unique and rare breed and simply irreplaceable.
In other observations it is funny how the licensed trade is so insidious in one’s life, but at the same time comforting. I got out of the shower last night to find the tail end of a soap opera playing on the TV. In the soap someone was standing gloomily in a pub cellar and I noticed that behind him, close to the cellar door, were cards of peanuts. The thing that caught my eye was that there were packets missing from both cards indicating that they were in retail use. The bar in this soap is open enough to allow the cards to be displayed and the cellar location is such that having the snacks just inside the door would make no sense. The thing is that I don’t particularly watch soaps and I certainly have no interest in them, but I sat and contemplated this for a few minutes as if it was important.
My conclusion was, of course, that this is simply a trade-off for the purpose of television. In real life the bar is the sales space that attracts a premium and its use is maximised. But in the world of television this would present a cluttered and confusing back drop and detract from the characters. So I guess I must congratulate the continuity experts for ensuring that peanuts were presented for sale somewhere. To all the directors out there, remember we are checking, well I am anyway.
I think that the darker mornings have helped to develop another aspect of my aspirations plans. I have often pondered adapting to a static rural life from the frantic city/country/continent hopping that my life so often involves. I live in a place where many people rarely get as far as the next big town; the Isle has many more of the same. My morning walk through the dark city, the air heavy with diesel from the station, is comfortable and routine. I am at home in the sprawling manufacturing complex that is my office and the myriad interchanges of the metros of so many countries are second nature. The intention is to settle into a small village environment and the licensed trade ensures that I will rarely leave. In time there will be holidays but not the exploratory last-minute visits to unfamiliar countries and strange cities.
Will I miss the world that I currently inhabit, yes I probably will. But I am looking forward to cities being memories and to the quirks of local life. The thing that keeps me going, despite the soul-destroying delays and lack of progression, is the thought that carries me along the dark morning walks. I will consider that I have moved forwards when a visit to ‘serious shops’ ends standing on the gangplank at Portsmouth and boarding the cat to get back home. It may only be the first step but when all of my return tickets end on the Isle and when a trip to a big town involves crossing water then I will know that I am on the right path.