A couple of years ago I wrote about Generation Y, the young people born between 1980 and 2000 sometimes known as “Generation Yawn”. One of them, Rachael Dove, 24, confessed in The Daily Telegraph that she hardly ever drank enough to get a hangover and couldn’t remember the last time she went clubbing or to bed after midnight during the week.
Some of her friends were going to knitting classes. I quoted Professor Fiona Measham of Durham University: “The generation before Generation Y were bar-hopping, binge-drinking and taking cocaine. Now there is a new sense of sobriety among young people.”
To judge from Radio 4’s Analysis programme, things haven’t got any better – or worse, depending on your point of view. Jason Cowley, the editor of the New Statesman, examined the millennial generation (who overlap with Generation Y). He was struck by how socially responsible they are, these “new young fogeys”.
The figures back him up. According to the Office for National Statistics, this could be the best-behaved generation since the rebellions and upheavals of the 1960s. More than a quarter of young adults in Britain today are teetotal; teenage pregnancy has fallen markedly; millenials smoke much less and take fewer drugs; the level of school truancy is at a record low.
Cowley, a teenager in the 1980s, went to a sixth-form college in Harlow where, during his first A-level English lesson, one of the students asked if he could smoke. Yes, said the teacher, a “bearded poet manqué”.
Five or six others promptly lit up as well. Returning to Harlow, Cowley found the students he met preoccupied with exams and getting jobs. “They objected to being called boring,” Cowley wrote in The Times, but they are certainly level-headed and realistic, if a little too conformist. “And they’re always fiddling with their wretched smartphones and oversharing the small details of their lives.”
At a Generation Y party on Saturday I asked one of my daughters (born 1990) what she thought. “We weren’t as boring as that,” she said, “but perhaps the millenials are.”
Old Bond, new villains
“You must forgive me,” James Bond tells Vesper Lynd in the novel Casino Royale, after informing her that Taittinger is the world’s greatest champagne. “I take a ridiculous pleasure in what I eat and drink. It comes partly from being a bachelor, but mostly from a habit of taking a lot of trouble over the details.”
The world Bond is talking about has gone, says the left-wing journalist Paul Mason in The Guardian, and not only the class distinctions, “blurred forever by the ‘mass luxury’ brand empires”. But Bond lives on – in films – so it’s time he took on new villains. Perhaps Spectre should now represent “the global oligarchy, ripping off the world” (overpaid CEOs, hedge-funders, fracking bosses, etc).
Bond could start “by having a quiet word with the man who tried to hike the price of HIV drugs from $13.50 to $750, and then move on to the Saudi millionaires who have bankrolled violent jihadism”. And the villains wouldn’t be that different: the old Bond, after all, took on “greed-inspired madmen” and “cat-stroking sadists”. There are plenty still around.
Tabloid money… “Or, or, or. Sir Philip Green’s actions have more ores than a Monaco brothel”
• So-called “body-shaming” advertisements are to be banned from London’s tube and bus network, reports the Daily Mail. The new mayor, Sadiq Khan, has announced a block on advertisements that “demean” women or encourage them to conform to unrealistic shapes. The policy means controversial marketing campaigns – such as Protein World’s “Are you beach body ready?” poster (pictured), which provoked a huge backlash last year – will no longer be allowed.
• When quizzed about his new £48.8m plane, Sir Philip Green said: “I don’t want to talk to you. Is that clear?” “I presume he doesn’t want to talk about his new £100m yacht either,” says Kelvin MacKenzie in The Sun. “Or how his missus owns all his assets in Monaco so he will never pay tax on their disposal. Or how he stopped everybody talking to the Pensions Regulator ahead of the BHS sale to the thrice-bankrupted Chappell. Or, or, or. Green’s actions have more ores than a Monaco brothel.”
• “George Osborne’s Tory leadership hopes appear to be in ruins, whatever the outcome of the referendum,” says Ephraim Hardcastle in the Daily Mail. “Did the lean and hungry look he adopted under the tutelage of his £98,000 chief of staff Thea Rogers, 32 – including a Caesar haircut, a slimmer figure after a 5:2 diet and a Mockney accent – end up souring his previous friendly character, making him seem shrill and hysterical? A rich man thanks to his family’s interior decorating business, he’ll never be short of money. Ex-occupants of the Treasury have little difficulty finding lucrative board jobs.”