generation z zzzz

They presented themselves as I pounded the keypad of my BlackBerry in a coffee shop, trying to achieve at least a feeble type of catharsis through a rant which formed the skeleton of my last blog post.

“Hello mate.”

I’d known they were in the country.  He’d sent an email a couple of days earlier warning of their flying visit from Sweden, mentioning they’d be in town today.  It was still a shock to see him suddenly there in front of me, one of my oldest friends, together with his long-term Swedish girlfriend.  I quietly pride myself on being fairly sharp-eyed, spotting people from a distance.  To be found out like this, crept up upon myself, was rare.  I felt dozy and foolish and hugged the pair of them, then we headed out and went for lunch.

We parted and met up again in the evening, this time with half a dozen more friends who all live in the town but increasingly rarely get together.  Their visit provided an ideal excuse.

Everybody had known each other for a minimum of around ten years and clicked comfortably back into our relationships.  I wondered how we looked as a group to the adjacent table of comparatively stiff new graduates and parents.  The town had been awash with gowns, mortar boards, posh frocks and suits during the day.  The table looked upbeat but jaded, cast glances at our larger group, buoyed by a rare spontaneous reunion, ten years down the line from them.

Our table discussed future plans, the two solid couples mentioning children, buying houses, settling down, perhaps doing a final bit of long distance travel before settling down.  It was loosely assumed that children were inevitable and would happen easily.  We collectively appeared to be pootling along fairly well from our own graduation days, life coming together conventionally well for some and stumbling along more uncertainly for others.

Pootling and stumbling seem appropriate verbs for us as a group.  There’s often felt like an over-casual nature to our set, a sense of a very narrow sub-generation to those born two or three years before us.

Clearly this is coloured predominantly by my brother’s freakish focus and successes, but in his year group and amongst his peers there seemed a greater sense of urgency about life, getting a good job, finding a partner, buying a house and having children, preferably before they were out of their 20s. Was it possible that babes of the mid to late 1970s were somehow instilled with more drive and purpose than those of the 1980/81? Was our upbringing more warped by the grey 1980s recession than our older peers?

Probably bollocks.

As a year group we disappointed, though I escaped to a different college for A Levels, achieving better results than those who stayed at the sixth form.  We weren’t on drugs or anything.  We were just largely dopey and ambitionless.  We didn’t know what we wanted from life, so we played football, worked moderately hard and let stuff happen to us.  And stuff had happened to us, and coming from decent middle class bases which steered us through the education system, most of it was acceptable enough – albeit not in any way remarkable.

Heading into our 30s not a massive amount seemed to have changed.  Buying a house and having children were the main things to get excited about.  I found it faintly depressing.  We all dissipated by 8pm.


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