No one ever thinks of the kids born in the 80s…
When historians look back over British history they tend to linger on the most recent years; turbulent and dominated by terrorism.
Failing that they’ll look to the tumultuous war time eras focusing on the effect that an entire World War had on a generation.
They don’t think of how MTV made us feel about ourselves or how frustrating it was to be born on the cusp of the future; always one step behind a much promised future that would forever be out of our grasp.
I understand this might sound a little melodramatic, but I believe that the young lives of those in the 1980s and 1990s were often dominated by the kind of defeatist mentality that had been mustered and bred in their parents during the tough austerity measures of the 1970s, at least I’m certain that’s how it was for me.
My Mother was born in 1960, she had me when she was very young, only 18. I was the product of a wild night out and a chance encounter with a man who must have been in England on holiday because by the time I was born he was long gone, back in whatever sunnier, richer clime he had first came from leaving my Mother, uneducated as she was, with a child to raise alone. Throughout my early years in 80s there was a sense of foreboding that seemed to dog me wherever I went.
The teachers were lackadaisical, they seemed less intent on actually educating us and more concerned with informing us about the sorry state of the country, how there were no jobs like there used to do and how everything had changed. They were wrong, of course, everything was changing it always had be, so in that sense nothing had ever changed. I left school with the kind of grades that didn’t promise a rich career in…well, in anything.
At age 16, the year was 1995 and I had no intent on furthering my education. Marketing to students at the time consisted of posters featuring the kind of well-dressed, smart looking people that I only saw coming out of office blocks at 5pm or on TV. Their perma-white smiles, pristine pinstripes and coiffed hair were at sharp contrast with my own image. As far as I was concerned I’d already achieved the zenith of my prosperity. I owned a couple of Adidas tracksuits which I wore on rotation, the dole gave me enough money to visit the pub twice a week and with our combined ‘earnings’ my Mum and I could put food on the table.
I spent 1985 in a haze of marijuana and VCR tapes. My Mum started dating a man from the pub that year and I found that I was no longer free to simply sit around the house with a joint in my mouth anymore. When Gerald moved in during the summer of 1996 he brought with him a brochure for the QE Academy. He didn’t force me to go, he didn’t even sit me down and have a chat. He just dropped the leaflet on the dining room table one day and said it might be worth a look.