Something happened the other day that reminded me that despite what legions of Daily Mail readers might think, our society now is not intrinsically worse that it was back in, say, the 1950s, and is in many ways far better.
I was heading home, by train, to Brighton, after a day at work in London. I’m lucky in that where I board the train there are nearly always seats available, which when you have an hour and twenty minute journey is very much appreciated. But the train always quickly fills up, and it did on this day. A couple of stops after I got on, a woman and what I presume were her two teen-aged daughters boarded, and find only two seats left, not together. The woman took the first seat while the two girls took the second, one sitting on the other’s lap.
The two girls – who were sitting just across the aisle from where I was trying to read my paper – were aged sixteen or so, I guess, and were loud, obnoxious, clearly in love with themselves, and possessed of a clear and unshakeable belief that an entire carriage full of commuters wanted to hear their entire conversation. They got particularly excited when they thought up a song, the words of which went like this:
Hickory, dickory dock.
My chewing gum on his cock.
The clock struck one.
The oral’s done.
Hickory, dickory dock!
They loved this song so much that they sang it three times and then texted it to their mother, who was sitting a little behind them. They were audibly disappointed when she failed to find it funny. A little while later, they twisted round and had a conversation with her about when she was going to have a face-lift. She wanted to wait several years until she had the money and really needed it – but they wanted her to have it now. That particular conversation ended with an anguished, “Well you’d better have it by my eighteenth – I want you looking hot!”
Now some of you might be asking how this particular incident proves that our modern society is superior to that of the nineteen-fifties. After all, girls of their age in that era – or of any age, come to that – would not have dreamed of behaving that loudly, rudely and immodestly, in public.
That’s true. But in the nineteen-fifties, I would have had to give up my seat for those two little madams. And that’s what I call progress.