Thursday, 29 July 2010

The Charter of Teenage Rights

Battle lines are drawn, I am a father, he is my son, we face each other, should we arm wrestle, we stare intently, time draws on so slowly.

And this time, this battle of the Generation gap titans, it is about....brushing teeth. Should he shouldn't he. My manky teeth are veterans of a 70's where a silver lining was seen by a dentist to all things ceramic. A decade where dentists drilled with more abandon than most oil rigs and the North Sea had oil rigs in my day. And in the 70s the UK did have oil.

He may know I am right, he may secretly get the toothbrush out to save a future molar adult tooth, when I am securely out of bathroom zone, but the right to brush or not to brush is his, the right to manky teeth is his ..........and if I was so diligent in brushing, why did I have manky teeth. I am caught by sins of my youth.

I smile a black rimmed smile, welcome to my world of the root canal, my son.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Battle of the Remote Control II and III

AOR ~Adult orientated rock was once a well known abbreviation, but I am showing my age. Nowadays my age has migrated me to Adult orientated television ~ AOT.

The bug-bear of all this is my kids have also migrated from Deputy Dawg, Penlope Pittsstopp, Blue Peter or whatever is the New Millenium equivalent. My kids have gone from KOT to TOT ~ Kid to Teenager orientated television.

It is inane but appears to amuse, some teenager with a US dentist-happy permanent smiler decides to wear blue polka dot pullover which is just about to be a source of great humour whether I like it or not. She goes to school which is a radical concept in a polka dot pullover apparently. She does unfunny things as a bully ~ or the bully ~ is shown up as a bully. Our heroine has friends, as in friends rally round and, believe it or not, all the friends all end up wearing the same polka dot pullover, which has become the rage because a good morale is necessary and all to a chorus of canned laughter like a misery-while-u-wait, unpleasant on the deaf-wish ear backing track, that is so canned it should be wrapped in green and called Heinz.

I look on and remember back in the day, where was the canned laughter backtrack friends thirty years ago when I dared to wear a fashion icon that was outside the tribal furs of the local bully, yep, my freinds were backtracking to a silent tune and thanking the Lord I was the stupid one. Life moves along its learning curve and the plasma screen preserves another reality.

However today I am in an adult minority of one, to a teenage brain this is seriously funny stuff. So funny the remote control is hidden under the cushion and she knows I know that, so a bum is shifting to maintain a possession is 9 tenths of the law psychi. Battle lines are drawn. I win victory on Remote Control ownership by the parental equivalent of arm wresting- the adult stare. Life is not fair when there is a weather forecast awaiting.

The other reality of TV, the bigger issue, the teenage true love played out in plasma widescreen that paralyses the senses and is the bigger problem for the squeamish. The adult-child grey zone is called TOTTY ~ teenage orientated titillation television yurgh. This is not suppose to happen at tea-time. It is not soft porn, it is not heavy petting, but its hinting at it, its crossing the grey zone that should have been covered in sex education lessons and avoided by compulsory wearing of heavy duty XXXL polar neck pullovers, but I am not sure they were and the pullovers are XXS polka dot apparently.

The Goth character is a Goth, the director is film noire and I don't want questions from a daughter and I don't want a hint of sexual deviation that I may need to explain to a daughter. The goth is vampire. The vampire is somehow sweet, but dangerous.

I shift aimlessly. The daughter is probably on my wavelength for once, but confirmation is shrouded in silence. The silence is unbroken and where is canned laughter when you need it. The stars have kissed - this is a warning ......a bum shifts...... a remote control is released to breathe fresh air and ......a channel is flipped and by the powers invested in the GOD of universal animation ~the Anthill Mob rescue the day ~ Penelope Pittstop is saved. A Father is a saved. A daughter is saved.

We smirk in a Christmas peace of no-man's land. Prudes together.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Search and Rescue Mission - somebody had to do it...

An unnatural happy sound rings out, bordering on one hit wonder potential, with full-on cheerfulness. This sound is so super happy, I am in danger of needing anti-depressant pills.

I am at home but this sound is not a homely sound. It is not a familiar sound. It is what....

It is the family phone, it must be the family phone, but I am in surreal world it does not sound like my family phone, that I left home sounding adult-like steady sedate purring sound this morning. It now chirrups, by God and all things sane, it chirrups. It has been modified, updated, corrupted, it has been teenaged. But by gum at least the teenagers showed that thay had conquered a technology barrier, changing telephone dial tone is scientific challenge, methinks. Part of me should be proud, if only my ears agreed.

It used to be the parent's phone, our phone, some 5 or 7 years ago. Now the dial tone has been de-aged. It is now a ditty dedicated to an upbeat mood in a downbeat world, a phone that says I am young fresh and its pa..aaaarty time.

I am afraid. I am old. I need advanced warning of a party time, let alone paaa...rty time.

The phone rings and it is leapt on by a daughter who knows statistically the likelihood it is for her, is a winning bet. It is now a teenager phone. And it was indeed for her, she de-camps in a matter of seconds to a bedroom to discuss non-parent things.

In years gone by, if the family phone occasionally rang, I answered it and sometimes it was a good chance it was for me. The monthly bill reflected the odd long distance phone home, now it is full of local-children-gone-wild seconds becoming minutes becoming hours.

It is a phone in fear of dying, it is a phone that gets lost in a bedroom I am forbidden to enter upon threat of pouting, but be damned the phone needs rescuing from the melee of clothes, books and half digested food. It is a phone needing volts like I need inner peace. The phone needs its battery like I need to touch base with my inner calm. The phone needs me to survive. I am the man on a search and rescue mission.

The daughter is having a bath. A mobile phone is drawn, the family home number zapped. I hear a faint too happy to be true sound. I enter the teenager zone and by God it is ....dangerous, I could trip on things that I never wished to see. The chirrupping guides me but a daughter may hear it above the sound of gushing water, she may think a friend is phoning her, she may catch me in an exclusion zone. The phone is near, but unseen. It sounds terrifyingly loud in a Eurovision winner sort of way. A daughter hears it, and knows it must be for her, it always is, I am in danger of being caught. I am in danger of the Pout. I am afraid to advise the Pout can kill conversations dead. The Pout is a dangerous weapon. My daughter owns the Pout like I own facial wrinkles. I grapple with clothes, I thread a path to release a phone in captivity. I escape. I switch off a mobile phone and a daughter returns to cleanliness and a question was it for me.

"No it was for me" - I did not lie. I smirked in a clever dick fashion that demanded an audience for my wit.

And a phone is revived with electricity in its Living room Cradle.

Saturday, 17 July 2010


Unfortunately accompanying parents to a party is not a Paaaa...rty, allegedly. This is old people's territory. This old people's laughter. This old people being old.

Teenagers want 'old school' rock trapped in a time warp when the groovers and shakers who once cut discs and danced to the midnight air are solely on celluloid... looking young... damn it. If they saw these celluloid facses now, they would have wrinkles like mine, chins as numerous as mine, bags under eyes that could shop at tesco like mine, a paunch like mine to rest a beer on probably. They would be condemned, but on celluloid they are not only condoned they are celebrated.

I use to cut shapes with the best of them. Apparently cutting shapes is hip version of navel gazing to New Order. I could do that -and ladies and gentlemen, the award for best Navel Gazing in Video goes to....

Nowadays an old disc may be cool, but slipping a disc is a risk. Perhaps my teenagers are being caring and considerate that the old fella is one tango away from hospital and they need to think where the next black Goth-rock T-shirt is coming from.

So today as we do things together as a family, I call it party, my pair of teenagers call sitting down. Teenagers that would-be happy" children if I respected their exclusion zone. I do not respect the exclusion zone because I can. I am at a Party, we are at a party, the operative word is party, let us party.

Somewhere in the ether this translates at Dad Pryce begging Teenager Pryce to cut shapes and teenager Pryce is cutting the air with a sharp stare and a look. I am recognising slowly this Look as "You are not my Father because my father would be considerate".

Rock on. I cut shapes alone amonst the Tango-ers. I am hip going on hip replacement. A circle forms a la America's best dance crew. Is there to be a Dad-on-Dad Dance off. I feel a challenger coming through the masses of playing it safe Tango/ers , I feel he's readying Jiggywithit while I am a ready to shake my tail feather. Sadly I am more alone than Marlene on the wall. Sharp staring is back in fashion apparently, aswell as my new blushing red and it does not match my pants. The middle aged "in crowd" appear to share my daughter's opinion. The middle aged crowd are conditioned to behave to a teenage view of the world, to behave as if old and being old is not having lots of fun. Middling fun once in blue moon is supposed to be my norm. I am not only a disgrace to all things paternal, but to all things middle aged. I am in a void of my own making.

I retreat after a last humiliating "I don't care stand" that leaves little to my dignity as a fellow adult, with an internal voice saying at least, they did not laugh....aloud.... well did not laugh in my face .....much.

So today we talk post dance off with myself, about things my teenagers say are not so good about me. Damning the evidence, I listen but make no promises, I have memories of how to party and I wish to grow old slowly.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Rebel without a Cuppa

Come again may be a neighbourly invitation or a quantum mechanics defying moment in a mother- teenage son conversation.

"Make me a cup of tea" a teenager mumbled in a "I-am-better-than-thou" Raj-if-U-Like, in a delusional feat of recapturing a repressed memory when the empire was still shooting near-to- be extinct animals. Here the teenager was sending instructions to the adults as if his silver spoon should quickly be used to stir his cup of tea.

"Pardon" a curt response by a mother trying to be decent, trying to forget the tone of the rebel without cuppa and remember her little boy.

"Oh alright make me a cup of tea pleee-ease" as said by worst-than-thou son of a ....well me.

"No, you can do it yourself" a curt disciplined response by a mother re-considering her will, her will to survive and asking questions if adoptions was still an option or a swap programme with a third world country.

"Am I your slave" he mumbled this without irony, without conscious, without logic.

Let us replay this, since it may be some illusion, a trickery of the mind, this somehow may have been a normal conversation and we are getting old - You ask me to make a cup of tea - I refuse - you suggest you are a slave.

"Come again" mouthed between parents, blaming each other for passing on the "intelligent" gene.

Making coffee for yourself is slavery.... I await the grafitti, the political campaign and rent-an- Anarchist at the door. A modern day Lincoln will put on Statute an Emancipation Act aimed at overcoming the Pryce parents lack of care of a wannabee bad-boys -R -Us persona. A Rebel without his Cuppa.

If there is a God or Gods, let this space time continuum take to me to the parallel universe.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Education is a knowledge of Things called Emo

Emo is Goth by another word, their word, a teenage word, I am lost to its origins. If only Mr Darwin was still alive.

My teenage son speaks in tongues that I need to decipher, secret words I do not understand and he does not wish to explain. A cultural generation divide based on language is perpetuated like a ball of string, one day we may find each other again. I hope.

Understanding will let me into his world. I want to communicate. I've been there. I'm old, I must have been there. But "there" has been re-decorated, re-freshed, and claimed by others. There is a new flag perched on the hill. The disco lives to a different beat on Saturday night.

It used to be "Simon says" and kiddy laughs; now its Emo says and snarls, smirks and sadness to order. To be Emo is not only a language, it is a way of life, a dress, a record collection or should I say download. Download collection somehow has no ring to it. There are no pictures on the record cover. How I used to listen to the music, but more how I used to pore over the cover and then to pore over the backwards text on the black vinyl. A text once dicephered, that may have converted me to satamism. I read on the wildside.

And the experiment that fascinated more than any bunsen burner, the playing backwards record test to corrupt my mind. I listened on the wild side too.

Now I fear somebody-else walking on the wildside, I fear that as well as man make-up , man skirts will be next. My acceptance of all things left of centre is reduced to, as long as its not my boy. I am correctly placed in a corner of prejudice. The prejudices I fought against as my parents thought that the world is a strange enough place as it was, without me wishing to sartorially stand out and, as they perecived, wanting to be thumped by any right of centre bad-doer.

Now its my turn, I seek to be an educator in the ways of the world that expectations may be sometimes great and a good ideal, but rarely fulfilled; but I am also keen not to transfer my failings in optimism called my experience. My ivory tower has been chewed over, to be repaired by mercury chunks just like my teeth, and it aint no ivory tower no more.

I want to connect with today's youth or more accurately today's youth that has my DNA marker strapped to his each and every cell.

I am aware sex Drugs and Rock'n'roll passes us by without most of realising two out of three ain't bad, and perhaps one is quite good; and one is quite good, once in a while, at least it gets you to next weekend. At least we not starving in some God forsaken war-zone, starring in every News Bulletin that it loses its impact like a fading wallpaper. We are not there. We are not in the poster world of charity donations of the guilty to make the Sunday lunch a bit more tasty and sod the waste.

We are in the picture postcard world of a Sunday lunch, shortened by lack of conversation and an urgent need to speak to his Emo mate to a def-bad-whatever backbeat.

Here I am a teacher in waiting that a son, my son is prepared to enter a dirty old world out there, where it sucks, dregs and rock'n'roll. These are the things I want to teach. Am I teaching pessimism. Am I shutting up.

My son, my teenage son has ideals, he has an ivory tower to build and I am proud that somebody is trying to prove me wrong. I may reluctantly need, may need to realise, may need to conclude I am there to pick him up when he falls down because he wants the experience of trying to stand-up alone.