Today Our Katie, Eldest of my Tremendous Ten Grandchildren, comes of age. Where did those eighteen years go? Time sure flies by when you are having fun. Happy, happy Birthday, darling Katie!
Katie's sister, Eleanor, points out that each year between now and 2018 I will have yet another grandchild reaching eighteen and so becoming a Grown Up. This thought is both exciting and scary in equal measure. After that, considers Eleanor (you can
tell she has been thinking about this) I will have a gap until the Little Welsh Boys start becoming Grown Ups, including, of course the Duracell Bunny (Young Morgan) whose in-built battery, I suspect, will still be going strong in fifteen years time. Now that
really is scary. Then, in just sixteen years time, Young Faris - Ace Blogger and Rampaging Rascal - will Come of Age as a Proper Grown Up. Although I think it needs to be stated here that he does already consider himself All Grown Up, even though he hasn't
yet reached his Nanni's Great Age.
Finally, I fully intend to be around when The Twinkles, Tala and Lilia, reach eighteen. I will be a mere stripling of 85. That's perfectly do-able in this day and age, don't
Because today she has Come of Age, you are probably thinking that Katie will be able to vote for the very first time next Thursday. I wax lyrical about the importance of using one's vote, considering
those women who fell under horses, chained themselves to railings and endured unspeakable treatment in prisons to gain Votes for Women. Katie sighs and says she knows all that - but it is really, really difficult to know who to vote for. I suspect many floating
voters (not to mention those drowning in political rhetoric) feel exactly the same way.
I was at a meeting this afternoon with Cathy, who told me that today's first time voters are being termed "the Lost Generation"
because the chances are that they simply won't use their vote next Thursday or in any election to come, because they don't see that their vote will make a difference. So why don't all the political parties develop policies specifically aimed at 18 - 25 year
olds, and promote them to the Generation before it becomes Lost?
Here, then, are a few ideas. We have pensioner bonds - so how about bonds for 18 - 25 year olds, to encourage them to save, to go out to work,
either full-time or part-time to fit in with their studies? By the time their bonds matured, they would have a nest egg towards their first home.
Ah yes, a home! How about encouragement to developers to build
homes specifically aimed at this age-group - studio flats and the like - coupled with Do It Yourself shared ownership schemes to help them get on the first rung of the housing ladder and free up the Bank of Mum and Dad to fund their well earned retirement.
Why only free bus fares for senior citizens? Why not also for the 18 - 25 year olds? It would make for much more interesting conversations on the Pulse bus into Worthing town centre. More apprenticeships for young people
who decide, like Katie, that this is the route to faster qualification and greater independence? What about specific apprenticeships to encourage today's youngsters into the NHS to help create greater sustainability for this amazing, but under-funded institution?
We need our young people to support the NHS so that it can grow and thrive instead of withering on the grapevine of discontent.
Today's young people are arguably more caring than any previous generation. They
will want to know that there are policies in place to create a more respectful approach to the health care needs of their parents and grandparents. At the same time they will worry about the next generation - their own children - so they will want to see policies
that care for our planet, recognising that the World doesn't belong to us, we're just allowed to live here, and to be custodians of its future.
Young people need to be entertained, so they will expect to see
funding for the Arts, especially encouragement to young artists, actors, poets, performers. They will look for tighter controls on food industries which target young people, leading them into a muddling maze of contradictory food myths, and on advertisements
which create false ideals of the way they should look. They will want young people with disabilities to be given equal opportunities in education and work. They will want to see a nationwide Youth Volunteer Force established to recognise and celebrate the
contribution they can make to society. They will want initiatives to tackle cyber bullying, not demonising social media as a Modern Day Evil but embracing and celebrating its creativity and outreach.
a roll. I could go on and on, like a party political broadcast or tonight's Election Debate. I suspect my loyal Daily Blog readers, many of whom are approaching their eighteenth birthdays, will have even better ideas.
Dear Katie, you know I would never, ever tell you what to do. It is not my place, as a grandmother, and anyway, you are bright, funny, caring, intelligent and sensible - quite capable of making up your own mind. I do however have a suggestion to make:
All things considered, I really do think you should vote for The Birthday Party...