My husband and I spent last Thursday night shouting at the television like the old fogeys we are becoming. There were plenty of ‘when I was young’ comments as we watched young people wrecking parts of London and swinging off the flag at The Cenotaph. It was hard to find much sympathy for the students and their misguided response to the government’s decision to allow Universities to increase their fees. We both had a bit of a blast from the past as we reminisced about being a student which meant (in our day) shopping at Oxfam for clothes, eating beans on toast, and putting on an extra jumper rather than sticking 50p in the meter and turning on the two bar heater. And we went on protests: the Poll Tax, Clause 28 and the Winchester bypass were all features of our young lives. Perhaps the thing which separates our generation of studenthood from this generation is the feeling that we were protesting against something for the community, rather than something which would necessarily directly affect us. And last Thursday evening we certainly felt that this generation of students were much better off than ours ever was, for one thing, they can get credit cards and seem to spend all of their time in Top Shop and out on the lash. In short, capitalism hadn’t really taken a hold on the education system twenty years ago, but wow it has now, which may be a good thing. Let’s hope that with the increase in the fees from the supplier (the university) comes an increased expectation from the customer (the student) to get a decent education, and no more Mickey Mouse degrees.
Some things, however, seem to be going in a full circle. I am now considering a move back towards vegetarianism after the news today that the worldwide cost of grain is rising. This not only affects the cost of your daily bread, but also that of animal feed, so even a simple chicken is going to rise in price. When I was a teenager I was a passionate vegetarian, (I know, not a surprise really, what with the protesting and shopping at Oxfam), but as the years went past I found it very difficult to resist a bacon sandwich. And there was one Christmas when I was supposed to be a veggie (and even had a special meat free Christmas dinner made for me), but later, unable to resist the temptation, snuck into the kitchen and launched into the leftover turkey as if I hadn’t eaten in a week. My mother caught me, turkey leg in hand, but diplomatically decided not to say anything. I’m hoping to spend Christmas with my mum, if we can get ourselves together, if La Gidg’s passport arrives, and we can find some way of transporting the dogs to France with us. But given that she does a fancy ‘bird in a bird in a bird’ kind of dinner these days, being a veggie might have to wait for a couple more weeks. We’ll see.