I used to be a huge fan of Glee when it first came out: a bunch of supposed teenagers (the actors are all in their twenties and thirties) leaping about and singing songs of various cheesiness though the corridors and halls of their school. I’m a bit over it now – short attention span that does not last beyond two series – so it’s been all the more annoying the last few weeks to find myself on the set, but without the talent.
All over campus gangs of society gear-clad students (don’t ask me what societies – anything from skateboarding and particle physics to stamp collecting for all I know) have been assaulting my senses with handclapping, footstomping, choral shouting performances. This morning’s blue and white assembly leapt into formation as I emerged from the MTR, forcing baffled and startled commuters to scurry out of their orbit, with shouts of – shouts of what? “Voucher!”? “Batcher!”? Your guess is as good as mine. They were still at it as I rounded a corner 3 minutes up the road and mercifully out of earshot.
My mother has charged me with being crotchetty and old. Unfair, given I am turning 28 on Saturday (the eagle-eyed might spot that this is the same age as last year, but that is because at 27 I still wished to appear older. I am now comfortable with my age). To test this theory I asked my American control subject, a 20-something male classmate (the only American plus a minority male, but beggars can’t be choosers), what he thought about this ritual assault on the senses.
Actually, I didn’t have to ask. We were standing at the bottom of an escalator, innocently having a chat about his desire to study international relations outside the US (heretic, to his American classmates: who on earth would go abroad to study such a thing when the best schools are all at home? It explains a bit about Madeleine Albright, who surprised me on a few fronts in a recent telecast I saw, but I digress) when yet another gang of orange T-shirts and knee high luminous socks came clapping and chanting from around the back of the building where they had been skulking. We remained where we stood, continuing our conversation – me not wanting to appear crotchety and old and very much feeling it – until he broke mid sentence and said “Can we move? I can’t stand this stuff”. “Hallelujah!” cried I. Score 1 for my youth and tolerance.
I had been pondering for at least a week what he might think about these flashmobs. Given my Glee watching fervour in the early days, naturally I thought all high school Americans prance through a youth full of singing and dancing people, therefore maybe he would think it was normal. However I did have a nagging suspicion that, by university at least, even the Americans might be too cool for this stuff.
“Lame” was his word.
So it’s not just me being crotchety and old. Happy Birthday to me, youth preserved.