The Teenage Revolution

The Teenage Revolution

The Teenage Revolution

The Teenage Revolution


Look at this face. She is fifteen. She is just about to go into a pop concert in Slough in the summer of 1964. The Rolling Stones are to play, she despises them. She despises a lot of things. Look how white and still her face is, how immobile her mouth. It is difficult to imagine finding her sexually attractive. In fact, she makes sure she is not. You cannot imagine her pushing a pram; she makes sure you cannot.

This is a face that gives nothing. It expects in material terms a good deal. It probably thinks it has a right to be fed, clothed and amused. This is, after all, the welfare state. But beyond that it expects nothing much.

Compare her with the way women looked in the 'forties. Then men were scarce and desirable. Lips were ripe like fruit for biting. Bodies swelled in offer, eyes were deep and slumberous or did their best to be.

These Mod lips are almost painted out. Her body is straight and resistant as a plank. Her eyes, hedged by spiky lines, are watchful, alert, not to be taken in. Whatever she is going to be, she is not going to be a woman in the traditional sense. At least, not for the moment.

To me, she seems the face of the teenage revolution.

This book is an attempt to describe and interpret some aspects of the behaviour of English teenagers since the War. Any addition to the massive and clamant literature on this topic must bring an excuse with it: here there has been an attempt to bring together those facts about juvenile behaviour that are actually known, rather than surmised or asserted. This has involved drawing upon the work of experts in many disciplines, and, inevitably, the difficult task of discriminating between them when they disagree. In this I have, perhaps presumptuously, cast myself as that most typical character in English affairs: the amateur arbiter of professionals' claims.

There are more than five million teenagers in this country. The approaches to them shown by Nell Dunn's Up the Junction, or the . . .

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