He had an aristocratic way with a commonplace. A long and fractious discussion concerning child development theory had been brought to a useful standstill by his weighty intervention—‘Boys will be boys’. That children were averse to soap and water, quick to learn and grew up all too fast were offered up similarly as difficult axioms. Parmenter’s banality was disdainful, fearless in proclaiming a man too important, too intact, to care how stupid he sounded.
(Ian McEwan, The Child in Time)
Childhood often seemed a pain to me
So hard, waiting to be grown
Childhood climbed up in a wide oak tree
I blinked once and it was gone.
(Steve Forbert ‘I Blinked Once’)
Look, I know this sounds a bit Blue Peter-ish, but it’s actually quite sensible. Don’t take risks with fireworks. OK?
(Radio 1 disc jockey)
A few moments on a recent Saturday morning, 15 June 1991, encapsulate much of what I want to discuss in this essay. It’s around ten o’clock. BBC 1 is showing The 8.15 From Manchester, a magazine programme aimed primarily at children and the young and, in terms of its format and content, not unlike a dozen others on various television channels. The presenter of the programme, Ross King, is doing what presenters of such programmes quite often do: he is talking to someone from another TV programme about what it’s like to be in that TV programme, and others. In this case it is Jonathan Morris, an actor in the TV