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Monday, 15 March 2010

Watch your demographic, Charlie!

What's shocking is not the obvious things - not that a gentleman of three score years and ten has a veritable hareem of female associates. And not that we freely associate, as friends and attitudinal contemporaries, with someone who we woud have previously described as "old". And not that the party starts at three pm, a temporal windowthat in a previous life, was devoted more to arising than sashaying, glad rags accoutured, to any type of celebration. No, what is shocking is the child/adult ratio.

The ratio is about 1:4. And even taking into account absent teenagers would not really change this, as both teenagers that we know exist are missing, possibly skulking in a room somewhere listening to Lady Gaga. While the excruciable taste of teenagers might not change, demographics certainly do. Or are. Or have.

I should explain. We have, this weekend, attended a party for the seventieth birthday of a friend. That the event was located at Tatten Estates, recent venue for New Years celebrations, is retrospectively, no co-incidence, as the celebrated one - Keith, happens to be father to Georgeous Georgia, partner of my inestimable partner in crime JJ. But when RHB and I first met Keith we knew this not, rather, we got to meet Keith independently by virtue of RHB's attempts to befriend every small mammal in the neighbourhood. Keith, lives very nearby, only a few houses away, and is co-habitee with a number of friendly cats. Naturally the cats (curious as only cats can be) were welcomed to visit by RHB during our initial renovations (before we actually moved in) and I became involved as my obvious role was to rescue Dizzy, Tiddles and The Other One from under the floorboards after she had encouraged them in to Large Mansions "for a little visit". Thus we met Keith, as owner of the cats that I had to return, a littloe bit dusty with a few smears of paint, but otherwise unharmed. Later, after meeting JJ at Uni, the connections were revealed during a memorable conversation during which JJ admirably refrained from using the words "Oh, you're the lunatic cat people".

The party was fun. Our neighbourhood, known as the Avenues, is very community minded. Gossip about local councillors flowed. JJ made a brilliant spoof newspaper, "ragging" Keith mercilessly. Cats got under people's feet. Hence, we knew loads of people in attendance. And we know their families. But its only when people are put together as a group that the demographic changes of recent years really becomes apparent. There are, considering the number of adults present, an incredibly small number of children present, at the ratio described above. In fact, while, at its peak adults (forty plus) filled the house, the children present fitted neatly on one sofa.

I do recall, from years gone by, family parties of a similar ilk (except that the target age in my family was 6o, which was considered a rare achievement) where the age range would be full spectrum, from six months to sixty years. Not only would there be a fuller range of ages, but the preponderance of people would be below twenty. It may just be people of my acquaintance, but I dont think so. This isnt just a sign of people having less kids, its also a sign of dispersal. Within perhaps fifty years, families have spread out geographically, sometimes across the globe. RHB and I are part of these phenomena in a couple of ways - firstly, we dont have kids, but secondly, we are part of a non-specific diaspora that is unique to the 20th Century, but, I would guess common to most people that read these missives. Are any of you actually from where you live? I think interesting times are ahead for future anthropologists. They will struggle to capture these cultures, except in describing their non-homogenity. The times, and the ages, as that over-rated hippy said, they are a-changing.

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