I don’t blame me! By Trevor Plumbly

Remember this 1970s pop lyric?

Dad’s gone down the dog track,

Muvver’s playing bingo,

Granny’s boozing in the parlour,

You oughta see the gin go.

No-one seems to notice me, isn’t it a sin,

What a crazy world we’re living in.

My circumstances were such that I didn’t suffer from any of that sort of family indifference as a child. Okay, the lyrics are sort of funny, but for a hell of a lot of kids it was a reality. Back then kids were left to their own devices to an extent that would be unacceptable today. Whether this added any great benefit is debatable, but it seems to me that kids were more resilient and accountable for their actions then. Those were of course simpler times, but despite the curmudgeonly temptation to favour the disciplines of ‘the good old days’, I’m beginning to wonder if we might have had an easier path.

The sins of the fathers

Before it fell into disuse, blame was an essential, educational tool for those in charge of moulding youth. Faced with strife, we used the time-honoured bolthole of bare-faced lying and if that failed, a tearful ‘mea culpa’ generally bought quick retribution and a clear conscience until the next transgression. Blame was regarded as a disposable weapon that had a limited range. These days, ownership of personal fault is practically extinct because mitigation rules and the cognoscenti would have it that anti-social acts are either inherited from parental dysfunction or thrust upon them by forces beyond their control. Whilst I accept that these are valid reasons in many instances, it’s arguable that it’s far too common these days to use familial history as a comfortable dumping ground for all manner of adolescent ills; thus they now have ‘issues’ rather than correctable problems.

Who me?!

Today’s young are swamped by the ease of technology so that the process of finding answers is ceasing to be an educational exercise. Bullying? You don’t even need to be close, just jab a couple of buttons and you can inflict as much misery as you like. Hell, even if you get caught, I’m sure Google can come up with an excuse. Brushing the concept of blame under the carpet doesn’t make any sense to me. If kids are led to believe that their shortcomings are someone else’s doing, I don’t rate their chances of dealing with adult life very highly. No, I don’t envy today’s breed; they face a shifting landscape of standards at all levels, where avoidance of accountability is an accepted art. Let’s bring back blame. Okay it mightn’t solve all ills, but it makes a lot more sense than patting the wrongdoer on the head and murmuring ‘There there’.

Gotta go, the soapbox needs a service! T.

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