As a regular volunteer helper at the biggest music festival in the world, I see, albeit for a very brief window of time, an unprecedented number of young people en masse.
My straw poll is by no means definitive – but every year (for the last 20 +) I have stood and talked and interacted with these young people.
And virtually every year I see a change/trend– some good, some bad - I think you would be very surprised how noticeably the ground shifts.
This year I observed from four different places –
- on the ground, in the mud (at the sharp end)
- from the top of the fire tower watching their movements and reactions
- from the front line crowd control at a popular venue
- right in the guts of the party – fire stewarding in a capacity filled dance area.
These are the things/attitudes I noticed this year – not in any order, but things that were interesting to me.
Smoking, E Cigarettes – I would say that smoking was most certainly diminishing within this crowd – stood at the top of the tower watching life move below me – I would guess there was only one person in 30 perhaps even 50 who was smoking and those that were seemed the older more world weary crowd. Perhaps it is difficult to smoke on the move thru mud – not sure, but there were definitely very few people smoking as they walked past our crew base.
Taking this forward to the late night dance area – which didn’t allow smoking but E cigarettes were allowed, my job was to ask any smokers to extinguish or move outside to the smoking area – I think in a 4 hour shift I had to point the rules out to possibly 10 people!! (FYI – the allowed E cigs were even less, maybe 6/8 people using them over the whole time).
So how did these young party revellers feel about being asked not to smoke ? That brings me onto my next topic - politeness
Politeness – my goodness you cannot fault it, they are a credit to their mums and dads/ peers and teachers, so much so that, I can even remember and picture the ONE rude young lady I met throughout the whole time, and it was that juxtaposition compared to the 1,000’s of others that made her slightly memorable (in a bad way)
When you give directions, they listen, look you in the eye, follow the map, and ask questions then thank you genuinely. Please and thanks are standard – bin bags, tape, equipment to borrow, everything prefixed with a please and closed with a thank you – that is a sign of a well up dragged kid. When I asked the rogue smokers to stop/move they were so apologetic and swift to react, not a single complaint or bolshie attitude, and these guys had been drinking etc. – but NO aggression there at all.
Patience – it is so refreshing to see, I know they were “on holiday” but if I, a miserable old fart, had been put in the conditions they were asked to endure – I would have been savage, I know the older we get, the more we are not afraid to make our discontentment known but bless their hearts, on the whole they smiled all the way through, or at least didn’t complain in an aggressive manner, trudging miles through the worst mud I can remember, to pitch tent in the rain - they made the best of it. Where were those spoilt, demanding, un- resourceful young people we hear so much about – left to their own devices they seemed to hunker down and get on with it in true British fashion – again their parents would have been proud to observe.
Eloquence, interaction and Sense of humour – This is the one I adore the most - by gum they are fast. When you are stood for 8 hour shifts, banter with the punters is the only thing that keeps you sane and to promote this interaction with our “guests” we have several noticeboards, with one that includes weather forecasts, football/tennis scores, the referendum voting, secret band rumours etc etc.
And it is here where you see how intelligent, bright and willing to interact our young people are – even in the driving rain. There was a time, not many years ago, when a big proportion of the kids, would scuttle by not wanting to engage with “authority” (a load of mums and dads in yellow T shirts!!) - but now virtually everybody walks, head up looking outwards with an enjoyment of conversation and a sharp retort, a witty remark will be answered by an equally intelligent quip and certainly an understanding of humour and vocabulary – and that to me is priceless, it shows that they are thinking, with opinions, confidence, understanding and empathy – surely that is one of the main things we can hope for in our young people?
Those were the four things that made an impact on me this festival – updates on a couple of my other ongoing topics were slightly hampered by the clothing required.
Tattoos sadly, the weather didn’t help me with that statistic – there wasn’t a great deal of bare or decorated flesh to be seen – so I can’t report – but my gut feeling is that it is still on the ascendancy – certainly on young men - young women ? not so sure I think it might have peaked but….
Weight – definitely on the down – yes I really do think so – unless again the raincoats did what short shorts and strappy tops can’t, that is to make the young people look thinner – but I would definitely say, the festival crowd are fitter and more buff than they were 5-6 years ago.
So that is it – I think we are very lucky, without a doubt we have an intelligent, eloquent, polite and funny group of young people coming on behind, SO please don’t worry about Brexit with this lot handling our future we’ll be fine – promise.