THERE’S a lot of talk about how stressed the young people of this generation are, and our first instinct is to find a cure for whatever it is that is responsible for them supposedly living on the edge of an emotional abyss.
I think one of their problems is the lack of basic skills, such as grammar and knowing what is written in the Bible. It’s difficult to find a youngster who knows who Job was or why Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt. There’s been consternation lately in the high echelons of the church that in a recent survey among the Y generation, so many young Australians believe they’ve had other lives and have more to come. I have a suspicion that’s because they don’t know the difference between reincarnation and resurrection.
When you’ve calmed down a bit and thought back to your own youth — schooldays melting seamlessly into your working and then married- with- children days — you realise that anxiety is just another fact of life, especially if you’re a woman.
Men, by and large, are judged by what they do, or what they have done, or how they have changed the world for the better, whereas a woman, no matter her achievements, is still expected to raise children who do not resort to untoward body piercing, please her husband by maintaining a state of constant equilibrium despite the fact he has not yet mastered the art of switching on the microwave, produce a meal at the drop of a hat and — without over- egging the pudding — have neatly waxed eyebrows. It also helps if you are a tall, thin, fake blonde.
I have a friend who I’ve known for more than 40 years and I’ve never seen her with a hair out of place, a hem kept up with sticky tape, crumbs in her knife drawer, chipped fingernail polish. She’d never run out of loo paper three minutes before eight dinner guests were due, she runs a successful business, travels the world with great aplomb and is endlessly nice to men. She’s coming out here later this month for a few weeks and I’m rather hoping some of her elan will rub off on me, although it may be far too late for improvement. I was probably born to be dishevelled.
This friend introduced me to famous decorator David Hicks, whose father- in- law was viceroy of India; Hicks named his daughter India and I couldn’t help thinking what a good thing it was that Mountbatten wasn’t viceroy of Afghanistan.
Hicks made me feel anxious; he took a very deep breath and I could sense him giving me the once- over and not being impressed by what he saw. I think I may have been going through a phase of thinking shoes were irrelevant, or perhaps I was wearing a man’s suit, tie and shoes to suck up to the sisterhood who had found me lacking in solidarity. In what now seems to have been another life, I was especially silly.
fraserj@ theaustralian. com. au