The future of this country

Phrases come and go in the inevitable manner that denim will change its shape and colour – Bleached, pockets, stonewashed, ripped, baggy, tight, ripped again, boot cut ect.

At last we seem to being seeing the back of the much loved ‘Whatever’, a term thought to show a complete lack of interest in the coolest of Coffee Perk indifference. In reality we all knew that it was a dim response to the lost argument, the sniping last word tailing off with the look that will make anyone look ugly. But then everyone knows that surely, even the people like me who say it occasionally without thinking, or in a depreciating manner.

I recall listening to the radio a few years back and literally being stopped in my tracks by the perpetually inane voice of Gail Porter, surrounded by a group of equally frivolous students.

She said something that I first heard about ten years ago from a student I met called Quinn. On both occasions the phrase was used to describe the potential input from University students and goes something along the lines of, ‘The future of this country’.

It dumbfounds me as much now as it did then. The image of Quinn stood in the hallway ranting at his older brother, ‘You’re at a college, you’re not a university student, we’re the future of this country’.

The future of this country.

The sound of it reminds me of that precocious student having a go at his royal smugness Tony Blair, remember the brave hero of the tabloid press? So incensed at the idea of somebody else getting something for nothing. Quote: “The dustman will be thankful for paying for my education when he comes to hospital with backache”. That just about sums up the type of person we’re dealing with here.

The future of this country.

It makes me wonder in disbelief about who could imagine building the hopes of this great nation on such a shallow structural base. A perverse twist on the notion held by the middles classes that their children will turn out to be not only unique, but also influential.

Quinn, you duly obliged with the motions of University. However for you it was something you had to go through to evolve into the future, a rite of passage like the gap year jaunt, getting it out of the way prior to staking out a claim in suburbia. I could tell even then that the fascinating possibilities that three years work could offer you as an individual were being wasted – the books, the ideas.

It’s not all quite as simple as that though is it? Things never really go according to plan, and when that degree gets you nowhere alternative solutions need to be whipped up quick to save face. Your Mum talking to her friends about you ‘Finding your niche’ was always a bit worrying because deep down, you knew.

The future of this country.

I’m a gullible person, but you didn’t fool me with your Doc Martins, vanilla tobacco, ponytail and assistant manager job at Odd Bins (The provincial off licence with illusions of the big city village community).

Salvation arrived in the form of the Metropolitan Police, the easy way out, the future of this country. ‘The accelerated promotion scheme’ sounded like one of those graduate schemes that you weren’t up to a Deloitte and Touche. It put your 2.2 to good use and justified a decent, traditional working class profession to the cash your parents spunked on a wasted education.

I often wonder what the old school coppers must think of this new ‘educated’ intake. Reliable fat blokes that turned up at primary school once a year to amaze with the walkie talkie. Maybe they’re happy to leave the gormless boredom of pre-emptive policing to the future of this country.

So are you still the future of this country Quinn? Now unchained from the heavy burden of liberalism, free to voice your racist opinions in public at last. No more pretending that having no money in an anonymous existence is okay.

No more. So now you’re going to spend the best years of your life gazing out of the plastic windows of a sweaty transit van as London passes you by.


You see we’re all the future of this country, all of us. Students, asylum seekers, single mums, bankers, burglars. The lot. To suggest otherwise presents an utterly terrifying prospect.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *