So, two of my friends are getting hitched. This not uncommon practice might fail to strike you as a contentious issue – you may even be moved to call it a felicitous event, perhaps – and when I tell you that the participants are twenty-one and twenty-three years old respectively, I can appreciate that you may be able to restrain yourself from calling in the graffers to make some rebellious, dissenting yoof-art on the subject. It’s just two people doing the decent thing, not living in sin and all that, right? But I’ve got the biggest bone to pick with it and frankly I’m quite pissed off and I want to make a fuss, but I can’t say anything to them about it. This is because love is tone deaf as well as blind and because I’m so right: it would so be wrong.
I’m not being funny, I’m not against marriage. No, wait; yes I am. But I am against it for people who are under twenty-five. I used to think it was predestined that young people naturally think such radical thoughts, but lately I find my mouth uncomfortably filled with dust as the stampede of under twenty-fives on their way to the marriage mart gets well and truly underway. Just why they want to get cash-and-carried faster than you can do a line of lemon barley remains elusive, but it seems these friends’ engagement is indicative of a tide of opinion more pregnant with change than a pram-faced teenage girl walking down to the Croydon Mothercare on a rainy weekday.
For the youth of this country, it was a revolutionary thing when pills became cheaper than a pint, because it meant you could have a veritably bitchin’ night for a tenner. And when broken beats came on the scene, how great was it that you could stop hanging round with tracksuited lairy wankers in drum and bass clubs just to listen to something that wasn’t house? (Some of us still do – ed). And while we’re on the subject of beans, Branston doing baked ones meant unprecedented new price competition in the baked bean industry, and great increase in choice for the baked bean consumer. What a time we live in. The epidemic of hyper-serious modern relationships that has been sweeping the country in recent years can, when compared with such developments as these, only be seen as a step in the wrong direction. Belonging as I do to the generation which appears to have fallen victim to this malignant plague of seriousness, I shall now describe how such a hedonistic, self-serving, youthful populace is at risk of been taken in not by New Labour, New Britain or the return of New-Wave, but by the far more terrifying New Commitment.
New Committers are not necessarily superficially recognisable, and this proves the first obstacle to avoiding them at the crowded house party/trendy club. Oh yes they still go to parties (they are twenty-somethings after all), and this is one of the ways in which they can still pretend to be youthful. They are likely to dress in Gap and Levi’s, even though they may diversify with something they ‘bought in a second hand shop’, or more excitingly, ‘at a market somewhere’. They want to be thought of as open minded, but unwittingly embody their parents’ attitudes, re-branding and re-issuing them as ‘common sense’. Tellingly, NCs are particularly enthused with their chosen life partner if he or she has the wholehearted approval of said parents. They will be over-zealous in their appreciation of luxury goods for the home, things like multi-setting blenders (not the cheap hand-held kind) and bread-makers. They will take great pleasure in doling out rough estimates of just how much money they save on living together. Joy-mongering, most reliably initiated by the presence of a new couple, is a favoured past time. Most importantly, NCs don’t seem to understand why everybody doesn’t act like they do. After all, it’s only ‘common sense’.
This may sound like a Bridget Jones rant, but Bridget was jealous of her “smug married” friends, while I can smell the rank odour of wrongness about NCs. This makes me a moral crusader, not a vindictive bitch. And so, in the name of fun, I ask you – what happened to going out with people your parents didn’t approve of? (They cut off your pocket money so you can’t make wanky little magazines like this one – Ed) If variety is the spice of life, NCs exist solely on bean curd. What happened to cynicism, copious drug-taking and the good old one-night stand as the pivotal forms of youth entertainment? Does every young person think we all need to be sensible and get in serious relationships because otherwise it’s not, like, meaningful, or am I the only one left whose dreams don’t feature property ladders
I asked my Mum what she thought of my friends’ approaching nuptials, largely because all mothers love a good wedding. My mum much prefers it when someone gets jilted, so I knew I’d get a vaguely unpredictable answer. ‘Boring,’ came the reply, so I knew I was on to a winner. ‘When I was their age,’ she continued, ‘I used to zip around the country in a white, convertible frog-eyed Sprite, hitching up my skirt and looking pretty by the side of the road when I needed some help to, say, change my tyre. I didn’t really have boyfriends as such, we just dated loads of different guys and nobody thought anything of it. There was none of this “are you going out with him” rubbish, because that’s serious, and we weren’t into that.’ I complimented her on the happy resemblance of her views to mine and tried not to think of an alternative meaning for changing one’s tyre.
But seriously, how much more fun does that sound than wedding lists, mortgages and soiled nappies? Fundamentally, how much more fun is casual sex than being in a committed, loving relationship? As The Specials so presciently intoned, ‘you’ve done too much, much too young; now you’re married with a kid and you could be having fun with me.’ Dah dah dah daaah daaaah. And just to put the nail in the NC coffin, how alarming is this: type in ‘wife’ on the old predictive text and after one press of the options button, you get ‘wide.’ Don’t say I didn’t warn you; serious relationships make you boring. And fat.
by Sophie Sturdy
Illustration by Jo Savill