The hang-'em-and-flog-'em brigade were out in force on the airwaves. Let's hear it for Hulk Hogan and the voice of reason?
Generations Apart (R4) | iPlayer
Richard Bacon (5 Live) | iPlayer
In a week where it was hard to find a representation of anyone under 35 that didn't come with accompanying epithets such as "feral scum", Radio 4's new landmark series, Generations Apart, seemed almost laughably gentle. Over the next three years, the station will be following people from two different generations. The second programme, on Tuesday, featured 21-year-olds.
Fi Glover, as warm and insightful as always, was dispatched to talk to several young people who are the same age as what Radio 4 insists on calling the World Wide Web. Carefully selected, they were very different: an apprentice engineer for a bakery near Grimethorpe, working extra shifts to get an �80,000 mortgage; a cheerful trainee teacher, mentoring young people almost the same age as her in Lambeth Academy; a gospel singer; a home help; and the token bad 'un, Ricky Penn, living in a hostel near Stafford. Ricky used to work as a refuse collector but got bored, and started clashing with his parents. "They'd be going to bed at half 10 and I wouldn't get in until half past five." He took cocaine and MCAT (mephedrone) and ended up threatening someone with a knife, as well as kicking his own dad in the head. He went to jail. Two years later, he understands why. "When you're around people that are doing just as much as you and doing everything the same as you ? it don't seem bad any more." How right he is, as we saw last week.
This was after the first programme in the series on Monday, which featured a selection of 65-year-olds. This older generation has been deemed worthy of following because they're about to retire and they are the original baby boomers, born in 1946. The ones who supposedly wrecked everything for the rest of us, by being too numerous (they form over a quarter of the UK's population) and having too much of a good time. Like Alice from Grimsby, bringing up her granddaughter because her own parents have drug and alcohol problems. Or Derek, whose wife has Alzheimer's and doesn't know who he is. Tough stuff, but this generation were almost more positive than their younger equivalents. "I don't want [my age] to define me in people's eyes," said one. "Like it's the cardigan from now on. I want to keep my mind fizzing as long as possible." I'm not sure that programmes like this fizz the mind, but they certainly keep the soul toasty.
Over on 5 Live, the week was dominated by "events". And, ooh, it brought out the hang-'em-and-flog-'em in the listeners. A loose estimate would give it 75% to the "hard-labour's-too-good-for-'em" brigade. The very wonderful Camila Batmanghelidjh, from Kids Company, on Richard Bacon's show, talked about the abuse suffered by the kids of the so-called underclass. "When they hit the streets, the agencies that are supposed to step in and protect against the family abuse are equally depleted and dysfunctional. So where are they supposed to get the help?" Oh dear. The listeners went ballistic. Still, Hulk Hogan, also on the show, agreed with her, so that must mean something, no?