I just passed a dad wheeling his son along the street in a pram. The dad was wearing shiny red leather trainers, red and white stripey socks and white trousers that stopped mid-calf, and a white sleeveless T-shirt. He looked more like a baby than his son, who was wearing little jeans.
The British film certification system once had an ‘X’ certificate rating certifying that everyone over sixteen – i.e.. an adult – could see the film. Then the lines about what constituted adulthood blurred. Censorship was raised to eighteen, the vote was lowered from twenty one, marriage remained at sixteen, meaning you could fight for your country or get married, but not see a horror film.
The economic downslide trapped kids at home so that Italy now has the highest age of those living with parents; the average age of those leaving home is forty. In the past, many of history’s geniuses were dead by that age.
And it gets more complex still as fertility treatment allows late pregnancy and Viagra means late virility. So men become giant toddlers and women totter on heels in baby colours, and the concept of ‘adulthood’ is rebranded as just another playful stage of life. Is this better than the premature ageing of the past? Probably. Only a killjoy would want to return to the ‘toothless crone at thirty five’ look of old films.
Watching ‘Wonderful London’ you get to see that there’s virtually no connection now between that past and this present. Only children and buildings remind you that we’re on the same planet.