I've recently seen a couple of slightly disappointing futurologists quoting that famous William Gibson line. (And I'm the first to admit, I've done it too.) But it made me realise that it needs flipping around now. The future is everywhere, it's just that if someone's quoting this line, it's probably not where you are.
My nephew has a question. He's got to do his ucas applications and work out where he wants to go to uni (as the young people say). He's pretty committed to doing graphic design and he's wondering if anyone has any advice on where would be good places to go (in the UK). I suspect some of you design folk pop by here when Ben's not posting enough so if you could share any thoughts that'd be great. Then, once he's studied hard he'll be able to tell which of the above parking signs is the best.
I saw This Is England the other day. Brilliant film. Hugely evocative for anyone that grew up in the British 80s; the 80s of The Falklands and the miners' strike and The Specials. And not just nostalgic of the time, but a charming and scary portrait of the pleasures and terrors of friendship and growing up that should be meaningful for anyone.
For some unaccountable reason Shane Meadows is the only film-maker regularly setting films in the East Midlands, and I for one, am extremely grateful. But one thing kept puzzling me and I'm appealing to anyone else who grew up at the same time to tell me if I'm crazy.
And it's this - hugging. There seems to be a lot of hugging in this film, especially in that affectionate, masculine, back-slappy way that I always assume arrived from across the Atlantic at some point when I wasn't looking. It seems common now, and that's probably a good thing, but if I remember anything at all from my youth it's this one rule - no touching. You might hug your gran, and you might try and achieve physical contact with girl or boy friend, but I do not recall the streets of Notts/Derbys/Leics being full of hugging teenage gangs. Can anyone back me up?
My assumption is that the splendid cast of This Is England are behaving in an authentically youthy way for now, and they're massively convincing, but maybe it doesn't occur to them that twenty-five years ago there was none of that hugging going on. The only thing I can think to compare it to is Gregory's Girl which is a just-about contemporaneous document of the same period, and there's no hugging in there, just authentically awkward distance. I guess it might be a class thing, our streets weren't as tough as the ones in This Is England, but the kids in that film were the kids that bullied us when we hung around up the shops and I don't remember them being all touchy in between. I don't know, I don't want to trivialise the best film I've seen for years but I'm really curious about this now. When did hugging enter the mainstream in the UK? Has it? And, is there anyway to find out? Is there any sort of record of the amount any particular group of people hugs or used to hug? Does someone measure this? Is that what anthropologists do? Anyway. Hugging in the past. Discuss.
UPDATE: The more I think about this, and the more people I talk to about it, the more convinced I'm becoming that Mr Meadows is right and I'm wrong. After all he's a great film-maker with a great nose/eye for authentic detail, and he knows his skinhead culture. And I don't. So if I was going to bet on one of us recollecting this right I'd bet on him. And a few people I've talked to have said that they remember one of the key characteristics of that early, pre-NF skinhead culture was it's willingness to be tactile (in a 'manly 'way). And that this was often a cause for mockery from other youth groups. That makes sense to me. And would mean that I've entirely misread this, and that what seemed to me like a mistake is actually an acute bit of insight. I bet that's true. Which makes an already great film even better.