Saga Louts and BYPs

This week’s Spectator reports on the growing problem arising from the increase in the population of “Saga louts.” These are people in their 50-60s who have refused to grow up. They can frequently be observed misbehaving in pubs from which they are often turfed out. They populate rowdy rock festivals and recently have contributed to an increase in hooliganism and even crime. The Spectator’s reporter William Cook sees a link between this generation of geriatric of n’er-do-wells and the BYPs of the 1920’s:

This contrast between conscientious youth and shiftless middle age may seem a new phenomenon, but you don’t have to look too far back to see it’s happened several times before. The most recent instance was between the wars. The 1920s generation partied hard and scorned conventional morality. The 1930s generation were determined to make the world a better place. This Kulturkampf is epitomised in the contrasting novels of Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell. Today’s Saga louts are a lot like Waugh’s jaded hedonists, albeit with worse table manners and much worse dress sense.

So how do you spot a Saga lout? What are their distinguishing features, their breeding habits, their mating calls? Well, drink is a big part of it, but you won’t find them in the golf club or the saloon bar. They congregate in those gloomy modern pubs designed to look like nightclubs, where they try (and fail) to blend in with punters half their age. They smoke dope and discuss the relative merits of its various varieties in mind-numbing detail. They dress in the same jeans (Levi 501s) and trainers (Adidas Sambas) they wore in their teens. They sport (saggy) piercings and (faded) tattoos. In a crowded bar, in a bad light, they could almost pass for trendy twenty- or thirtysomethings. Only when you come closer is the bald and wrinkled truth revealed…They’re those baby boomers, born between 1945 and 1965, who turned 18 between 1963 (when sexual intercourse began, according to Larkin) and 1983 (when Saga magazine first appeared)… 

This summer, while the Saga louts make their annual pilgrimages to Glastonbury and the Isle of Wight to pay homage to wizened old rockers like Iggy Pop and Status Quo (all nearly 70), my son will be on an Outward Bound course, before knuckling down to his science A-levels. Me? I’ll be down the pub, knocking back snakebites and moaning about the good old days when teenagers could afford to be rebellious, and grown-ups were grown up enough to give them something to rebel against.

Cook might have mentioned that when Waugh’s “jaded hedonists” got to their 50-60s, they had to deal with WWII and the Cold War, something the Saga louts seem to have missed.

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