Ageism may be the last great prejudice our society deigns to address, if indeed it ever gets around to it.
This occurred to me as I sat in a classroom of computers at night school desperately struggling to put together a Powerpoint presentation on the Human Rights Act.
I have enrolled on an entry level teacher training course because I want to run creative writing classes. Every Thursday evening I arrive at Guildford College in my battered old Volvo full of horse feed and bits of straw just as the shiny young students of Surrey are leaving for the day.
The Powerpoint assignment was designed to teach us about the myriad pieces of legislation that govern teaching nowadays, ensuring learners have a positive and inclusive experience.
I was meant to be getting to grips with how to cater for all races, religions, genders and family backgrounds. But I myself was struggling to learn because I am the oldest in the class and the technology was defeating me. My younger classmates all understood how to make their computers instantly produce what I would still rather helplessly call a slide show.
The group only cut me some slack when I shouted out in frustration as they tapped away happily: “You are going to have to tell me how to create these windows you are all bringing up!”
A teacher then came over to explain it but I didn’t get the feeling that having a senior moment was one of the protected characteristics the law most frets about. “Now, just log into your email and send the file to the course leader for marking,” she said rather sternly.
“Well, I would, but I would have to know my Gmail password,” I said. “I can tell you where it is at home.”
The teacher looked back uncomprehending. I explained: “I have a guy who comes to my house to do all my tech stuff for me and the last time he came he wrote all my passwords down on a bit of paper. It’s in a drawer inside my desk.”
My idea of running writing groups in adult learning colleges stems from an experience over 10 years ago when I became a member of a wonderful group run by the American author Jill Robinson.
At her home in Wimpole Street, we would sit around her dining table, upon which she would serve a delicious lunch, and read out three pages of whatever we were working on. This was followed by feedback.
The Wimpole Street Writers had some considerable success, with novels by at least five of us, by my count, now in print.
Jill mentored dozens of young writers in the years before she left to go back to her native Los Angeles, where she had grown up the daughter of MGM studio boss Dore Schary, living next door to Bobby Redford, as she called him.
She loved innovation and one evening she and I sat down in her little study to make a live podcast for the Huffington Post.
After nearly an hour, a kind lady phoned in from somewhere in America to inform us we were broadcasting silence. We hadn’t switched the mic on properly.
Jill saw the funny side.
“Well, I’ve enjoyed this a lot,” she told our “listeners” before winding up.
I managed to complete my assignment on the Human Rights Act without mentioning Brexit. I sincerely hope no one on this training course mentions Brexit, because that is the kiss of death to any social situation.
I grow more furious by the day with the clamour of protesters telling me I must be given the chance to vote again, and give the right answer this time, as if I were a naughty schoolchild.
Do Remain campaigners have no sense of irony? When they call for a People’s Vote, what do they think the referendum was?
For all the cant about our supposed ignorance, I think we Brexiteers would have been far more grown up if it had gone against us.
The night of the referendum, I went to bed in a philosophical mood with the intention of making the best of it either way.
Can the Remain camp not see that something more precious even than the economy is at stake? If you hold a referendum then reject the result, your claim to live in a civilised country where universal suffrage holds sway is not “just stunned”. It’s not pining for the fjords. It’s bleedin’ demised. It’s pushing up the daisies. It has ceased to be.
But in my view, Remainers didn’t care enough about democracy when they voted for us to be run by Brussels, so I should not be surprised that they don’t care about it now.
Melissa Kite is a contributing editor of the Spectator
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