Dear Cliff Richard
Youth culture could be to blame for the rise in anti-social behaviour, says a new study. And who started youth culture in Britain, eh? You and your merry bus crew
Wednesday 31 May 1995
Summer Holiday was not just a film, it was also an allegory - one so powerful it entered deep into the psyche of a nation's youth, spawning a culture that has grown to threaten the very fabric of society. Never mind Clockwork Orange, you and your Summer Holiday have a lot to answer for.
What was your message to the youth of a golden era of economic expansion? What did you say to Una and the "Shads" that was an abreaction for change? You said: "Hey, you guys, we're gonna run our own show now."
The message couldn't be clearer. We, the youth of this country, without parental permission, are taking control of our own lives, taking control of the double-decker bus, and going off to have a good time. And instead of ending up with a good clip round the ear from the local bobby, you did, in fact, have a good time and get away with it. Never mind Catcher in the Rye, where were the censor's scissors when Summer Holiday was released? It was subversion in bus conductor's clothing.
No wonder little old ladies can't sleep safely in their beds any more. No wonder we have rising drug dependency, crime, anorexia nervosa, bulimia and record suicide levels among our youth. No wonder we are Kurt Cobainless. You let the reins run free, Cliff. You gave them their heads ... and they lost them.
And it's no good denying responsibility. You were the front-man. He who takes the royalties must take the flak. It's no good casting doubt upon the findings of Professor Sir Michael Rutter and David Smith in their Psychosocial Disorders in Young People, as they are both experts in psychological disorders in young people and their book is a serious pounds 49.95. They say that the rise of youth culture in Britain accounts for post-war anti-social behaviour.
"Young people have become a separate class," they warn; and it's nothing much to do with unemployment and poverty. No, Cliff, you alone are responsible for the downfall of a nation's youth. The Word is your baby.
I know there are some who say you had it coming. Anyone who dumps Sue Barker shouldn't get away with it. And your performance on VE Day in front of the Queen Mother was a transparent attempt to ingratiate yourself with decent, right-thinking "oldies". But I won't stand in judgement.
As for that film, may I suggest that instead of the BBC repeating it every other Bank Holiday, the next time they are running a themed "Censored" evening, it should take pride of place with the worst of them: "And following Ken Russell's The Devils, at 1.15am, there's a rare chance to see ... Summer Holiday."
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