Saturday, May 12, 2007

Close encounters with a budding entrepreneur and tomorrows leaders

Maybe I am going through some sort of mid-life crisis, but I find myself increasingly fascinated by the difference between kids these days, and things we said and did way back when.

This afternoon I passed one of those boutique delicatessens where they sell environmentally friendly, organic, vegetarian, naturally grown, sun kissed, no chemicals added, nuclear free eggs, that taste very similar to the ones I buy in Woolworths for half the price. Outside, bunches of flowers were on display in readiness for tomorrow - Hallmark and Cadbury's Mother's Day. I succumbed to marketing pressure and stopped to take a look.

I was not the only one looking - two young lads aged about eleven and twelve were also looking at the flowers and weighing up their options.

Lad One: They're nice. But they're $30
Lad Two: I've got fifteen, how much you got?
Lad One: Only about ten.
Lad Two: We could borrow $5 from mum
Lad One: You want mum to pay for her own present?
Lad Two: No, we'd only be borrowing $5 to raise enough money to buy it. Anyway, even if we pay $25 and mum only pays five, that means we bought the majority of the present.

At this stage, Lad One looks incredulously at his brother and replies, "Bought the majority? This is mum's present we're talking about - not a take over bid for Qantas".

So to all the analysts and highly paid consultants at the Australian bank they call the, "Millionaire Factory" even a 12 year old realises the Qantas bid was a complete cock-up!

As for the two lads - they agreed on a compromise. They decided to phone dad!

I continued my walk - a walk that took me alongside the grounds of one of Sydney's most expensive and exclusive boys schools. In progress was a rugby match between the school and their arch rival (as shown in the photo, I had no idea how to shoot action shots in fading light!). These two schools are among the most expensive boys schools in the country and the starting point for future politicians and businessmen. The one school is particular is known for the expensive cars in the pupils car park. Because of the spending power of the pupils, it is also among the schools mentoned in relation to the use of "fashionable" drugs.

It's an odd thing about drugs and alcohol - their social acceptability seems to be in relation to the socio-professional status of the user. A high-powered advertising or marketing executive snorting cocaine in a gents toilet is somehow chic, while an unemployed heroin addict shooting up in Sydney's government run "shooting gallery" is a rat bag. There is a guy in one of Sydney's more exclusive suburbs, who takes his dog for a walk while sipping from a glass of chardonnay. Not a problem it seems. Yet can you imagine the reaction to anyone walking up and down the streets of a working class suburb with a bottle of beer in his hand!

But I digress.

The first thing that struck me was the noise. The two rival groups of supporters, each in their school's uniform,were segregated in two separate grandstands. They were shouting well orchestrated war chants and insults back and forth between them, while banging on the seats of the stand.

The chants were straight from the English football Premier League, and the presence of teachers, parents, brothers, sisters and female groupies, did not stop the chants being liberally littered with the F and C words. I stood and listened to one group of lads dressed in their school blazers, shirts and ties, finish their chant with the line, "And if you C***s can't hear us, you're fucking deaf". As this is a big open ground bordering on the harbour, anyone in a two mile radius would have been able to hear the sons of Sydney's pillars of society.

OK this is Sydney and I shouldn't have been surprised, as it is well known here that the more expensive the school, the worse the behaviour of the pupils. But bloody Norah, we didn't do anything like that at my school matches. Yes, we did shout the occasional obscenity, but individually and not as a well rehearsed group. And at least we had the decency not to expect our families to come along! Looking back, I can't recall mums or dads ever attending school sports matches - it was the last thing the kids wanted. If any kid's mum ever went "up the school" the whole school knew about it and the poor bugger would be teased by both pupils and teachers.

Why did these pupils have to engage in premeditated chanting of obscenity ridden taunts? Why didn't they just do what we used to - hang around after the match and sort it out behind the disused sheds of the old coal mine.

At least we knew how to behave properly back then!