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Youngsters in need of a reality check

PUBLISHED: 11:05 29 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:09 05 July 2010

LITTLE shines so bright as the joy on teenagers' faces when they've done well.

Rebecca Adlington's realisation that two gold medals were hers, the throngs of A* and A-grade GCSE and A level students, X-Factor contestants given the thumbs up by Simon Cowell.

LITTLE shines so bright as the joy on teenagers' faces when they've done well.

Rebecca Adlington's realisation that two gold medals were hers, the throngs of A* and A-grade GCSE and A level students, X-Factor contestants given the thumbs up by Simon Cowell. Their elation is electric.

Happiness and confidence - you want to bottle it - but can there be too much confidence?

Or confidence so misplaced it will all come crashing down when the cold reality of life hits them between the eyes?

We love Olympic medalists like Adlington who strive endlessly for success, putting life on hold to train for hours every day living on a pittance, as she puts it, by the rules of “politeness, kindness and fair play”. These athletes deserve more investment to push them further.

Compare that tireless commitment to X-Factor contestants who seem to think life owes them celebrity status - just because.

And I've no doubt GCSE and A level students worked hard to achieve A grades. But I can't buy that they're all brilliant academics at the top of the intelligence tree either. Sorry, no way.

They'd all spell, use an apostrophe and hold conversations better.

What are we thinking of building all our young people up to be invincible and believing they can never fail? Making so many believe they are truly special and able to conquer the world?

Giving a child confidence to go into the world full of self-belief is supposed to be the greatest gift a parent can give. It can be.

But misplaced confidence is dangerous, setting young people up for a huge fall, sometimes with catastrophic results.

And we're becoming great at it, doing more harm than good.

Sometimes these A-graders have never been wrong, never even been told no by their parents, or failed a test or exam. They're in their 20s or even 30s before a first failure comes. Then it comes hard.

Students deserve praise, congratulations and a moment of self-satisfaction for their results, of course - it's not their fault the exam system is so bonkers - but they need a reality check too.

They've lived in a fluffy world where everyone's a winner and competition is viewed as child abuse. They're in for a big shock.

The smiley back-patting schools where sport is about taking part not winners and losers is more Narnia than real life. No wonder so many teenagers give up sport in the namby-pamby world of non-competition. How boring.

One day they'll find out the truth, whether it's when they can't get on the degree course they wanted because too many others got A grades or they get lost in the army of graduates fighting for the most menial of jobs.

But for now, off they go to university, funded by the ever open Bank of Mum and Dad, a generation who know the meaning of hard graft. When they can't find a job after the three years, they move home to Hotel Mum and Dad and continue to draw from the Bank, wondering where it all went wrong.

They were special weren't they? They got all As. They're owed success, right?

Just like the X Factor contestants weeping: “This is my life. It means everything to me” as Simon Cowell says emptily “I really like you” and off they go believing they're the next Mariah Carey.

What this Olympic Games should have taught us all is how hard graft and competition is the real key to life. Only drive and effort brings success - not just a lesson for 2012 but for every young person going into the world thinking life owes them a living.

WHAT century are we supposed to be living in?

The Queen would like “Waity Katy” Middleton to find a nice little job with a charity to keep her occupied until her Prince drops on one knee.

Something to give her life purpose, one supposes, rather than hanging around concentrating on keeping her slimmed-down figure at size 6, her hair glossy and keeping her wardrobe up to date in a conservative royally-acceptable sort of way.

This is a young woman who has a good degree from a good university. A woman with not only enough up top to get that degree but the focus to get through it when courting a prince.

Go get a real job, for heavens sake. Her self-made mega-rich parents should be ashamed she's not forging her own independent way in the world not subsidising her louche lifestyle.

Her indolence raises a big question about her ability to step into “the firm” where hard graft and duty - and having to show interest in some of the most dull visits, self-important people and mundane tasks is hard work on official appearances - is demanded.

ALLERGIES are the new black.

Everyone claims to suffer from an allergy or the more in vogue “intolerance” to something. Wheat, dairy, nuts - or work - are the new poisons.

Feeding guests is a nightmare. They ring in advance with a list of what they can and can't eat which, unless their condition is truly life threatening is plain rude in my book.

Like any other fad, companies are feeding on people's obsession with their allergies by making a multi-million industry out of testing kits.

I can't believe that 27 million Britons claim to be intolerant of one food group or another. They'd soon be fine if rationing happened again.

Those with genuine allergies that could kill them must be sick of hearing celebrities whine on about their intolerances. “Dairy makes me bloated.” Well, blow me down, can cream cakes make you fat.

The testing “industry” has been blown open by Which? proving inconsistent results form the £45 to £275 self-tests. Never.

Another case of more money than sense.

WHY do we have to have the revolting paedophile Gary Glitter here? As if there aren't enough sick men preying on children in every town and village in the country.

He didn't want to come and no one wants him. But no one wants him anywhere else either.

Deluded to believe he's a major rock star, he's demanding £50,000 a year round-the-clock police protection as well as expecting free NHS heart treatment after a faked heart attack in Bangkok.

He's still raking in enough royalties to live as a rich man. If he loathes Britain, the home of free medical care so much, he should use his wealth to pay for his own treatment and protection.

And police should be protecting all those children in danger from the disgusting dangerous monster who, instead of any remorse, smiles smugly at every camera courting the media like some sort of hero

BINMEN and posties appear to have gained protected species status - to be living under some weird preservation order.

I'd never thought of them as being feeble or cowed by the odd risk or obstacle, but these burly and tough workers apparently need special protection and molly coddling from every remote risk of harm.

A council in Essex is refusing to empty rubbish bins in cul-de-sacs because it takes trucks too long to reverse into them.

Instead of binmen walking into the cul-de-sacs and dragging the bins to the lorries, the council insists householders must do it, however old or infirm they are.

And more and more homes are not receiving post because their letterboxes slam shut too hard or their paths are too slippery for the postie putting the poor lambs at risk of danger.

The number of homes receiving no post has shot up 12-fold in the last four years.

Bumpy tracks, remote areas, letterboxes situated too low on a door making a postman stoop, overgrown shrubs and other equally flimsy reasons are quoted as reasons why postmen can't visit.

And the reason is down to that wonderful invention of the end of the last century, compensation.

Soon they'll be protected from working in the rain.

Better watch that killer gravel, maiming brick weave or sprawling rosebush. Your house could be black-balled next.

HAVING a child can never be seen as a right.

But as we have the science and live in a caring society, every woman should be given help to try.

Infertility is a terrible burden for a woman and causes so many more health problems - depression, stress, anxiety - and relationship breakdowns.

Ending the postcode lottery and granting childless couples three chances at IVF is wonderful news and a ray of hope for every desperate woman.

Once you have children, you can feel the pain of women who desperately long for a child but are prevented by the forces of nature.

To see the joy a much longed for child can bring to a couple is beyond value.


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