I WONDER if anyone else can relate to this quote by Mark Twain: “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

There is something about being young: feeling all the feelings; facing all the futures and having opportunities galore tantalisingly in front of you.

I still try to kid myself on that I am part of some ‘young team’ that, honestly, I do not think I was ever even proximate to never mind a part of. Which is really only to say that I still feel much younger than my chronological age and wish this to be fully understood!

I have had the privilege of working with young people most of my life. They never cease to amaze me, and I can point to so many examples where my expectations of them have been exceeded. We are blessed with our young people, here in Inverclyde.

My eldest son had his last day at school on Friday. There was a genuine sense of occasion about the entire day – both the formal and the informal bits of it. When he came home, I asked him how the day had gone.

I was presented with more detail than usual – for which I thank him. I saw the many, many TikTok’s. I was handed the awards he received from his peers for his humour and his ‘glow up’ (good grief!). I also got an update on the S6 gathering that took place.

“Who was there?” I asked.


“Everyone from your school?”

“No, from all the schools.”

Our young people play sports together, they sing in choirs together, they act on stages together and they play in bands and orchestras together. They attend uniformed organisations together and I have long observed, with considerable pride, that they completely transcend their school groupings with their friendship groups as they socialise together.

We should really celebrate this and see this as a positive marker for our community.

We are heading into study leave and exams – which can be a worrying time for pupils and their families.

I would like our young people to know that we are right behind them – that we are cheering them on, and that we really believe in them, and their ability to build the future that is ahead of each and every one of them.

We read about youth disorder. We hear that free transport for young people has created mayhem rather than providing freedom. Is this true of the majority of young people? I would argue that it is far from the majority, and that any broad labelling of young people as being ‘the problem’ is damaging to us all.

We who are no longer young can bring our guidance and support to the table. Our young people still need that guidance and support as they make their choices, realise their successes, and also as they make their mistakes. Because, as the adults, we all know the truth of Mark Twain’s quote.