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Whatever happened to Radio Rentals? 24 October 2013

Posted by Dr Moose in Chaplaincy, Life, Ponderings, Technology, Time, University.
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I do not think of myself as old, although I joke about it to my children. I spend most of my working days among younger people, which shouldn’t be surprising as I’m a university chaplain. A few years ago I realised that I am old enough to be the father of most of them, although I would have had to have been very busy to achieve that of course!

Despite my acceptance of all this it came as a surprise a few weeks ago to hear the comedian Stewart Lee, an old school friend, talking to a gathering of current students mainly from the School of The Arts, in the terms of how different “their” generation was from “his”, which by extension is mine! Somehow it was just another of those little bombs that hit home.

The current generation of students truly live in a different world. They cannot imagine life without cashpoints, mobile phones, the internet and probably several other things that I haven’t caught up with yet, or things of which I am aware but cannot see the point! They don’t know what a “polytechnic” was or know from experience either the divisiveness of Thatcher’s Tory vision or what was so new about “New” Labour.  Likewise I cannot understand how they can blithely borrow so much money to pay for an education that benefits the nation and therefore should be supported by the nation, but maybe that’s a digression. I recognise that while the rent for student halls and houses is very expensive, the level of equipment within them that they have come to expect is nothing short of levels of unthinkable luxury to those of my generation at an equivalent point in our lives. Most student houses seem to come with satellite television and wireless Internet. Nearly all rooms in halls have cabled network connections and many are en suite. It seems a long way away from the years of hiring the television for your shared house from  Radio Rentals, (remember them)…. because it is! I’d almost forgotten about it myself, and still think of The National Lottery as something of an innovation!

What changes, I wonder, will this generation of students take in their stride, just as we have, and find hard to explain to those who follow in their footsteps (or is it, shared houses?) some twenty-five or so years later? I’m looking forward to seeing it….

(Hat-tip to @Kneewax for tangentially sparking the inspiration!)

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