Sunday 30 April 2017

Back to school calls for reason and a firm resolve

All that a schoolgoing Joseph O'Connor got was pen and some ink. Now the iPhone tops any self-respecting pupil's list

The conkers on the trees, the leaves growing golden, the little birds migrating, the politicians beginning to insult each other again: yes, it must be autumn and the return to school. Parents everywhere, be afraid for your wallets.

Recently I asked my eldest child if he needed anything special by way of equipment for going back to school. Being the age I am, I was thinking maybe a pencil, a bottle of ink, or a protractor, each of which had the advantage, when I was in school myself, of being capable of employment as a weapon. Or maybe he'd like a length of wallpaper with which to cover his textbooks like we used to do back in the late Jurassic era? There must be something he needed. All he had to do was let me know. 'Okay,' he said. 'I need an iPhone.'

This kid is 11, I venture to add. Back when I was 11 myself and the dinosaurs roamed the Earth, I'm not sure I was allowed to wear long trousers, never mind own any piece of machinery not capable of being manufactured out of Lego. "I love when you call a phone 'machinery', Dad," my son said. "You're so modern and up-to-date, it's untrue."

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