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Another lost generation?
By Audrey Coatesworth   

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Dr Audrey Coatesworth, a retired psychiatrist, voices her concern about the excessive alcohol intake of many young people. She talks about the 'lost generations' caused by the two world wars, and predicts another lost generation if the culture of excessive alcohol intake doesn't stop.

Another lost generation?


I was born in 1937. In our small hamlet there were several spinsters. These were capable women who spent their time at home with their family of origin. Their lives consisted of helping with the household chores and looking after their aging parents. Their social outings were to the chapel on Sundays and prayer meetings during the week with the annual ‘bring and buy’ to which most contributed their handiwork. Compared to today’s women, they had nothing. But, they accepted, and got on with their lives, patiently, albeit with a pervading sadness noticeable even to me as a child. They had been denied the chance of having a husband or children by the devastation of a generation of young men in the First World War.


Then came the Second World War and another generation of men, and this time many women, were lost. I can remember the anxiety which pervaded all our lives at that time, waiting for the fateful telegram but praying it would never arrive.


These two generations of young adults died fighting for their country. I wonder what they would think now. Would they feel they had given up their lives in vain?


I nearly died four years ago but I didn’t as I was sent back from ‘the gate’ (I don’t know how else to explain where I went) and told to, ‘Write your books. Tell what you know.’ I wasn’t told whether anyone would read them or take any notice!

Why do I write this?


I write because of my concern for the young adult generation of today, the same age as the ones who, seventy years ago, were fighting battles in the air and on the ground. My concern is the high levels of alcohol many are consuming and the connected and unprotected sexual behaviour with ‘one night stands’ being frequent and accepted, particularly when drunk.


This time there is no war and no idealistic sacrifice, but simply a hedonistic and blatant disregard for either health, safety or the future of themselves, those who love them, or the country.


But, the end results will be the same. There will gradually be a missing generation as many will die young from the effects of alcohol on the liver and brain, and many of the women, who will get sexually transmitted diseases from unprotected sex, will be infertile and deny themselves children.


But, what a difference in cause and what a well of lost opportunity!


No one could stop the wars. The young men and women had no choice once their ‘call –up’ papers arrived, except to say goodbye to their worrying and later, often grieving, parents.


Can this modern, unnecessary devastation be stopped? Is it possible for the young adults to cope with the vagaries of life and find peace and satisfaction without excessive alcohol and rabbit-like sex?


Has another generation to be wiped out, this time by their own hands, before the pendulum swings back to a neutral position where moderation and responsibility with care for health, life and others return in these young people.


At my age, I might never know that answer. I can only hope that sense and respect will one day prevail.


In my book, ‘Choice for Teenagers’, is a poem called ‘Who will look after you?’ This poem is now on ‘My poems’ on this site.


Copyright©ACoatesworth 2010



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