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No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Thursday 1st August 2019

I'm considering joining the police – they need me!

I was driving to Gunnersbury Park last Sunday for my weekly 10K run when I caught the tail end of Broadcasting House on Radio 4. The presenter Paddy O’Connell was interviewing George King, the 19-year-old who scampered up the Shard at the beginning of July without the aid of ropes or suction cups. As you’d expect, he was impressive. He first set eyes on Britain’s tallest building as a 13-year-old on a school trip and decided then and there that he wanted to climb it. He embarked on years of rigorous training, taking up boxing and running a 62-mile ultramarathon. Last August, he became the first person to ‘free climb’ the world’s tallest climbing wall in Holland, and he then spent the past eight months reconnoitring the Shard — checking out the various security systems in different disguises. When the day came, it took him 45 minutes to scale the 310-metre building.

What really stood out in the interview, however, was his disdain for other members of his generation. ‘Programmes such as Love Island are reinforcing a very, I think, pathetic mentality for men,’ he said. When O’Connell asked him what experiences would stiffen their backbones, he said: ‘It’s about challenges, it’s about overcoming adversity, it’s about breaking through what you thought was impossible.’ This was music to my ears. Whenever I drone on about ‘snowflakes’, my wife and children take the mickey out of me, pointing out that grumpy old men have been complaining about the softness of the younger generation since the beginning of time. As for Love Island, whose latest series ended on Monday, they’re all huge fans. They’ve bought into the fashionable dogma that traditional masculinity is toxic and welcome the fact that the men on the show devote several hours a day to ‘personal grooming’ — including shaving off their body hair. In their eyes, there’s nothing wrong with these preening popinjays; they’re just in touch with their feminine side. So it was marvellous to hear a 19-year-old on Radio 4 echoing my most curmudgeonly views.

Further confirmation arrived this week when the Times ran a front page story headlined: 'Millennials? They aren’t much cop at police work.’ It revealed the Home Office has carried out a review into police recruitment, in which 244 officers and members of staff were interviewed, and concluded that today’s school leavers cannot cope with the demands of the job. ‘Participants gave examples of recruitment interviews where candidates had stated they do not like confrontation or were shocked by the need to work different shift patterns and possibilities of cancelled rest days,’ the report says. One senior officer complained about how millennials have been ‘wrapped up in cotton wool’, with the result that their mental health is too fragile to handle the day-to-day challenges of policing. (To read more, click here.)

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