31 Aug 2016
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Susan McNeill, Quality & Compliance Manager

Summer holidays & vlogging: Susan explores the definition of cool

This blog post was created by Susan McNeill, Global Quality & Compliance Manager for Sodexo UK & Ireland

I am on holiday as of the end of today. Two weeks of, well, two different weeks actually. One week at home and in Scotland. One week in Spain.

In the middle of the first week is GCSE results day. A MASSIVE day in our lives at the moment. The current debate is whether or not your parents go with you to pick up the envelope from school. One of my daughter’s friend is taking both parents. I imagine it could be quite uncool to take your parents. And cool is everything as we all know if you are 16. My son’s and my daughter’s definition of what is cool are two entirely different things. 

Although my daughter has two levels of cool: the kind of cool that she wants to aspire to (thin, on-trend make-up, shiny, fashionable) and the kind of cool that you can admire in other people regardless of their social genre. So a hoody-lad skateboarding may be cool but she wouldn’t want to actually be that kind of cool.

My son admires a strata of society/culture that did not overlap with my life at all until he came along. He admires all things Japanese and immerses himself in the world of anime regularly.  Honestly, it is dull. In my view. He says not. Studio Ghibli is not dull; it is far, far from dull; it is wonderful – but that is not the anime he is into.

Anyway, a good upside of this is that he agreed to eat in Wagamama recently despite the fact that normally exotic food is not on his agenda. I am honestly not sure if he liked it; he stoically said it was great but his body language said otherwise.

A week ago an odd thing happened in his life.  He voluntarily got up at 6 a.m. and got the bus to Gateshead to meet one of his on-line idols who was doing a public appearance. So 400-odd teenage boys (and some girls) congregated at the Angel of the North and worshiped this bloke called “Syndicate”.  He is a YouTube-er and vlogger apparently. Syndicate signed my son’s T-shirt and he came home excited beyond expression which was lovely to see.

I don’t want to sound like my parents but Syndicate isn’t all that. In my view. Och he looked like a wee lad in a hoody to me. My son thinks he is a god amongst men. And clearly so do about 10 million other teenagers judging by his follower statistics. I am out of touch, that much is clear. This all came about because of a tweet the night before and hey presto plans were made. In my day this was not possible. How brilliant is that?!  It was also the week that my son had his braces removed and he got upgraded at Tae Kwon’do. So as I observed to him, an amazing week all round. 

Rather hilariously my son struggled with the bus on the way to Syndicate-worshiping. He says he hates the bus. I reckon that’s because it doesn’t have air con and a parent driving it right to the place you are going but hey, what do I know. He paid adult fare accidentally (£4 instead of 90p so not much of a percentage increase then) on the bus on the way there and got off at the wrong stop. The way he told it, the bus, the driver and the bus company were conspiring against him. 

So what do I do with the T-shirt?  I am forbidden from washing it. Wouldn’t you think that Syndicate (real name Tom; if I was mean I would say that’s quite pedestrian) could have signed it with a permanent pen? But no.  Maybe he does it on purpose so that you have to go back to get more stuff signed?  Honestly I don’t think he is that calculating…

When I was that age I didn’t have any heroes like that.  I admired authors and characters in books and the stars on Top of the Pops but they were totally inaccessible if you lived in rural Scotland and only had a bike. I’m not actually sure what Syndicate vlogs about. I should maybe check. It could be about taxidermy or needlepoint but I suspect it is either gaming or pranks. How my kids love pranks. How I hate the word “prank”. I watch the prank videos and I don’t like them; I can’t help imagining myself on the receiving end of something frightening or embarrassing.  When my kids were small, and I don’t think they are alone in this, they thought things being split or knocked over was hilarious. Then they graduated to the man-with-a-plank type of humour and have stopped there. Although we all agree that things like “Outnumbered” and “Brooklyn99” are funny. 

So Scotland will be wet and cold and interspersed with mad rellies.  Spain will be warm and sunny and interspersed with gin. Tricky to spot right now which one I will enjoy most. Two weeks off though. Two whole weeks.  In the company of the lovely teens. Here is hoping there is WiFi wherever we go or I am in for trouble.



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