06 July 2010

Teenage Testament

I found this typed statement among some papers that I had bought from the late John Rolph, a marvellous man, publisher with the Scorpion Press and latterly a 'tea bag' bookseller in his rambling shop at Pakefield, Lowestoft. He had published several Royston Ellis poetry pamphlets including the great-looking 'Rave' (1960). Ellis's statement, written when he was 18 is cri de coeur from teenland--the teenager at the time had only just been invented, before that in what is now known as 'the age of deference' you went uncomplainingly from boy to man, from girl to woman, wore sensible clothes and behaved yourself. A historic document, not quite on a par with the Dada Manifesto (at the Cabaret Voltaire in July 1916) but of some significance-- it is a carbon copy with a note by JR 'given to me by Royston 1960.' It appears to be unpublished. Photo above - Eel Pie Island 1960, below Johnny Vincent rocking on the IOW. Take it away Royston:

Teenage Testament

With the on-coming Spring the teenage has burst into bud once again. But this year there is no getting rid of it with weed killer. Teenagers look like being the prize blooms featured in every newspaper, magazine, television programme and family discussion.

Throughout the country youngsters are being interviewed for their views on life, love, manners, religion....In fact, everything that will give the outsider an idea of what makes teenagers tick. A so-called typical teenager romps into the public eye and is immediately condemned and criticised by earnest religious bodies as being 'not a fair representative'. A learned youngster states his views and straightaway teenagers accuse him of being out of touch.

One thing that all these probes have proved is that there is no such thing as the typical teenager....We, and I speak now as a teenager, have healthy defiance for conventionally-held beliefs. We will not take "no' or "you mustn't" for an answer. We aim to keep hypocrisy from our outlook. The world of the tut-tut brigade is swiftly crumbling. In two generations time the tut-tuts will be dead.

This is suddenly a teenage world, and we're sick of the state it is in. We teenagers have never had inhibitions, smug delusions. That is why we are going all out for life in away that we feel is right. The current state of the world is no glorious testimony for accepted traditions.

We are rebels with a cause, the cause of thinking teenagers who can see nothing to be learnt from the limp achievements of adults; only that adults can learn something from us, from out untainted outlook.

I am not a spokesman for teenagers. I am merely echoing the views of modern-thinking youngsters and adults everywhere. And it so happens that the non-thinking types, the types that couldn't care less, anyway, are now doing and believing the same things by instinct rather than by deduction.

But this outlook is not new. For generations there have been young rebels kicking against conventions. Many writers, painters, musicians, scientists have felt this way. It's just that the current cult of teenagery is giving every youngster a chance to sort things out for himself. The surge of teenage feeling is acting as virile impetus.

This is not the struggle of misunderstood teenagers battling against pedantic parents, but the struggle of free-thinking honest individuals campaigning against the hypocrisy and power-bloated minds of the dear old tut-tut squad.

Myself, I believe that this straightforward and sincere attitude will help teenagers to become worthwhile and voluble citizens, cherishing a close bond between themselves and their children, and a realistic understanding of the problems of living.

Royston Ellis
March, 1960


Anonymous said...

Royston Ellis, author of over 60 biographies, novels and travel guides, now lives in Sri Lanka having left England, where he began as a beat poet, in 1961, age 20, for a life of travel. His latest book, The Big Beat Scene, has just been published by Music Mentor Books (http://musicmentor0.tripod.com/book_big_beat_scene.html), in a new edition for the first time in 50 years with a foreword and afterword about his association with The Beatles. More information from: http://roystonellis.com

Anonymous said...

Spoken like a true "Absolute Beginner"!

Agassiz said...

tut tut!

Edwin Moore said...

fabulous find - and a great photo too!

Tim Mayer said...

Makes you wonder whatever happened to the young girls in the top photo. Some elderly woman is about to get very embarrassed.

Anonymous said...

Just seen this. Amazing what we had the energy (and arrogance) to do and say in our youth! I'm still writing and issue a weekly Tropical Topics newsletter on www.roystonellis.com/blog.
Beat regards, Royston.