JO ELVIN ★ 24 JANUARY 2021
Our story on page 44 about Molly Hocking, who won the 2019 series of The Voice, really crystallises the price our young people are currently paying. After years of slogging it out, singing in small venues, honing her craft, learning - as a teenager - to take brutal rejection on the chin, finally success, fame and fortune looked imminent. And then along came 2020.
Of course, we all have our challenges to meet in this global pandemic: physical, mental and financial. But I’m so very saddened for those whose carefree youth is just sort of ebbing away while we sit this thing out. I’m anxious enough for my daughter and all her fellow GCSE-year students. Motivation is hard to muster in the face of so much uncertainty, isolation and monotony.
But Molly’s story brings home the mix of anger, frustration and sheer panic that must be plaguing 20-somethings. There are so many firsts that these young people should be experiencing right now that are just on hold: opportunities, adventures, careers, relationships. I really don’t think I’d have landed my first magazine editor job, at 25, if I’d had a year of only speaking to my bosses via Zoom. My husband and I were 24 when we summoned the Dutch courage for that first tentative kiss at a rowdy New Year’s Eve party. We might have missed our window - on what’s a decades-long marriage now - had we been young and single in a pandemic.
As with all generations before mine, we are probably too fond of shaking our heads and believing that we worked so much harder and had so much more drive and initiative than those coming up behind us. But I dare say that our younger generations are facing some hard lessons in resilience that I’ve never had to learn. I think when all this is over, our young people will blow us away, unleashing so much pent-up hunger for opportunity and new experiences. I feel hopeful that they will redefine creativity and energy. And no one will dare utter the word ‘snowflake’ in their direction again.
That thought sustains me. As does the knowledge that millions have now received their vaccine. Remember when we weren’t sure there would even be a vaccine? Things are moving in the right direction.
In the meantime, if you still need just a little bit more joy in your day, may I humbly recommend stilton. Seriously. This week I had the brainwave of melting it on to jacket potatoes, sandwiches, nachos - you name it. Why have I been melting common variety cheddar on to things, like an animal, when all this time I could have been revelling in that molten, blue-veined luxury? Try it. It’s a serotonin-boosting game-changer.