It is one of the formative periods of any adolescent’s life, the listless summer months bracketed between the end of what they used to call O-levels and the start of A-levels.
The stress of cramming for exams disappears overnight. There is the possibility of a summer job, just as there are opportunities to engage in volunteer work.
But why would you want to do any of this when you can do absolutely nothing?
I raise the spectre of teenage abandon because our eldest daughter has finished her GCSEs and has nothing on her books until September. What’s a girl to do?
In an attempt to come up with some useful character-building activities, I put on my slippers, took to my armchair and mulled over that same period in my own life – the long, hot summer of 1983.
And I got to thinking: Can it be it was all simple then? Or has life re-written every line?
There was a further trigger for revisiting 1983, other than a paternalistic desire to inspire with recollections of my noble deeds.
It came in the shape of two rappers, Mr K West and Mr J Zed, who appeared on the telly at something called the Big Hackney Weekend.
These chaps are meant to be at the pinnacle of their game. Getting them on stage together is the 1983 equivalent of pairing Cliff Richard with Leo “You Make Me Feel Like Dancin’” Sayer. Some coup then.
And yet the rappers’ performance wasn’t that great, not really, not if we’re honest. It was like watching Coldplay, with hoodies and bad language. Just kind of: hmm.
Why did Mr J Zed keep telling the crowd to “Bounce! Bounce! Bounce!” Bounce? I don’t think Siouxsie and the Banshees invited fans to bounce. They’ve have had bottles thrown at them.
It strikes me that one of the great lessons of summer 1983 is that it’s fine to be bored.
Kids now don’t know the true meaning of boredom. These days there is the internet, music video channels and Kim Kardashian to keep teenagers occupied. There is instant gratification, instant messaging, email, Twitter, Facebook. There’ no time to be truly bored.
What’s the first thing a group of young friends do when they meet up? They plunge into silence, get out their smart phones, check their messages and update their status.
What’s happened to the art of teenage conversation? What’s happened to their sense of adventure? In an attempt to show the youth of 2012 just what it is missing, I have reached out to some dear friends from almost 30 years ago.
Among the classic outings to have been recalled was The Bike Ride. This involved a mixed group cycling several miles to a friend’s house in the countryside. (Do 16-year-olds even have bicycles today? And tyre repair kits?)
Obviously, the host’s parents were out, and not all of us knew her, and there may have been illicit booze. And a courting couple may have engaged in age-inappropriate behaviour.
Oh, and we may have broken into a neighbour’s house and plunged into their swimming pool. And because we didn’t have swimming trunks, the boys may have done running bombs in their pants.
Now boys’ pants in those days were either white or orange and that swim taught the scientists among us an important lesson in the absorption rates of polyester, which has a tendency to become transparent when wet.