The Parents' Guide to Music Exhibitions My sons recently persuaded me to accompany them to the International Music Expo at the ExCeL Centre ('accompany' - translation: pay for, feed and negotiate on behalf of). No matter how hard one tries to 'keep up' with teenage vocabulary ('Jokes'. 'Trust'. 'Legend'), it becomes clear pretty quickly that frankly, you just don't have a clue. You might think that you've just tuned-in, but in reality they've moved onto the next big thing after the one which was the next big thing after the big thing that you've just grasped. In other words, you're always at least two days behind. So I have decided to change strategy. Rather than try to keep up with the next generation, I'm starting a new vocabulary for us parents that will give us a shorthand to describe the world that our off-spring inhabit. Use these in conversation, and watch their worried little faces become confused and wonder if they're missing out on the cutting edge. Here's a starter list of tribes that I saw at the Expo: S/ARNIES: pumped-up, close-cropped, shade-wrapped hunks of meat in singlets, leather trousers and motorcycle boots who sit completely motionless on the train, hoping to intimidate all those around. Look in their backpacks, and you'll find that their Mums have sent them out with a light lunch wrapped in cling-film ("something for the journey"). PINHEADS: would-be rockers whose individuality and anarchistic leanings can only be expressed by adorning their faces with metal decoration - using the same patterns, the same studs and the same chains as their friends who are also in the Cashpoint queue. NITS: young men who wear droopy woollen hats for no reason; they are not Rastafarians, it is not cold, nor is it Christmas. Probably part of a Dutch religious cult, worshipping Father Abrahams PEACE CORE: a sub-culture of child crime. By making the noise of the real thing completely unbearable at home, under-8s blackmail their parents into buying a £500 - £1000 digital drumkit (comprising of near-silent rubber hubcaps). PLUGGERS: seasoned Expo-attendees (usually middle-aged men manning the stands) who know that the event organisers allow 10 minutes of free-form kit demonstration at ten-to the hour, every hour. If you're really nice to them, they'll let you have a pair of ear inserts that they 'borrowed' from an airline. EVERESTS: musicians who have decided that playing an instrument well is not enough of a challenge, and who go out of their way to make it as difficult as possible (eg the inventor, manufacturer and world's-only-exponent-of the 9-string bass guitar whose fingers aren't long enough to reach all nine strings). PIANOT: a group who think that because a computer has a keyboard, it is a musical intrument, and who believe that recording bloopy-bleepy sounds in the bathroom is just as skilful as playing a Fender Stratocaster.
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