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Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Kids Are Alright

A bit of cut-n-paste from The Observer Sunday August 12, 2007

The skateboarder

Paul-Luc Ronchetti will be showing off his rodeos and kickflips from Newquay to California

When he's at home, Paul-Luc visits his small local skate park at the recreation ground in Wymondham, but he rates it just a one-out-of-10. So, for the past two years he's relied on his mother driving him on 300-mile round trips to the nearest skate park with a full vert ramp, in Birmingham. 'I can't say I thought I'd spend my life hanging around in grungey old skate parks on cold wet days with their roofs leaking,' she notes.

So where's that then?

The pop star

Mollie Kingsley, the band's singer, who turned 15 at the start of summer, is concerned that everyone is harping on constantly and rather patronisingly about their ages, although she admits that the matter affects the way they function and the day-to-day possibilities during summer. 'If we're in an underage band we want to have underage people be able to come and see us. The other week we wanted to go to a reggae show at the Rainbow in Moseley and when we asked on the phone, "Is it over 18?" someone very curt said, "Of course it's over 18!" and put the phone down.' At the same time they were receiving emails asking them to perform at the Rainbow. 'They can fuck off, can't they?' says Mollie.

There we go. That's the kind of comment I like. But I thought the Rainbow was in Digbeth.

All of the band live in Birmingham's King's Heath (where they attend the same school) and they are rehearsing and developing new songs at the elegantly crumbling studio of Bob Lamb (one-time member of the Steve Gibbons Band and producer of UB40). The band are delighted to see that teenagers are invigorated by their summer shows, but Mollie wishes to remind Londoners that the supposed trend towards underage gigs has barely taken off nationwide. 'There's a big fuss in the press about it, but from our experience and what we know, there's nowhere to go in Birmingham of a night, ever.

I think we've been hearing this from various quarters for some time now. I wonder if anyone is actually going to do anything about it.

The girl solidier

'Most girls around where I live aren't doing much this summer except walking around looking girly and wanting to be popular, but being boring,' says Charlotte Hopson, who has just turned 15 and wears leopard-skin blouse and white jeans soiled by a foundation sponge she sat on. 'I mean, I like looking nice too, but worrying about messy hair isn't going to stop me doing anything.'

Most of Charlotte's neighbourhood friends are male. 'Boys are more fun, not scared to have mud fights, or injure themselves. Someone will be sprayed with deodorant on the way home and have their hood set fire to. We buy doughnuts at Tesco's and end up throwing them at people. We'll all get trolleys and ram people in the malls. Being idiots, really.'

Why does this remind me of my own adolescence?