Mark Andrews: Another fine mess you have landed yourself in, Ollie

Well where were we? It's been seven weeks since I last wrote a column for this newspaper. My last effort was rather rudely interrupted by a heart attack midway through. I'm hoping this time to make it to the end – even if some of you wish I hadn't bothered.

Ollie Robinson: caught out by social media
Ollie Robinson: caught out by social media

One consequence of my enforced convalescence is that I have been forced to take on a gardener to tackle jobs I am at present unable to do. Which got me thinking – whatever happened to 'bob-a-job week'? I would have gladly shelled out 5p for some boy scouts to come round and cut the lawns, I might even double it to 10p if they can clean the cars as well.

In fact, come to think of it, I'm prepared to run to a quid if they will do the cleaning, washing and ironing too, although I suppose the authorities might take a dim view of that.

Seriously, though, it seems that gardeners – and most tradesmen for that matter – are overwhelmed with work at the moment. Anybody short of a few quid could do worse than stick the Qualcast in the back of the car and hit the road.

It looks like the England Cricket Board has made a rod for its own back with the indefinite suspension of Ollie Robinson over some unfortunate comments made on social media when he was a teenager. It now appears that a number of other high-profile cricketers may have committed similar transgressions, and the way things are heading they'll end up recalling Mike Brearley and Graham Gooch in an effort to put together an England team totally free from digital dirt.

But while Robinson's adolescent humour may have been objectionable, you do wonder whether those lining up to put the boot in were ever kids themselves. Who can honestly say that when they were 16, 17 or 18, they were paragons of courtesy, moderation and good taste? Maybe Ann Widdecombe and Theresa May, but after that you are struggling.

Teenagers say and do stupid things, always have, always will. This does not make them bad people who should be forever held to account for their immaturity. But it does demonstrate the lunacy of reducing the voting age to 16.

Indeed, from my own limited experience, those who were most likely to make off-colour remarks in their youth went on to become the most sanctimonious in middle age, particularly if a stint living in the Big Smoke was involved. Even Harry Markle, now the Prince of Woke, made some pretty offensive comments when he was in his 20s, and really old enough to know better.

The difference is, of course, that in the past youthful follies were forgotten as quickly as Kevin Keegan perms, headbands, and white slip-ons. But for today's kids, who live their lives on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and whatever, every cough and splutter is preserved in perpetuity.

Our best hope is that in years to come future generations will view the age of social media as a strange fad, almost as odd as when teenagers brawled on the beach over what type of motorcycle they rode.

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