The enterprising GCE board which set its candidates an essay on "A Coffee-Bar" did not bargain for the fantastic revelations of teenage life that it produced. I, a cloistered examiner, had no idea that while parents spent pleasant evenings with television and bingo, their young ones were indulging in such extraordinary activities.
My first shock came when I realised that today's teenagers in their coffee-bars are amazingly class-conscious. Here the veneration of Duke Box and Pop seem to occupy positions analogous to the adult world. The Duke, it appears, is always "switched on" (up to date). Obviously coronets are more than purple hearts to the younger generation. These aristocrats are all associated with music, and there seems to be a faint 18th-century touch about their image, or so the frequent cry of "Wait a minuet!" would suggest.
The second strange discovery I made was that all these young people are fanatical animal-lovers. Although, as they sometimes complain, these bars do not actually serve bears, the places are nevertheless teeming with wildlife. Attractive birds are frequently observed among the cool cats and hot dogs, whilst "wolf wissels" are not uncommon (a kind of hound, apparently popular as a gift from boy to girl). There are long blonde hares in the cloakrooms, beetles on the records and bags of mock crocs on the tables. Teenagers undoubtedly enjoy taking their refreshment in a lively, informal, zoo-like atmosphere.
Sadly, there is a seamier side of the story. Cannibalism is rife: one girl had her boy fried there; another mentioned a habit of eating rolls spread with little bits of butter and james. At one bar, obviously the haunt of sadistic fascist absinthe drinkers, they put rabbis in the pastis.
Sex, too, rears an ugly head. Orgies and perversions abound. Female teenagers are shameless: bold as brass they play with one-armed bandits while toying with milk sheiks. The establishments are no better: one goes so far as to invite its customers to copulate amid its exotic jungle decor, boasting the 'coconut mating' that covers its floors.