The Key To The Door

It used to be traditional in British and Australian households to give the key to the door to a 21-year-old on their birthday – that being the age of adulthood in the societies of the time. It was a charming ceremony and spawned a cottage industry making plywood keys with writing paper glued to the front. People would write maudlin sentiments on them and present them at the party in lieu of a decent gift.

It looked, of course, ridiculous to societies where adulthood came with the first job – frequently down a coal mine or in the brick pit – or with the first teenage pregnancy and subsequent shotgun wedding.

We’ve even advanced it to 18 these days, and may drop it to 14 – if only to get a firmer grip upon juvenile offenders from bad suburbs. This is probably not going to work, as the grip never includes a noose any more…

But back to the key – the new adult is presumed to be able to come and go as they will. In reality they came and went as their parents willed or they went entirely.

The other end of adulthood also has a key – we slide off the radar when we retire and can pursue our felonious little plans for the most part undetected – but the business of doing so on the computer has been made hard by the fact that the key to this is now held by the children – or at least by young people in general. They have invented or adopted the acronyms and procedures that make the goblin dance in the bottle and if we want to be able to do it too we need them to set it up and give us a simple key to the lock. If we anger them they change the passwords and we are locked out of the system.

There is no effective answer to this as the shops that sell the wretched things are also run by the young. The best we can hope for is simplified Apple products and the attention of the occasional Russian hacker.

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