When I was a school boy, I couldn't sing. I don't just mean that I wasn't a good singer. I couldn't sing at all. Don't know why I said "When I was in school". Truth is I've never been able to sing. Unless you think a cross between Lee Marvin singing 'A wondrin Star', and an aroused frog in spring constitutes anything resembling singing. That's not to say that I don't enjoy singing. Its just that no-one else does - especially if I develop the confidence that comes if there's a crowd. In school I couldn't speak in public either. Just froze whenever the situation demanded any public comment. And that's how it would have stayed if it hadn't have been for the local Young Farmer's Club. I was around 20 year's old when I turned up to club night after an hour or two in the Lion, just as there was a call for someone to enter the County Senior Public Speaking Competition. So it started as a joke/dare - and then my competitive streak took over, and I haven't really shut up ever since.
The reason I comment thus is because I've been adjudicating a Welsh School's Debating Competition this afternoon at Llanidloes High School. I was stuck by the self confidence of these young people. Much better than when I was in Caereinion School a few decades ago, unless you could sing of course. Oli from Builth Wells High School was so laid back that he was next thing to horizontal. I particularly enjoyed the contribution of Steffan from Ystradgynlais, because he allowed real passion to show in his opposition to embryo research. But it was Oli's team who won.
Over the last week, I've spent a lot of time in our local secondary schools. Next time I hear anyone talking down the ability of today's young people, I will respectfully disagree.