Alan Dee: It all adds up to a sad waste of childhood

SO what was the item on this week’s news that filled me with sadness and despair?

There have been plenty to choose from. Syria doesn’t look too clever, does it? Protestors being jailed for a public protest against Putin makes you wonder whether Russia has changed that much in recent years. Ian Brady’s not dead yet. The list goes on.

Like many people, the biggest cloud on the horizon after the glorious summer spell that was the Olympics was the looming start of the Premiership football season.

After marvelling at the dedication, ability and modesty of the competitors who came to these shores for their once in a lifetime moment, the thought of that endless procession of overpaid under-achievers charmlessly chasing a ball, or their next big money move, was a sobering one.

The season is under way, though, and the only way we can change football is by staying away from the terraces and refusing to sign up for pay TV – money is the only language they understand. I’ve already done my bit. What about you?

But the start of the football season wasn’t the worst of it for me.

That came on the morning the A-level results were published. I didn’t have any personal interest in the process this year – no cousins, nephews or neighbours were anxiously waiting for their grades.

But the cute girls in their summer dresses, squealing with joy and jumping up and down at the prospect of three years of slog and a mountain of debt, were all over the news, as usual.

And so were the individual tales of remarkable success, one of which related to a 14-year-old lad from Hampshire who scored A* results in both maths and further maths, having passed chemistry with an A grade the year before. Well done, junior.

You won’t get me sneering at geeky boffins showing off their freakish facility for something the rest of us can only marvel at – he obviously has great ability, and he must have put in the effort, too.

My concern is what happens next. He’s going to start a degree course in economics at university in September.

Because’s he’s only 14, there’s no way that he’s going to get the most out of the university experience, is he?

He may be a brainiac, but he’s going to have his work cut out coming up with a formula which will convince bar staff to serve him with booze.

Learning how to live on your own, balance the books, clean the toilet every now and then, meet new people – that’s all part of a uni education, and he’s not going to be able to savour it to the full because of his tender years.

So that leaves more time for study, then. And what comes next, once he finishes his degree, presumably with first class honours, at the same time as the rest of his age group is sweating through their A-levels?

Does he want put his boffin brain to work curing cancer, easing famine, creating new systems that will allow people to live in peace?

No, he wants to be an actuary. If you ask me, at 14 nobody should really know what they want to be when they grow up – but to know that you want to be an actuary just strikes me as very, very sad.