I have spent the day battling 1) a sore throat (conquered, I trust) and 2) a vast toppling pile of undergraduate attempts at creative writing which I am externalling for a writing-mill somewhere down South later in the month. It struck me all over again (as it did when I got the first batch in January) how gloomy the young are. My notes are besprinkled with variations on ‘another alienated wierdo story’. In the world as seen by novelists of the future, absolutely everyone is lonely, drifting, and disoriented. It goes without saying that any statement more complex than ‘would you like a coffee?’ immediately opens up a Grand Canyon of mutual incomprehension. I suppose they could all be right, though given some of the people of undergraduate age I know I am on the whole inclined to doubt it. One thought which does strike me forcibly after a day of wading through adolescent angst: given the enormous practical difficulties which will face anyone now twenty who tries to establish him- or herself in a viable adult life, it is quite extraordinary the extent to which the problems they are prepared to acknowledge or try and come to terms with, quite bravely in some instances, are relationship issues of one kind or another. On the basis of this lot, the future for realist fiction is not looking good.