Morpheus on… The Age Of Majority

There’s an old joke that goes something like, “People say that at 55, I’m middle-aged. Rubbish! How many people do YOU know who are 110?”

But of course, there’s an ANSWER to that. There are three ages of ADULTHOOD – preceded by one of childhood.

And they are: 0-19… Childhood. 20-39…Young Adulthood. 40-59… Middle Age. And 60-79… Old Age. You can add 80 and up… FREAKISH Old Age – since the natural age to fall off the twig is 79 (okay, 82 if you’re a lady).

Which brings me to my point: what berk came up with 21 as being the age of majority? Alright, it’s now mainly been supplanted by 18 (except for booze in America) but still.

I mean, the two-hundred-plus countries on our planet have various ages of majority: most go with 18, others vary from 9 to 19, a handful (including my adopted country – Thailand) have 20 and a dozen or so still use 21. But surely, the ONLY age should be 20. It’s a round figure, it’s logical, it feels right (you’re no longer a teenager) and it fits right in with the third paragraph of this piece.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not proposing you can’t drink, smoke, make love, drive a car or take out a library book before that age. I’m just saying, if you want a legal age at which you become an adult, it should be 20.

Where did 21 come from? What prune thought THAT up? For decades, in The Land Of My Birth, England, this silly age of majority RULED. In fact, in that country, old-timers accused of some minor impropriety can STILL be heard to say, “So what? I’m over twenty-one.”

I don’t have an ending for this bit. Try as I might (and I HAVE – all across the Interweb) I cannot find ANY reason for this magic figure of 21 having been chosen as the age at which it was thought one became a major. Anyone???


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by littlealfie on January 11, 2010 at 7:36 am

    Had a bit of a look myself and found this:
    which states that 21 was the age at which boys of old would have finished their 7 year apprenticeships. Makes a kind of sense but surely no-one should feel they have to stick with it for that reason in this day and age! Should they?

    Personally I turned 18 just as they changed the law in the UK but 21 still got celebrated too – so I got pissed twice!


  2. Posted by theworldaccordingtomorpheus on January 13, 2010 at 2:03 am

    Hah! Being a few months older than you, the lowering of the Age Of Majority sort of PASSED me! I mean, I was already 18 when the new age became law – thus I technically became a major when I was 18 years and some months old. Thus for me, there was no booze up! I had heard the age was being lowered, but I never learned the exact date. Therefore, I became an adult without knowing it – until later!

    I read Esmerelda Weatherwax’s (really?) piece. ‘Twas interesting. I now know what a “journeyman” is (you learn something new every day) and her (?) explanation of the reason (which you stated above – but I was curious to see what else I might learn – still curious after all these years – and I DID learn something else – the meaning of “journeyman”) for 21 explains all.

    So ta for your research. I tried all OVER and couldn’t find it out! I wonder how many of the people who read my main article will get this far? Well, those who do will at least be rewarded with an ANSWER to the question I posed. I shall leave my piece as is! Once again, TA!

  3. Posted by littlealfie on January 13, 2010 at 3:18 am

    You are most welcome!

    Oh, and don’t you just WISH you’d thought of the name Esmerelda Weatherwax?


    PS. I celebrated my 18th at the Elm Tavern in Spring Road (now a Chinese Restaurant so the address has probably been changed to Spring Roll!) and it really annoyed the landlord ‘cos I’d been playing for his darts team for a year! ‘Twas in the company of Mr D. Potter whose birthday was 2 weeks later – we both drank 18 Vodka and Limes in honour of the occasion and I don’t remember how I got home!!

  4. Posted by theworldaccordingtomorpheus on January 13, 2010 at 3:35 am

    I remember that pub AND the Chinese restaurant that replaced it (did you know when they go out for a Chinese meal IN China – they just call it a meal? Never gets a laugh, that – but I like it) they were just around the corner from my house. Whatever DID happen to Potter? Everyone says he became a banker (I THINK they said banker) but no-one’s actually seen him for DECADES!

  5. Posted by theworldaccordingtomorpheus on January 13, 2010 at 3:38 am

    p.s. Here are a couple that ARE mine – Dorian Stentorian and Disparate Dan (I found ONE D.D. on the Interweb – but it seems I’m the ONLY D.S.)

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