Graham Carter - the voice of age and experience

Life can be hard sometimes, and being a parent is a challenge, so when the good days come, make the most of them.

Last Monday was a red letter day in the Carter household and a milestone in our parental journey.

It was the day that the second of our two children, our daughter, Holly, got herself a job.

I expect you heard the cheers from where you are.

She has landed a permanent, full-time and nicely paid post as a graphic designer with a large but apparently nice firm in Slough.

Our pleasure at hearing the news was quickly overtaken by pride, and finally a sense of justice, because becoming a professional designer is a long road to tread, and you have to work damned hard and stick at it.

It was her choice. Good parents support, but never push.

It started with A levels, those exams that people are fond of saying are now much easier than they were in our day, which is strange because I got an A level in art for doing - with no exaggeration - about a twentieth of the work Holly did for hers.

She followed that with an equally intense foundation course, then three years of a degree, and finally a stressful job-seeking period involving test assignments and tough interviews.

Graduate graphic designers face a Catch 22 situation since it’s difficult to get a job if you don’t have experience, and difficult to get experience if you don’t have a job.

Holly had nearly a dozen interviews, and if the final one hadn’t got her the job, at least she would have been in the Guinness Book of Records, because it lasted two full hours.

So the job is a reward for an immense amount of hard work, commitment and determination, and that’s something that armchair cynics often say is lacking in the younger generation, along with common sense.

In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth, and I am delighted to tell them how wrong they are.

I am at an age when I am supposed to be unimpressed and even annoyed by young people, yet the older I get, the more certain I am that they are this country’s best hope of getting itself out of the mess it has got itself into.

Another problem with Britain today is it doesn’t value its creative industries enough, with too many people thinking that the arts are inferior to so-called ‘proper’ jobs, when it is clear to me that the best hope lies in encouraging those with the most creative minds to use them, rather than breeding a generation of sheep.

All this comes with some mixed feelings.

In this column I have previously pointed out that I play the drums, which is quite an unusual hobby, and it is annoying to not even be the best drummer in our house, owing to the fact that my son is a drum teacher.

Likewise, I am a graphic designer of sorts, since I have spent a lot of my time putting together newspaper pages and magazines, and I am currently designing and editing a book.

But I have never been a professional graphic designer, per se, so when my daughter turns up for her first day of work today, I will officially become the SECOND best designer in our house.

“Aw. What a shame,” said my wife. “How does that make you feel?”

Well, we all have to accept that our kids are going to show us up at times, but the highlight of being a parent is the day when they show you up in the best way imaginable.