Chapter 1: HITCH-HIKING AND THE UMBILICAL CORD
Still in the womb:
I personally have never hitch-hiked because ... well one of the
reasons being that I haven't got this sort of love of adventure -- I like
to be certain of what I'm doing, have a sense of security, and also that
I've never been in the position where I couldn't afford to go where I actually
wanted to go .... As an only child who's a girl, Mother tends to want the
best for her and protect her in a way, as far as she can. Even if she's
not there, she knows you've got a train ticket and where you're going.
Because I've been brought up with my parents, it's just never crossed my
mind to hitch-hike, so far. I've just adopted their attitudes. (Cambridge
University second year girl student)
Beginning to wean:
Well, it's a bit difficult because I don't hitch-hike, which my
parents didn't want me to. They don't think it's a good thing ... if I
can't afford the fare to get from place to place, I shouldn't sponge on
other people. But ... I don't see why not; but being a girl it's more difficult.
I live in Manchester and I can't go home during the middle of the term
because I can't afford it .... I probably mentioned to them could I come
home by hitch-hiking and they said: "No." I'm very tempted not to agree
with them, but I wouldn't fight them saying I can hitch-hike, but I don't
see why other people shouldn't especially if it's students, young men that
want to .... (Teacher training college third year girl student)
Active revolt against parental domination:
When I was much younger I used to worry about whether I ought to
hitchhike or not and I think with me it's associated with lots of guilt
feelings because it's all, my parents always forbade me to do hitch-hiking.
This is one thing they said I must never do, you know, that they would
let me have freedom in every way, in every respect, but I must never hitch-hike.
In fact, even now I'm twenty years old, I still cannot say to my
parents that I've hitch-hiked, even with a friend, which I think is ridiculous.
I very much resent their attitude, and it's ... so it's very ... it's very
personal sort of independence. I get out of it. I like hitch-hiking because
it brings me in contact with people I wouldn't meet otherwise, because
I was brought up in a very sort of upper middle-class atmosphere where
you didn't meet anybody who did an ordinary working job or drove a lorry.
My father is the managing director of a firm, and it's always represented
a great freedom for me to be able to hitch-hike -- freedom in a sense --
a kind of, well, independence ...
My parents are very dogmatic about this and most of my friends,
girlfriends, who hitch-hike, either their parents just sort of accept it
and don't mind, never bothered about it, or else they have a kind of relationship
in which they don't ask questions, and they, the parents, really know what's
going on, but they're ... they just don't ask questions, whereas my parents
are always asking and saying: "You mustn't, you mustn't do this, you mustn't
do that, you mustn't hitch-hike . This is the most important thing ....
My father once said to me very angrily: "Well, if you get ... have a bad
accident and you're an invalid for life, I'm not going to support you --
I shall put you on the National Health and leave you." Hitch-hiking was
one of the first gestures of defiance I made against my parents -- the
first time I hitched was about four years ago when I was still at school,
I was at day school. I think their generation, um, very often can't understand
how people of my age live and the way we are. (Cambridge University
second year girl student)
These girls illustrate three different stages of emancipation from childhood.
The first one, though entering her twenties, is still tightly bound to
her mother. In talking to the interviewer, a complete stranger, about her
mother and herself, she apparently feels there is nothing odd or babyish
Mother tends to want the best for her, and protect
her in a way .... The girl readily admits that she has not thought
for herself but has simply adopted her parents' attitudes. She hasn't begun
to become an adult
The second girl, though not daring to break into open conflict with
her parents, is beginning to allow herself to doubt the sacrosanctity of
their views. Hitch-hiking is a thing she sees many of her contemporaries
doing and she sees nothing to condemn in it.
The third student sees hitch-hiking as a central factor in her open
conflict with her parents, in her bid to demand that they accept her adulthood.
In hitch-hiking she finds a way of physically escaping from home. The thumbing
convention allows her to travel around almost without money, money which
she would presumably have to get from home. Hitching also affords her psychic
escape from her parents. Since they have made it an issue, since
they have made it clear she must not hitch, by hitching she defies them
and proclaims the integrity and independence of her own personality. Finally
hitching offers her a temporary, perhaps illusory escape from the social
background of her upbringing. Daughter of a company director, she has the
chance of mixing with lorry drivers, of jumping, or appearing to herself
to jump class barriers. In her case, as in the case of many young people,
hitch-hiking emerges as both a practical and symbolic issue in their struggle
for emancipation from their parents' psychological and sometimes financial
control over them. The first tentative lifts hitched can sometimes resemble
the Boston Tea Party. They may be the start of a long drawn out war of
independence from 'parental colonialism'.
All the same it would be wrong to jump to the conclusion that all parents
oppose their children when they show a propensity to start hitch-hiking,
if they do. People (see Appendix
I) hitching at the London mouth of the M.1, near K garage were asked:
When you started hitch-hiking did both your parents approve? --
In other words around one third of the nearly seven hundred thumbers had
parents who more or less approved of them hitch-hiking when they started;
about one third had parents who disapproved or were anxious and rather
more than one fifth had parents who didn't mind either way.
685 people altogether gave answers.
228 people reported that their parents
28 people reported that their parents
approved with reservations.
156 people reported that their parents
didn't mind, didn't disapprove.
240 people reported that their parents
were worried or disapproved.
11 people reported that their parents
were one for, one against.
22 people could not remember.
The above is in no sense a statistically trustworthy sample (see Appendix
I). All that I intend to show by presenting these figures is that the
parent-child conflict over hitch-hiking is a widespread phenomenon in families
where teenagers suddenly take it into their heads to hitch-hike.
The likelihood of conflict depends on a great number of factors, how
authoritarian or otherwise the parents are, the age it occurs to the child
to try hitching, the sex of the child, the child's own personality and
capacity to cope for himself etc.... Without knowing these factors and
many more in each particular case, not much more can be said about the
above figures. All they show is that conflict exists on a reasonably large
scale -- it is not confined to a fringe of families.
In order to get more of a picture of the ways parents and off-spring
interreact over hitching 186 people picked up in my van were interviewed
in more detail than the hurriedly questioned M.1 respondents (see Appendix
II). The parents fall into various categories, ranging from those strongly
for to those violently anti. To start at the positive end of the scale:
18 year old theatrical props maker, son of a tax collector:
I first hitched when I was 11. My father did a lot of hitch-hiking.
I used to go with him.
20 year old student, son of town clerk, first hitched at 13:
Sometimes parents disagree about whether their child should be allowed
to hitch-hike. One parent may foist the burden of making a decision onto
My mother's attitude was: "Go away and be independent," and my father
was the same.
15 year old apprentice mechanic, son of a bus driver, first hitched
to away football matches at 13:
Mother didn't want me to go. Father was all for it. She is still
against it and he is still for.
17 year old typist, daughter of a lorry driver, first hitched at 16:
A small minority of parents who have children who hitch apparently feel
violent antipathy to the idea of their own flesh and blood standing by
the roadside thumbing. Two examples of this extreme group will suffice:
Mother doesn't mind as long as I'm with someone. Father doesn't
approve at all.
22 year old machine shop Worker, son of a civil engineer, first
hitched at 18:
My mother was quite horrified -- I don't know why -- Father thought
I had gone mad -- he identified hitch-hiking with beatniks.
19 year old window dresser, daughter of an architect, first hitched
It may be relevant that both the civil engineer's son and the architect's
daughter have got themselves jobs of lower status than their parents' presumable
ambitions for them. This and the imaginable resultant tensions in the families
might explain the violence of parental riposte
Mother hit me when she found out. She was frightened unless (sic)
we ran off for good. Father hit me too, when he heard. They still feel
the same now, but they let me go.
Quite a number of virgin hitch-hikers seem to fear strong negative feelings
at home and avoid facing them by not telling their parents. What the eye
does not see .... Sometimes the deception goes on over quite a period of
time during which the teenager hitches regularly. The most extreme case
found was that of a 26 year old, lah-di-dah, outwardly self-confident art
dealer's assistant. She was the daughter of a rich farmer. When she was
16½ she lit off to Europe with her boy friend of the moment. Neither
her father nor mother knew she was hitching. When her mother found out
she was: terribly upset, she thought it degrading and dangerous. The father
was never told by either her or her mother. Ten years later he still did
not know his daughter had been hitching round Europe at 16½, and
regularly thumbing for several years after that. Presumably he was never
told because both women feared his anger.
The above is an example of total concealment. Several of the 186 respondents
spoke of partial deception:
20 year old student, son of stock-checker, first hitched on holiday
in Spain at 17:
A sizeable group of parents opposed their children's hitching not on principle
or because the very idea seemed to them outrageous, but because they did
not like the thought of their children having to face the difficulties
and dangers of the road. Imaginatively they lived through the accidents
their children might get involved in, the lifts with bad drivers, the morally
dangerous lifts and so on ...:
My mother thought I was going with two friends-in fact I went alone.
21 year old student, son of a labourer, first hitched at 17
She didn't like it when she found I was doing it regularly, didn't
think it was safe, thought I'd get soaked.
18 year old student, son of company director, first hitched at 13:
My mother didn't like it at first. She didn't like me going in cars
with strangers at that age.
20 year old student, son of a design engineer, first hitched at 15:
Some of the parents of the 186 respondents questioned in my van didn't
make any fuss about their children wanting to hitch. They took it completely
for granted. It seemed natural or even unimportant to them. A sizeable
fraction of the parents of the nearly seven hundred M.1 mouth respondents
fell into this category (about one fifth). Are they perhaps the most successful
and mature parents? One of the students I interviewed in Cambridge was
certainly surprised at his parents' equanimity:
They were both very annoyed, because of the accidents on the road,
frightened I might get a bad driver.
Student: I started when I was 16, I think, I was very surprised
because my parents didn't bat an eyelid when I said I was going to Greece
with my brother and a friend and they didn't mind at all.
Whether this man's parents and the others like them are the most mature
in their attitudes towards their offspring is perhaps a moot point -- they
are certainly the least uptight.
Interviewer: This suggests you perhaps thought they were going to
Student: Well, judging from my contemporaries' parents' reactions
... um, you know, nobody went off at the age of 16 just like that ... and
especially to ... Greece wasn't quite so opened up as it is now.
Children whose parents fail to grant them adult status as they are gradually
growing into it have no alternative but to seize it for themselves. Hitch-hiking,
which makes possible escape from the home and all that implies in terms
of parental surveillance, and which allows for almost free mobility, without
the humiliation of needing to rely on parents for financial support, has
an immediate attraction to the young person in an incipient phase of the
revolt that may be necessary for the afirmation of his own separate identity.
When the paren tries to disssuade a child, especially a son, from thumbing
he is probably reinforcing the desire to try it. The father says to the
son: It's difficult, it's risky, you won't be able to get lifts etc....
This kind of paternal reaction immediately turns hitch-hiking into a challenge
to the boy's courage and virility. If the boy has backbone there could
be no more counter-productive way of dissuading him:
A boy may also, like Gibben's joy riders in Chapter
6, be reacting against the over intimate protectiveness of the mother.
In the case of the 19 year old technical college student below, this is
probably one of the factors pushing him to hitch -- his mother certainly
comes through as a personality who still over-shadows, even half submerges
When I'm hitching she's anxious. I don't know where this anxiety
stems from, whether she's scared for me, that something might happen to
me, but she still is fairly anxious .... It could be anything ... a car
crash ... and if ever I have a long time to wait then as soon as I walk
in the door I can feel this immense amount of relief coming out, you know:
'Thank God he's home'. But this is probably because we're a very close
knit family, and she feels for all of us, of course, but I think this is
... she probably feels a great deal . . . I mean I never get worried to
that extent myself. (He can't quite bring himself to admit to a specially
close relationship between her and him.) It's a feeling she's still
in charge of me as a person, you know ... caring for me. And this automatically
comes over her when I'm doing something on my own, that she wants to be
with me, to make sure that I'm doing it O.K. and I'm fine.
Lucky for this man that he does hitch-hike all the same!
In so far as hitch-hiking turns out to be a conflictual issue between
parents and teenagers attitudes to hitch-hiking on the part of young people
often tell one quite a lot about their rapport with their parents and evolution
in attitudes to hitching about changes in this relationship. There are
certain family situations in which thumbing is more likely to become a
bone of contention than in others. Parents tend to be more apprehensive
over girls hitching than boys. Their anxiety is greater over young children
hitching than older ones. The smaller the family and the more protective
the parents the more there is likelihood of a clash. On these criteria
certain types of middle class and professional homes would seem more likely
to witness conflict than larger working class families.
Acting on these hunches I got girls in a fee-paying part boarding school
in the North West to write essays on Hitch-hiking They were given
no further guidance -- the teacher simply told them the essays were wanted
for research and asked them to write anything they felt like for half an
20 fourth-form girls, aged around 13, came out as in the main congruent
and acceptant of their parents' negative feelings about hitch-hiking. As
a group they appear firmly entrenched in the particular prejudices of their
parents' part of the previous generation. Only 3 or 4 of them state their
parents' aversion and then point out that other points of view do exist.
In other words, in early puberty, under the influence of small, tight families
and an authoritarian, maternalistic, minor public school, they maintain
obedient attitudes, and therefore very similar ones. Here are two examples
of 'obedient' essays:
14 year old doctor's daughter:
Even the 3 or 4 girls in whom there is a nascent glimmer of disagreement
with their parents' views very quickly hedge their shy movement towards
approving of thumbing with a massive exposition of the dangers and disadvantages.
So for instance this 13 year old, civil engineer's daughter who carefully
puts everything in the conditional:
'Travel by begging lifts from passing motor vehicles.' This is how
the Concise Oxford Dictionary describes hitch-hiking. There have been and
still are incidents where young children, or young girls, have been found
cruelly murdered as a result of accepting a lift from a stranger. Supposing
I ever did go on a hitch-hiking holiday I would certainly never go alone,
but with a group of four friends.
14 year old dentist's daughter:
I personally would not hitch-hike because I think it can be dangerous
if you accept lifts from the wrong type of people. It has been banned in
some countries on the continent because of the dangers involved. (See
8.) Even if I did want to go hitch-hiking my parents wouldn't dream
of allowing me to, because most 'hitchers' are lay-abouts that could not
be bothered to pay the fare on public transport.
If my parents would let me hitch-hike (which they would not) I would
not mind hitch-hiking if I had the right clothes and if I was with a friend.
I would not like to hitch-hike by myself unless it was absolutely necessary,
because of the murders that have been happening to children, especially
girls who accept lifts from strangers in cars. I would not feel very safe
when I hitch-hiked even if people looked nice. I would not trust a man
by himself, or a man and a woman by themselves
The 7 essays written on the same subject by sixth form girls in the same
school were radically different in tone and attitude. Out of 7 only I was
firmly anti-hitch-hiking, 2 were on the fence and 4 were in favour, despite
parental objections. The girl who was anti was interestingly from a
skilled working class home, presumably a socially 'rising' one:
18 year old master decorator's daughter:
The most interesting thing about this essay is that it gives the key to
the change in attitudes evident in this school between the fourth and sixth
forms. The girl says: I have never been hitch-hiking, and have never
met anybody who really has. She is the exception in her form -- most
of the other girls are beginning to come into contact with other teenagers
outside the narrow confines of their sheltered school life. From new friends
outside the mental 'clausura' they suddenly learn that you can go thumbing
and not be automatically raped and strangled by the first man who picks
you up. Given their curious, earlier conditioning this comes as a surprise
to some of them. Their change of attitude brings them into a state of mental
conflict with their parents. The change of attitude to thumbing and consequent
stretching of the umbilical cord is excellently put by the 16 year old
daughter of a Coal Board clerk:
I have never been hitch-hiking, and have never met anybody who
really has, or at least mentioned the fact. (My italics.) The
reason why is simple enough -- Parents! My mother is the worrying type,
and due to all the murders of young girls her mind would not be at rest
at all during my absence. The actual send-off, as you could call it, would
be terrible. My parents would be giving no end of advice such as: 'Be careful
and for goodness sake do not accept any lifts from people you do not know,'
which in the situation would be stupid advice to give. If we are in the
car and happen to pass some hitchhikers thumbing, my parents are very disgusted
and think people should catch a bus or a train like everybody else.
Hitch-hiking is a thing I never dreamt of doing, having been taught
from childhood never to accept lifts from strange men. But recently a girl
from a nearby training college came to live with us. I naturally became
very friendly with her and hitch-hiking came into our conversation quite
frequently. It seems to be the done thing at college.
While the decorator's daughter did not hitch because she had never met
anybody who had, in other words because no one had introduced her to the
idea, the clerk's daughter had the idea suddenly thrown at her for the
first time by a 'student'. She was still a mere schoolgirl and here was
a college student willing to be her friend, though she was only 16, willing
to take her into college society. When she found that hitch-hiking seemed
to be the done thing at college, she naturally didn't want to be out
of step. After all most of her training both at home and at school had
probably been directed to making her accept group values. The college group
was now the one she aspired to join and so she easily accepted the idea
of hitching, despite her earlier reservations.
My friend and I went to college one night with the student and from
there we all intended to go straight to Warrington by bus. The student
suggested we hitched, and I, despite my upbringing thought this was a good
idea, in a 3. My friend was dubious but we persuaded her to join us. We
went across the road and stood on the curb and started thumbing. I at first
felt embarrassed and burst into a fit of giggling. I finally stopped and
recommenced thumbing. Then a lorry stopped. My next worry was being seen
and recognised by any family friends and relatives. We reached our destination
quicker and more cheaply than we would have done normally .... After hitching
the first time it's far easier to do it again -- one is more confident
and it's easier to stand on the curb thumbing without laughing. The one
fear I do have is thumbing anybody my parents know.
You might object that the difference in attitudes to hitching between
the fourth form and sixth form girls is simply due to the fact that it
is less imprudent for older girls to go thumbing and so there may have
been a common sense relaxation in parental policy. This does not seem to
be the case. The sixth formers who come out in favour of hitching report
just as much hostility to the habit on their parents' part as do the fourth
So for instance this 16 year old commercial manager's daughter:
Hitch-hiking to me is one of the best ways to have an inexpensive,
exciting holiday. I think most people go hitching for the thrill of it
and for the chance of meeting lots of people. One can travel a fantastic
number of miles by hitching one or two lifts. I myself know some people
who by hitching three lifts travelled along the coast of Wales in one day.
Poor parents, how negative they seem to these 16 year olds:
My parents disapprove of hitch-hiking. They think it is a way that
many people, especially girls, can be murdered or bodily assaulted. Perhaps
this is true but not every person you hitch a lift from would dream of
murdering you. It's a risk one has to take -- you have to take a risk in
Hitch-hiking like aImost everything else these days, causes a lot
of opposition, usually from parents. They like to know with whom you are
going, and to see if they approve of the person, and aIso where you are
going. (Violin teacher's daughter)
To young people thumbing isn't always just a question of narrow conflict
with their parents. Often it is a means of broadening out of extending
horizons to achieve a kind of human freedom it is very difficult to evoke
with words. It's an emancipation in terms of place and time. You no longer
feel bound by these two factors which in ordinary life hold you to the
board as firmly as pins do a butterfly. It is an emancipation from your
role in society, be it as a child, a brother, a sister, an apprentice,
a student, a worker or whatever. It is release from ordinary responsibilities.
In a way hitchhiking is a kind of long drawn out, pleasurable fantasy --
this is what makes it so attractive to young people, what makes its relative
hardships seem so trivial and unimportant to them.
Many people who have hitched long distances speak of the sense of liberation
it gives them. So this Mexican Indian girl:
I think it's a nice feeling ... a feeling of freedom. I remember
being way out in a country, a long road I could see for miles and miles,
miles away in the distance and no one in the world knows I'm here except
me. It's a good feeling. It's a nice way to see the land because you can
stop off any place you want and go climb a mountain, play by a river ....
Nobody has tabs on her, she can go where she likes, when she likes, for
as long as she likes. This kind of hitcher avoids planning and thus lives
the fantasy of freedom to the full. In All The Time In The World Hugo
Williams tells how he got himself a lift across the desert from Jordan
to Kuwait on a huge truck:
Chazi seemed to live on curds and bananas and he shared
everything with me. He said if I gave him a pound in Kuwait, we would pay
for what we ate along the way, though in fact it was all put down on the
slate. I never once saw any Saudi currency. I set out without any currency
or supplies. But not entirely by accident. I prefer it that way. I hate
landscaping my life as far as the eye can see. I like arrival to be something
more than the result of my calculations. I like it to be a sense of bonus
In an odd sense, though, Williams' feeling of freedom from planning is
calculated self-conscious and very Western. He plans not to plan, and he
is not the only one to do this. Maybe as a civilisation we are so tense
and overwrought that this is the only way we can let go, short of using
chemical means, like drugs or drink.
The heady falling in love with hitch-hiking seems in most 'addicts'
lives to be a stage passed through but which gets naturally sloughed off.
This is precisely what happened to the amazing Barbara Starke who in the
late 1920's hitch-hiked alone across the USA, from her home in the East
and back. She did it to escape the pressures and the narrowness of her
environment, her protestant Yankee family and the obscurantism of her college
education. In her book Touch And Go she describes the psychological
point of her journey:
A bus roared powerfully up the hill, choking me with
dust. I rose and left the trail, walking back among great headlands and
red rocks. I was elated at the tremendous isolation. Something which had
always oppressed me had become ridiculous, I waved a hand to the tall cliffs
and they smiled grimly back at my laughter. For almost the only time since
I had left them I pictured vividly the fussy little principal who had guided
the desperate clamour of the business school and the thirty three meek
girls working at their typewriters. Something left me which had never allowed
me any peace before; perhaps because of the self I had been forced to be.
The desperation with which I had started this pilgrimage seemed unbelievable
.... To be sure I knew my family could still have thrown me into a guilty
panic, but after many weeks of making my own decisions and not listening
to correction and criticism I was beginning to feel that I might hold my
own in the world at last, and still do things with my own particular flare.
Though she didn't feel very happy about going back into the net,
after a time on the road she wanted to go back to a more normal
The idea of competing with people on the ordinary conventional
basis of everyday business frightened me more than anything that might
happen as I jogged precariously across the country dressed in corduroy
and hitch-hiking. But when I decided I had had enough of wandering and
it was time I went to New York and tried getting a job and living like
other people, I became impatient to start ....
Barbara Starke went back to ordinary life with potent regrets. She had
partially worked through the emotions triggering off wanderlust, but not
by any means completely. To some extent she had to force herself back into
the net. She still saw life in New York as a net. Most people who have
lived through a prolonged 'hitch-hiking fantasy' find leaving it, coming
out of it, hard, yet at a certain stage in the development of the personality
the abandonment of hitching seems to impose itself. I was lucky enough
to catch a Cambridge undergraduate in the middle of the sloughing period,
a time of consolidation, an inevitable but very sad part of the growing
up process. He spoke first about the freedom he had found in thumbing
and then about the fall-away period:
The reason I went out, the reason I hitch-hiked, was to be free,
as free as possible from any sort of civilised ideas.... You're free from
any timetable, you're free from anybody, except the people who are giving
you lifts. Your travel is independent, time is independent, you're dependent
on nothing really. if you don't want a lift you just sit there and stew
-- you can go where you like, do what you like.
Why do people stop hitching? Usually they don't suddenly consciously stop
-- one day it dawns on them that they haven't been hitching for a year
and maybe wonder why. The two practical events that most often mark the
end of a person's thumbing career are the acquisition of a car or the arrival
of a baby. It is extremely strange, but I have never seen or even heard
of a couple hitching with a small baby, at least not in Britain. You often
get young marrieds thumbing but not once they have a baby to cart around.
Having a baby or getting a car seem to be much more often the end of hitching
than leaving college or finishing an apprenticeship. (None of this, of
course, applies to the 'industrial' hitchers, the car delivery men.)
But now ... um ... the sort of interest of hitch-hiking has grown
less and less, and now I only hitch-hike when I have to, so to speak. Now
it's a means of getting from A to B as opposed to being a pleasure. This
change goes hand in hand with various other changes ... a complete sort
of different outlook on life, sort of things no longer sort of seem fresh
and appealing, and everything dries up. I consider it a change for the
worse, ... as far as I can see there's nothing I can do about it. It's
a sort of growing up process. For the last 19 or 20 years impressions are
flooding in upon you and then you get to this stage where you have to consolidate
and so naturally things don't seem so fresh and so terrific ....
Cars and babies get more frequent among people in their late twenties,
which perhaps explains why, platers apart, most hitch-hikers are under
The end of hitch-hiking is clearly most often determined by practical
factors, but it is rare for emotional elements not to be involved behind
the scenes. When hitch-hiking loses its attraction, and from a pleasure
turns into a bind, then a man is much more likely to want to buy himself
a car. When two people, whose hitching started off as adolescent rebellion
against over protective parents, marry, establish themselves and push their
parents into grandparenthood, then the emotional need to hitch is likely
to be on the wane. They don't need to make gestures of independence, or
live out mile after mile of freedom fantasy; they are factually, economically,
and if they are lucky, psychologically independent. Hitch-hiking has played
its part in stretching, if not slicing, the umbilical cord.