WHAT has happened to the art of intelligent and stimulating conversation? Well, I will tell you. It is as dead as the proverbial dodo.

Earlier this week I was travelling on a bus to my flat in Portslade. Unfortunately the journey was marred by the presence of a group of teenage girls who could not have been older than 14 or 15.

Now I am no prude but the level of their conversation was at best rudimentary and conducted at ear-splitting volume. The subject was sex and lots of it by all accounts.

Without going into sordid detail it revolved around oral sex and how expert they all were at carrying it out on their respective boyfriends.

He f***ing loves it”, one screeched, prompting much mirth among her gaggle of chums.

Personally I doubt that any of them have shared even a kiss with some acne-ridden yob but in this day and age who knows and, frankly, who cares?

The loud sighs were barely audible from the elderly couple sitting adjacent to me, which was unsurprising considering the cacophony erupting around us.

Next up came an unscheduled swearing competition... namely who could yell out the most profanities in the shortest possible time.

“I love saying f***, another of the group bellowed. “F***. F***. F***”.

“No, that’s f*****g boring,” the third yelled. “Just call everyone a c***.”

When I was young many moons ago my mum gave me a sticker which stated “swearing is the crutch of conversational cripples”. Not very politically correct in this day and age but the message still rings true.

There are occasions when I am prone to the odd expletive but there is a time and a place and the bus is not one of them.

Equally, what happens in the bedroom should stay in the bedroom, not be broadcast in public for everyone else’s delectation.

As a child the punishment for swearing was having your potty mouth “washed out with soap”. Not a pleasant experience, but it made you think twice before doing it again.

Any parent who did that these days would no doubt find themselves up before the Beak in the nearest courtroom.

To a large extent today’s teenagers are running wild for the simple reason they are allowed to get away with it.

If they can push the limits without fear of retribution then they will push the parameters even further until ultimately there are no limits.

Of course, it is important to stress that not all teenagers behave in such an unseemly manner but it is an inescapable fact that many do.

On a recent visit to Churchill Square a teenage boy dropped the packaging of his McDonald’s takeaway all over the floor despite being within touching distance of a bin.

“Can you pick that up”, I enquired. The response was not entirely unexpected. “F*** off,” he said. “Pick it up yourself”.

Having had a lifelong hatred of litter, I did but come on, it is not that difficult is it? What has happened to taking pride in your surroundings?

The city looks an absolute state and if you talk to people about it, most lay the blame squarely at the council’s door. Well, I don’t.

Many of the young people who live here, whether residents or students from elsewhere, don’t give a toss.

Smoking a fag, well why put the butt in one of the stub it out bins when you can drop it on the pavement? Fancy a beer or two? Just drink it and leave the empty bottle on the nearest available flat surface for someone else to pick up. That someone is probably a hard-pressed council employee who fights a daily losing battle in the ongoing attempts to keep our streets clean and tidy.

That brings us to the biggest problem of all... namely graffiti.

If, like me, you have on more than one occasion seen a teenager pull his hood up and then furtively pull out a can of spray paint and deface the nearest available surface, then you have probably also had to suppress the overwhelming desire to give the ghastly little scrote a clip round the ear.

It is not art, it is vandalism. But until the justice system takes appropriate action instead of punishment being minimal or non-existent then this scourge will continue to flourish.

Tagging is particularly awful. Despite the fact it has no artistic merit whatsoever, it is everywhere.

Remember that line from Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall? “Hey teacher, leave us kids alone?”

Well don’t. If parents won’t teach them what is right and wrong then make sure you do, but stay safe.