Francesca’s mother fully putting her in her place. I’m absolutely convinced that this ‘kidulthood’ theory is self-fullfilling.
I’m sorry to read about your struggles. I realise life may seem tough to you but you really shouldn’t feel too sorry for yourself. In many ways, you have it very good and far better than we did, especially as a woman.
Yes, the economy looks gloomy and perhaps your future seems bleak but we also lived through belt-tightening years in the late 1970s and early 1980s so you are not unique.
You may feel insecure in your work but you have access to jobs today that were almost impenetrable for women in 1980. We fought long and hard for equal opportunities and you are reaping those rewards. So, you aren’t doing so badly there either.
You are mostly unaware of the meteoric rise in the standard of living that has taken place over the past decades.
There has been a tidal change in eating habits and foods available. When I called you last week, you couldn’t talk for long because you were too busy cooking a Lebanese chicken dish with exotic spices. When I was your age, my diet largely consisted of quiche, jacket potatoes, hundreds of kilograms of baked beans and pink blancmange (a gelatine dish filled with those additives you avoid). An “avocado pear” was a luxury, buffalo mozzarella unknown and garlic suspicious.
It sometimes seems there is so much fun for you you are spoilt for choice. We invented the music festival but Glastonbury was the only one I went to: I think you went to three last summer.
As for travel opportunities available to you, there is no comparison. The world hadn’t been opened up for us — I didn’t jet off on several foreign holidays a year. Airbnb, that apartment rental site you used when you went to Amsterdam last month, wasn’t there to provide cheap accommodation. Nor would you have been able to get there for £53 return: air travel was very expensive.
I spent my holidays camping on a beach and walking in the Welsh mountains, although I did get to Greece a couple of times on cheap charter flights. Travellers who made it to Asia stayed there for a long time. You couldn’t buy a cheap flight to India, “find yourself” after a couple of weeks backpacking, then return home.
Food, clothes and household items were expensive but we weren’t particularly interested in money nor in accumulating material possessions.
There were very few shops and we didn’t have Amazon. I would never have dreamed of having a wardrobe full of never worn clothes. A winter coat would last several years, not one season.
We didn’t have mobile phones, or computers with instant access to information, nor all these streaming accounts you keep signing me up for with instant access to every film and TV show in the world.
So I think perhaps you need to stop worrying and complaining about baby boomers, and realise you’re actually quite lucky.
Love, M x”