Wednesday, 1 December 2010
Thirty centimetres and falling.
It has snowed since dawn and up here in North Yorkshire the world is more or less at a standstill. The farmer has done the essential work of feeding the animals and has now come inside to sit by the stove and do a jig-saw. Each time there is a burst of strong wind the snow blows into drifts several feet high.
We are warm and comfortable and well-fed - we can ask for no more. Compared with many people and many places in the world we have 'never had it so good', or so they say. "They" - usually the Lord Young's of this world, who themselves are not short of a bob or two - seem intent upon telling us all how lucky we all are. One thing is for sure - I would not wish to be a young person starting out on my career today.
Students are leaving University with a huge debt round their necks before they even begin saving for real life. And those who didn't go to University but went straight into work have fared no better.
I have an instance of this at present when a close relative, a lovely hard-working lad who has never had a day out of work since he left school, who has studied for a career and become well-qualified in his field, has suddenly decided that he and his partner would like to set up home together.
When I was at this stage we saved up £400 and spent the lot on an old building, trusting to get a grant to convert it into a cottage. Everything went according to plan and we started life together with our baby son in a cottage in the country which we rapidly paid for, giving us a foot firmly on the housing ladder. And we never looked back, as they say.
But now you can't do that. However hard you have saved it is virtually impossible for ordinary working people to save up enough for a deposit for a house - mortgage lenders demand so much more as a start these days. So my young relatives are having to rent a house and it needs to be up here - in a tourist area - to be near their work. The rent is going to be over £500 per month - upon which they have to add their utility bills before they even begin to save. For them the future looks bleak.
And then Ann Widdecombe, not content with her "dancing" routine each Saturday night (if you are a US reader, lucky you to not have to endure her display in order to see other, well-rehearsed characters) reverts to being a politician and complains that employers are to be asked to provide places for mothers to feed their babies at work. She speaks of young women who have decided "on their responsibility, presumably, to have a child." She seems to me to speak with contempt about young women who, these days, are trying to keep a home, bring up children, and create a life for themselves. I am sure a lot of those young women she speaks of so scathingly would willingly stay at home and bring up their children, providing they had enough money coming into the household to pay the bills.
All this becomes all the more in the headlines in a week when the snow is so bad and the cold so intense (mninus twenty something in Scotland tonight) that household bills for heating are set to go through the roof.
Keep warm. I took the picture above out of the front door just a minute ago - it is still snowing.