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Young v old but don’t take everything out on us, says Sarah Cowen-Strong

By Sarah Cowen-Strong | Woman | Published:

Sir Harold McMillan said it back in 1957 and the younguns are saying it today. You’ve never had it so good the then prime minister told a post-war nation bewitched with the emergence of the television set and the new-fangled fish-finger. Nowadays millennials are issuing the same directive, not at a country pulling itself together but anyone, it seems, over 50.

Blame game – we should stick together

In the eyes of those nearer their university days than coach trips to Bournemouth, we are all villains.

Most of us, they think, have houses, safe annuities and draw-downs bagged and can retire this side of 70.

People older than that are no better than the spawn of Satan, having left work still able to stand up complete with their final salary pensions.

Youngsters of today certainly do have it tough. Many are carrelled into university, then after spending roughly £30,000 getting a degree will get a job paying little more than the minimum wage – if they are lucky.

Those following a more vocational route will be fighting off competition by amassing weighty CVs, years of work experience and unpaid internships and using them as a battering-ram into the future. It isn’t that they’re not smelling the roses - they haven’t looked at one since they were in primary school.

Many millennials are being swept along in a very strange filtered existence, filled with profile pictures, countless dating apps, virtual friendships and unattainable lifestyles. And then there’s housing. Of my four children only one has a house – the others will be lucky to get anywhere near a mortgage by the time they are 60.

So, it’s easy to say why there is an air of discontent. But please, you lovely young people, do not take it out on the older generation – we didn’t all vote for Brexit, and it wasn’t always easy for a great many of us.

That silvery-haired couple in their own detached home who, now retired, enjoy two-weeks in the sun – they’re not lucky. They’ve earned it. They once rented a pokey flat that was riddled with mice and saved for a deposit by using a launderette, not taking a holiday and not thinking it was their right to have a television, new clothes, or their hair and nails done.

Now they can actually live a little, they are met with unkind criticism and sulky taunts. Who wants to be told their very existence is a drain on the NHS? ‘Would they prefer it if I just rolled over and die’, lamented one retiree, who had just been subjected to a tirade about how marvellous her pension was compared to anything achievable by many young people today.

How very sad, and like the eternal battle between stay-at-home parents and working parents; how very unnecessary. We are all in this life together – we just start and finish it at different times. Let’s all just be nice to one another.

Sarah Cowen-Strong

By Sarah Cowen-Strong

Journalist with the Express & Star and Shropshire Star

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