Are millennials ruining the economy by refusing to live in cholera-ridden slums?
How doffing your cap and scraping to your local aristo might get you a shack before you’re 35
“It’s okay,” my friend shrugs, gesturing around the damp room. “But I’m not a fan of the rat’s nest in the bedroom.” I stare at her in shock. “Samantha,” I say coldly. “You’re middle class. Don’t get ideas above your station.”
Is this the world we live in now? Where a middle class, 28 year old woman can refuse to share her bedsit with eleven perfectly accommodating rats? That, if you ask me, is the problem this country faces in a nutshell. The youth of today simply refuse to accept their place.
In the good old days, Samantha would be doffing her cap at the doorway, scrabbling to pick up one of her sickly fifteen toddlers and bemoaning the inevitable walk to the workhouse once her husband gave up the ghost from TB. That’s what this country was built on: a gross and horrific oppression of working people to line the pockets of a wealthy few. But the likes of Samantha aren’t having it. She sighs at me, placing her hands on her hips.
“My parents had bought a house by the time they were my age, Madelaine. And they were shopkeepers. What’s the big deal if I want to rent a flat with a working roof?”
“It’s well ventilated, the leaks are a positive boon,” I hiss back at her. “And your parents could only get that through the dictates of socialism. Do you even know how many innocent aristocrats had to sell their third homes in San Tropez to pay for your parent’s greed?”
“I’m not living in with rats. I’m not even discussing it.”
“But it’s so authentic!” I say, clasping my hands together. “You, the filthy offspring of the lower classes, surrounded by the rodent descendents who shared the corridors of your forefather’s workhouse! Doesn’t that just stir up some working class pride in you?”
“No. No one should live like this.”
“ If you didn’t want to live like this, you should have married well.”
She glares at me. “For the last time, I’d rather go snog that rat than go down the aisle with Albion Demetrius Engel-Bunting.”
“Well,” I sniff. “If you are going to throw away a perfectly good marriage proposal, you can’t really complain when you have rats for flatmates.”
“I have a master’s degree in Economics and I’ve been working as a teacher for 4 years!” Samantha pushes past me, narrowly avoiding a collapsing floorboard. “I’ve never had a holiday, I’ve never bought myself expensive clothes or food, I should be able to afford somewhere habitable!” She looks tired, strained. Tears begin to form in the corners of her eyes.
“Yes, you’re right.” I say softly, holding my arms out to hug her. She leans in, and hugs me back. “I’m sorry.” I watch over her shoulder as a cockroach scuttles down the wall. “Still, look on the bright side!”
“Cholera gives you a marvellously dead complexion. Very heroin chic.”