Some elements of the future are within our grasp and can be planned; we’re off to a family wedding in Spain soon, the summer holiday break is a couple of months away, dates are already being put into next year’s diary, previewing some interesting projects. All being well, these things will happen.
When I was around 6 years old, we had a holiday in Wales, staying at my grandmother’s house. Gran had a traveller family background and, one day, rummaging around in a chest of drawers, we came across, wrapped in a velvet cloth, a crystal ball, which confirmed in our childish minds that she was, indeed a gypsy. We didn’t want to incur the wrath of Gran, nor bring bad luck on our heads by disturbing the ball, as our older cousin intimated, so we carefully put it back in it’s resting place.
That we don’t know what the future will bring, in many ways is probably a good thing.
We can only seek to plan for perceived or imagined futures.
I have been very lucky, being born at a particular time, still with some post-war rationing, but able to go to college to train as a teacher with a grant, supplemented by holiday jobs.
From a relatively poor starting point, with dysfunctional parents, I have always been a very prudent adult and have scrimped, saved and occasionally salvaged, in order to “make ends meet”.
The fear of being poor is a powerful driver. Paying off the mortgage was a significant day; I owned my house! Modest holidays, camping in the UK and then to join friends who had emigrated to France, meant that subsequent savings allowed the purchase of a very small cottage, which cost the price of a modest caravan, and still would as French house prices have not risen as they have here. Improvements have been saved for.
And now, I look forward to the latter part of this year, when I should be the recipient of that terminal-sounding “old-age pension”.
For all of this I feel lucky, but…
I cannot look to the future without considering others who are my family, especially the younger generations, who, even if they were to scrimp, save and salvage, cannot aspire in the same way as my generation did.
I am annoyed and embarrassed that (political) members of my generation and the one that followed, who also enjoyed the same, have somehow conspired to ensure that a seemingly rich nation cannot now afford many of the things that we were able to take almost for granted, which means that where I could dream, even if the crystal ball didn’t help, my children and grandchildren, will not have the same, even if they take the same job opportunities.
Following Mark Thomas’ show, I’ve been looking at the future…I have, after all, some gypsy blood...
Brexit will undoubtedly cause many problems, that some of us can perceive, but which will suddenly become very real, as “negotiations” proceed and cause significant public disquiet; no-one, I am sure, voted to be poorer, but that may become the reality.
Politicians, especially those closely associated with Brexit, will take the easy option and resign to go into relative obscurity, but may then join private enterprise companies as directors.
Pay will continue to stagnate, especially in the public services, which will further diminish what is available.
As the current workforce ages, “controlled immigration”, as an outcome of Brexit, will not fill gaps, so manufacture and house building, hospitality, nursing, teaching and social care, supermarkets among many others, will start to retrench, as they cannot find personnel.
House prices, unless they are artificially kept high by Government intervention (see recent schemes) will start to fall. Lowering house prices will cause disquiet among home owners, but anguish among younger purchasers, as the pay-mortgage differential begins to squeeze tighter- I remember the impact of 15% interest rates on a relatively small mortgage. Lowering house prices will not necessarily help younger people get onto the housing ladder, as pay may still not be sufficient.
"Ex-pats" will return to the UK in numbers. The value of their houses in Spain or France probably will not purchase a house in the UK. Older and possibly with illness, they will need housing and nursing care, creating a new burden on the budgets.
Speculators, hedge funds and larger landlords, however, may well have a field-day, buying up repossessed properties. What proportion of MPs are private landlords? Profumo?
The “bank of mum and dad” will come more into play, supporting children through this period, but for revenue need rather than house purchase.
This bank will also be called upon to pay for any necessary personal care, especially if you have saved over a certain amount.
And then what? In 30 years’ time, when my contemporaries, like me, will hope to be approaching 100 (that’s frightening when written down) a smaller working population, potentially made poorer by decisions in 2016-17, will not be in any position to sustain spending, even as it is now. When you’ve sold the family silver, and anything else of any worth, there’s not much room for manoeuvre, and poorer people/countries can’t borrow.
The “people have spoken”, will be used by some politicians to mean that they can do anything they wish; it will be “our fault” not theirs; they are only doing what “we” asked.
Stop being celebrity politicians and get on with the day jobs. At the moment, smoke and mirrors are deflecting from the real issues that affect everyday lives.
Stop this stupid Brexit. If, as CEO of UK Ltd, Theresa May is prepared to make the country financially and morally bankrupt, she, and her Government should be held personally responsible when it goes wrong, especially if she assumes a hardened approach. I’d like them all to place their houses and banking wealth into a sovereign wealth fund, only returnable if I’m wrong and Brexit is a success, in 10-20 years’ time, just like company bonuses. They are, effectively, gambling with our futures. They are all right, Jack.
Start talking, rather than posturing and ranting about “them”.
For the rest of us, I’d like us to be able to get on with our lives, without the constant backdrop of politicking that seems to dominate every discourse.
I’d quite like to enjoy whatever life is left to me.
I’d like to be able to plan a future that includes an active and interesting retirement. I’m not a ski-er, so will continue my careful ways.
I’d like to think that, if I am ever ill, there will be a safety net available.
I’d like to think that my children and grandchildren may enjoy their lives too, to dream, to strive, to enjoy the fruits of (modest) success.
I’d like the world to be clean, healthy and able to sustain them.
Too much to seek?