Via Tim Worstall, this article in which the following complaint is made by a Wetherspoons barmaid:
When you earn less than £9 an hour, it’s impossible to afford a place of your own in Brighton, where I live. How can people like me live our best lives if we’re splitting bills with five flatmates and arguing over the shared bathroom?
When I was a student, it was absolutely normal to share a house with other people if you weren’t living in halls. The idea someone could afford to live on their own was literally unheard of, even among the poshos who came from money. In fact, at that age you don’t want to live on your own because it’s boring.
Similarly, it was normal for young professionals to share a house with one or two other people in a similar situation, which was a big step up from a shared student house. The place was usually nicer, people had to get up in the morning so didn’t play music until 3am, and a fire in the kitchen was no longer a laugh. People shared mainly because they couldn’t afford to rent on their own but also, again, it’s a bit boring living on your own at that age. I knew nobody who lived on their own when they took their first job, and bear in mind I’m talking about graduate engineers here. I was the exception when I briefly rented a place on my own in Liverpool which turned out to be a complete dump, so I high-tailed it back to my girlfriend’s house in Manchester which she shared with four other girls (there was one bathroom). If I remember correctly, my oldest brother shared a house in Slough when he was attempting to qualify as an accountant, and my other brother shared with his mate from back home for a few years. For people of my generation, they only started thinking of living on their own between 25-30 years of age when they either bought their first place or got into a serious relationship and they didn’t want their Friday night smooching on the sofa ruined by a housemate sitting on the armchair with his hands down his tracksuit bottoms. Quite a few people I know only stopped housesharing with friends when they moved in with a serious partner.
But in 2018 we have a barmaid who is almost certainly under 25 believing she is entitled to live on her own because, well, she wants to. Leaving aside the obvious suggestion that sharing is bad for her because she makes a rotten housemate, there is probably something deeper to all this, which I may have got a whiff of way back in 1996. The halls I stayed in during my first year at Manchester (Owens Park, as it happens; weirdos were put in Allen Hall) were fully catered, and it quickly became clear how each student had lived before starting university. I came from a boarding school and found the food to be two orders of magnitude improved from what I was used to: it was hot, there was a choice, it was actually cooked (instead of steam-heated) and there was plenty of it. Nobody who’d been to boarding school had a problem with the food at Owens Park, nor did most of the blokes. But there were a few people, mostly girls but boys as well, who weren’t used to eating collectively, even as a family. Having watched the behaviour of contemporary children, I can imagine these individuals whining and complaining they didn’t like this, that, and the other to the point they had their mother prepare their own special meal on demand for much of their childhoood. Little wonder they didn’t like canteen food when they turned up at Owens Park; I suspect the reason they didn’t go self-catered is because they didn’t know a saucepan from a rolling pin.
What this suggests to me is the university intake in 1996 came from families more wealthy than previous generations. I can’t believe too many people of my father’s generation would turn their nose up at Owens Park food, nor of anyone born much before 1975. Families would have eaten together, the menu would have been what the budget allowed for, and there would have been no choice. Mothers simply didn’t have the option to let their precious little snowflake push beef around the plate while scowling before caving in to demands for chicken nuggets and ice cream.
Similarly, most children of earlier generations would have been used to sharing a bedroom and living in a crowded house without much furniture or other comforts. I was lucky in that I had my own room for most of my teens, but the reason we had a big house was because it was plonked in the middle of a mass of fields in the extreme corner of west Wales. For many young men and women, the transition from a crowded terraced house full of kids and a tiny toilet to a shared student house would have been a big step up in terms of living conditions. Contributing to the housework would have been normal for these people since the age of 10 (not me, I was bone idle), and sharing bathrooms as normal as going to bed at night in the same room as one or two younger siblings.
However, those who are born between 1990 and 2000, as is probably the case with the Wetherspoons barmaid, have mostly grown up in what previous generations would have thought relative luxury. Almost all will have had their own bedroom, some their own bathroom, and the house will have been warm, comfortable, quiet, full of food, and with the Sky package on the 42″ TV paid for by someone else. Going from this to a shared house where slugs parade through the kitchen each night, the bathroom sink is permanently blocked, and everyone must pay for the heating is going to be a step down, without question. But moreover, anyone who’s grown up in a big house with one or two children is going to be less accustomed to communal living than someone who had three or four siblings and lived in a terrace. Add to that the sense of entitlement of a medieval lord and an overall unpleasant character, and it’s hardly surprising that some people can’t handle sharing a house. It’s another example of how a rather large number of today’s young adults seem utterly ill-equipped to deal with the world as it is. I blame state education and the parents.