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Children, please do not mention the i-word in this house

A ROOM of one's own is one thing, a house of one's own quite another.

It's one of these things you dream about. A house. A car. A better nose. As a post-hip hippy in my youth, I never really cared for such objets de désir (trans: stuff), except perhaps the nose.

I've been trying to catch up ever since. Now I've an imperfect house, an ancient car and, sadly, the same nose.

You can take my car, but you can never take my freedom, which is invested in my house as, indeed, is everything I've ever earned or robbed. It's my space and I'll do what I want with it.

If that sounds adolescent, marvel at the fact that young persons are staying on in the family home way beyond adolescence, yea, even until their thirties.

Presumably, this is out of necessity, rather than desire, though there are desirable aspects to the lack of choice. Free heating, for one. Don't knock it, kids. If you're lucky enough to get a job, the pay will probably be so poor - this being Britain, the mirror-image of Scandinavia - that much of it will be taken up with just staying warm.

If your mother or father is doing your washing - I just put that in to be politically correct; everybody knows it's your maw - then consider how much time that frees up for you to read poetry or listen to heavy metal.

I wonder, though, if you're really happy. Don't you yearn for independence? The figures from the Office for National Statistics are UK-wide, so it's not as if it's just a Scottish phenomenon. Here, the i-word, while strong and virile in normal countries, has been rendered a terrifying concept, liable to set off the trembling lip and knocking knee.

Here, we have an excuse. But the UK-wide figures show that 3.3 million 20 to 34-year-olds were living with their parents last year. That's up by 25%, or 669,000 citizens, since records began 18 years ago.

I'm not knocking it with my knees or anything else. Indeed, I'm encouraged by it. Liberal dafties are forever trying to reduce the age of everything, from proper, state-sanctioned sex to the right to a vote. At a time when we're all living longer, this doesn't make sense. Everything should be stretched out more to accommodate the new longevity, including adolescence, irresponsibility and lack of democracy.

The idea that 16-year-olds have the vote is almost as chilling as the idea that over-16s have it. But democracy has to start somewhere: say, at around 56, my age coincidentally, by which time you're cynical enough to cast your vote responsibly.

Perhaps the decline in independent living among young people has been caused by the virtual demise of the bedsit. Once, that was where we all started. It wasn't perfect but, oh, the thrill of a place of one's own (even if owned by another).

Then there was flat-sharing. Perhaps, in our privatised society, it's increasingly difficult to find like-minded inebriates with whom to share a flat.

But most likely it comes down to lack of cash. Hardly anyone in Britainshire has money. It's the natural order of things, apparently, and there's nothing you can do about it, except perhaps break something, preferably in the privacy of your parents' home.

And what of the parents? How happy are they to have you there? Perhaps, if you've become less surly and opinionated after adolescence has passed, they don't mind.

You probably contribute, if pathetically, towards the bills, and at least they know what you're up to as they hear the ponderous sounds of Satan's Wonky Parrot throbbing through your bedroom door and wonder about the peculiar smells.

Perhaps you're a nice boy or girl. And your father is paternal and your mother maternal, and they're both so tolerant, guiding and understanding. I've heard of such families, but only in 1970s sitcoms. Even then, the offspring were teenagers.

Still, good luck with it all. You'll fly the coop one day. Presumably. But, really, there's no rush. Wee secret: it's not all that great out there on your own.

Contextual targeting label: 
Families

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