SEEING RED OVER AVOCADOS

WHAT a world, bursting with no end of things to get mad about: poverty, environmental blight, war, famine. But if you really want to burst a blood vessel, why not spend a couple of moments today contemplating how much young people spend on smashed avocado on toast?


Avocado has been having quite the year so far, with shortages across Europe driving up prices, then reports of folk besieging A&E departments with fashionable injuries caused by scooping the stones out of the fruit. At this rate, you might think, avocado bathroom suites would be making an ironic comeback any day soon. But now the not so humble avocado has suffered an image setback, landing at the centre of an increasingly heated inter-generational war over who has it the toughest financially: the young or the old.

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Leading the troops on one side is Tim Gurner, a millionaire property developer in Australia. Interviewed on the country’s 60 Minutes programme about how difficult it was for young people to get on the property ladder, Mr Gurner had some advice on what might make the task easier – stop splurging on fancy breakfasts. “When I was buying my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocado for 19 bucks (£11) and four coffees at $4 each. This generation is watching the Kardashians and thinking that’s normal,” he said. 


Mr Gurner is not the first to see red over youngsters’ avocado consumption. Bernard Salt, a writer on The Australian newspaper who  bills himself proudly as a “Middle-aged Moraliser”, says he can afford to splash out on smashed avocado on toast in hipster cafes, but only because he has been working for yonks. “How can young people afford to eat like this?” he asks. “Shouldn’t they be economising by eating at home?”


Avocado rage in Australia follows the finding by Legal & General that the bank of mum and dad will dole out £6.5 billion this year to help sons and daughters buy homes. Is that, too, the result of hordes of selfish millennials stuffing their faces with avocado or necking fancy coffee by the bucketful? Why can’t this lot be like Mr Gurner, Mr Salt, or us in general, in working hard and scrimping and saving? Cue Dvorak’s New World Symphony (known to ignorant young avocado-munching Philistines as the music on the Hovis advert ...)


“Aye, we had it hard in the old days. It was ten to a bed, and if the little one said roll over we’d just ignore them. We were too tired, see, from slaving away at school with pencil and paper. None of your iPads then. When we got home we’d take it in turns to put the cat on our heads for a heat before mam would rustle up a supper of spam and wood shavings. But at least when we got to 18 we could afford to buy our own homes without going cap in hand to mam and dad. Avocado on toast? We didn’t see a banana till we were 42 ...”


Hear that almighty yawn in the background? That’s Generation Rent reacting to yet another lecture on how they have it so easy compared to us. Generation Rent do not have their own homes, savings, or pensions, and the depressing truth is that, short of an intervention from the bank of mum and dad, they will always bump along the bottom financially. No wonder they live in the moment: the future, without a safety net, is too terrifying to contemplate.


As even the Conservatives’ manifesto this week acknowledged, it is the rare person who gets to a stage in life where they are self-reliant without having had some help along the way. Maybe it was that loan from family. A university grant. A housing association home. A supportive employer. No-one is a financial island. Not even our Mr Gurner, who turns out to have started life as an entrepreneur with a $20,000 hand-up from his grandfather. An inheritance does not even have to be financial to count. Having a loving family is a lottery win in life.


So next time you are tempted to give a young person a lecture on avocados, fancy coffees or their spending in general, bite that tongue. There but for the grace of the state and a family we might all have gone.

GETTING DOWN TO BRASS TACKS ON WEDDING GIFTS

WILL you sleep tonight? I don’t think I’ll manage much shut-eye, what with fretting if all the parts for the £100,000 glass marquee have arrived, whether the luxury portable loos, complete with oak fittings, will live up to their £6,000 cost, and if everyone will have a good view of the Spitfire fly-past, a snip at £20,000.


One refers to the wedding today of Miss Pippa Middleton to Mr James Matthews. Some papers have been trying to flog readers into a frenzy of excitement over the nuptials of the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister, but I’m struggling to care. Perhaps it is because the calendar says 2017, and all that royal wedding hype is so 1980s.


What I would have been interested in hearing more about is the gift list. What does one buy for a pair who live in a £17 million mansion? John Lewis reports this week that couples, having usually lived together before the wedding, are dispensing with old gift reliables of towels and crockery and opting for luxury “statement” items, such as curved TVs at £3k a pop, outdoor pizza ovens, and drones. 


The only statement those requests make is that the pair concerned have a brass neck. Buy them a tin of brasso instead; I’m sure they’ll be delighted.

SHARP ELBOWS AT DAWN

OH dear, there is trouble at the Today mill.


Some presenters on the BBC Radio 4 programme are reportedly unhappy over new boy Nick Robinson’s sharp elbows, in particular his bagging of the big political interviews and his co-anchoring of the prestigious June 9 programme, the day after the election, with John Humphreys, when a male/female split is the norm. Two of the team of five have complained, with one calling Robinson’s alleged behaviour “uncollegiate”. 


Uncollegiate was not the word that came to mind yesterday when a Tim Hortons truck rocked up to the Herald building with free coffee and doughnuts. By the time I finished whatever terribly important stuff I was doing (ripping bits out of newspapers) my uncollegiate (insert own word here) colleagues had picked the van clean like a plague of locusts, leaving me free coffee and free doughnut free.


But back to the infinitely more trivial matter of Today. All I can advise Mr Robinson’s colleagues is that if they ever want to get on the right side of their ambitious colleague, be it post-election day or any other, why not book one Alex Salmond to be interviewed live in the studio? That pair cannot get enough of each other.