pigeon lady, mary poppins, parents are broke, poor, money worries

What happens when your parents are broke?

Our money worries are kind of complicated these days. Work. Redundancy. ISAs. Pensions (do you have one, do I have one?). We lie in bed looking at the damp bit in the ceiling and thinking, “It doesn’t matter, it’s not like the roof is going to fall in, is it?” Or let’s say a tooth breaks and the dentist says something like, “A new implant will cost £1600” and you think holy fuck where is THAT going to come from?

And then there’s a new thing. A bit of unwelcome spice to add to the pudding. You discover that your parents are broke. OK, so this is not so completely out of the blue. You’ve watched the slow-motion car crash. You’ve seen the ill-judged spending. You’ve heard about the bad deals. This has been unravelling like a particularly dreary episode of Midsomer Murders: look at this sleepy village, now look at the body count. Look at your parents in their sensible shoes. Oh God they’re going to lose the house? And then what…

What does that mean? Do you gather all your siblings together (there’s only one) and everyone cancel their gym memberships and put that towards the parent pit? Are you at crowdfund yet?

Also do you even have the energy to persuade your mother out of her Waitrose habit? All those Heston Blumenthal specials. Petty belt-tightening tips that you can’t believe you’re even saying out loud.

Quite suddenly, a new voice has crowded into your head. An unexpectedly ruthless one. “Maybe she could get a job? We are all going to have to work until we are 103 anyway. They are grown-ups, they can take care of themselves. It’s their mess.” But you feel bad, because of all your messes. The ones they cleared up. You feel bad and you feel profoundly resentful. What exactly do you owe them? You know, apart from life?

Then a truly terrifying thought crosses your mind as you are just about to fall asleep. Do you have to have them here; living here. Would they? I mean, it’s damp. *never sleeps again*

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