Chapter 7 – Ford Focus – 1.6 TDCi 115 Zetec 5dr

My car
We used to own this model, but are delighted to have sold it on.

After only a few miles, the after depressing the clutch, the pedal refused to rise back up. A faulty clutch master cylinder was diagnosed and duly replaced, We started to lose confidence in the car after this, and gear changes never seen right despite dealer assurances to the contrary.

The seats are far too small and to uncomfortable for any thing more than a trip to the shops.

I was for ever banging my head on the hatch door when using it, and we struggled to achieve 50mpg.

The dealer seemed more interested in selling us service deals and extended warranties than actually ensuring the car was good as they claimed.

The heated windscreen is handy on the few frosty mornings we have here near the seaside, but otherwise the equipment was basic considering the price of the car.

It’s a disappointing car given all the hype about good it is.

Your mobile beeps – a text message and instinctively you reach for it, but the icy glare from your passenger stops your hand in mid action. You pretend to be adjusting the blower onto the windscreen, but neither of you are fooled.
There is a pause
“Your brother has one of those hands free thingies” she says
“Umm” you respond, it is beginning to be your default response to many of her comments, safe, unoffensive,indicating you have heard but difficult to read, to construct into anything that can lead to conflict.
“of course,he needs one, needs to be safe, wouldn’t want to risk anything, not with the children and Aisling”

You grit your teeth, the onslaught has started early today, the children,wife stuff usually waits until after lunch, but today the big guns are being called out even before breakfast has settled.

You concentrate on your driving, the car is unfamiliar to you, boxy, slow to respond, you think longingly of the little Ka at home, bright blue, two seater, nippy, a city car.

Your mothers’ car is solid, sensible,safe. Its immaculate, cleaned every weekend as part of an unmoveable routine of cleaning, cooking, maintaining. You were quite surprised when she suggested that you drove, amazed that she would consider you competent enough to be trusted with this little silver box, the third or is it fourth Ford Focus you mother has owned. You understand that when your mother finds something that suits her,she sticks to it.

It has taken you a couple of days of fraught journeys to understand that your driving is simply another area for your mother to criticize and that the role of passenger allows her the space to critique you, praise your brother and when the journey allows point out the houses that your school friends are now safely esconsed in, married with one and sometimes even two children already.

Your umm defense has on those occasions gone into overdrive and you have found yourself clutching the steering wheel, your knuckles white,lips pressed together to ensure that you don’t say anything,anything at all that might ruin this, because, you admit sadly to yourself, you have no-where else to go.

Mintel Press Release

Source: Mintel Oxygen Reports

Boomerang kids return to the nest – 3 million aged 20+ now living back with parents

Region: UK


Boomerang kids return to the nest – 3 million aged 20+ now living back with parents

With the university year ending and thousands of students eagerly anticipating graduation, parents would be forgiven for thinking the end is nigh for the bank of mum and dad. But it seems that the nation’s parents should not be clearing out rooms or planning their getaways quite just yet, as new research from Mintel finds more than a quarter of students (27%) will be relying on their parents to provide a roof over their heads after they graduate, 3 million adults are now living back with their parents – and just over a third (34% or 1.6 million) of Boomerang children overall return home when they are in need of a bit of ‘Tender Loving Care’.

In new research looking at marketing to the ‘boomerang generation’ – kids who have returned home to live with parents after having lived elsewhere – Mintel finds that economic reasons have the greatest influence over their living arrangements. Indeed, some 41% say they return home to save money, over a third (34%) do so because they are in-between jobs or university, three in ten (31%) return because they can’t pay the mortgage and 23% go back home after a relationship break up. However, for some, their move is not just circumstantial with as many as 13% of these boomerangs moving back because of the lure of ‘home comforts’ and 9% because “it’s nicer than living in rented accommodation”.

While the majority (68%) of those moving back in with their parents are aged between 20-23 years old, it is not just the domain of younger people. Indeed, as many as one in five (19%) are aged 24-27 years old, 7% 28-31 years old and 2% 32-35 years old. Furthermore, some 4% – equating to 196 thousand individuals – are aged 36 years or older when they move back.

Today’s journey is the big food shop, the weekly outing to Sainsburys, a pre-written list after careful evaluation of the cupboards, the fridge and the freezer. The routine has been unchanging for decades, is bigger than you and so you ate your breakfast,collected a selection of sensible hessian bags and carefully reversed the car out of the garage, all too aware of your mothers’ watchful glance, her regularly voiced low opinion of your driving skills.

You have often found yourself sitting in the car as the days and weeks of this temporary visit, this flight from everything extend again and again and again. Motionless, emotionless. It is quite frankly the only place where you can find a little peace and quiet, a little solitude. You try hard not to dwell on why you are here, in the parental home, jobless, homeless, sans boyfriend,sans friends and mostly you succeed,keeping your mind blank, your face empty.

Your mother has ignored the digital age and has no broadband, no cable, no gadgetry. A year ago, when life still held a shape, a promise, you would have balked against this, but now, with no status to update and nothing to say, it is strangely satisfying to vanish and even more comforting to not have to read the tweets, mails and FB threads that are no doubt following your exile and re-birth as a boomerang child.

Your mobile works sporadically, but old habits die hard and you still re-act when it pings and clicks, although as the days and weeks pass by the pings and clicks have become fewer. You have found yourself wondering idly how long it will take before the phone is completely silent and at what point will you abandon it. You have already left so much behind, that you suspect that this will be an easy jettisoning.

You arrive at the supermarket stupidly early, the car park is almost deserted, but your mothers’ daily routine cannot be deviated from,so breakfast is served at 7am and most days by 9, you have run out of tasks, chores and the cold February day lies in front of you.
Of course, your mother has a way of doing the shopping, she pushes the trolley firmly and you trail behind, actually completely redundant,removed even from the task of collecting far flung objects. You find yourself shuffling your feet and the movement releases a memory.
You are 11, the summer before you start secondary school and you are following your mother around the supermarket, your brother,older, more confident and infinitely more trustworthy has been sent to gather forgotten items. You shuffle, purposefully not picking your feet up, knowing that this will annoy her and recently, in fact over this summer holiday and take great pleasure in pushing her, watching her lips thin and waiting for her tut of disapproval. You have discovered sullenness and whilst it is new, deep down you recognize the feeling, welcome it, know that it will stand you in good stead in the battle you have only just started with her.

Your brother is gone some time, long enough to annoy your mother, to disrupt her shopping rhythm, she starts to look around, expecting to see him looping down the isle clutching the tins of tuna he was sent to collect, but minutes pass and he doesn’t return. Your mother begins to look worried, she walks faster, no longer placing objects in the trolley, more minutes pass and your mother is frantic, deserting the trolley, she begins to trot up and down the isles searching for him.

In hindsight, you now remember that this summer was edgy, several local children abducted from public places, never seen again, but at the time you couldn’t understand her anxiety, shame swallowed you up, a dread that other children, children you knew might see her, might judge and worse might take this story, this shaming to your first day at really big school.

Your mother has given up all pretense of normality now and is actually running, shopping forgotten, calling his name. You want the ground to open up, right here, right now.

And there he is, wandering towards them, 2 tins of tuna madly balanced on his head and a huge and forbidden family sized sack of potato crisps in his arms. Your mother stops, dead, you almost cannon into her and then you see her face, lit up with love and relief. Your brother wanders over, unaware of the drama that has played out in his absence. He ruffles your mothers’ hair and looks around in some confusion for the missing trolley.

At that moment, You realize two things, that somehow, magically, overnight, your brother has become taller than your mother and that he will always be more loved than you are.

The memory is so visceral that it stops you in your tracks, you mumble something and escape to the public toilets.
Its only there, when you have splashed water on your face and stared at your reflection, bags under eyes accentuated by the unforgiving strip lighting, that you remember the text from earlier. It’s from Leah, old college friend, you wonder casually how she is, what this new bloke, Ali ? is like and then you open the text. There is no message, just a photograph, 2 dogs beside a railway line, the quality is not great and you struggle to make any sense of it at all.

Later, you help your mother pack the bags away and while she amends the shopping list and plans the rest of the day, you stare while a learner driver makes a complete cock up of a reverse park.

About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

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