The train was quiet on Saturday afternoon.
We are back chez nous after another brief spell in the UK. The journeys lately have been much easier, traffic busy but behaving itself on the UK side, which is the part that is difficult to plan for. We always leave home at least two hours earlier than the journey time to Folkestone should take in order to allow for hold ups on the UK motorways. If there are no hold ups we arrive at the tunnel two hours early and recently we have been able to get straight on a train to France. We have managed the whole journey easily in twelve hours door-to-door including a couple of breaks en route.
On our way to the south coast from home we usually listen to the radio, so that we can get the local traffic announcements that would alert us to hold ups ahead in each BBC area as we pass through. Saturday lunchtime is fairly lean listening and last Saturday we found ourselves tuned in to BBC Question Time. I hate that programme. I usually end up shouting at the radio or stomping off to do some ironing and this edition was no exception. (Except that I couldn't stomp off.)
We got up on Sunday morning to find that our farmer had left his company car in our back garden.
One of the panellists was one of our newly elected Brexit MEP's. A female whose name I can't remember. No doubt one of those who turned their backs during the EU national anthem. As it happens it was nothing to do with Brexit that made my blood boil (more about that later) but something she said about being a "millennial".
The topic was about the rise in the state pension age for women and she said that as a "millennial" she couldn't afford a pension or her own home. The implication was that those of us who do have pensions and our own home have had it so easy and she actually said it was the "millennials" who would be paying for it.
Now hold on a minute!!!
Easy is not the way I would describe it!
I would bet that she drinks her Costa coffee, whilst listening her Spotify playlist, on her mobile phone, before using her hub, to adjust her central heating, and set the washing machine, in time for her arrival home in her fairly new leased car, with a ready meal, to put in the microwave, or even an Italian take away, with a nice bottle of wine, to then catch up with a box set on Netflix.
The only way I could afford a mortgage in my twenties was because I made sacrifices. If millennials were to give up all of the above luxuries and totally unnecessary expenses they could save up the deposit for a house and have a mortgage just like I did.
Post war food rationing was still in place when I was born. In my twenties I didn't eat out, own a car, or have central heating. Phone calls were made by walking to the public phone box. The weekly wash was done by hand in the bath and when I rented a spin drier from Radio Rentals to make the laundry dry quicker I thought myself very extravagant. Entertainment was from a rented second hand TV. A drink was a cup of instant coffee and in fact I remember standing in the supermarket choosing between soap powder and coffee because I couldn't afford both. I could go on. And on, and on. Life was most definitely not easy. I didn't have a decent standard of living until well into my thirties. Even then I remember the panic when mortgage interest rates went from 5% to 15% virtually overnight. Faced with having to find hundreds of extra pounds every month to pay the mortgage and keep my own home was not what I would call easy.
As for the "millennials" paying for our pensions, I can assure this woman that over my forty years plus of working flat out and paying tax and national insurance I have more than paid for every penny that the state will give me back in my measly state pension.
Waiting for the candlelit canoe display and fireworks at Descartes.
We kicked off our arrival chez nous, with my brother and his daughter for a holiday, with a bbq and an evening at the fireworks, it being the 14th July and a Big Night of celebration all over France. Friends were invited to eat with us, along with their visitors, before we all went to Descartes to see the fireworks and, awkwardly, the conversation turned, almost without us realising it, to Brexit.
One of the things I hate most about what Brexit has done to the UK is that we are constantly treading on eggshells to avoid the subject in conversation. The strength of feeling is such that what starts as an awkward discussion can turn to bitter resentment within a few sentences and things can be said that are hard to ignore or impossible to take back. Especially when you assume that all gathered are of the same opinion but it turns out that they are not.
It all began when one of the visitors asked my niece what she would be doing now that she has her degree in biomedical science. She would like to go on to more education and research but, sadly, much of the investment for research projects comes from the EU and much of it has already been put on hold if not cancelled. Many of her friends are students in faculties where their future has already been compromised in just that way.
One of the visitors was baffled. Surely the government, once we are no longer "giving massive sums of money to the EU" will "have to do something about it". It was not something she had ever thought about before.
This led to a short verbal tussle that we managed to curtail before anyone said something untoward, the conversation moved on and the atmosphere relaxed. The aftertaste lingered for a while as I pondered how entrenched people can be in their beliefs in spite of evidence to the opposite. So many people seem to think that "no deal" means things stay the same as before and that it will all be alright in the end. We are all doomed.
Don't start me on Boris Johnson!