Before you get in too deep let me just make it absolutely clear that this is not a Royal Engagement Special in the usual sense. So if you’re expecting (a) a fawning hagiography of the two young people all over the news or (b) a raving denunciation of same – well, you may wish to turn away now.
Any couple deciding to make a public commitment to each other deserves the respect and good wishes of their fellow citizens (or as Prince William could say – future subjects). Prince William and Kate Middleton have both my good wishes and my respect.
As with any piece of family orientated news I, of course, reflected on my family’s situation and prospects. I suspect many will have done the same. That quick temperature check about your own loved-ones and the inevitable comparison with the happy couple on the TV.
It wasn’t a happy few minutes of contemplation.
The happy couple met at university so let’s start with higher education. Our older two will be emerging with tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt. If they find a job on graduation and do well then, in a few short years, they can begin to pay down the debt. Both believed the freely given Liberal Democrat pledge. Neither is likely to trust a politician again.
Of course there’s the worry about whether they will be able to find work. Graduate unemployment was recently reported as being at the highest level for 17 years. The idea that those who gain most should pay most for getting a degree doesn’t necessarily stand up in a bear labour market.
Our youngest having only just started her GCSEs is already thinking that leaving education straight after A levels is the smart move.
Then there’s the vexed question of where they all might live when they enter the world of work. Coming home may not be an option particularly if Mrs RPS and I have to downsize (assuming we can find a buyer). Deflation in the housing market may be great for our kids – assuming they can find a lender – but is bad for our retirement fund. Of course finding somewhere affordable gets even trickier if any of our infants decide that they want to stay on in the countryside.
Affordable housing around our way is rarer than a UK coalition government. NIMBYism, collapsing confidence by developers and the removal of the certainty of the regional spatial strategies do not feel like ingredients to increase affordable housing supply any time soon.
So. Education. Employment. Housing. What’s next?
It’s the economy, of course. I don’t suppose I’m the only UK taxpayer getting twitchy about what’s happening in Ireland and the other vulnerable EU economies. The same markets that gave us the credit crunch seem hell-bent on working their magic again. Making a vast amount of money as they go. National governments – even those with aircraft carriers that have aircraft on them – seem powerless to resist these forces.
I blogged yesterday about the measurement of happiness. It is a difficult time for us to feel that happy or optimistic as a family. Folks I spoke with yesterday seemed to feel that way too and were sniffy about any attempt to use these two young people as a shot of happiness Viagra for our national mood. ‘Who’s going to pay for it’ seemed the commonest question I heard. I suspect the Queen will remember her own austerity wedding and will be wary of too great a show.
However, my search for work remains as hot as ever and gets into a new gear today – there’ll be more about that later – meantime …
… I wonder if Wills and Kate need a footman? I’ve seen Downton Abbey. I could do that. No, I really could …