Is it better or worse to be young in a depression? It seems unfair. Here we are in the golden time, all bright-eyed, muscled, sharp of mind and full of ambition, stymied (they say) by a nonexistent job market and an economy made of dust and dreams gone bad. Aren’t things hard enough–haven’t they always been hard enough? Shouldn’t I resent the fact that I’m meeting economical adversity at every corner, that it’s no longer about glory but about staying alive?
Except that I hardly notice there’s a recession on. I was always bound to be poor at this stage of my life. I’m a student and a writer with an allergy to the kind of ambition that lands you prematurely in a London high-rise, rising at 5, only at home in a suit. We could be experiencing the biggest economic boom of the last 100 years and I’d still be seated in my humble study writing for free, living off tea, love, the kindness of others, and a patchy income that falls somewhere below the poverty line. And I’ll tell you what else. I’d rather be struggling now, rationing extravagance and soothing myself with cheap cider, than struggling later, with a family, maybe, a career to worry over, a house, roots stretched tight.
Strange to say, but we may be lucky after all, to experience the relative poverty of youth alongside the actual poverty of this downturn, recession, depression, whatever it turns out to be. The manor house can wait.