Jul 2 2012 By Louise Jordan
In the same way that a local newspaper tries to tell the whole of a story in one photograph, I think I have discovered the image that defines the Squeezed Middle.
absence for the past few weeks is due to the fact I have been on
holiday. And in fact, not just one, but two holidays.
This on its own is enough to raise eyebrows. How does someone with no employment get to go on holiday? So, even though I don’t have to, I feel I should explain.
Because this is the year that I, and all my friends, turn 40, a few of us saved up a small amount each month for a long time, in order to take a break in New York.
there, I was rather short on spending money, so I (probably rather
annoyingly) insisted we walk everywhere. Anyone who’s been to New
York will know that it takes quite a long time to get around on foot,
so we were fairly exhausted, sorry ladies!
We had bought a three-day
pass each from our savings fund, which got us around on tourist buses
and into all the attractions, so I was pretty well covered for those
things, which was great.
I enjoyed the shopping trip down Fifth Avenue, but then I’ve always enjoyed helping other people to spend money, so that was entertainment enough for me, and it was lovely to get away and pretend for a while that everything was back to normal.
my return, my husband had booked a weekend away in Cambridgeshire for
a much-needed break from his stressful job. We are big fans of the
Landmark Trust, which has crazy follies and tiny castles that you can
stay in for a short break.
I decided to pack the car with some of the alcoholic presents from my birthday – champagne and a rather lovely bottle of Mersault, lucky me.
day we were due to depart, I had a letter to say that I hadn’t paid
my VAT bill. I had been given instructions to pay it by my
accountant, but had totally forgotten.
It was for hundreds of pounds, which, needless to say, I really don’t have. So I delved further into my overdraft and paid it. Then we drove off to our lovely weekend retreat and had a relaxing weekend.
So, here’s the image telling the story of the Squeezed Middle, in your local newspaper: Woman sits in deckchair in front of a folly in a beautiful Cambridgeshire village, sipping fine wine, and crying over her VAT bill. There it is, right there.
I can see how this image would make no-one at all feel sorry for me, and I don’t ask for your sympathy, because that’s not what this is about.
I just wanted to point out that things are sometimes not at all what they seem. Maybe there are many more of me, people whose lives look pretty perfect on the outside, but who are actually paddling away furiously underneath the surface, just trying to stay afloat.
won’t compare myself to a swan at this stage, as anyone who knows
me would laugh at the idea that I am either elegant or graceful.
I definitely relate to those grey, damp legs beneath the surface,
desperately working against the current, trying to get back upstream
to calmer waters.
Louise Jordan is a journalist currently not quite 'sofa-surfing' at her mother in law's in West Drayton while between jobs.