The Highgate kids are back at school in force today, chirping and chattering in the cafes in their ludicrously plumby accents. This morning's topic of conversation was what syndromes and conditions you needed to claim you had in order to get a degree of lenience in exams. Top of their list of easy things to fake was ADHD "too much coffee and you're basically there" followed by dyslexia, "everyone knows you just need to say that the words are floating about on the page and you get all sorts of perks." They continued, "depression is a good one cus they can't really argue with that." On and on they went in those tidy little accents which told me that it doesn't actually matter what they get for their exams: their schooling up in the village is merely preparing them for a life of ease. I don't remember ever being able to afford to sit in a cafe during free periods when I was that age. Tammy and I used to go down Kwik Save to buy sweets to surreptitiously eat during A level geography, but sitting in a cafe would have seemed a considerable luxury. There might have been a kettle in the sixth form common room. That was about as decadent as it got!
I worked all day yesterday. As usual, it felt both virtuous and ludicrous to be working on a bank holiday.
In the evening, we went to dinner at Michelle and Ben's stunning new house in Hatfield. Abbie and Ian were also there which meant there were three couples: one in their twenties, one in their thirties and the old boys in their forties. The odd thing about being in my forties is that I don't feel any older than I was at 22. I feel wiser, maybe, and perhaps a little bit more cynical as I see variations of the same initiatives and moral panics coming back round on ten year cycles. Bizarrely, it was the youngest couple there who were the proper grown ups with a proper house and a proper mortgage.
Their house is built in the 1960s chalet style, a type of architecture based on bringing as much light into a space as possible. They have the most beautiful sitting room which takes up the whole of the first floor of the house. Stunning lime green light poured in from the outside through floor-to-ceiling windows.
The only drawback, it seems, to living in the commuter belt seems to be having busy-body neighbours who complain about the sound you make when you walk up and down flights of stairs, and the type of washing line you have in the garden. Apparently all this stuff needs to be "Street approved." I just don't think I'd be able to deal politely with that sort of thing. Life is definitely too short. I may have to stay in London for a few years yet. Mortgage or no mortgage!