Liz Hoggard: I had to wait for a mortgage, and so can you

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The Independent Online

I permitted myself a wry smile when news broke yesterday that Generation Y – those born in and after the late 80s – have an inflated sense of their own worth.

Dubbed the "entitled to it all" generation, today's young workers, apparently believe they deserve jobs with big salaries, status and plenty of leisure time – without having to put in the hours.

According to the study, published in the Journal of Management, the desire to find work with "meaning" had declined, with younger workers more likely to see jobs as a means of funding their lifestyles.

I'm a big fan of my twentysomething colleagues – dubbed the "graduate divas". Brought up by liberal parents, they're clever and gorgeous. Young, university-educated, techno-savvy, they know themselves to be in great demand. You won't catch them weeping in the stationery cupboard. They operate a healthy work-life balance and are far less likely to want to work overtime. And, unlike my inept generation, they have social skills. No wonder employers are terrified. And they represent progress. Our own parents were frightened to praise their children in case we got "too confident". Little did they know just how big a slap the real world would administer. You can't praise your children too much.

But you know the compliment is not returned. Graduate divas are furious with us. And I'd just like to say: excuse me talented twentysomethings, we never spent your money! Or took your jobs, or inflated property prices or crashed the banks. Personally I first got a mortgage (the cheapest in London) at 38. Repeat after me: we are not the enemy. In my forties, I still don't have a job with a contract. I've never had shares or a second home.

I totally agree there's intergenerational unfairness. The new graduates have been living with massive debt since their teens. I hate the fact you can't get flats or jobs. That you're still couch surfing in your late 20s. But please be a bit more discriminating with your wrath.

No one is picking up the tab for me. We are talking about a very top tier who bled the country dry and were greedy for an inflated lifestyle. And frankly – if you're privileged enough to be working for a media organisation aged 25 – it's probably your mum and dad who are more to blame.

If I have to read one more article by a graduate diva accusing the over-40s "of stealing my golden years", I might just scream. We're not all voracious cougars out on the pull for young flesh.

We went through the 1970s recession which meant high unemployment and precious little social mobility. We worked in tedious non-graduate jobs and never even considered such luxuries as gap years. It took me years to catch up. I don't have any pension to speak of. Like many women of my age, I have had to negotiate a fragmented but rewarding career. So hey ho, I need to keep working all my life.

I don't want to get into a slanging match with Generation Y. Most are extremely nice. I even fancy some of them. Good on them for not getting suckered in. They see a nation living on tick, so who cares about doing ludicrous overtime or getting sacked? I only wish I'd channelled my inner-diva years ago.

But please spare me one more 23-year-old telling me piteously: "I'm so worried about where my career is going." What do they think we've all been slogging away at for the past 20 years?

Why Essex Girls deserve the last laugh

Essex girls run the world. They're bright, self-confident. They never bitch (far better to spend the time buying shoes or getting a fake tan). And they play hard.

But they also understand vulnerability. Because Essex Girl knows what it's like to feel marginalised. For decades, she had to endure jokes that called into question everything from her intellect to her postal code. The casual misognyny of the late 80s ("How does an Essex Girl turn on the light after sex? She opens the car door") is still incredibly shocking. Many jokes were so unpleasant that they would be banned if levelled at any other racial or sexual minority.

Now a charity has been set up to "empower" the women of Essex to combat the image that has plagued them for so long as as "dumb, stiletto-wearing, wine-swilling blondes".

Essex girls may be loud. They'd rather join a gym than a church. They dance on tables when they're tipsy. But the county has some of the top girls' schools in the country. Helen Mirren is an Essex Girl, ditto author Jilly Cooper and actress Dame Maggie Smith.

When I look at the twentysomethings Essex girls I worked with 10 years ago, they're all at the top of their chosen fields, be it law, medicine or the media.

Arguably it was the struggle that made them determined to succeed. Essex Girl may have started off a Thatcherite ("No, you don't have to rely on a man for wealth and success. No, you don't have to live in a council house forever – buy it!"). But she ended up a meritocrat.

If you want a job done properly, ask an Essex girl. She'll bring it in on time – and under budget. She'll have great nails. And she deserves your respect.

French farce worthy of soap opera

Five weeks is a long time in the world of celebrity romance. Back in February the sycophantic British media were telling us how dazzlingly in love supermodel Carla Bruni is with husband, French President Nicolas Sarkozy. "It's no secret that they are trying to have a baby," trilled one writer. "She's buying baby clothes from the exclusive Bonpoint boutique popular with Michelle Obama," insisted another.

Well now it seems the golden couple – who celebrated their second wedding anniversary on 2 February – may have been cuckolding each other for months. She with French musician, Benjamin Biolay. He with his Ecology Minister Chantal Jouanno. What on earth is going on? Truly the First Couple are in their very own episode of EastEnders.

Everyone knows decent relationships are impossible to pull off in soap operas (the audience get bored, actors don't like to get typecast). Plus happiness is deemed too static in TV land. So what next for the French leprechaun and his towering wife? Bodies under the patio? The return of Dirty Den? Scriptwriters are no doubt working on a live Easter Special.

In praise of Mariah Carey at the Oscars.

Only she can wear clothes two sizes too small (with acres of cleavage) and get away with it. Even Joan Rivers, arch-critic of the red carpet, applauds her front.