Katy Guest: Rant & Rave (05/06/11)

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The Independent Online


I'm all for drawing attention to the tear-inducing frustrations of the thousands of people now labelled "Generation Rental": the peripatetic lifestyle; the bottomless money pit; the uniquely malignant breed of sociopaths known politely as "letting agents"....

But can we please ban one phrase from this discourse? Last week's coverage was largely sympathetic to renters, who sometimes choose to rent but more often do it because they can't afford to buy. However, why must such people always be known as "young couples"?

A couple is self-evidently twice as rich as a single person, or more so if they are married and paid by the Government to be together. It is also true that old people are struggling as well as young ones.

In 2005, Gordon Brown said: "We have created stability... and now we must ensure that the benefits go particularly to young couples who want to own their own homes...." We now know that single-person households will increase by more than two million by 2020, but still there is something so toxic about people without partners who want to own homes that politicians dare not accept their existence (thanks for nothing, Mr and Mrs Miliband). Two million is a lot of votes, even counted one at a time.

Isn't it time for politicians to grow up and accept that single people are people, too?


I confess that I have a tendency to be impressed by almost anything Germaine Greer says, but last week's comments about dog poo and bluebells were especially brave.

Urging the British to "give up their love affair with the dog", she announced: "If you love your bluebells, kill your dog!" I wouldn't be at all surprised if Professor Greer receives death threats, because there is nobody quite like a dog lover for blind devotion to doggy rights above everybody else's.

Next time you meet a dog, headbutt it in the privates, steal its dinner and defecate on its doorstep, and then tell its owner, "I'm only being friendly"... is the kind of thing that a crazy iconoclast such as Professor Greer might say. Myself, of course, I wouldn't dare.