Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Squeezed Middle

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Squeezed Middle

Article excerpt

I mean, it makes me think--should I just give up and marry a bloody banker?" Lizzie furrows her brow and swirls her wine furiously around the glass. I almost choke on my moussaka. These are not words that I ever expected to hear issuing from my best friend's lips. This is the girl who shares her squatted studio space with a shaman; who stays true to her anti-private-property principles by constantly nicking my clothes. The day Lizzie marries a banker is the day the final nail is banged into the coffin of the hippie dream.

I have cooked Lizzie a wholesome meal because her heart is broken. She has just split up with her boyfriend--a glorious, penniless man with whom she spent several happy years hitchhiking around India, skinny-dipping in reservoirs and attending festivals wearing fully anatomically correct monkey suits. But she's 33 now and she's begun to feel the fear.

"I know I should want to bring up my family in a tepee in Wales," she sniffs. "But the older I get, the more I realise ... I just don't."

The problem with the hippie dream is that at some point it bumps up against the hippie reality, which is often cold, wet and poor. Even that might be all right for a while, as long as you were fairly confident that you'd be warm, dry and rich sometime in the future. You just really, really don't want chilliness and poverty to become permanent features of your lifestyle choice.

Over dinner we are tackling the big question: who next? …

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