My teenager will be 17 next month. I clearly remember my 17th birthday. My bedroom was a patchwork of carpet samples and purple wallpaper. I bought myself Stevie Wonder’s LP ‘Talking Book’ and happily sang ‘You are the sunshine of my life’ over and over. I was still at school and had a steady boyfriend. He drove a Ford Cortina that had a black vinyl roof – considered to be extremely stylish at the time. The local youth club was the place to go and be seen.
My lover wasn’t even born then. He rang me earlier this week and we talked for over an hour. Thankfully, I remembered to buy myself a new landline phone and so we didn’t get cut off after a few minutes. Last week I forwarded him a job advert that I felt he would be perfect for. It looks like a fabulous job with a mix of urban planning, design and daydreaming. He seemed really pleased and told me that he had applied for it. I don’t want him to go as I enjoy the occasional glimpses of him in the office but where we work is becoming more and more uneasy with job losses, restricted budgets and an air of distrust. It leaves me in a difficult position as options are very limited at my age. I have to consider my pension, my mortgage, my skills.
I used to have a well-paid career before teenager was born but was a victim of deliberate, calculated redundancy during maternity leave. Being a firm believer of ‘what goes around, comes around’ I was somewhat pleased when I heard that the responsible manager was escorted from the building having been fired for bullying and fraud. But it was too late for me. My confidence was shot and so were my plans to retire at 58. So, the next few years were spent juggling a dead-end local job with my mum dying, splitting up with Tom and a becoming an aging single mum with a young child. Not to mention the inherited gambling debts and the re-mortgaging that I failed to understand or question until it was too late and I was left to pick up the pieces.
I’ve survived and now carefully make ends meet but I’m still in the dull dead-end local job and I’m very aware that I’m not part of the in-crowd at work. I’m a tiny cog in a large wheel. My work is invisible until it doesn’t get done. So, for the last two weeks I’ve been practising the power of positive thinking. ‘Please may I win the premium bonds’ has been my mantra. Repeated over and over with each step walking to and from work and, to my utter delight, there was a mysterious looking envelope on the doormat last Friday. I took a deep breath and opened it. There was the cheque that I had summonsed with my determined thought process only the decimal points had become somewhat displaced. £25 wasn’t quite what I had in mind and certainly not enough to pay off the mortgage and retire on. Still, better than nothing and the only thing I’ve won for five years or so. Paid for the new landline phone!
For previous cougar installments click here