School: Jordanhill School, Glasgow
And so it begins. From the day you are born, you will become accustomed to this standard of living. You do not know it yet, but you will refuse to believe that you are not special.
The small house where you are the sun and your parents are orbiting you is made of sandstone that stands sturdily, albeit with the odd chunk fallen off due to weathering over the years. This house is Victorian, you know, is what your mother says when you mention how old the handrail is and how dirty the frontage of the house is. When you begin school, the children that talk to you come round to your house to play. Sometimes they are rude and occasionally they cry. Essentially, they are the same as you, living in their cardboard houses with their cardboard families. It is all an elaborate and grown up game of make-believe.
As you grow older, your adoring parents come to applaud you at dance recitals and prize-givings. They mingle politely with the other families. Your mother exchanges phone numbers and your father begins to play tennis with the other dads. Nobody likes each other, but they all keep up the pretence. You don’t notice, because that’s what happens in the middle class suburbs.
High school awaits you, but you call it secondary school because it sounds posher, or at least that’s what everyone else says. As many teenagers do, you go to huge lengths to impress your classmates with no avail. You go through a disastrous phase in which you wear only red eyeshadow. Nobody understands you. You think that everyone can see the large-ish blemish on the bridge of your too-big nose, but they can’t.
Finishing mandatory education is a pleasant daze. You apply to several top universities and get into your second choice. Your parents, who are sprouting grey hairs and have higher cholesterol than before, take you out for dinner before you move away. They drink wine that costs £20, but you don’t because you are only seventeen and you don’t break the law.
University is a drunken haziness, with equal measures of stress and excitement. You go to Ibiza (paid for by your parents) and get a stupid tattoo which you regret the next day. You move on to your job, which is being a lawyer. You have superficial clients with lacklustre lives. Every morning you have a coffee from what you think is your secret coffee shop, but in reality everyone goes there. You are not special.
After a few short-lived romances, you settle down with a decent man. You have paid off your student loans and you get a mortgage for a ‘lovely’ house only 10 minutes away from your parents’ home, which they are selling. You receive half the money.
You become pregnant with a baby boy. He grows up much alike you did. You spoil him rotten and overlook his flaws and the trouble he gets into at school. After the boy matures enough, you take the plunge with another baby, which is a girl. The boy and the girl have a 4 year age difference and they get along as well as acquaintances but not friends. This will change as they grow older, but you don’t know this yet so naturally, as a mother would do, you worry.
You pay disproportionate amounts of money towards Thai boxing lessons, art classes and Scouts so that your children have activities to help them in later life. All you think about is the future. When the time comes that there is no future left for you, you will regret this mind-set. You don’t know this yet.
Throughout the children’s teenage years, you go on indulgent skiing trips in Austria. None of your family is very good at skiing and the holidays are more than overpriced, but it is what your other middle class friends do. You must keep up with them, but it seems impossible. They are caught up in whirlwind of Pilates classes and their precocious children’s five-a-side matches.
Your job, along with your husband’s (who you resent sometimes) ceases to impress you any longer, and it becomes irksome having to do the same thing over and over. As you finish your last ten years of employment, you watch your children finish university and land successful jobs. Your daughter breaks up with the alleged ‘man of her dreams’, but you pay for her (like your parents did for you) to fly to Ibiza. She comes back smitten, with a delightful man. Within two years, both your children are happily married.
As you ease yourself into retirement, you attend book groups and take holidays on luxury cruise ships with your husband. You fulfil your dreams of travelling to every corner of the world in complete extravagance. You are never away for too long though, as your son has four boisterous (but lovely) kids who need taken care of. You take them all shopping regularly, and spoil them so much it is sickening. But for you, it seems justified because you simply adore them.
As you and your spouse approach your late seventies, you transfer all your belongings to a large block of assisted living flats. Your daughter comes with her chubby baby to help you arrange your paintings that you did at art class on the walls.
Although your knees are weak, you still manage to volunteer at your local charity shop once a week and look after your husband who has developed Alzheimer’s. As he deteriorates, your heart breaks but the lights of your life (your children and grandchildren) are always at the other end of the phone to help with your any need.
After your husband dies, you have a low-key funeral in the church you have attended your whole life. Every day you think about him, and you have to stop volunteering at the charity shop. The book group now meets at your flat because you can no longer drive your Range Rover, which is a shiny black colour.
When you are diagnosed with cancer, you feel no sadness. You have had a pleasant and sheltered middle class life. You spend more and more time in hospital, with an endless supply of grapes and chocolates from close friends and family. In your final few days, you come to a devastating conclusion.
You spent so much time planning for the future, you never had time for the present. Your entire life was wasted.
You drift away into an unknown darkness. You have died.
Another middle-class non-achiever gone.
A life wasted. How pointless.
You were not special.