Credit crunch about to hit at bank of grandma and grandad.
Being a grandparent used to involve nothing more onerous than pushing the odd swing and doling out boiled sweets. Now, though, granny and grandad not only provide free childcare, they are human cashpoints too. According to the Independent Association of Prep Schools, grandparents are increasingly stumping up for their grandchildren's school fees. So common has this situation become, some private schools now hold grandparents' days to thank the wrinklie contingent for their financial support.
The average cost per child for a private school is pounds 12k a year, so these grandparents are obviously pretty well-off, or they were before they started subsidising their grandkids (five years of pounds 12k a year and they'll be shopping in Lidl and re-using wrapping paper, except the post-war rationing generation do that already).
Still it does highlight the gaping chasm that has opened up between some pensioners today, who have seen the value of the homes they bought 30 years ago for 5p soar, and their thirty and fortysomething children who are staggering under the weight of a mega mortgage like Geoff Capes trying to pull a monster truck up a hill. Even so, you have to feel sorry for the over-60s. Another recent survey underlined the vital role many play in providing free childcare so their children can work, to service that monster truck of a mortgage, and now they're having to dip into their pockets too.
It doesn't sound like much of a retirement. Whatever happened to watercolour painting weekends in the Dordogne and chairing the local neighbourhood watch committee.
Personally, the only thing that keeps me going some days is the prospect of afternoon line-dancing classes. A spot of Tammy Wynette and a sequined stetson and that's me sorted at 60.
This presupposes that anyone in that 30 to 40 age group will ever be able to afford to retire, of course. The cost of housing means that I don't know a single person who can afford to pay a mortgage and a pension too. Never mind the bank of grandma and grandad, by the time today's parents have grandchildren, they'll have to be internet millionaires or starring in Harry Potter movies because we're going to have to borrow money from them.