The Squeezed Middle are Doomed

Because they are puppet slaves buying empty dreams. They’ve lost the ability to look around them and the cornucopia of goods and services an advanced industrial nation has to offer them, and ask themselves the simple question

Does buying this crap improve my quality of life?”

and if the answer is no, then leave it well alone!

Firestarter and MMM kicked this off with a deconstruction of one example from the USA, and I’ve now found one from the UK. Get your violins out for Guy and Shaz on £120,000 who haven’t been out for a meal for yonks.

Annually it’s costing £45,000 after tax, which is a considerable outlay, but I’m happy to pay because I want them to have the best start

Folks, you were part of building a world where there are no bloody jobs for your kids no matter how much money you throw down the toilet of school fees. We’re talking a sunk cost of  £157,000 per child (11 to 18). There’s a case to be made for setting up the trust fund – it’ll deliver ~£8k each for your precious nippers to sit on their backsides all day. Every year for good.

Independent schooling seems to be one of those empty dreams that caters to people’s understandable sense of vicarious living and immortality through their children. But here’s a shock finding – it is values, grit and integrity that maketh the man, along with a decent dollop of good old-fashioned luck. That used to be your job as parents to do bar the luck, but I guess along with the usual trend of outsourcing things so you can earn more money to outsource more things that sort of thinking seems to be passe.

Now you can tell that this is ad-land berlercks from the Mission Statement of Lord Wandsworth college where Guy sends his progeny to –

LWC is a socially inclusive non-denominational boarding and day Foundation school for boys and girls. We focus on the needs of each individual, while developing in each child a concern for others and a love for and loyalty towards the school community. We ensure that each pupil shapes their values and aspirations within a stimulating and supportive environment, and strive constantly to improve the quality of teaching and learning.

We aim to equip pupils with character attributes, passion, resourcefulness, independence, skills, knowledge and qualifications so they can become the best possible version of themselves and make a great contribution to a changing world.

LWC should reach out and become known as a leading and opinion forming school, in principle and in practice.

Now bearing in mind that presumably if you are charging shitloads of money for entry you can hire the best ad copywriters, WTF is this passionless management speak that we see before us – it’s more befitting an firm of book-keepers that a bunch of people who will relieve you of nearly 200 grand to do a job you could get done for free if you were prepared to be part of the solution. Let’s deconstruct this fine prose. It isn’t a fair fight – the Ermine has merely a thirty-year old grammar-school edukayshun and I failed[ref]I got an E. In those days people weren’t afraid of calling that a fail. But then I only sampled Great Expectations, despised poetry and was slightly bored with Shakespeare. I was to become an engineer, FFS[/ref] English Literature. Whereas Lord Wandsworth are education.

LWC is a socially inclusive non-denominational boarding and day Foundation school for boys and girls

To be honest, if I’m a parent, I want a school that is a bit socially exclusive – to keep the thickos and oiks away from Tarquin. Even if Tarquin is a moron and I know it, I want him to go to a school where they keep out the rough sorts. With the exception of people like Fiona Millar, most parents are like this, once you have loosened their tongues with enough wine. People are tribal that way. However, this is achieved in a roundabout way. Obviously if you can stump up £20k+ per head per annum, you have automatically eliminated most of the lower classes 😉

Of course the social inclusives would say ah but 10% of our intake have bursaries. Well yeah but you gotta know the lingo to apply for a bursary. I had to look it up to know what it means in a school context.

We focus on the needs of each individual, while developing in each child a concern for others and a love for and loyalty towards the school community.

The usual oxymoronic claptrap. Humans are not multitaskers and you can develop the individual or generate good community sheeple, but you cannae do both. Look around you are the people who have made a difference in the world. They are often borderline sociopathic, driven and not balanced all-round team players. It goes with the patch – great talent sticks out because it is so rare. So don’t go cutting my tall poppies down, school. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there.

We ensure that each pupil shapes their values and aspirations within a stimulating and supportive environment, and strive constantly to improve the quality of teaching and learning.

The Ermine has parsed this sentence searching with his beady eyes for any semblance of meaning beyond the sort of random gwana-gwana that exercised the Register years ago. And failed to discover any. It’s like the snow you used to get on a television when the aerial had fallen out – the random hiss as the intermediate frequency amplifiers are turned up in the vain search for an incoming signal. Is it a dog-whistle to acolytes of Tom Peters, MBAs an other purveyors of management-speak who torture the English language daily? WTF does it mean? How exactly do you do this? Where do you start, and where do you go for help?

Do or do not, do not try

We aim to equip pupils with character attributes, passion, resourcefulness, independence, skills, knowledge and qualifications so they can become the best possible version of themselves and make a great contribution to a changing world.

Way back in the mists of time, when there was still talent and creativity flowing in George Lucas’s veins rather than an unending search for filthy lucre amongst the twisted wreckage of his youthful originality, he created a remarkably plug-ugly character whose greatest statement highlights what’s wrong with that sentence[ref]SW geeks, of which there are many, will slam me for misquoting the Great Yoda. I like my version better, this is my blog, and if you don’t like it then go read another of the several billion pages on the internet[/ref].

It seems following generations have projected these wise words upon subsequent heroes, according to Google. The truth is timeless.

my fellow Google searchers consider this worth of Dumbledore and Gandalf
my fellow Google searchers consider this epithet worthy of Dumbledore and Gandalf


LWC should reach out and become known as a leading and opinion forming school, in principle and in practice

More of the same, really. If you should reach out and become known, then what is standing in your way, FFS, and give no quarter – sack them or eliminate them from your world. Do or do not, people.

So I thought I would investigate more as to what Mr Squeezed Middle is shelling out for. They have an entry in the Good Schools Guide, so I took a butcher’s hook

A good, broad, mid-range school, and a good place to be a bright kid – they are well rewarded for working hard, half a dozen Oxbridge candidates each year.

Obviously nobody has stupid kids, because this might be a crap place to be dumb. But then no parent has stupid kids, right? Have you ever known any  parent who says “my child has shit for brains and is talent-free, not even good with his hands”? Obviously all humans are above average, then…

That yells out aspirational mediocrity to me. Now Guy and Shaz may know that their kids are no-hopers in the smarts department, but as I said, the trust fund is the alternative, and the great thing about investing in that is that Guy can evaluate the likely return what with being a finance compliance wallah, presumably some of the know-how sticks around. The advantage of the trust fund is even if the kids have the entrepreneurial instincts of a beach pebble there’s a known return.

As for the Oxbridge entry the odds look poor – three decades ago even my sarf London grammar school of 600 kids all in managed to muster half a dozen Oxbridge candidate in my year[ref]This should be taken into perspective; far fewer people went to university when I left school, roughly a fifth of the current proportion[/ref]. I was one of them – though not up to scratch. I’m always suspicious of schools that talk about the candidates and not the entry, too.

And we had genuine problems, like dimwits kicking a hole in the plaster because they were bored and wanted to leave at 16. I couldn’t determine how many kids LWC has but if he’s dropping three hundred grand on buying the best start it might behoove Guy to look at what he’s actually getting for his hard-earned money. And slightly lower odds than a south London grammar school could muster when five times as many people go to university now as did then is a little bit crap in my view.

But it’s the mealy-mouthed mission statement that made me smell a rat. Now obviously if you’re dropping well over half your take-home to pay for a service that can be had for free then you don’t get to eat out much. But you’re also not going to get shedloads of sympathy. I’ve never earned anywhere near what Guy earned, and while I don’t begrudge him his hard-earned, nor his right to piss it up the wall of a school that can’t see what’s wrong with not being able to say what they stand for, I can’t really find it in myself to feel a great deal of sympathy. The single mother going to a food bank to buy her kids a book, yes. Guy who is buying what he thinks he ought to buy because he’s only a member of the middle class because he pays for his children’s education, no. Since when did you have to be paying for public school, never mind boarding school, to become middle class?

This is where the middle class went wrong and why they are doomed. Somewhere along the line they lost their values. They’s skint because they buy without thinking, they are sold dreams of the way they should be living and go for it hell for leather. You only get one chance at life, and it’s too bloody short to spend living somebody else’s dream. Particularly if the somebody else is advertisers looking to created desires in you to make as much money out of you by selling you services and stuff.

Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.

Tyler Durden, Fight Club

Look at LWC’s website. It’s all about the sizzle, not the steak. It’s about the 1200 acres, the founder, the farm. What do you need to have a good school? You need good teachers, you need to have clear aims and goals. I’ve never been to LWC –  they may be a perfectly good school. Maybe Guy assessed this himself. Or maybe he is just buying into a chimera of what it’s like to be a well-off resident of the Home Counties doing the job of financial compliance and raising kids. Which apparently means paying shedloads of money on public schools to be in with the in crowd. I suppose you gotta spend your money on something, can’t take it with you…

There seems to have been an explosion of independent schools out there to shake down the ‘middle class’, feeding off the inchoate fear of not doing the best for their children. I take the point that if you want political influence and are rich enough, send your offspring to Eton or somewhere where you can buy influence. Money has always bought influence. It is crystallised claim on future human work, so it goes with the patch. I suspect there are a lot of redbrick independent schools set up to feed the increasing aspiration. And why not – if people want to pay for it, let ’em.


How much you need to earn gross as a household to enter the relevant decile accordig to the ONS. Guy's well over to the right
How much you need to earn gross p.a. as a household to enter the relevant decile according to the ONS. Guy’s well over to the right, assuming his wife doesn’t work

Finally, Guy should take a butcher’s hook at the ONS Gross Household Income by Income Decile (Excel sheet) You need a household income of £70k to enter the highest income decile. Guy and Shaz, you are not the squeezed middle. There are people queueing up at foodbanks. They are squeezed. Finding out that you have to budget and discovering it is a stretch to pay more than a 7th decile household earns for public school education[ref]for any bemused Americans reading, in Britain public schools are the ones you pay for privately, and State schools are the one the public pays for[/ref] is not being squeezed. You have options that many Britons couldn’t dream of, so you’ll have to excuse us when we say tough luck mate.

I don’t actually have anything against LWC, apart from their pedestrian ad copy. They may be a perfectly good independent school, just a tad short on the imagination and self-critical side. In old-skool-speak that used to be called ‘could do better’. I believe these characteristics used to be considered important aspects of self-development from Socrates onwards.

LWC are unlucky enough to have one of their customers moaning in a national newspaper that they are bleeding him dry with their outrageous fees so he can’t afford to go for a meal with his good lady wife. His lack of irony demanded a snarl, LWC is collateral damage. I’m sure they’ll weather the storm.



31 thoughts on “The Squeezed Middle are Doomed”

  1. Not sure about the trust fund idea. 150k = approximately 8k / year but if your kid is a bit thick/wild they could blow the lot at an early age.

    Wouldn’t it be better just to save the money yourself and give a handout of 8k/year + any money for sensible business ideas etc?


  2. Great post.

    Guy, WTF are you doing? You’re earning £120k basic (i.e. pre bonus) and you still have a mortgage of £350k at the age of 53!

    “I have a £350,000 mortgage that I have to start paying off if I want to retire when I’m 65″

    So you haven’t even started paying it off?! Look around you man…i’m not saying it’s right, but how many 60 year old compliance officers do you see around you?


  3. @Marco I was running off SWR~4% and hoping capital appreciation would track inflation. In the end If I were a parent I’d hope to pass on some values that would pay a better return, along the whole grit, determination and stick at it axis. But I’m not. I just think buying into a second-rate pubic school who can’t get it together to say what they stand for is a rotten deal compared to the counterfactual that money could buy 😉

    @UTMT Gulp, I missed that peach entirely . OK, it’s time to call out the fire brigade. Here is a fellow living waaaay above his means. An Ermine managed to ice my mortgage by 50 – though I note my Dad managed it 10 years younger than me!

    I had assumed Guy was without such tribulations. He is hosed – there’s no way outta here. As they say in the safety card, put on your own oxygen mask before attending to others. Else you’re both gonna go down…


  4. I paid to send both children to top independent schools. That involved sacrificing the cars, expensive holidays and flash toys. No complaints; giving my kids an educational advantage was uppermost in that decision and one I would not moan about. One got the impression that high fees were immaterial to quite a few parents at such schools; they could easily afford them.

    Paying school fees means paying down the mortgage and saving for retirement has to become plan B. Not ideal in the personal finance blogosphere, but if one has been finding £30k per year from available income streams it is possible to adapt fairly quickly to plan B once the school fees stop. I suspect Guy is not quite so stuck and will have a tenable financial position come retirement.

    As for university costs; I rather like Martin Lewis’ take on the loan, I have done my bit with getting them to university but it is now time for my plan B. I still need to pay the balance of living expenses above and beyond the maintenance loan but really that is like a breath of fresh air in comparison to school fees.

    I took redundancy/ early retirement last year. I still have an income from a pension and BTL, so whilst the income has reduced so has the tax and other expenses. Plan B got quite a boost with lump sums to start to tackle mortgage leverage and future income streams; so really whilst never having Guy’s salary I don’t see his case is that bad if he stopped feeling sorry for himself.

    Nice blog by the way; I spent many hours reading it during my last few months before getting the green light to take the package. My desire to stop working far outweighed any doubts about having ticked all the financial boxes for future security. The back of the envelope calculation showed that once school fees went, the future was not bleak or unsustainable.


  5. @Hamzah – congratulation on making the break!

    I’m intrigued with the aspiration to independent schools, though at a knowledge disadvantage because all I know about schools is from a long time ago. Middle class people didn’t used to aspire to independent schools in the 1970s and 80s, what is it that has changed? Is it influence or education that is the selling point? I’ve looked at the websites of LWC and other modest independent schools and what’s on offer is hard for me to discern – that Oxbridge entry of LWC is appalling.

    In some ways a decent independent school should still select by academic ability otherwise what’s the point? There’s clearly something here that I just don’t get. I’m glad to say that my old grammar school which had to become independent soon after I left to remain selective is still unashamedly selective.

    Martin Lewis’s take is absolutely fantastic and should be shouted from the rooftops; particularly that if parents have the wedge to pay for university that they may be better off helping their children get a house. At least the opportunity cost is worth understanding!


  6. You missed out the end of the article:

    Jackson’s tone is matter-of-fact. Like the rest of the Squeezed Middle, he is keenly aware that his situation evokes little sympathy. “I know if I were to have a conversation with someone on a council estate, they would think I was mad,” says Jackson, wryly. [me – you mean, smugly not wryly chum] “But with taxation at its current levels and the rising cost of essentials, it is quite difficult for people like me to maintain our standard of living in the current climate, and that is a worry.” [me – would you like some cheese with that whine?]

    This article is just a standard DT rant about cutting the 40% tax rate for its perceived readers

    The only thing is eye-opening about it is what the DT editoral team think is middle class; no wonder the Daily Telegraph loses so much money if its journalists are so higly paid

    (I only read it cause the web edition is free)


  7. @ermine – I’m intrigued with the aspiration to independent schools…

    I was fortunate to get a local authority scholarship to a fee-paying grammar school which would likely have been beyond my parents’ means. That was in the days of 11-plus selection and the advent of comprehensive schools. By no means were my fellow pupils bright sparks (I ended up in the middle streams) but it was an eye opener to visit a state school in my sixth form where the teacher showing us around was pleased to tell us about a pupil taking a couple of ‘O’-levels.

    Fast forward to my own children. Not sending them to an educationally selective school just did not enter my thinking. In my part of London, selective grammar schools are few and far between and highly sought after. We tried but our kids did not make the cut through entrance selection criteria; academic performance in selection tests, catchment area issues. They did much better with the independent sector; after all it is more a business decision for the school.

    I quick comparison of exam results obtained by my kids and their peers in other schools gives me the confirmation bias that justifies my opinion of academic selection. Rather more intangible was a comment from my son after he left school (which at times was a fraught experience for him) that he was very grateful we had made the sacrifice to pay for his education as he could now see the value in terms of increased confidence and attitude to life. Independent schools do rather stress such intangibles, but it seems that their discipline and work ethos does seem to produce well-developed and confident young people. My jaw continually dropped at the self-confidence displayed by the girls at my daughter’s school.

    So what is to be lost here? My financial sacrifice has helped my children enter adult life with educational and life skills to cope. These were the same aspirations my parents had for my brother and I but would not be able to afford to pay for. Is that middle-class? I grew up in an era where class consciousness was much more pronounced (and destructive in my view). I guess by inclination and education I could be portrayed as middle class, and I certainly never had the faux class struggle outlook of some of my university peers. But really it is a label rather than something that defines me.

    Perhaps I do see myself validated through the success of my children; that is more important to me than considerations about my own wants and desires. The issue for Guy (and harking back to your dear ‘friend’ Shona in an earlier post) is that seeking that advantage for one’s children involves putting one’s own aspirations second.

    Is that selfish? Queue hand-wringing about those disadvantaged that can’t afford the step up the ladder? A lot of low middle income families choose to make significant sacrifices to seek out selective education. Many try to get their kids in selective faith schools. That says a lot of families have some serious objections to the state of free secondary education and don’t wish to prejudice their kids future by participating. Wish we didn’t have to pay twice; that is a selfish view but an education voucher system might change the system just as much as in higher education where provider are now having to justify the value of their content to fee payers.

    Apologies if I am taking over your blog!


  8. @Hamzah

    The end result of a private sector education is to enable a child to secure a better social status/ real income stream than that child could otherwise have enjoyed give its social and rational intelligence

    Ever since I left my rather ordinary state school for a Russel Group university I’ve spent the majority of my working days (including university) in places where the privately educated are hugely over-represented even though less than 10% of children ever go to private schools

    “Self confidence” is one way you could describe those attributes for sure…

    …whatever you think about the rights or wrongs of the advantages accrued by a private school education you can see that it does accrue advantages to successful private school graduates from:

    – their huge over-representation in the senior relams of all aspects of the english establishment

    – the ability of private schools to continually raise their fees above the rate of inflation for the las 30 years

    The more rational question I would ask is why are we letting some of these private schools not pay tax by allowing them to classify themselves as charities when they act like money making businesses?


  9. @neverland – re charitable status of schools

    Does not the same argument apply to higher education? Most UK universities have charitable status, yet are now very much encouraged to follow a business ethos.

    As a rejoinder, I would also point out that whilst paying for my own children’s private education I was also paying for the state provision for other children through taxation. Who actually lost out in strict financial terms?

    I think the question over taxation of independent schools is not so much a rational one but a political one.


  10. I love your comments on this piece. I read the original article in the Daily Telegraph and could not believe it – and that was without checking on what a mediocre “public school” this man Guy had chosen. Currently 7% of the school population are in independent schools – is that all the middle class we have? I thought I was middle class, despite earning “only” £70000 per year, and sending my children to a comprehensive school (from where one of them got to Oxford…). Obviously I have got a lot to learn about my socio-economic status. Against that, I am able to take my nearest and dearest out for a meal whenever I want (and do..), and we can also afford to go to the theatre and to concerts as well.

    I am getting really fed up with these articles about “poor overstretched” rich people, when what they really lack is the backbone to stop trying to keep up with the Jonses. Time (I think) for Guy of Daily Telegraph fame to be given a Mr Money Mustache-style face-punch…


  11. Good deconstruction of the DT article ermine, they needed calling out on this squeezed middle meme.

    Like you I wasn’t even close to pulling down that sort of salary, but I had a sniff of the personal cost involved in doing so… and it isn’t/wasn’t for me.

    Within my wider family there are people who have gone that route and paid a heavy price (imo) which does seem to rumble down the generations.

    All completely anecdotal and non-generalisable, but as a parent it would not be consistent for me to encourage my children into a lifestyle that I have no belief in myself.

    So no noble self sacrifice for me and no private school for the kids, no whinging either.

    BTW Meaningless mission speak isn’t confined to private schools, the crap spouted from the Heads of my children’s schools makes me want to sit in a corner and smoke crack. On the plus side even the kids know something’s not right… never too early to learn to question the man.


  12. Another thing about “not eating out”. To a lot of these middle class squeezed whiners this means going to a Michelin starred restaurant and dining with fine wine.

    You can easily get a pre theatre 2 – 3 course meal with drink for 10 – 15 pounds these days.


  13. @Hamzah and Neverland – thanks for the clarifications. Although I went to a Russel Group university I guess engineering isn’t one of the arenas with a huge number of public school folk so I never understood the attraction, but I think I get it now if influence is part of the deal. And indeed the fact that Guy earns much more than I did, though which one of us gets to retire early 😉 Each to their own.

    I also didn’t realise universities are now charities – I thought they were corporations/businesses fair and square! Albeit with some of the bursary trusts etc established as charities.

    Re selection, it’s certainly clear that academically gifted kids benefit from that or streaming/setting whatever it’s called now. However, I did manage to comprehend Fiona Millar’s angle for a short time – it is that less gifted kids benefit from having the academic kids in the school, so their end of the boat goes up as the more gifted kids end sinks. Millar’s argument was that if we are all collectively paying, then the good of the Many outweighs the good of the Few. I can see her point. Which obviously sets parents against society, particularly those of genuinely academically able kids. Which presumably is why they feel the need to by their way out of the system, because their first allegiance is to their own flesh and blood.

    I still don’t get the point of a non-selective independent school such as the one Guy is using. I suppose it is selective by wealth at least.

    @John Guy could do with encountering MMM. Having said that, if he avoids the prepay for university fees trap he might come up smelling of roses if he hits his mortgage hard over the next five years. The one thing he doesn’t want to be is the oldest man on his financial compliance floor when the next headcount squeeze comes round.

    The trouble with the middle class is we’ve outsourced much of it without redefining it by income. If we did the latter, the middle class would probably start at the 30k mark and go up to about 50k. The ONS household gross income chart shows much above 50k is in the 8th and 10th deciles and I can’t square that with the notion of middle class at all, these folks are well off. Being well off doesn’t stop people living above their means, but unlike the poor, that is an elective choice. Thus invoking the face punch!


  14. @Marco Indeed – the Ermine household has been known to eat out and quaff the odd bottle or two on special occasions. And we are a long way off £120k (or even half that, allowing for the school fees). Although I guess the FI exchanges income for static wealth and the ROI on that, where it is hard to draw equivalences


  15. @ermine – I still don’t get the point of a non-selective independent school such as the one Guy is using.

    Your comment prompted me to look at the admission criteria of that school. There are academic selection tests. The criteria for the Foundation entry is a little unusual, but perhaps in keeping with the socially-inclusive part.


  16. @Hamzah my bad, though I note that they provide no information as to criteria or past papers. So it’s impossible to determine where any bar is set!


  17. @ermine – So it’s impossible to determine where any bar is set!

    It is recent enough for me to remember all the preparation for selection tests! Reasonably challenging and probably more searching than the old 11-plus. It was common to have a set of selection tests to make the first cut and then have a second one-to-one interview/ assessment with an admissions tutor. A little chat with the parents might also be part of the package.

    There is quite an industry in coaching kids for these tests. That raises hackles as well, but really I see it as a pre-selection test for the parents as well, since it makes them sit down and seriously think about their kids education.

    The system is muddied at 11-plus if the school has a feeder in from a primary section. Those kids usually have already passed muster, so progression to the secondary is simpler.


  18. @Neverland,
    In the late 1960s (‘Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive’), I went from a very working class background to what later became a Russell Group university and, on graduation, out to the world of work.

    University was where I first encountered large numbers of middle class people let alone privately educated folk. When it came to the milk round, it was noticeable that some privately-educated students did much better so far as job offers were concerned almost irrespective of their academic ability.

    At work, at times, there did seem to be a disproportionate number of privately educated
    people in senior positions. It’s difficult for me to disentangle whether they had acquired much more self-confidence as a result of their public school background or whether it was innate. Other factors such as people liking to surround themselves with others from a similar background who spoke in a similar manner and knew how and were willing to ‘play the game’ were also relevant.

    BTW I don’t believe universities are classed as charities although the HMRC website implies that they are VAT-exempt.

    Regarding paying for private education, I thought the middle classes bought houses in areas with state schools which enjoyed good reputations. Perhaps the house price bubble has put paid to that in the south of England.

    Like Ermine, I don’t have kids but if I did, I’d obviously want to give them the best start in life in the broadest sense: values and ethics, work ethic, a healthy scepticism and an education that maximised their opportunities in later life. So although I’m strongly in favour of a good state education system and oppose the charitable status of public schools, I do have some understanding of why parents make sacrifices in order to sending educate their children privately. Having said that, many will be wasting their money on ‘Tim nice but dim’.

    By and large, I agree with John of Hampton’s comments. When I meet the Guys of this world, I find it hard to resist telling them that they “don’t know they were f***ing born”.


  19. I thoroughly enjoy reading these articles.

    I do have to say that I think it a nonsense that parents need to spend a kings ransom for a private education in order to give children confidence they need. My daughter has just got into UCL with A*AA from a comp and you cant tell her apart from the kids from the expensive fee paying school up the road. In fact most of her mates that have done equally aw well have parents that could easily afford to stump up the fees but chosen not to. I think this is shrewd. However, I do understand why someone may pay for an education in London as I would imagine comp schools in the smog are variable in quality.

    IMHO the best thing you can give kids is time, reading to them every day until they out smart you – which in my case didn’t take too long.

    Guy in the article should take his kids out of the expensive school, kick them up the ar5e, tighten his belt and put 50% of his income into pensions for the next 10 years if he wants to retire with something half sensible.

    Nor do I intend to pay my kids university fees but am investing for them and will buy them a modest house each when they are maybe 25, only way of getting shot of them so we can have some peace and quiet, then its up to them. There is only so much capital and it needs to be deployed wisely.


  20. I am not sure how £120k qualifies as the squeezed middle, I’d say it’s more akin to very well off.

    It’s more than double what my wife and I earn, and we consider ourselves very comfortable 🙂

    I think they mean ‘priced out by richer twits’ more than ‘squeezed middle’.


  21. As far as I can tell all that money simply gives them the “confidence” to produce the load of bollocks stated in the mission statement, then they get elected to parliament where they may get into government. Once in government they then inflict the same bollocks on those of us who work in the semi-normal world of public service.
    I earn a third of what this idiot does and I consider myself well paid compared to many of my colleagues.
    This “Guy” seriously needs to get over himself.
    Squeezed people are those like my uncle who is being pushed out of his minimum wage job because of his age and because his Russian mafia boss can get cheaper younger people to do it. I don’t see journalists rushing to write about him though.


  22. Great deconstruction of the “article” although the actual DT one wasn’t as much about Gaz and Shaz as I thought it might be on first inspection.

    The bit about having to still pay off his mortgage is crazy, what the hell has be been doing for the last 10-15 years? Continually upsizing no doubt?

    One other thing I failed to understand the logic of was this:

    “This week we learn that a fifth of families are moving to bigger houses rather than downsizing when their children fly the nest – because parents fear their fledglings will boomerang straight back when they can’t afford homes of their own.”

    Eh? Am I being thick here or is THE most backwards logic you’ve ever heard? Surely the correct play is to downsize and give them the money you freed up on the proviso they put it down as a deposit on a house? Plus as you have downsized, your monthly outgoings will be cut dramatically so you will be a better position to help them out in future? You’d risk becoming the bank of mum and dad of course but then do you really want them living with you when they are 35 and may even have kids of their own by then? My parents have actually upsized since we moved out but it was purely for their own reasons of wanting (for some strange reason) a bigger house. So I’m calling bullshit on the reasoning behind that fact, I think people are just doing it as that is what they have been sold as the middle class dream, as fits in nicely with the message of your post!

    Moving on quickly… Having to not deal with the management bullshit speak, which is seemingly seeping into schools now(?!), on a daily basis must rate highly on one of the best reasons to FIRE ermine? 🙂 – I’m definitely going to use “gwana-gwana” in the office the first opportunity I can!

    Thanks for the link(s) to my blog by the way, appreciate it!

    Oh by the way in the comments: “Thus invoking the face punch!” is probably one of the best sentences I’ve ever read… haha!


  23. You have a wonderful voice! I found you by following a link from Monevator and I am glad I did. Please keep writing.


  24. @hamzah

    “Who actually lost out[ from my children being sent to private school ] in strict financial terms?”

    More able children from poorer families who went to state schools generally outside London and other pockets of good state education, obviously

    Whether you care about that or not is one of the fault lines in political beliefs in the UK really


  25. Oh dear, what a conundrum for Guy. Local comps not good enough, the grammars too picky and nearby Charterhouse both too picky and too expensive. His best bet is probably to bank on his offspring becoming bankers.


  26. Did anyone see Alan Bennett’s extended interview on BBC4 yesterday night? Fascinating interview in many respects but particularly for his comments on education.
    Not for the prudish – but I don’t imagine many readers of this blog fall into that category.


  27. Thank you for your blog Ermine. It is a great read. It gives good clarity on the state of money and mindset in the UK today and every post makes me think. So thanks again.


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