Hilary Fannin: I don’t have the stomach for another boom

It’s creeping back in: hibernation time appears to be over for the acquisitive middle classes

Photograph: Thinkstock

Photograph: Thinkstock

 

If I suddenly turn up as a hit-and-run victim, my rumpled corpse reposing on the kerbside next to a collaterally damaged brown bin, my slumped, unresponsive self decorated with the detritus of other people’s dinner tables and some dismayed garden waste, I want you to question women of a certain age, and a particular deportment, who are generally to be found spitting vitriol into the Bluetooth and glaring at the other traffic, more often than not from behind the cloudy windshield of an SUV.

I was brought close to extinction this morning by an angry and attractive woman wearing saucer-sized sunglasses and an expression of dire malevolence, simply because I had the temerity to cross a suburban street at normal pedestrian speed around about school-dropping-off time.

The woman, presumably having unloaded (or quite possibly ejected) her litter from her lofty car outside the school gates, was hastening to her appointment when I had the gall to cross the road from the yawning shopping centre, having purchased four bread rolls for the price of three and a packet of loose-leaf tea. Not that the contents of my shopping bag would have attracted as much attention as my mangled remains (which, incidentally, wouldn’t have been wearing their best underwear) had I ended up underneath her rubber-ringed alloy spokes.

When I stepped off the pavement, I got close enough to her hissing visage to notice her Lycra gymwear, so I’m not being uncharitable when I suggest that she was roaring through the suburban streets in an effort to get to her chest press, or her lat pulldown, or maybe for a tryst with her cross trainer, or a long and glorious voyage on her rowing machine.

 

Fear of recovery

I live in fear of economic recovery. I just don’t have the stomach for another boom, for another battalion of pumped-up thirtysomethings cantering through the local park on career breaks from corporate finance, twirling children called Anu and Delaney over their vertically ironed beach-wave tresses, their muscular upper arms honed by thrice-weekly sessions on a Pilates machine.

I can’t take further squadrons of spray-tanned calf muscles marching up and down the seafront in scented gangs, as they push Druantia and Isibeal to their baby yoga class, their pert backsides (which incidentally contain enough muscle power to flatten steel) acting as stark reminders of the havoc age and gravity have wreaked on oneself.

 

Generalised anxiety

I ordered coffee and a scone in the recently refurbished coffee shop in my local park the other morning. I sat outside in the mellow yet quietly cruel autumn light, nursing my exhaustion and the generalised anxiety that comes free with being old enough to remember Golly Bars and Bruce Forsyth before he was cryogenically frozen.

I was trying to ignore the waves of peacock parenting coming from the table next to mine. (“No, Kennocha, you have to stay in your buggy while Mummy finishes her green tea and her soursop muffin, and then we can go to your exploring percussion class.”)

I was feeling chilly and middle-aged and more than a little confused. The mummy in question was wearing a string vest over her toned abdomen but had a bobble hat pulled down over her poker-straight hair, a seasonal mix of outfits designed to perplex the infantile and the perpetually beleaguered.

I was also wondering why the pretty waitress with the plaits (who looked about 12 but probably had a master’s in new media and ancient Irish folklore) hadn’t brought any jam with my scone. A furtive glance at the menu revealed that the damned thing was imbued instead with cilantro and pistachio, or hand-ground chilli flakes and truffle shavings, or some equally exotic partnership.

Meanwhile, back at the next table, the length of time Mummy was taking to eat her soursop muffin was going down like a cup of cold quinoa with Kennocha, who I didn’t think needed any help whatsoever banging his drum. Beating out the tumult of his frustration on the chrome foot-bar of his aerodynamic buggy with his all-leather booties, he seemed entirely confident about expressing himself.

Man alive, give me strength. It’s creeping back in; not that the poor are getting any less poor, or the dispossessed any more possessed, but hibernation time appears to be over for the acquisitive middle classes. The bobble-hat brigade are polishing up their cosmetic dentistry, dusting off their Canadian goose-down parkas. This could be a long winter.

Oh, and mind yourself crossing the road; it’s a jungle out there.

  • Hilary Fannin’s memoir, Hopscotch, is published by Doubleday Ireland, €12.99
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