Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

My fault for being part of the happy, wealthy Anniversary Generation, writes JENNI MURRAY


Now, at the age of 72, I was two years old when the young Princess Elizabeth became queen after her father’s death, and three when we saw her coronation on television. So yes, I confess, I am a member of what the researchers at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) called the Platinum Jubilee Generation this week.

According to their report, we are statistically the happiest and wealthiest group of Britons to have ever lived.

We were born into a new and functioning National Health Service. Our parents and grandparents had been concerned about the cost of health care. There were no worries for us. We were the first generation to receive free protection from common childhood illnesses that killed so many of our predecessors. Smallpox was eradicated, measles and whooping cough were no longer feared. Maternity care was a given.

Midwives will monitor you before, during and after the birth. Health visitors were present to follow the development of a child, no appointment was necessary for a visit to the general practitioner. If you were really sick, the doctor would come to your home as often as he or she thought necessary.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) identified the Platinum Jubilee Generation. Statistically, this is the happiest and wealthiest group of Britons who ever lived

Education was free. It never occurred to us that we would have to pay to go to a good school. Fees for colleges or universities were unheard of. Everything was paid for and a living allowance, calculated on the basis of your parents’ income, was awarded by the local government. My degree cost me nothing except hard work and fear.

I got a job that I loved relatively easily. The starting salary was quite low – £1,800 a year, but it was enough in 1973 and it steadily increased as I rose through the ranks.

I bought my first house at the age of 25. It was a Georgian terrace in Clifton in Bristol and cost my then husband Brian and me £7,000. It needed quite a bit of renovation and it helped that Brian was an architect with brilliant design and practical skills. The marriage didn’t last, but we made a nice profit that allowed us both to start over with our own property.

I’ve always owned my own home and weathered the storms of high interest rates of the late 1970s and 1980s and, sure enough, as the IFS has predicted, I now own two homes, along with 772,000 – one in seven. – of my contemporaries. (Eighty-five percent of the Platinum Jubilee Generation are homeowners.)

However, I wonder if I may have taken advantage of the housing zip code lottery. I doubt I would have benefited to such a degree from the rise in house prices if I had chosen to spend my life where I was born – in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

None of the houses I own are big enough to think I should think about downsizing. One is in London because of the practical need for a place to stay when working in the city. The other is on the coast and large enough to accommodate the family. Of course I feel guilty – a feeling I suspect I share with the majority of my contemporaries. We are well aware of the hardships our parents and grandparents endured during and after the war.

Jenni Murray (pictured) says she feels about her happiness knowing what her parents and grandparents suffered during the war

Jenni Murray (pictured) says she feels about her happiness knowing what her parents and grandparents suffered during the war

We were born with rationing but were greatly valued as the post-war generation. We would be the ones who ‘never had it so good’. And so it has been. Some of us were in the fortunate position of receiving a gold-plated final salary pension from our employer.

As a freelancer at the BBC, I wasn’t that lucky, but I did feel like I was funding a private pension. I was lucky enough to be one of the women who got the state pension at age 60 when I expected it. Those who followed were not so lucky.

The 1995 Pensions Act saw the retirement age rise and continues to do so with alarming frequency. It is our children who have been hit the hardest. There was no free higher education for them. Those who went to college are still struggling to pay off the loans that paid for their tuition and living expenses, a debt that will hang around their necks for years to come.

Everything has been difficult for them. Salaries for even the most respected professions — doctors, teachers, veterinarians — have not risen to the level it takes to make a down payment to buy a home.

Mom and Dad’s bank has been helpful in a number of cases, but young people often have a great sense of pride and want to be seen doing it themselves. I remember feeling this way and welcoming my father beaming with pride into my first home.

But things, for all of us, are not what they used to be. The IFS determined that in 1952, life expectancy for 70-year-olds was 79 for men and 82 for women. It has now risen to 86 for men and 88 for women. But who will take care of us when we deteriorate? Will an ambulance come when we call? Will there be a bed for us in the hospital? Will we have enough money to pay astronomical nursing home costs?

I’m not sure my final years will be as comfortable as I’d hoped. Could it be that our luck is running out?

Can’t Harry share his house?

Meghan and Harry (pictured) return to their former home, Frogmore Cottage forces Eugenie and Jack out of the house

Meghan and Harry (pictured) return to their former home, Frogmore Cottage forces Eugenie and Jack out of the house

Welcome home Meghan, Harry, Archie and Lilibet – but what a pity your arrival has led to faithful Eugenie, Jack and August leaving their home at Frogmore Cottage. Couldn’t have shared for the weekend? You won’t be here long.

Beat the airport hell – go by boat

This week I’m a guest speaker on the world’s last great liner, Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. What a week to leave home. I’m sorry to miss all the celebrations for the Queen. But I can recommend the old-fashioned pleasure of going by boat. Technology mid-Atlantic is not easy, but in six days we sail slowly and quietly to New York. I’m so relieved I didn’t have to wrestle with all the poor people going crazy over canceled flights at UK airports. On board, the time changes gently from day to day, the sea is like a mill pond and there are no chaotic queues. bliss.

  • Thank you, Boris, for being in favor of reducing imperial sizes. I know my weight in stones and pounds. No idea in pounds. I’ve never baked a cake with anything but pounds and grams. My milk comes in pints. I doubt I’m alone.
  • WhatsApp from home: ‘We are okay, but very sad. The house is so empty and joyless. We miss you so much.’ My Ukrainian family can handle it so well. I miss them too.

BBC must not abandon children

Jenni asks why the BBC has decided to put its children's channel CBBC online.  She says young people need their own channel

Jenni asks why the BBC has decided to put its children’s channel CBBC online. She says young people need their own channel

It is certainly the duty of a public service broadcaster to serve everyone – and that should include children. So why on earth has the BBC decided to put its children’s channel CBBC online?

Young people need their own channel to see great stories about themselves. I have always regretted the loss of children’s radio in 2009. It taught me to listen, a skill that too few young people have today

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