the mattress family

No.  This is not about homeless people; rather, quite the opposite.  Homeful people, perhaps we could say.  Families which never lose their members.

I remember a Spanish El País article from the late 1990s (I think it was); will not link to it here as I believe the Spanish now charge for linking, or at the very least for quoting.

Anyhow, the article conceptualised and explained the idea of “la familia colchón”: loosely translating as “the mattress family”.  At the time, the Spanish economy was firing on all six beautiful cylinders.  Even so, and even when a son or daughter got a good job (and/or got married), they either stayed at home or stayed closely tied to home.

More than just emotionally – practically too.

I once had as an English student an executive for a northern Spanish multinational tyre firm who rented accommodation during the week and went back to the parental home at weekends up in Bilbao to get his washing done.

He was in his forties.

He argued that, in fact, his mother preferred it this way.

It may have been the case; I don’t know.

Today, I read in the Guardian, that this trend is rapidly expanding a couple of decades later.  The children of the golden generation of well-protected pensions and cheap Ryanair flights to the Mediterranean sun are looking not to bust their guts in tiring work but, instead, to emulate their parents’ hedonistic lifestyles.

If sips of Rioja on pavement cafés amongst expat convos can rightly be called hedonism.

I’m being harsh here, of course.  My own family is doing just the same: but rather than taking advantage of parents by not working hard, our offspring are looking to move into arts-related sectors where a good deal of the payback is intellectual and emotional.

And they are working very hard to achieve it.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I have striven at personal and familial cost to do the same all my life, so I can hardly complain if my children now aim to do the same.

As the bottom falls out of the language-training market, and writing becomes an evermore cheapened commodity, I wonder what I might do in the future.

Yet one thing I am sure of: I would not like my children to end up spending their lives working at something that did not engage them fully; what’s more, spending their lives at something the machines are shortly going to eat.

Maybe the mattress family must exist for a very good reason: shortly, none of our jobs will be safe as we rush to escape encroaching fate:

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