CUCKOO in the nest? Don’t make them too comfortable…

It’s that time of year when parents are criss-crossing the country, cars weighed down with laptops, kettles, duvets and students. All leaving home and eager to start a brand new life.

Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, many brand new graduates are home again, they and their battered possessions showing the wear and tear of the last three years. As the summer holidays and post-exam celebrations drift into autumn and an uncertain future, they’re wondering what to do.

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It’s not easy, especially for those of us out in the sticks away from big cities and job opportunities. Dick Whittington might have done alright with a cat and a spotted hanky. Don’t think he’d get very far now.

Most new graduates, of course, are just home short-term while they find their feet and a job. Then, fortified with a few months home cooking and unlimited hot water, they’re ready to launch themselves into the world.

Others take longer…

After all, if you’re getting free food and lodging, use of the car your washing done, as well as sleepover rights for boy/girlfriend then why would you want to rush away?

And that’s how the rot sets in. I hear disturbing stories of too many capable, qualified twenty-somethings still showing no signs of progress two years or more after leaving university.

We all want to help our children find their place in the world. Both mine bounced back at various times- as soon as we’d got rid of one, his brother would arrive with a van load of possessions – but it’s meant to be short-term help, not a long term lifestyle choice.

If you can live a comfortable life without having to get off your backside then the incentive to get a job diminishes daily. Idleness is very addictive. The longer it goes on, the harder it is to get going, to get a proper grip on life.

My niece currently has two recent graduates home again around her kitchen table. In between helping them with job applications and flat hunting she has them looking after animals, visiting ageing relations, cooking meals, doing charity runs and generally making themselves useful. She’s resisting the temptation to mother them too much, she says, because they’re not children any more. She wants them to WANT to move out, if only because they want some peace from her endless chivvying.

Home is the place where, when you have to go here, they have to take you in.

Of course. But sometimes the kindest thing we can do for our children is to roll up the welcome mat and give them a little nudge out of the nest.

How else will they learn to fly?

THE Duchess of Cambridge’s brother James Middleton’s business is plunging further into debt, about £2million worth apparently, and I’m really really pleased.

Not because I have any grudge towards him, not at all. Good luck to the man.

But if his business failing means that most of us have discovered that our lives are complete without marshmallows with personalised photos on, then maybe the world is not as mad as I thought.

Which is quite reassuring.

IS it just me, or does anyone else find that PPI ad really creepy? It’s the one where a robotic head of Arnold Schwarzenegger is on little wheels, following shoppers round the supermarket and barking “Do it now!” It’s like something out of a Roald Dahl story.

I don’t know if it will make anyone check their PPI claim but it’s certainly scary enough to give me nightmares.

WE had visitors last week – thank goodness. It’s about the only way I get inspired to have a good clean. Especially as our spare bedroom is downstairs so is a handy dumping ground for coats, high chairs, ironing, mending, stuff for Oxfam and things-we-don’t-quite-know-what-to-do-with. Sorting it all out and making up a crisp clean bed is actually quite satisfying,.

Luckily, we like our visitors. Unlike Charles Dickens. He and Hans Christian Andersen were great fans of each other – until Andersen came to stay. He invited himself to Dickens’ house for a fortnight and ended up staying five weeks, during which time he complained that the house was cold and there was no one to shave him. He was also given to lying on the lawn, crying.

Not your ideal visitor.

No wonder when he finally left, Dickens wrote on a mirror “Andersen stayed five weeks and it seemed like AGES” and they never spoke again.

The visit from hell has just been revealed in a letter from Dickens, sold last week.

As the old saying has it – visitors like fish, stink after three days.

Keep your visits short. And crying on the lawn is probably not a good idea.

CONGRATULATIONS to tennis superstar Serena Williams on the birth of her daughter Alexis. Serena is already talking of getting back on the tennis circuit within months.

There were unspecified complications after the birth and mother and baby were in hospital for a week, so it can’t have been easy. But in the Instagram pic of Alexis and her mum, Serena has even bothered with splendid curling false eyelashes. In the circs, that takes true style and determination.

Which makes you think that when Serena gets back to playing, she’ll be back to winning too.

READING that experts in Australia now say that drinking red wine can help you keep slim, I look eagerly in the mirror.

Mmm….. No. Sorry, it’s just NOT TRUE. Shame. Or maybe I should drink more…