Time was, round here, when students went home for the holidays, and the rest of the street got a break. Their parents arrived, dutifully loaded filthy duvets and assorted cardboard boxes of prized possessions (skateboards, footballs and frisbees, mostly) into the family car, and took their Pride and Joy home for a few weeks of drying out, nurturing, washing, sleeping, and feeding up. And presumably to steep all their belongings in bleach for the duration.
Predictably, the student house would be burgled in their absence, its dilapidated appearance, enhanced by the window ledges decorated with empty bottles and beer cans, acting as effectively as a large sign on the door reading "Laptop, hi-fi and telly in every empty room - help yourselves". Sometimes the burglary went unnoticed for weeks, the house looking no different pre- and post-ransacking. Neighbours muttered about doing some guerilla window-washing and garden-clearing while no one was in the house, and occasionally someone called Environmental Health when the rubbish-filled back yards began to seep unspeakable stinky liquids into the lane. But mostly we breathed sighs of relief that a few weeks' respite could be had before the family cars came back to disgorge plumper, pinker, cleaner young people to start all over again creating slum housing and turn a pleasant area of family homes into Bacteria Gardens, Garbageville.
It is different these days. Some of the student houses remain tenanted throughout the summer, so we remain the Neighbourhood That Never Sleeps At Night. One has to wonder what that's about. Why won't they go home? Do they have enough money to pay a full rent all through the holidays, as well as maintain their prodigious alcohol consumption? Or are they orphans? Unloved, unwanted, even disowned by their families? Should we be feeling sorry for them instead of bitter and twisted about them?
I have another theory: today's parents have evolved; they have gone for Empty Nest Syndrome as a positive life choice, and denied themselves their traditional role of unpaid servant and provider to their gigantic beer-sodden cuckoos. Instead, they have secured their own orderly houses with sensible locks, packed their pristine belongings and taken themselves off on holiday while Young Cuckoo stays in his/her student house, continuing to foul his/her own nest and drive the hypertensive neighbours demented. Somehow, I can't help feeling that their parents have made the right choice, and hope that they are having a quiet and peaceful summer somewhere that doesn't look like here. Bitter and twisted? Oh yes.