The middle

I have often told this story of being a student at St Andrew's and then working as a labourer in Glasgow during the holidays so forgive me if you have heard it before.

At St Andrew's I encountered lots of old money people, people who had always had money, didn't think about money, and had loads of confidence.

During the holidays I worked with people who were often alcoholic, living in digs, had no money, never ever had, and never expected to.

Both groups seemed comfortable in themselves though. One group because they had so much money and the other because they had so little. They could "afford" to be themselves. Both groups were good to be around and a formative part of my education.

In society it seems that it is the middle that has a problem. We are always trying to "get somewhere" to "be someone". We are aspirational and constantly dissatisfied. We compete with each other to get up a fictitious ladder first. We think that buying stuff will make us happy. We cause havoc with our dysfunctions. We are not always good to be around.

It is the same in the workplace. Those at the bottom and the top know where they are and what is expected of them. The middle gets confused and stressed.

I am clearly making sweeping generalisations, and people in any group in society can face problems, but this is a pattern I have seen played out over and over. None of this is anyone's "fault" but it is a shame. Does it have to be this way?