Fiona Duff: Future may be bright after all

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Ever since my older daughter started university I have been slightly concerned about her future.

Frankly it looked about as certain as the name (and indeed father) of Katie Price’s next child. Setting off to a city in England might mean only a three-year course, but with that comes a £27,000 bill at the end of her studies.

What with it having been in the middle of the worst recession in living memory and the papers full of stories about a “lost generation”, what chance would she have in the big bad world?

But last week it looked as though there was hope on the horizon. Within a month of her starting her final year the jobless figure in the UK is at its lowest for more than six years.

Last week I also had lunch with an old friend who now lives in Wales. Her daughter recently moved to Edinburgh and she excitedly told me that she had been offered no fewer than three jobs, all of which were relevant to the course from which she had just graduated and all of which she would happily have accepted. Sitting there with a huge grin on her face it was hard to think of her as being lost in any way. Apart, that is, from finding her way around a new city.

Of course, what we don’t know are exactly what these new jobs are that have been taken on by the previously unemployed. Not all will be as lucky as my friend’s daughter; their perfect job might be as elusive as Lord Lucan – but that is not the point.

A few years ago I heard a speech given to schoolchildren from a captain of industry. What was important when looking at candidates, he said, was not always the quality of their degree. It was their ability to roll up their sleeves and do a bit of hard graft rather than rolling around on the sofa watching Cash in the Attic and other daytime TV programmes. “Even if you are flipping burgers,” he said, “you will learn something – even if it’s the best way to flip burgers.”

This is the sort of advice children need. Yes my dears, follow your dream, but cope with reality. Most of all, just earn some money, because the Bank of Mum and Dad doesn’t have unlimited funds.

Why I dread turkey time

As the nights draw in there is only one thought among members of my family – who will host this year’s Christmas lunch?

Calls from my mother are ignored in case she gets you at a weak moment and suddenly, before you know it, turkey time is upon us. Food requirements aside, I have to scour the streets for enough chairs to put around the table. As it is I have drawn the short straw again.

My sister-in-law is actually a cook, so for her rustling up a meal for about 15 people is a walk in the park, rather than a hike up the Pentlands for yours truly.

However, she has a water-tight excuse as some of her family who live abroad are making a rare appearance over yuletide so she’ll be spending December 25 with her bloodline. My own sister has moved into a new flat and claims that she is going to start building, or rather demolishing, work soon so her gaff will be a health hazard.

And there you have it – no choice in the matter. Somehow, I think my friends who have opted to book tables at Howies, opening for the first time on Christmas Day, have probably got the right answer.

It’s got to be Gordon for my Anne

These days there seems to be a fine line between being a fan and being a stalker. Exactly when does having an encyclopaedic knowledge of someone turn in to some sort of compulsive disorder?

I ask because a friend, whom I shall call Anne (because that is indeed her name) met me for coffee the other day. Suddenly, halfway through a conversation, she whipped out her phone and waved it in front of my face. “Do you know this man?” she enquired, pointing to the screensaver.

Oddly enough I did; it was TV wildlife presenter Gordon Buchanan, left, whose show at the Lyceum next Monday I already have tickets to see. As husband is busy that evening I asked if she would like to accompany me. I didn’t really think about the consequences, but later checked the tickets.

Thank goodness that we shall be in the dress circle, where the opportunity for her to storm the stage and attempt a very public snog will be greatly diminished.

Reach for the Sky channel

Have you seen the trailers for new Sky Atlantic series Fortitude? It’s hard to miss as it has a very starry cast including Sophie Grabol, Christopher Eccleston, above, and Michael Gambon. So why am I mentioning it? Well, dear readers, you should all be watching it as the writer is Edinburgh-based Simon Donald. And what’s more I know him, in a totally non-stalkerish way, and am so looking forward to the series that I shall be paying extra in order to get Sky channels for the first few weeks of next year.