Big babies who just won’t fly the nest

Italian parents have been dealt a blow by the courts in their battles with the “bamboccioni”, the big babies who won't leave home.


Apart from starving them, just how do you get rid of "Kippers"?

Daily Mail columnist Tom Utley says that his heart "burst with fellow feeling" for the Italian father, a struggling writer, who took his 28-year-old son to court in the hope of forcing him to get a job. The father was unsuccessful, as you may have read. A judge ordered him to carry on supporting his stay-at-home son.

So now the son, who has already taken one protracted degree in literature, can carry on doing the postgraduate course for which he has enrolled at Bologna University in "experimental cinema" while his father has to go on supporting him. The case, as The Daily Telegraph puts it, underlines Italy's problem with "bamboccioni" spoilt "big babies' who refuse to leave home and instead sponge off their parents.

"Oh how I sympathise with that struggling writer, burdened with the financial responsibilities of fatherhood for so much longer than he had envisaged," says Utley. He and his wife, like many other British parents, have bred a "fair few" bamboccioni themselves, or "Kippers" Kids In Parents' Pockets, Eroding Retirement Savings as they're known in Britain. He still has two sons left at home: one, aged 22, at least has a steady job and "some prospect of moving out in the course of the next ten years or so"; the other, aged 24, is as authentic a Kipper as you're likely to meet.

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

The latter shows "not the slightest inclination to settle down to a steady job" and won't sign up to claim Jobseeker's Allowance, Utley thinks, because this might "oblige him" to try and find one. "I say this with all the love in the world, but apart from starving him to death by refusing to feed him, how is a poor parent to get rid of such a lad?" The "most unmaterialistic of souls", he enjoys football and reading The Guardian.

When he talks about redistributing wealth, Utley tells him journalists on his favourite paper live "like absentee landlords in the 18th century", feeding off the Scott Trust while never doing a profitable day's work. The Scott Trust makes its profits from other companies, some staffed by workers on very low wages, thus redistributing wealth "from the country's poorest to the wealthy likes of Polly Toynbee and our son's particular favourite left-winger, Owen Jones". Even speeches like this though, concedes Utley, don't seem "to drive our boy away".

Chasing the waves at 40

In The Daily Telegraph the other day, someone called Jonathan Bennett wrote about how he found himself without a job, girlfriend or home in his early 40s, so decided to "go surfing". He "blew" what was left of his cash on an ancient VW camper van, with a bed, cooker and "something that looked like a fridge" and ended up spending 14 months sleeping by the sea everywhere he could, covering 89 beaches: he surfed through snow in Scarborough, and ice froze the inside of his van in Cromer. An interesting way to cope with a mid-life crisis.

Tabloid money 'What's happened to BHS isn't capitalism, it's cannibalism'

"But instead, Allen hired a 700ft cruise liner for his rock stars and scientists' bash. First, Allen flew most of his 250 guests first class to Singapore, where famous names including Pink Floyd's Nick Mason, Bryan Ferry and former BBC chief Alan Yentob boarded the Seven Seas Voyager for a 12-day meeting of minds' trip. At each port of call in Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia, the correct foreign currency was laid out on guests' beds, and Allen spent the entire trip making sure everyone was happy. And the bill? Insiders say it would have cost Allen around £3m to charter the vessel. Not your average cruise, then!"

As Sir Philip Green "purrs contentedly in his Monte Carlo home, nursing a well-fed gut with the dimensions of a prize-winning marrow, back in Blighty 11,000 former employees at BHS are left behind to rot", says Tony Parsons in The Sun. "Some say: Well, this is capitalism, red in tooth and claw.' But capitalism should have a heart. What has happened to BHS over the past 16 years is not capitalism it is cannibalism."

"Why is it the local councils who whine most about having no money that waste it so blatantly?" asks The Sun. "Take Hull City Council. It has had one of the deepest cuts in funding due to unfair treatment from the government since 2010', the local MP Diana Johnson claims. Yet this same authority is splurging up to £50,000 a year on spies to rummage through bin bags and check if residents have rinsed out bottles and jars. Given the supposed disaster facing its vital services, how can Hull Council justify absurd and costly Big Brother tactics?"