Jess has just waved goodbye to her son, off backpacking to Oz. She's left with two teenage daughters and husband Matt, all of whom find themselves regularly featured in her popular and lighthearted newspaper column in which she conveys to her readers an enviably cheery muddle of family life.
Things become less rosy when Matt, after twenty years with the same firm, is made redundant. Only Jess sees the potential calamity in this. Matt is delighted with his new freedom and hangs around at the local bar with other barely-employable men, drinking and drifting and dreaming up hopeless schemes to make them all rich. Daughter Natasha, meanwhile, has taken up with a mysterious boy who lives in an abandoned car on the allotment and her younger sister Zoe is burdened with a surfeit of secrets. For Jess it becomes ever-harder to maintain the carefree façade for her readers. Of course she could just tell them the truth..
The starting point for this was a friend who had suddenly lost his job in a management cull after many years. I pictured hordes of similarly displaced middle-aged males (at risk of stereo-typing here, I'd say women have more practical resources in similar circumstances) roaming the streets, making trouble and generally making a nuisance themselves.
I also, with relevant permission, used experiences of my daughter: the boy Natasha falls for being a mix of the rather troublesome (understatement!) romance objects that my otherwise balanced child had opted for in her own early teens.