Don't mention the R word.

So here's the thing.

Times are tough and everyone is tightening their belt.

I'm not unsympathetic.I know I'm one of the lucky ones. If I - touch wood - should lose my job I don't have to think about putting food on the table for a family or paying for school fees.

If the worst came to the worst for me I'd have to go home and live with my parents. Not a successful project in the past but one I'm sure we could struggle through again with the benefit of hindsight. After eighteen years of frayed tempers they figured out not to talk to me in the morning and I learnt how to telephone and let them know if I'm staying out instead of arriving home twelve hours later than agreed.

Now before I continue can I just stress this is not a tirade on the elderly and their medical cards or people on welfare or the recently unemployed.

I'm basing these observations solely on my own middle class group of friends, family and colleagues who appear to have become obsessed with the cost of everything since the budget, with its levies and cuts, was announced.

This time last year the only conversation about cost was how cheap a flight to New York was on Aer Lingus.

But since the word recession reappeared in our everyday vocabulary it seems everyone is suddenly shocked by the high price of living in Ireland.

The most annoying conversation is the groceries one. For the last two years - at least- consumer groups have been calling on us all to demand cheaper prices in supermarkets. We've all been asked to take part in anti shopping days. And we've all agreed its outrageous that groceries in the North cost less than they do in the Republic.

But we've done nothing about it. We've read the articles and been momentarily outraged. Until now. Now we're constantly outraged.

I'm not saying its right and believe me I don't like spending a huge chunk of my wages on food and cleaning products but we had our chance to act and we didn't. There's very little point - or justification - in getting antsy about it now

We were the people buying the houses we knew weren't really worth the asking price we paid for them, we were buying the fancy cars because the banks kept giving us money and paying for overpriced clothes and groceries because our credit card limits kept extending.

I'm not saying anyone deserves to be broke nor do I want to see someone lose their home or livelihood but we all knew the Celtic Tiger couldn't last forever. Admittedly no one expected it to curl up and die as rapidly as it did, but the signs have been there and we all chose to ignore them.

The problem most of us got used to a lifestyle that wasn't real. For the majority of people I know, myself included, the high living was highly dependent on loans and credit. And we've come to see luxuries such as holidays and gym membership as the norm. Really they're not. So if we have to do without them for a while it won't kill us. Its just not pleasant.

I'm not saying I haven't moaned about the price of things myself but I think its time we accepted the situation and moved on.

Hopefully the recession will pass sooner rather than later and we can all go back to enjoying our low fat soy milk mocha lattes and buying named brand groceries without feeling guilty.

In the meantime suddenly the bad weather doesn't seem such a depressing conversation starter after all.


Darren said...

I'm with you on this. I'm far from wealthy - I just have an office job in city centre, but by putting a bit aside and not going overboard on the spending, we have enough money to go away on a New York holiday in January.

We go out to pub/gigs/events regularly and still have money for the odd box set. Recession has hit and this hasn't changed much for us. We'll be changing our habits a small bit and perhaps having more house parties than going to the pub, but there's nothing wrong with that, is there?

Ray said...

Sorry, I'm just reading this now.

NY in January?

You fucking bastards.