Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Mr Micawber and me

Goodness, I'm about to sound like a real old whingeing puritan, and I failed my economics A level (it was soooo boring that I fell asleep, literally, several times in class, only ever getting the O level grade), so I probably should keep my trap shut, but...
Everyone is in an almighty panic that people aren't spending. The same way (or is it the opposite way?) that there was equal panic that everyone was maxing out their credit cards for the whole of the last decade. How can both these stances be right?
If you're facing hard times (and who isn't?) doesn't it make absolute sense to curtail your spending, wear last years clothes (in my case I still wear stuff that's twenty years old, but then I never was a fashion plate and the livestock don't give a hoot), and basically live off what you've got wherever possible? I'm not talking about UK poverty here, which is a real and separate major concern, but about those of us who have to live more frugally than we've had to in the past.
I'd have thought the press and the government would have been applauding us for not stripping the shops bare at Christmas, for being more reasoned and responsible about our expenditure, and for finally having the strength to resist the cult of more, more, more, spend, spend, spend.
I suspect that 2009 will be the year of anti-conspicuous consumption; grunge will be back. Muddy ten year old Volvo estates will be the car of choice; charity shop clothes with the Oxfam tag still swinging from the collar will be the thing; huge plasma screens bought in 2008 will only be able to show yet more re-runs of The Good Life in 2009; private schooling will gurgle down the drain; and bangers and mash with onion gravy will become the plat du jour.
For the next decade I predict:
  1. money management classes in every primary and secondary school
  2. the death of the Porsche
  3. the digging up of flowerbeds and their replacement with veg
  4. demand for allotments skyrocketing
  5. downsizing, downshifting and other euphemisms for one or no income households
  6. that all ex-battery hens will find a home in suburban gardens, producing cheap eggs
  7. the diminishing of the cult of celebrity
  8. the rise of the knitter on the train
  9. less fanfare, less hubris and a curtailed Olympics
  10. an emerging generation of workers with different aspirations and expectations
What are your predictions?


Flowerpot said...

I'm wiht you on all of those predictions Mopsa and a good thing it would be too. But then I'm like you, still in 20 year old clothes!

paula said...

Actually a clever, clever mopsa - excellent post!

Scriptor Senex said...

Sitting here in my twenty plus year old cardie that no one but my wife and son ever see, I imagine your predictions are pretty accurate with two possible exceptions. Those who believe in private education will often put school fees above almost everything else so I don’t think there will be too much effect on them. Secondly. the cult of the celebrity seems to me to be more of a mind-set generational thing than an economic one – you can follow the antics of ‘celebrities’ without imitating them. Indeed, the fact that they will be even more rich (comparatively) could make them even more attractive.

One prediction of my own – that charity shops will become more and more expensive, a trend which in the North west has already started. Oxfam clothes (because many of them are well-made and ‘branded’) are now more expensive than buying imports from the local market.

garfer said...

The sad death of organic farming as the cash strapped public refuses to pay more for a real carrot or a pork chop that doesn't have the taste and texture of cardboard.

Winchester whisperer said...

Yes Mopsa - I don't see why Keynes should take all the flak for this either - he advocated spending on investment, not consumer fripperies. What will happen? We'll be bankrupt and we'll be taken over by Brussels or will the 1930s scenario pan out ie the only way to employ people will ne on munitions ahead of the next war? Anyway, you are well placed, being self-sufficient. Somebody on the radio was suggesting that farmers will be employing ex-hedge fund managers as sheep counters so perhaps you could now find some cheaper alternatives to your electronic tag requirement?

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Great post Mopsa. I think we will see a levelling out of a society that knows the cost of everything but the value of nothing – hopefully a reversal of that trend. Recessions are hard but there is an upside for all of that. People from all walks of life and all professions lose jobs and today’s company director, hedge fund manager becomes just another ordinary Joe with hopefully some greater understanding and compassion for those less well off. Acts of charity become more commonplace as people realise what it is like to come so close to losing everything.

I hope as the economy settles down we will see much less of a gap between rich and poor and a equalling out of society as a whole.

As for celebrity - stick them all in a big liner, float it out to sea and scupper it.

Mopsa said...

Well, this seems to have struck a chord!

Fpot - I bet you still look good in them tho and Moll doesn't care, does she?

Ta Paula! Certainly confused Mopsa!

SS - I really think (hope) that the celeb mags and the folk they follow will appear craven in the face of recession; obscene wealth will appear just that, and not clever. Hopefully intelligence will be seen as clever, not being Mrs Beckham.

Garfer, I just hope more people will buy their meat from local farmers and not add to supermarket

WW - brilliant! But I'm not sure I could cope with a hedge fund manager - I might find all my hedges going up in smoke too!

MOB - thank you, and yes, we are all ordinary Joes.

Eurodog said...

We have lived in recession and struggled for the last 15 years so I know what you mean.
We drive a clapped-out Volvo estate which we bought when we first had Belle. In fact this very morning the exhaust fell off in the middle of a busy road much to the annoyance of the other road users and my daughter who was late for school.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Mr Micawber is one of my favourite characters. It seems you can't win with governments! I like your predictions.

Anonymous said...


Having just started the business I can only hope that people will still want luxury ice cream - even if only as an occasional take-home treat for dessert, rather than going to a restaurant for a full meal.

Admittedly this week I did purchase a cheap-but-comfortable pair of 'sloppy' charity shop trousers to wear whilst feeding the goats; said slacks cost three quid & if they last as long as my other averages (15 years) I will have at least got decent value for money out of 'em.

Admittedly I would carry on wearing my other ancient leggings; however as the crotch has gone in the majority of pairs I wouldn't want to scare my goats in the event that I had to bend over their trough at tea-time...! ;-)

mountainear said...

Well said Mopsa - looks like we got out of the 'rat race' just in time.

I remember growing vegetables in the front garden of our suburban semi back in 1975. I think our motives had more to do with being members of the awkward squad rather than a desire to actually produce food. (Who at the age of 23 is actually going to eat a row of beetroot?) Happy days are here again?

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