Monday, September 22, 2008

Jolly little game, poverty

"£1-a-day", "cheap thrills", "how to scrimp stylishly"...But when those toffy, stuck-up brats recite their jolly chronicle to Bunty and Mufty as they chuckle over their 'divine' credit-crunch canapés, they forget they can escape it anytime they want.

Human nature is unbelievable. Look at how a certain category of people -the journalistic breed, to be more accurate- are now involved head to toe in the "Let's play the Credit Crunch Game". So much fun, isn't it? Like the old notion of "slummin' it", where affluent people find contentment and collect street-cred as they play hard-up for a limited period of time only.

Well, two weeks ago, we were trying to highlight how "the credit crunch" has become the corniest, most redundant formula of 2008. Whatever the papers are blabbering on, "credit crunch" is their heaven-sent bail that will hand them yet another lazy headline. Now, there's more. Last week's papers were packed with anecdotes of one Kath Kelly who decided to live on £1-a-day for a year following a drunken dare and ended up writing a book about it.

The Independent thought it'd be a good idea to dispatch a young journalist to try and do it for a week. How cool, man. Like being a student over again. Read his article "Cheap thrills?" and you'll get a sense of how Jamie Merrill loved it and is now probably bragging about his Dickensian-like, 'freeganism-embracing' 'experiment' at every "dinner party" (because these people have dinner parties, whatever that means) as he corks another bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.

And this is exactly what's offensive about it. This whiff of Victorian-style elitism, the social experiment dressed up as concern for the plight of the invisible "victims of the credit crunch". When those toffy, stuck-up brats recite their jolly chronicle to Bunty and Mufty as they chuckle over their 'divine' credit-crunch canapés, they forget they can escape it anytime they want. If they are not up to the task and can't see their 'dare' through, they have a stable bank account to go back to, and none of the back-of-your-mind anxiety of having their miserable amounts frozen when the bank decides you're too far behind with your credit card payments. They've got their good job, unlike some temping call-centre crap that will hardly bring them back within their overdraft limit. And when Jamie Merrill brags about the dozens of miles he turned out while cycling against the credit crunch, he should do more than just touch upon the fact most people (especially the not so young) wouldn’t be able to manage one hundred yards on a bike.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown was spot on when she mocks "this playing at poverty" and the "highly paid journalists [who] are penning advice on thrift (how to knit your own blanket and resuscitate dead oranges) and the joys of Lidl and Aldi". Likewise, Sue Carroll, in the Mirror, tells us of the stories she's heard of people who "must make a bag of rocket salad stretch a whole two days".

But Alibhai-Brown and Carroll are the exception in a sea of self-indulgent, oily journalism.

Take a look at this revolting, no less, article by Polly Vernon in yesterday's Observer. The words atrocious and cringeworthy don’t even begin to describe it. Again, talking about the credit crunch like a jolly little game that is so much fun to a have a go at (for a while). "Goodbye steak and champagne", it heaves, "Hello, mince and £3.99 Pinot Grigio", complete with tips such as "Reheated leftovers is the molecular gastronomy of the credit-crunched future". And "Our favourite? Brisket. So retro and ration-y". Splendid. Or how about: "It's legit to order tap. More than legitimate - it's de rigeur". Mange tout, mange tout. It'd make Del Boy proud. Not to mention the "Lidl's must-have bag…Cool as Christmas, with its pop-art graphic, and its endless capacity for carrying stuff."

Being skint has never been so much fun, has it, Ms. Vernon...


forrest gump said...

This is unbeatable:
"West Sussex County Council have launched new classes to teach folk about saving cash".
Here's to your council tax!

The Patriot said...

So, you smartass, what are the papers supposed to write about when food is clearly getting too pricey? Pretend nothing's going on?

Stan Moss said...

The patriot,
for god's sake read the article before commenting!

Emma said...

So" Patriot, you le Pen lover,

Hagley Road is not, I repeat NOT a free anger-management or social work blog, therefore if you're having a bad day we'd appreciate it if you didn't spam the site with bile, especially since it appears that you don't read our articles before commenting on them.

The point that our writer was making about the credit crisis and effects on budgeting and food was that rich people (or people who don't have to worry about feeding themselves) who act like its a little game are pathetic, and are an insult to the millions of people in Britain and elsewhere who really are feeling the pinch.

The scary thing is that if you did read this and that point went over your head, you really do need your head examined.

I suggest you comment constructively and without childish insults in the future.