God knows how people with large, macho, motors, can afford to fill them up on a regular basis. | Archive

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As I get older I find that I have become somewhat of a skinflint. Indeed, my parsimony even surprises me on occasions. Not that I was ever an out-and-out spendthrift, perish the thought, but I find that three of the most used words in my vocabulary nowadays are - How bloody much! Some of this might be to do with the fact that as inflation takes hold across Europe and beyond nothing is cheap, or even reasonably priced at the moment.

On our weekly ‘big shop’ it seems as if there is a relentless escalation in the price of - well, everything. The thought of filling the car with fuel now brings me out in hives - and I have only a modest (yet rather sporty) Ford Fiesta. God knows how people with large, macho, motors, can afford to fill them up on a regular basis.

Perhaps unsurprisingly I heard on the news the other day that the retail sector is once more under the cosh, with ordinary folk worried about being able to afford to heat their homes, let alone buy a new posh frock or embarrassing jumper. However, amongst all this retail angst it’s being reported that some local councils are hiking their municipal car-parking charges to the understandable fury of local traders who are desperate trying to compete against huge retail parks that have free parking for all.

With inflation outstripping wage rises month on month, some say that an economic and social ‘crunch’ will soon be upon us. Clearly, this is not just a British or Spanish phenomenon, as any government of any political stripe would have to wrestle with the same relentless economic realities. Mind you, it is perhaps not the best look in the world to have your Chancellor of the Exchequers wife claiming certain tax immunities whilst the rest of the country have to ‘suck up’ all manner of negative financial tweaking her husband introduced in his last parliamentary financial statement.

Anyway back to the financial vicissitudes of modern life, as suffered by us plebs. For instance, on Sunday I was quite keen to watch the crucial football match between Manchester City and Liverpool. As we don’t have Sky Sports or BT Sports (too poor!) I was about to wander over to a rather pleasant pub situated just around the corner to watch this crucial match.

As I was about to leave I was confronted by a number of pertinent questions put to me by a woman I know. Instead of a cheery “enjoy yourself love” I was asked how many beers I might sup whilst watching the game and would I be tempted into buying a cornish pasty or some other tasty snack? As a man who is usually honest about these things, I confirmed that during the build-up to the game, the game itself and the post match pontifications I might well drink two or three pints, enjoy the aforementioned snack whilst treating myself to a posh packet of cheese & onion crisps. “Well, that’ll be at least twenty pounds and if you get into unfortunate company that figure could spiral even more.”

As it was quite pointless arguing against these undoubted facts, I took on some financial responsibility and listened to the match on the wireless at home, accompanied by a cheese sandwich and a glass or three of Romanian Shiraz on sale at my local Co-op store at £5.25 a bottle.

One of the side effects of trying to cut down on spending money wilfully on non-essential items, is the fact that I am revisiting my wardrobe. There are items of clothing in there that I haven’t worn since just after arriving in Majorca over twenty years ago. But, in for a penny, in for a pound - that’s what I say! Happily, and I would like to show-off about this, all the clothes still fit me. Alas, some of my choices in menswear of that period in my life, were perhaps not amongst the wisest buys I ever made. Other rather strange obsessions trying to save money include an obsessive interest in the ‘energy smart meter’ we have in the kitchen, that I like to check approximately every ten minutes or so and find myself panicking at every slight increase in our heating and power costs.

Incidentally, whilst on this subject, I was reading a so called ‘Men’s Fashion Special’ in a Sunday newspaper recently and I almost fainted at the cost of some of the clothes that were featured. How about paying £120 for a T shirt - or £720 for a pair of wool blended trousers? Mind you, the real barn-burner was a cool £4,290 for a trench coat. It was the rather unnecessary £290 that caught my attention I have to say, but - I guess that there are people out there who can afford to pay those sort of prices - or perhaps more accurately, who actually want to pay those prices. It is at times like this when the gap between the ‘haves-and-have-nots’ is at it most obvious and that in itself holds inherent dangers for society.

At the moment there are other global distractions to the cost of living crisis that is impacting on people’s lives. Some of which have added to the feeling of financial insecurity that surround us at the moment. It is also much too easy to predictably and pointlessly accuse the present governments in Britain or Spain for the financial crisis. Indeed, does anyone other than an opposition party flag-waver actually think that things would immediately get better if their governments shifted to either the left or the right at this present time?

As for me, I will continue to protect my ‘hard-earned’ with the tenacity you would expect from me.