Phone-ins, more than ever these days, consist of those worried about the rising cost of living and a DJ whipping up additional anxiety by wheedling out the worst cases they can find to use as examples. But I do think too many people just don’t understand the gravitas of the coming situation.
Sometimes I wonder if I am living on a different planet to other people. I am listening to people talking about how they have sold their car, and are walking around indoors with their coat and hat on. And then there are others who are worried about having to cut down on how much fruit they can buy. Someone mentioned they had cancelled their next hair appointment. They discuss having to consider swapping Heinz for a lesser brand and may have to turn the thermostat down a notch or two. The BBC suggested last week that people might have to buyer fewer clothes in the coming months.
I think people are in for a shock.
Occasionally a presenter might make the suggestion that, in fact, we have all been living beyond our means for a long time. They wouldn’t be wrong. But you can’t say that because washing your car every weekend, or keeping the heating on whilst a window is open seem to have become basic statutory rights, and you can’t chastise people. I really don’t think people understand how bad things are going to be after April 1st. I don’t get how my neighbours, who have their lights on all day, live off takeaways, beer and cigarettes, are doing it. They are half my age. Aren’t they supposed to be the climate aware generation?
Some are determined not to go back to those post-war days as if cutting back is a bad thing. My parents number amongst them. Others, like me, who have rarely experienced life without luxuries now consider only the basics and are happy to make those concessions if only to keep a roof over our heads. Some of us treat every drop of water as a precious commodity and find the unnecessary waste of food an abhorrence. Many of us are those who already had no disposable income or are trying to stretch inadequate pensions to last far longer than they were designed to. And whilst yes, we are probably going to feel the pinch worse than others since we’ve already been living that existence, at least we know how to play the game and we have crunched the numbers and have some measure of the additional sacrifices we are going to have to make.
I don’t worry about things getting tougher. I know they will. But I have coping mechanisms. I switched off my boiler mid February. I have done my last meter readings before April 1st kicks in. I have used 31 kWh less of electricity than this time last year and 34 kWh less of gas. I can do this.
I have squirrelled away cut price food, learned how to go without, foraged and I’ve toughened up. But I am also blessed with emergency savings and my health and mobility. Perhaps the greatest blessing we have right now, is that we are almost through winter and the agony of being cold at home (for me at least) is already a distant memory. Until it all begins again and worse in October as prices will probably climb again. But that’s another challenge for another time. And at least we have 7 months and anything can happen in that time.