Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Austerity in North Wales: Beware the Middle Classes bearing sob stories

We are going to hear an awful lot of middle class whingeing in 2011. The squeezed middle. Politicians have told them that that is how they can think of themselves and, golly , are they going to dine out on it. They have already started up.

In today's Independent, Professor Chris Adams from Llangollen in North Wales heads the Letters page with a recital of woes. There is more than one Professor Chris Adams but I think this is one who is about my age (63).

"Income collapsed" in 2008, he tells us, because "pensions suffered zero increases and income on savings vanished". "Our immediate response was to eliminate all marginal expenditure. All charity contributions, all magazines and arts subscriptions are stopped, insurance is reviewed, travel is cut back, and we not eat out or buy new clothes. We don't draw any benefits, we don't have a mortgage and we've never had to apply for credit"

You get the picture? It reminds me of one of those stock Victorian morality paintings. Virtue Deceived; The Gambler's Wife and Children. To which is now added: The Distressed Professor.

Mine was a stock response: I fell about laughing.

I felt a bit bad about that. Maybe this was a case of genuine distress and I was being heartless. North Wales may be a very grim place for all I know down here in Brighton. So I thought I owed him a bit more of a hearing.

The Professor does not provide his bank balance but nowadays that hardly matters: it's all on Google anyway. You just need to develop a set of algorithms for the task in hand. I am still developing the set to deal with the Squeezed Middle, but the general idea is that you type in a name [ say, "Professor Chris Adams" - it is always more efficient to use the scare quotes ] and then you do a plus something. For example, + Consultancy or + Porsche.

Try it. You can see that I have high hopes for my system. I must try using it against myself before I become too self-satisfied.

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