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Warm memories

166594069Nostalgia really isn’t what it used to be – I procrastinated my way into doing an online quiz about the cost of living this morning and managed to score 70%. I don’t think it means I’m particularly stuck in the past, or even particularly financially astute. Most of the questions only went back as far as 2003 and frankly I’ve got tins of black-eyed beans lurking in my cupboards older than that. The quiz, set by Provident credit management company, was called “Back in the Day” so I can only assume it was written by a 12-year-old or a wannabe 12-year-old sporting a greying ponytail.

Either way it was fun to see how much prices have changed in such a worryingly short time, but what I found alarming were the predictions for future prices. According to the quizmasters we could be paying over £3,000 for a week-long holiday in Greece by 2050 if inflation continues to rise at the rough rate of 2% a year.

Prices continue to go up but wages and savings are still resolutely shrinking. I actually got a promotional letter from a bank the other day trying to persuade me to invest my non-existent £1m with them at an interest rate of 0.01%. This same bank is happy to slap a 19% interest charge on people who stray over their credit card limit at the end of the month. I don’t get it – no wonder Greece is up in arms. People there are struggling to get through a winter with no job, no money and no central heating. Even if they can afford to pay the bills, their landlords sometimes can’t, and as a result whole buildings are getting cut off en masse. The sale of wood burners in Athens is booming and I must say I’m getting tempted to join them by buying a pot-bellied stove. I’d love to come home to a real fire instead of a pile of bills, especially if it saves me money on my gas bill, but the thought of the initial cost is making me wince a bit.

Besides reclaiming fireplaces is all the rage this winter – New Yorkers are even dusting down theirs in preparation for the huge snow storm expected today, which threatens to cause city-wide power cuts. I never expected to see so many city folk going back to nature, especially in the city and can’t imagine how it would work in London? We can’t actually go round chopping up our own fuel so I might end up surviving on charcoal barbecue briquettes, but there are other ways. A friend of Liz’s creates a roaring January glow in her open fire by collecting the circular wooden bases of abandoned Christmas trees from the side of the road (very Good King Wenceslas).

Perhaps there is something in this nostalgia lark after all. Warm ‘ands, warm toes, warm ‘eart… oh woodn’t it be luverly? I can picture it now. And it would be a great place to put all those brown envelopes – whoosh!

Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn

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