The economic misery which has been with us for five years or so now has forced virtually everyone to rethink their financial situation and change the way we spend our money. Those who once felt like they had enough disposable income to take a couple of overseas holidays a year, guilt free, have now found themselves counting the pennies to the point where even putting an extra bottle of wine in the weekly shopping basket feels like an act of excessive indulgence.
Things have certainly changed drastically from ten years ago when we were being offered credit on a daily basis and encouraged to spend ourselves silly at every opportunity. Growth was here to stay they said, "borrow some more money, have another steak, put that trip to Barbados on a credit card, we know you're good for the money." Then the crash came and almost overnight the same voices who were telling us to splash the cash started the 'finger wagging' narrative that has prevailed for nearly half a decade now - "time to tighten those belts people, the fun's over, and by the way it's all your fault."
The culture of blame for this cycle of austerity that we are all (and by 'all' I mean most of us, noticeably not the top 5% who continue to live the highlife and buy property like it's going out of fashion) being made to endure has become a little difficult to stomach of late, with everyone seemingly taking a turn as being cast in the role of economic villain.
We've seen evil bankers, tax avoiding international corporations, immigrants, anyone on benefits, George Osborne, Gordon Brown, Margaret Thatcher and most recently greedy pensioners all being scolded by... well, everyone else, for their part in causing this financial mess . The blame game has been a key feature of this period.
When specific groups have not been being targeted, the general news has still been packed with what I like to call 'recession life lessons' from various corners of the media, as commentators have queued up to lecture us all about how the system was unsustainable and how we are all going to have to get used to being skint. The message is clear - we must all change our ways, or else.
This endless game of 'point the finger' took a particularly galling twist last week, when I read yet another story about how you really can live on a few pounds a week, simply by changing your 'decadent' attitude towards, of all things, eating your dinner.
Yes, that's right, we've all been very greedy indeed - and we can't afford to be unless we are earning over £200k a year. It's now apparently time we stopped thinking of meat as something we can all eat if we want to, and think of it as a privilege which we can only treat ourselves to once or twice a week.
Forget about a glass of wine every night after a hard day's work, that's out too. What we should all be doing now is thinking of our meals in a more frugal way, the concept of 'meat and two veg' forming the basis of a standard meal is now out of date and decadent. Instead, we should be looking to fill ourselves up with lots of low cost carbohydrates, like pulses, rice and pasta. The article explained that even those awful people who are on benefits should be able to avoid death by starvation if they eat the appropriate low costs foodstuffs which befit their social class and budget - or something like that.
What this ridiculously annoying commentary failed to mention was that the wealthy people will still be able to eat meat and drink wine, regardless of its expensiveness, and what we are effectively looking at here is a return to a kind of feudal situation where the rich eat whatever they want, whilst everyone else lives on bloody lentils!
Of all the miserable, recession-based 'life lessons' I've read in the last few years this has to be the most depressing. I can live without credit cards, cut back on holidays, buy fewer clothes and I'll even try to drink less often - but I won't, and I repeat won't, eat like a 15th century serf.Suggest a correction