THE BLOG
30/07/2013 08:28 BST | Updated 27/09/2013 06:12 BST

Maybe We Should Be Toning Things Down

As an unashamed supporter of the British Monarchy, I was of course very excited about the birth of Prince George of Cambridge, and I wish both him and his parents every happiness. However, that's not what I'm going to write about today, because, let's be honest, it's been overdone.

I was in the John Lewis food hall in Bluewater yesterday, and in the process of wandering around aimlessly stumbled across THE NEBUCHADNEZZAR, a bottle of champagne 2′6″ tall, 15 litres in volume, and costing a mere £1400. The scary thing is that a brief session on Google showed me that this isn't the biggest size of champagne bottle available (that, incidentally, is the Melchizedek, 30 litres in volume, roughly 4′ tall and probably costing a live unicorn).

Now at the best of times I have a problem with the type of decadent posturing that such items are a symptom of, just as I have a problem with people who drive 4 x 4s in central London, as if to say, "Well, I could drive a Fiat Punto, but I can afford to run this and you can't, so I'm going to buy it." But I especially have a problem with it now. We are still - despite the Treasury pulling out the bunting over 0.6% growth - in a time of recession and, according to the government, we are supposed to be "all in this together." But the existence of the Nebuchadnezzar proves that in fact there are still those who are less in this than the rest of us.

The fact that it was even on sale proves that, while people all around the country are struggling to feed their families and earn a decent living, there are still those who look up from their game of croquet, or kick the peasant, signal their manservant and say "Jeeves, I'm a little parched. Fetch the Nebuchadnezzar will you. And, while you're at it, the swan stuffed with duck, stuffed with quail. I fancy a sandwich." There are still those who have no idea what it means to be hungry, or unemployed, or homeless. They couldn't even imagine what that would be like.

Now I'm sure some will argue that the production of luxury items like the Nebuchadnezzar and the Melchizedek provides jobs, which people can ill afford to lose in a time of austerity. But let's be honest. Pop into any wine merchants - or, to be fair, any supermarket- and there is clearly enough work going in the wine industry without the need to produce something that costs roughly £100 a glass.

I'm not saying that we can't enjoy ourselves. We all need something to cheer ourselves up from time to time, especially in a time of austerity when everything can seem so grim. Yet surely there has to be some better, cheaper, less in your face, way of doing it than by buying a bottle of Champagne you'd have a hard time picking up without the help of your faithful manservant.