Editor-At-Large: Bankrupt Blighty – no dosh, and even less style

Share
Related Topics

I went to Paris last week for a friend's birthday. It's a good job I'd paid for the trip in advance. During my 48 hours outside bankrupt Britain, the pound keeled over to its lowest level since the euro was launched back in 1999. Shopping in Paris was a different experience: no massive closing-down sales on the chic boulevards of the Left Bank, and the 40 per cent discount day at Bon Marché only applied to those with a French bank account. That's how much the sniffy frogs care about wooing tourists.

Nevertheless, the window displays were elegant, the food delicious and the Christmas decorations fabulous. Back in Blighty, we suddenly discovered why we loved Woolies on the very day it closed down, fighting over plastic kitchenware, computer games and slippers.

Just as many French women eat quality food in smaller portions, they shop far more selectively. We're definitely a nation of bingers, be it over-eating or buying ludicrous gadgetry for our kids' Christmas presents, even when there's nothing in the bank.

Have you noticed how a new gang of poverty pundits have sprung up in recent weeks? The boss of Asda claims the financial climate will usher in a new age of austerity, when frugality will be chic and rampant consumerism the height of vulgarity. I think not – to live like previous generations did in the post-war years, you have to have the following skills: cooking, gardening, sewing and plenty of patience.

Meanwhile, lifestyle guru Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen is telling anyone who'll listen that we're enjoying having no cash to spend. According to the king of swags and pelmets, "People are making things from scratch... and enjoying waking up to the fact they have been eating and drinking too much." Hello? Does this chap spend any time in the real world, where, in the run-up to Christmas, pubs might be closing down and office lunches cancelled? This time it's taking place at home, rather than in public.

Another misapprehension about less cash and a weak pound is that we'll choose to holiday in the UK rather than overseas. Sadly, this is wishful thinking on the part of the British travel industry. People generally don't pick holiday destinations for better value. They choose them to get laid, get sunburnt, eat and drink far more cheaply than they can back home, and – most important of all – be sufficiently chilled out to put all their financial and domestic worries on to the back burner. Somehow that's easier to achieve on a lounger in Spain, Thailand, Italy, Morocco or Florida, than it is sheltering behind a wind break in Lowestoft, Bridlington or Worthing.

Sad, but true. Even in straightened circumstances, the average British hotelier still treats customers as if they are an inconvenience. Last week I booked a mini-break in a remote part of Scotland, miles from the nearest town. I was informed that "denim is not acceptable in the dining room". When I pointed out that designer jeans cost more than a hotel room, the receptionist announced, "Well, you won't be policed." I think it was a joke, but I can't be sure. Last summer I rented a house in France where I could lie around wearing what I liked, conforming to no dress code except my own. And, no matter how pitifully the pound is performing, that is what I shall be doing next August.

Animal passion: Fur-lovin' Nigella stirs up a row

Nigella Lawson had the temerity to state the obvious: if we choose to eat meat, what's the problem about wearing animal skins? Our favourite domestic goddess had the cheek to make a little joke on television about killing a bear and wearing its skin – what a major mistake! A torrent of abuse has rained down on her ever since. The vegetarian anti-fur brigade of militant harpies might have high principles and clear consciences, but generally they lack any sense of humour. Nigella is intelligent and funny. But fur is one of those sacrosanct subjects, like obesity, that you cannot be ironic about. Duncan Bannatyne, that bighead on 'Dragon's Den', once made a light-hearted remark about fatties not working as hard as thin people. After all, it's what millions of people secretly think. But he was roundly condemned.

I'm sitting on a train with a huge man-mountain occupying two seats, with his coat over a third. He's eaten two sandwiches and has ordered another from the buffet. Don't tell me he's taking any notice of the government's fat-busting initiatives. Mr Chubby is happily munching his way to an early grave.

I made a film about eating horse meat last year – in France, animals are bred for the purpose. Animal rights protesters dumped a ton of manure outside Gordon Ramsay's restaurant at Claridge's because he cooked horse meat on his TV show. Very subtle. Nigella can expect similar treatment – and should probably reschedule her Christmas festivities to a high-security compound. It's far easier to target a glamorous high-profile writer and broadcaster than the Queen, whose guardsmen continue to wear bearskins for antiquated ceremonies staged to please tourists.

Bosses have posties on the run

As a life-long walker, I know that 4mph is a brisk pace, which doesn't allow for any dawdling, and is best achieved not carrying anything other than a rucksack.

However, the bean counters running the Post Office have bought a fancy piece of software from Canada to calculate how fast postal workers should be walking on their delivery rounds. The official rate is 2.1mph, but union officials claim that some postmen are now expected to clock up 4.1mph to complete deliveries in the time available.

Comparing the convoluted road and street patterns of Britain with a newish country like Canada – where cities and towns are laid out on grids – is potty. And what about the time that postmen have to spend hanging around waiting for someone to answer the doorbell and sign for a special delivery?

Now I'm sure God is a man

Humans are the only primates who stop producing offspring into old age – and scientists think they've found the reason. Researchers claim the menopause evolved thousands of years ago, when men were hunter-gatherers. Stone-age women moved from one group to another to mate, and older females realised life was better (more food was available) if they stopped breeding and looked after grandchildren.

I thought the menopause was created to remind women that whatever we achieve, we have to put up with more than men. It's what convinces me that if there is a God, that being is most definitely male. We still haven't come up with a way of avoiding periods. And don't write in to tell me they are a "joyous" chance to celebrate your womanhood. Rubbish. I had a menopause – according to my friends I was even grumpier than usual for a couple of years.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

EYFS, KS1, KS2 Teachers

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to be part ...

class teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: a small rural school, is ...

Year 1 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: They want their school to ...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to work in ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Children of a bygone era  

Kids these days aren't what they used to be — they're a lot better. So why the fuss?

Archie Bland
A suited man eyes up the moral calibre of a burlesque troupe  

Be they burlesque dancers or arms dealers, a bank has no business judging the morality of its clients

John Walsh
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star