To say we’re in extraordinary days would be an understatement. I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear of financiers jumping from high-rise windows in Canary Warf and the City, except that windows don’t open in modern high-rise buildings.
As I understand it, the problem comes down to trust. The banks no longer trust each other, so they won’t lend to each other and the assets that supported their borrowing are no longer worth what they thought.
When we moved back to the UK we bought our present house for £100,000. Within a couple of years its value was around £160,000. We’d done nothing to generate that, apart from a new boiler as the old one died. How could it be real money? If we had moved, we’d have found every other house was worth more money as well, so no gain there unless we moved downmarket or abroad (which we toyed with)
Now the house price has fallen, by how much I don’t know and it all depends on what someone would be willing and able to pay. That ‘able to pay’ being the crux of the matter. If nobody will lend you money, then you can’t buy a house – unless you’re lucky enough to have a pile of cash.
But so what? It’s still the same walls and rooms, whatever it’s worth and it still costs us the same to live in. We have a mortgage, energy and water bills and so forth. Just the same if it’s worth £10 or a million!
What does worry me is we are moving into a nasty recession. People are losing their jobs and finding new ones is going to be harder, much harder. Small business is going to be really hit and larger business not much better. Don’t be surprised if we see the end of some big companies over the next year.
So what has this to do with allotments?
Actually it does have a lot to do with allotments and providing your own food. Many of the people who come onto this web site are like us, we grow our own and live fairly frugally. That doesn’t mean we are mean, but we are careful with our money.
Things like making your own chutney and jam don’t just stock our food cupboard but provide great Christmas presents. We’ve never had anyone complain that we’re cheap when we give them but the one year we were flush for money and gave store bought presents we could tell from the polite thanks that they weren’t appreciated in quite the same as our own home made presents.
After all, you can’t buy ‘Val’s Green Tomato Chutney‘ from any shop at any price!
We’ve been concentrating on reducing our energy costs, that doesn’t mean we’ve rushed out and bought a windmill that fixes to the house and provides enough electricity to keep a lightbulb going if you’re lucky for thousands of pounds.
We’ve started by buying a couple of extra Savaplugs to cut the cost of running our freezers and making sure that we switch off promptly whatever we can. How wasteful to have a light on in a room when nobody is there to use it. It’s hardly a massive task to flip a switch.
We’ve been pretty good about this in the past, now we’re being better. The recent hike in oil prices has made us think about the car. Do we really need to make a journey? On a long journey we allow a bit more time and so we don’t need to go so fast. It’s safer and makes an amazing difference to the diesel consumption.
I honestly believe the next few years are going to be painful for us, terrible for many but actually beneficial in the long run. I think we’ll reduce our consumption and wastefulness, which will be good for the planet. Instead of derivative commodity futures people will invest in thicker loft insulation and suchlike.
I really feel for those on fixed incomes, unemployed and pensioners who will be hit hard but hopefully the government will concentrate the financial pain on those best able to bear it. Who knows, we may end up with a fairer society and real values. People may be measured more by their character than their wealth.