Friday, 18th November, 2022

[Day 977]

Today was a cold but bright day but first thing I had to get the weekly shopping done, postponed from yesterday. I had always assumed that in my regular supermarket, Thursday mornings would prove quieter than Friday mornings but this morning I found far less traffic on the way there and the store was pretty quiet when it opened at 8am this morning. Once the shopping was done, I collected our newspaper on the way home and then had a leisurely unpack once I had got home and cooked our normal poached egg for breakfast. As the day seemed fine, we suspected that some of our normal park friends would be lurking around and indeed one of them was. Whilst we were busy having a chat we were joined by our Lickey friends who proved a mine of useful information. This is because the ‘husband’ part of our friend has probably forgotten more electrical and audio knowledge that I ever possessed in the first place so I managed to tap his brains about one or two little audio/electrical things in which I have been engaged. It is always good to chat with people more knowledgeable than yourself so that you can pick up tips and hints about things that you could never sort out on your own. After a pleasant chat we struck for home and after watching a little of the ‘Politics’ catchup on the week’s happenings, I cooked our normal Friday meal of sea-bass served on a bed of salad and this worked out as tasty as always. Whilst I was cooking the meal and as we were eating it, we treated ourelf to a listen of Bach’s ‘B-Minor Mass’ which just arrived on a CD through the post this morning. This was part of a boxed set with the Matthew Passion, John Passion and the Christmas Oratorio all under the baton of John Eliot Gardiner, one of the foremost conducters of baroque music. This is the last of my current ‘splurge’ of buying really cut-price CDs but the boxed set of nine quality CDs (Deutsche Grammophon)was offered at a price that I felt I could not afford to ignore.

A seasonal item is reported on the Sky News website which is quoted below. The average cost of a Christmas dinner for four people comes in at £34.28 – based on an average of ingredients across five supermarkets (Aldi, M&S, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Morrison’s). Ingredients included: Turkey, potatoes, pigs in blanket, stuffing, gravy, brussels sprouts, parsnips, carrots, cranberry sauce, peas. For all of the above, M&S came in as the most expensive, at £58.60 – with Aldi the cheapest at £23.53. But as data also found that Brits waste around 27% of their food, and with 73% of the UK enjoying a Christmas dinner last year, this means UK households are spending £107,024,533 on wasted food.

As might be expected, there is still a massive amount of comment and discussion about some of th economic pain inflicted upon the population in yesterday’s Autumn Statement. Real disposal income is due to drop by 4.3% in the next 12 months, followed by a further cut of 2.8% the year after that. So there should be an average cut of over 7% in the next two years which will wipe out the increase in living standards that has occurred over the last eight years. The government itself is arguing that the recession should be shallower by postponing some of the cuts in public expenditure until after the next election (itself, as massive ‘elephant trap’ for any incoming Labour government) What is very uncertain at this stage is how the various public sector unions will react, given that many of them have strike plans in place for the autumn. The mood of the country at the moment is quite understanding as the real pay of personnel working in the public sector is lagging behind the private sector and indeed there has been a cut in real wages dating from the ‘austerity’ years of George Osborne. So it is not inconceivable that that there might be a ‘de facto’ type of general strike if many of the public sector unions decide to strike at the same time. It is fairly evident that Christmas is going to be grim time for many and the New Year even more grim for most of the population. The Institute of Fiscal Studies is of the view that the UK has entered a ‘new era’ of higher taxes. One might think that the current drop on living standards might be as temporary as a couple of years. But Paul Johnson of the IFS is saying that ‘The truth is we just got a lot poorer. We are in for a long, hard, unpleasant journey; a journey that has been made more arduous than it might have been by a series of economic own goals’ It is no wonder that we have arrived at this point when a combination of the damage done by Brexit (according to the OBR), the costs of the pandemic,the dramatic rise in energy costs following Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine and the disastrous consequences of ‘Liz Truss’ economics are all combined together.