Wednesday, 1 October 2008


So, this evening's post was meant to be one of those 'things I wish I had known earlier' essays.

You know the type of thing...

1. I wish I had known before I had children that when I thought I was tired, I wasn't, not really. Tired is not when you find yourself needing an extra diet coke to make it through the morning. Tired is when you find yourself incapable of answering a straightforward question about what you did at the weekend because you really, truly can't remember, and I must remember to pick up some nappies before I head home and oh god did I leave the iron on and who are you, anyway?

2. I wish I had known that I wasn't alone in feeling so alone when I first gave up work, and that most people deal with that if they've had anything approaching a job they enjoy. I also wish I had known not to get so het up about it, and that life without office politics is a thing to be treasured. (It gets replaced by school-gate politics soon enough, in any case. More of which another time...)

And so on...

But then I read this excellent post by Valley Girl.

And I can't help myself. I have to talk about the elephant in the room. I know, I know. You've got enough gloom and doom coming at you from the tv, radio, newspapers and on-line news-sites, the last thing you need is to come here and find more of it.

But I'm sorry. I have to say it. Be afraid. (Insert Jaws music here if you like that kind of thing. Which, I can't deny, I do...) Whether or not you are directly employed in finance, whether or not you think that the banks and their employees have simply got what was coming to them, don't kid yourself. Wall Street and Main Street are simply different ends of the same thoroughfare. What is happening in the markets is going to affect just about everyone.

Living where we do - Bankerville, London - you can't help but feel it in the air. There is an atmosphere of muted panic, a sense of helplessness, a 'waiting for the volcano' feeling. One friend - closer to market movements than most - described the situation as follows:

'Imagine a picture-perfect little alpine village, nestling in a valley at the foot of the mountain. The villagers slumber peacefully in their beds. But up on the higher slopes an avalanche has begun, and is racing towards the the sleepers. They don't know it's coming. But it's coming anyway. Wake up!'

Scared yet? Good. If you spend a few hundred pounds / euros / dollars less on your credit card in the run up to Christmas I will consider this post and the resultant fall in visitors worth it...

Sure, there are a few - a very few - fat cats who have made their money unscrupulously and should pay for putting reputable financial institutions at risk, or even under. But there is a vast majority who were simply doing their jobs. And whether or not you think they were paid too much, what happens to them and their employers will impact on your life.

For example. Want to remortgage to; get a better interest rate when your introductory period runs out; build an extension because you need a bigger house but can't afford to move because the market is so rubbish right now; pay for a newer car because your old one has clapped out, etc etc? It could be tricky, if not impossible. And what if you simply can't meet the repayments on your home?

I don't want to be a harbinger of doom, but sod it, I'm going to be. All those people who think that the markets should be allowed to descend into chaos because a 'natural readjustment' is preferable to pumping in billions of dollars to pull the 'greedy bankers' out of the muck? I sympathise, I really do. Why should we support them? The buck stops at their door, right?

Not right.

If something isn't done to stop this helter-skelter ride, the buck will stop at yours.

Note: Apologies for the gloomy tone of this post. If you want to read news and comments from people who do actually know what they are talking about with regard to the credit crisis (i.e., not me), I suggest you check in with the Financial Times on:


  1. We have really tightened our belts here in Casa Rusk and I don't think it's a bad thing.
    We spend too much money of 'stuff'. I glide around the mega supermarket thinking 'oo yes, we could really do with another set of wine glasses/outdoor toy/equally unnecessary spending and the food bill becomes akin to the national debt.
    There is something quite liberating about cutting back, cutting out the excess and seeing just how much you can save by not buying everything within grasping distance.
    I did treat myself to three pairs of M&S knickers today though and I make no appologies for that!

  2. We have really tightened our belts here in Casa Rusk and I don't think it's a bad thing.
    We spend too much money of 'stuff'. I glide around the mega supermarket thinking 'oo yes, we could really do with another set of wine glasses/outdoor toy/equally unnecessary spending and the food bill becomes akin to the national debt.
    There is something quite liberating about cutting back, cutting out the excess and seeing just how much you can save by not buying everything within grasping distance.
    I did treat myself to three pairs of M&S knickers today though and I make no appologies for that!

  3. And neither should you Tara - good pants are an 'essential', VAT or not... Totally with you on the money saving thing. I wrote down our evening meals for the week - and the ingredients I needed - before I went to the supermarket on Monday. Then I only bought off the list. Bob's your uncle, 40% less at the till...

  4. Absolutely with you both on this one. And don't apologise for the post - it needed saying. We're fortunate (if you can call it that) in the sense that we've practised belt-tightening already: first while Sarah was on next-to-no maternity pay, and next when I stopped earning. It's amazing what you can live comfortably on if you cut out all unecessary spending.

  5. It's clear we all need to get our acts together, and take our heads out of the sand. It's quite hard to know what exactly that means, though, isn't it?

    It does feel scary. Husband and I were wondering whether "under the mattress" might be the safest place for money these days. Big institutions that used to seem so safe now seen not so safe at all.

    Will our grandchildren be taught that the end of the 20th century signalled the collapse of communism, and that capitalism, as it was known at the time, wasn't far behind?

    (I mis-typed '20th century' as '20th denture' first time - which may be relevant when we are discussing these things with our grandchildren, of course.)

  6. Currently suffering a double 'crunch' at the moment, having the 'maternity-pay' crunch on top of the compulsory 'credit-crunch' and as a result the husband and I are severely cutting back. But am I the only one who is secretly getting a kick out of it? Being highly practical I love the idea of saving money and re-using stuff. Although I am obviously seriously worried as to where it's all heading - the fun could end soon!

    On a less serious note the tip off on the portable potty was great thanks. Saved me hauling the real McCoy around and the Chimp has very quickly progresed from potty to toilet-seat to real toilet, halelujah! V. impressed. Thank You!

  7. Ditto! I thought VG's post was great too and I admire you for talking about it too. It affects us all and we have felt it over here ever since we moved to the US, where life was meant to afford us more money to play with. That was until we couldn't re-mortgage the Uk house and have been having to send a huge amount of dollars back to UK every month to cover increased UK house costs not covered by tennants.
    Doom and gloom. I pray for light at the end of the tunnel and excess hasn't been my middle name for many many months. (I have however had excess around my middle for many many months. Whoops.)

  8. You're right PM - it is very short sighted to imagine that the only people affected are those at the top (whatever one thinks about them). This affects us all throughout the chain from the biggest banker to the dry cleaner who cleans his shirts and the barrista who makes his coffee.
    I work in Canary Wharf and can feel the panic.... hold tight now - it isn't going to be pretty!

  9. Thanks for the link, PM; like you, I did feel the subject was a bit 'elephant in the room' in the mummy-blogosphere and wasn't sure whether to write about it - after all, it could be a very emotive subject for some. But you're right - it affects us all, ultimately.

  10. PS have slightly changed name as Frog in the Field kept pointing out it made me sound Welsh!

  11. Rain falls downwards.
    In real life the buck always stops with the little guy at the bottom of the heap!
    Now what's all this about an elephant?

  12. Great post! It's always helpful to get reminders like this. I've been on a cash crunch since having the baby but it's food that I seem to splurge on. Eating out and over buying groceries. I'm on a quest to eat more simple meals.

  13. TD, it is indeed. Note to self - no more caviar on toast. Ooops! Just channeling Dulwich Mum there for a moment...

    Iota, under the mattress seems increasingly attractive to me... (though Husband would be horrified to hear it - we should all leave our money where it is and not get too panicky, it won't help...)

    Smalls, glad the tip helped and I'm in awe of your pushing through the pain barrier on the potty thing. I still haven't got round to it with Boy #2!

    M/M - that excess round the middle. It's a pain, isn't it?

    Mud, it certainly isn't. I feel a parsimonious christmas coming on...

    NVG - I hadn't thought that about your name, but Frog does have a point. And as for the finance situation, well, thanks for being the first blog I came across to break ranks...

    KP, you clearly never worked in marketing. Lucky woman... I am cursed with a whole list of cliches to quote when the going gets rough. In fact, I may well write a post about them.

    SB, thanks, and it's got be lists. Stick to the list! You'll be amazed how much less you spend.

  14. HAHAHA! I was a Marketing Manager for too many years! I've been through Electric Shock Therapy to try to repair some of the damage and they say there is some hope of recovery...!! t.xx

  15. We're already feeling it over here. I just thank god we're not trying to get a loan or a mortgage right now. Great time to buy property if you have cash, but that isn't most people.
    PS. It's the Vice Prez debate tonight so I'll let you know what words of wisdom Sarah Palin has!

  16. KP, you give all of us ex-marketers hope, thankyou!

    EPM, I can't wait!

  17. Hi PM, I was going to blog about this and I might still. Like one of your bloggers here I used to work in The City/Canary Wharf. I left for a variety of reasons. But yes I am mindful of the folk I left behind and us, on the street. This thing may seem remote and just effect "the masters of the universe" but it has an amazing trickle down effect. We are trying to get a big loan at the moment. Our fingers and toes are severely crossed. Did you happen to read Jeremy Clarkson's piece in the Sunday Times this weekend?
    Sorry not to meet you this weekend. Hope to do so another time. Hx

  18. Should be "affect". One of these days...I'm going to check what I post and correct first! Good post. I empathise with a lot you have said there. Hx

  19. It is very scary. We live in Australia now and are currently existing on DH's superannuation pension from the UK which has fallen by approx 20% over the past 18 mths due to the exchange rate. That coupled with the rapidly increasing cost of everything we need to buy has made an enormous difference to our way of life. Belt tightening is a matter of course here these days :-( It is 'do-able', although not a lot of fun, and we reckon we should be able to ride it out (fingers crossed). Fortunately I know how to make a little go a long way and can make most things from scratch. For entertainment we now spend a lot of time shouting at the TV during news and current affairs programmes ;-) Not quite as much fun as an evening out carousing but.....

  20. It is scary. We are so tight on money some weeks it stresses me out to the point I can't sleep. And now it is getting worse? Oh, I think I want to throw up. Some nights I can't watch the news or look at the news sites because I just don't want to know anymore.

    But other days I have to, because I need to be aware of what is going on in the world.

    yeah, this post was a downer. Geez...thanks a lot PM.


    Thanks for the reminder that we need to wake up and smell the cheaper coffee!

  21. (See my previous comment.) Well, despite the questions posed by the moderator, Palin decided to talk about whatever she wanted. At one point she even acknowledged that she wasn't answering the question posed. We heard a lot of "Drill, baby drill" but not much of sybstance on anything else.I shoulda known.

  22. I have been saying for years that it's those of us who have been living sensibly on a budget without debts who will have to pay for others' excess and now it's happened. I just never expected it to be quite this bad. Feels like we're back in the seventies, especially as we're due for powercuts this autumn as well!

  23. Hi HT, hope you're having a fabulous weekend. And yes, I did read JC's column in the times. How sick must that poor sap be feeling? At least his work isn't likely to dry up though (given the fact that EVERY time I turn on the tv he can be found somewhere on it). I feel sorry for those that aren't so lucky.

    Hi Sharon, we were in Australia in May / June this year and I agree, things are not cheap over there. A lot of the stuff is London prices...

    J's Mommy, sorry. I did title the post 'Apologies', but - sorry again...

    EPM, can I say I'm not surprised? No? Well, I won't then... (Though I had already picked up on the fact that were a load of Republicans asking for the Democrats to go easy on her and not ask too many 'difficult' questions. Way to go, feminism...)

    WM, I know! Flashbacks to my mother's 'emergency' store cupboard from 1973 (or whenever it was). Isn't progress great?


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