Monday, 29 December 2008

I told you Father Christmas is real

I think it was the cheese that started it. It might have been something else, but I think it was the cheese.

A modest lump of cheddar that cost £2 a year or so ago now seems to be £4.50. That's when I first noticed how much normal everyday food has been rising in price. Meat too, rice more than meat, fish more than rice, flour a bit less but with a knock-on effect on bread and the butter to go on the bread is also significantly pricier. Even the cheaper options in these lines have been hit with shin of beef, that most glorious casseroling cut, today fetching the price of 2006 rump steak. Those of us who grew up knowing what can be done with middle neck of lamb, pig liver and cheap minced beef are having a degree of fun dredging recipes from the backs of our minds. Retrenchment is definitely the order of the day.

Retrenchment was also the order sent out from the recession bunker at FatBigot Towers prior to the festive season. It was decreed a happy coincidence that presents and parsimony start with the same letter, adults were limited to one gift for any other adult and a strict price cap. No limits applied to purchases for the younger generation, that would be wholly wrong. Fortunately I received everything I wanted, including an electronic cigarette.

Back in October the subject to the electronic cigarette adorned these pages and received interesting comments. Since then I resisted the temptation to buy one myself, not least because the number on offer required a degree of decisiveness unknown to my dithering mind. By inviting a Yuletide gift of same it was unnecessary to make a choice, thereby adding a much needed downward influence on my blood pressure. It was one thing using it for the occasional puff around the house over the last few days but that could not really test the utility of the item, it was necessary to eat out and put it through its paces in a harsh restaurant environment. Today being a day of bitter cold, the like of which always seems to come just after Christmas, it had to be a warming curry, so off I waddled e-ciggy in pocket and breathless in anticipation of a vital and exciting experiment.

The curry was no experiment, it was taken at a tried and trusted establishment and proved excellent as usual. With permission of the proprietor the e-ciggy was allowed free rein. Should it be shallow drags or deep? Long or short? Frequent or occasional? All options were explored and the device passed with flying colours. Long deep drags, just as with a real ciggy, proved highly beneficial and spared me the need to venture into the freezing Islington air. Mr Holborn's experience of queaziness, as reported in a comment in October, was not repeated nor was there any sign of a sore throat or an urge to have a real one to make up for a perceived deficiency in the electronic alternative. Altogether a thoroughly pleasing experiment.

One thought I had while enjoying the envious stares of those who had to brave the bitter cold to get their fix between starter and main course was that it must be thoroughly bad for them to go from a warm restaurant to a truly freezing pavement and back again in about five minutes. Could it be that the smoking ban causes more illness and greater cost to the NHS through forcing people to be exposed to inclement weather?

Both the recession itself and the government's hapless efforts to fight it bite hard on the resources of retired folk who thought careful and ample provision had been made for their old age. Many investments have fallen substantially and the return on savings is now negative due to low interest rates and tax. Retrenchment might have to take second place to a return to the world of work. The greatest obstacle so far has been the thought that a day of paperwork would be impossible without a constant supply of Camel Lights to oil the braincells. Contrary to popular belief many barristers spend little time in court but weeks on end battling with problems on paper. Now that my e-ciggy has proved up to the challenge of a lamb vindaloo hopes are high that it will allow a return to work should that prove necessary. Deep joy, as the late Professor Stanley Unwin used to say.


1 comment:

Blogger said...

I got my first electronic cigarette kit at Vaporfi, and I must admit they have the best kits.