The terrors of fuel poverty

There are now more than 2.3 million families living in fuel poverty in England – that’s the equivalent of 10% of all households. “Fuel poverty” is in many ways a political euphemism for desperation; for worrying that your children are cold in their beds, or having to skip meals to stay warm. One in six people are cutting back on food to pay their energy bills, according to the charity Turn2Us. One in six disabled people have to wear coats inside to keep warm.

One obvious point is that perhaps we shouldn’t be making energy more expensive through greenery.

The other might be, well, when wasn’t it true that poor people were cold in winter? Actually, when weren’t rich people cold in winter? Extensive central heating really only became common in the 1980s, didn’t it? So everyone before that lived in fuel poverty, no?

88 comments on “The terrors of fuel poverty

  1. Turn2Us. Hmm. A more than usually honest name: they’re just businesses, after all, trying to drum up business. Nice to see them being candid about it.

  2. The government could do one very simple thing to cut fuel bills by 5% – abolish VAT on fuel.

    Oh wait – it can’t, because the EU insists we charge it. Perhaps the Remainer Guardian could have explained that in the article? Presumably it didn’t for reasons of space.

  3. This is also the same Guardian which insists we all wear extra clothes indoors to save the planet.

    Hard to tell if they are cynical or just don’t realise the massive contradictions.

  4. Then lets have a free market in energy not the present corporate socialist greenwank that we have. End all subsidies for renewable crap and start on gasfrack/nuclear, coal and/or whatever is economic in a reality once again free of state meddling.

  5. The government throws money at pensioners for their fuel. They can’t burn the stuff quick enough.

  6. At this time of year the night-time temperature in my bedroom sinks below 50°F. Not a problem as I’m a healthy, reasonably fit lad. I spoke to a sibling about this recently and was reminded how cold our bedrooms were when we were kids (ice on windows, no heating). These days I’m a softie and there’s no way I’m going to sit at my desk wearing six jumpers and mittens, and so the homestead’s daytime temp is 70°C – something that requires deep pockets.

  7. The weird thing about fuel poverty is that definition does not take into account the size of the property.
    If someone were to give me a house 8 times bigger than my current one, I would be a lot better off but suffering from fuel poverty and in need of help.

  8. In the sixties and seventies we only had a fire in the lounge of our council house. Everyone went to bed with with a hot water bottle (we had Tufty Club covers) and did the cold bed dance. We used to get frostbite doing our homework in our bedrooms.

    When first married, my wife and I couldn’t afford heating and use to snuggle under an Afghan (rug) to keep warm. We escaped fuel poverty by moving to South Africa, though it can get pretty cool on the Highveld in winter. Now in Queensland, one is more likely to suffer from aircon poverty.

  9. Fuel poverty is a serious issue, and although on principle I am against the state subsidising certain industries I feel the importance of the oil and gas industry is one for which an exception should be made. Were the government to guarantee our revenues we would be in a position to better execute our projects free of such distractions as budgets, schedules, and technical specifications and deliver the energy the poor so desperately need.

    Whilst I concede that such an arrangement would benefit me personally in the form of higher wages, less accountability, and increased job security this in no way has any bearing on the reasons behind my proposing this.

  10. 10% of households are in fuel poverty? What was the proportion 50 years ago?

    We need to know if progress has been made or not :p

  11. It’s a funny thing really. The article points to the causes of fuel poverty being an evil gov’t cutting back on benefits, austerity and just not caring; and there’s me thinking fuel poverty might be caused by high fuel prices.

  12. Dear Grauniad, how many people would be taken out of fuel poverty if we could reduce fuel costs by 5%?

    You’d like this, right?

    OK, so scrap the 5% VAT.

    Oh, but that means less tax. You don’t like the sound of that so much now, do you?

    It’s your circle – you need to square it.

  13. In 1980, I spent 2 weeks in York for language school. I remember vividly how the family I stayed with had all the room doors closed, and only heated a few rooms in the house as and when.

  14. I’ve been in fuel poverty pretty much this entire century so far. You know what? I don’t have to think of skipping meals to stay warm, I don’t have to think its desperation. It simply is.
    My high fuel bills are as a result of an allergy, so the bill gets paid out of household income. Its over 20% of household income but that’s simply factored into our spending.

  15. Maybe some goods and services such as food and fuel are cheaper than they should be and we take this for granted. That said we are where we are and our housing is not fuel efficient. We can provide heating at a reasonable price, or demolish 70pct of our housing stock and start again. But then even in modern homes many people will continue to turn up the thermostat instead of dressing appropriately (or heat the entire building instead of just one or two rooms), so price acts as a check?

  16. abacab,

    > What was the proportion 50 years ago? We need to know if progress has been made or not.

    Ideally we’d like to see the figure for every year of the last fifty years, to be able to track progress.

    There are a lot of confounding variables though. Have we recently imported a few million people from hot countries with an expectation of warmth, and whose earning power generally isn’t high enough to pay for their own fuel bills?

  17. I look forward to Turn2Us’s campaign to remove VAT on fuel, cut all green energy subsidies and for the building of new gas and coal-fired power stations. Plus fracking of course, lots of fracking.

  18. DocBud

    Ahhhh! the pleasure of a hot water bottle. Those were the days, weren’t they?

    Ice on the inside of the window in the morning anybody?

  19. Dear Mr Worstall

    Why do charities trot out the “skipping meals to pay for heating” mantra? Eat first and wrap up warmly, then heat. Stoking the inner fires is essential to keep warm and healthy.

    Children cold in their beds? Have they never heard of TOG 16.5?

    DP

  20. Seems I grew up like most people here. Trudged through the snow to the coal-shed to get coalite to bank up the fire in the dining room, ice on the bedroom windows, little boys for goalposts, etc. Even when we moved to a house with central heating in the 80s my and my brother’s bedroom didn’t have radiators (what, heat the bedrooms?) I didn’t have central heating until university in 1987.

    Even today I’m off work and and at home and it’s a struggle to persuade myself to put the heating on in the middle of the day, instead I’ve got a nice thick jumper on and a cup of tea, and the residual heat wafting from the computer.

  21. I remember be jealous my gran got the electric blanket and I only a hot water bottle.

    Born into a middle class family in 1978.

  22. I saw a newspaper article a few years ago reporting a medical publication that claimed to have distinguished the effect on the health of the old of (i) low indoor temperatures, and (ii) low outdoor temperatures. It was the latter that was a killer, not the former. Avoiding any temptation to advise the daft old bats to wrap up warm when they went to do the shopping, it did make one potentially useful suggestion: councils should build more and better shelters at bus stops.

  23. Lots of jokey comments, but let’s face it: British homes of any age are poorly insulated and leak cold in at the windows and doors. In the past, this was so you didn’t die of the coal fire fumes. A single coal fire could easily heat a small house, and provided you were prepared to tolerate a temperature gradient between the room with the fire and the bedrooms, perfectly adequate. If you look at older houses (say 1890) there was a small fireplace in every room, but the ones upstairs were rarely used. Go back hundreds of years and the fireplaces were huge – for wood burning – and definitely not in every room. People did wear more clothes.
    What’s more, steel-framed windows and single glazing work fine if the inside temperature is nearly the same as outdoors!
    If you increase the temperature inside, abandon coal/wood open fires, and cut down the draughts you get awful condensation.
    As for fuel poverty, we shouldn’t count homes with Sky, WiFi/Broadband, smartphones, smoking, gambling etc, because then it’s a lifestyle choice.

  24. My great aunt had a small cottage, with no central heating and a single coal fire. The lounge could get toasty warm, the bedroom was pretty much same temperature as outside was. A 19th century cottage that never had double glazing, central heating or a boiler. Hot water was available in a big pan on the cooker.
    She didn’t have fuel poverty. And lived to the age of 97.
    I’ll struggle to age 50 (another 5 years) in a house with central heating, double glazing and a temperature setting at the moment of 25C as its not too cold outside.

  25. “that’s the equivalent of 10% of all households”

    What does that mean? It’s either actually 10% of all households or it’s not. What is ‘the equivalent’?

    When charities use phrases like this, it makes me think they have fudges the figures to come to the conclusion they were looking for in the first place.

  26. Witchie,

    Our single coal fire most definitely did not warm any room other than the lounge.

    jgh,

    You sound like my dad, God rest his soul, he was tight with the heating. When we stayed with my mum for his funeral, the house was way more comfortable than when he was the thermostat obergruppenfuhrer.

  27. I was born in a council maisonette in 1960.

    It had a coal fire in the lounge which also heated the hot water and a radiator in the kitchen.

    I don’t remember that tho – by the time I was growed up we had a paraffin heater in the lounge, kitchen and bathroom. I think my falling in/on the fireguard may have been reason for the change.

    Anyway, I have vivid memories of ice on the inside of the bedroom windows and getting dressed in bed because it was so bleddy cold…

  28. I was skiing last week and the room in the chalet was unbearably warm, despite it being -10 degrees outside. I switched the heating off in the room and it was still too warm.

    The insulation in those buildings is remarkable and shows what is possible.

  29. My Dad is German and came over to London in the sixties. Every time he reminisces about that, he pisses himself laughing at the (then) discovery of shiny toilet paper, and houses that that lacked double (or triple!) glazing or any kind of central heating or insulation; something that was fairly common on the continent even back then.

    I can still remember visits to my nan in Scotland, where she still had an outside toilet, and a complete lack of a bathroom or shower. Washes were done in the kitchen sink (heated by an aga), and that was that.

    Kids today think life is hard, but I’m old enough to know better.

  30. 1958, age 3, newbuild house: coal-fire with back boiler for heating and hot water, supplemented with paraffin heater (I can’t rember why). Condensation and ice on window panes, hot water bottles, going outside to fetch coal etc. (oh, and sometimes there were power cuts in winter —and we lived a mile from the power station)
    1968: upgraded to gas fire with back boiler for central heating.

    Now, retired to country cottage, single glazing, outdoors about 3°C, indoor temperature today with the sun shining, 14°C, I am wearing warm clothes, I do not consider it cold indoors, will probably turn the heating on when the sun goes down, which will raise things to about 18°C.

  31. “In 1980, I spent 2 weeks in York for language school. I remember vividly how the family I stayed with had all the room doors closed, and only heated a few rooms in the house as and when.”

    Well make that Wiltshire in 1980 and it was the same in our house. We had 2 warm rooms in the house, the kitchen, which housed the log burning range, and the sitting room next door, because the hot water was on a flow and return system and there was a radiator to lose some heat there. The rest of the house was like an ice box, bedrooms included. To this day I can’t sleep in a warm bedroom, I need it brisk at least. Recently I’ve been opening my bedroom window to cool it down before going to bed.

    Incidentally, if house size is not taken into account, are you in fuel poverty if you can’t afford to heat your 100 room mansion to 65 degrees?

  32. And just to add, at a rough estimate, of all the essential, unavoidable everyday expenses of living: Food, Fuel, transport, and council tax, fuel represents about 15% of what I needs must spend.

  33. “Fuel poverty” is in many ways a political euphemism for desperation

    Yes. As shown by most of the comments here, for the desperation of statists to find yet another problem that must be fixed by people giving over more of their hard-earned cash to the benevolent government.

  34. Have I got the sequence of events right? Sandra last worked approx 19 years ago ( ‘almost 20’ ). She has a son who is aged 17. She is now 56.
    So a sick middle-aged woman in her late 30s decides to make a baby. What’s the story here, and where is the Dad now, the one that was knocking up a sick woman.

    I once computed a ‘heat or eat’ formula based on personal tests, and found if there are 2.5 or more people in the property it is cheaper to heat, if fewer, then it is better to eat.

  35. Doctors tell Sandra the asthma is brought on by the sudden rush of cold air clashing with warmth. Or in other words, it’s what happens when you can’t afford to heat your home.

    Sounds to me it’s what happens when you can heat your home and you open the door on a cold day outside.

  36. My wife has asthma, not affected by going from 25C to 4C and back. Perhaps its something individual to people or something that the body can adjust to.

  37. “Everyone went to bed with with a hot water bottle (we had Tufty Club covers)”

    Now that brings back fond memories of being in the Tufty Club.

    ” and did the cold bed dance.”

    And that doesn’t bring back fond memories.

    “Ice on the inside of the window in the morning anybody?”

    And that definitely doesn’t bring back fond memories. I wouldn’t want anyone to go back to those days.

    Bloke in Cyprus will appreciate this one. Perhaps the coldest I’ve been other than winter of ’63 was when posted to Troodos. I was given a flat in Platres, above the snowline, which was built to specs suitable for Limmassol. The first night the outside pipes froze and no end of calor gas heaters worked to keep us warm, all the did was cause a torrent of water to start running down the walls leading to severe damp.

  38. If I go from somewhere warm and then have to breathe a lot of cold air then I can struggle a bit with my asthma, but it’s usually only brought on by exertion.

    This is usually when I’m leaving work and have to run to the train station – if the air is cold, I can’t breathe properly for half an hour or so (prefer not to use inhaler if I can help it). This would suggest that it’s the warm->cold transition that’s a problem, and not heating the home would just cut down on the incidence, though (unless the kid routinely goes from home to somewhere a lot warmer and the effect works the other way as well)

  39. I used to get the same effect when I worked in Hong Kong, coming indoors from the streets at 40C into the server room at 10C. I used to keep a jumper in the office (balmy 20C) for excursions to the servers.

  40. Unlike all you Eskimo Nells both the houses I grew up in had central heating. This was nigh on fifty years ago. It wasn’t until I moved Oop North that I lived somewhere that didn’t have it. I even had it in my student digs in London. I used to think it was ubiquitous. My grandfather was a central heating engineer pre-war.

    Of course now heating is not an issue (nor cooling; it’s easy to design a house here that needs neither).

  41. Mid-1960’s, school dormitory (in Essex – nice cold E’ly winds off the North Sea!), enormous single-glazed sliding sash windows; no heating. On unusually cold nights they would put an electric fire on the landing outside (you can imagine how huge the stairwell was, and how much difference this made…). Famous comment made by housemaster’s wife, still quoted in our house today: “There’s not much heat in the electricity tonight.” And by God, sir, there wasn’t.

    Somehow we all survived, but fuel poverty hadn’t been invented then, of course.

  42. May I politely suggest that she moves to Northern Ireland where for every £100 spent on heating the government will pay her £180. The only downside being that she would have to use wood rather than coal.

  43. Witchie – “If you look at older houses (say 1890) there was a small fireplace in every room, but the ones upstairs were rarely used.”

    My first house was like this with a very small fireplace in the bedroom. A friend said that the idea was you carried a shovelful of hot coals from the main fireplace up to bed with you to put there. (I never tried it.)

  44. Andrew D

    In my north of England boarding school in the 1960s, we had to sleep with the windows open 6-12 inches in all weathers. I remember waking up to find snow on my bed clothes. But that was sheer luxury compared to CCF exercises involving bivouac-ing (no tents) in the rain on a wet hillside in the dales.

    H&S risk assessments would prevent such things now. And both would probably be classed as child abuse, too. Yet, shared hardship can instill team work and comradeship. I look back on it fondly.

  45. “My Dad is German and came over to London in the sixties. Every time he reminisces about that, he pisses himself laughing at the (then) discovery of shiny toilet paper, and houses that that lacked double (or triple!) glazing or any kind of central heating or insulation….”

    Please do remind your father that this country impoverished itself fighting two world wars that Germany started….

  46. Martin: 25C – wow.

    There was ice inside my bedroom window every cold morning when I was a kid school, until the parents got double glazing. 1st year at uni: open staircase with shower up 1 floor and toilets down 2 floors (in a building seemingly unmodernised since built in the 1600s). My meat & 2 veg looked like 2 large garden peas and a manky bird-eye chilli going up and down the stairs with a small threadbare towel worn around my midriff…. Home now heated to about 19-20C, and kids told to put on a top if cold.

  47. ” Yet, shared hardship can instill team work and comradeship. I look back on it fondly.”

    But it clearly didn’t. Comradeship & teamwork would have got the windows shut in winter & supplied a severe kicking to anyone who tried to open them. Or do you mean teamwork & comradeship helps passively endure gratuitously imposed discomfort? In which case not the sort of comradeship & teamwork we need a lot of.

  48. BiS

    But it wasn’t “gratuitous”. It had a purpose: to instill endurance, stoicism, initiative and (not unthinking) obedience to legitimate authority. Granted, not qualities needed by a spiv in Andalucia…

  49. Ah! The qualities instilled in a managerial class brought the UK from a world power to the shambles of the 70s.

  50. How old were the managerial class in the 1970s? In their 40s? So they would have been at school during WW2 and the Atlee years, taught by teachers born when Victoria and Edward were alive; and taught their management culture in the Conservative 1950s.
    Today’s managers were at school in the Thatcher 1980s taught by teachers trained in the 1960s/1970s, and were taught their management culture in the Major/Blair 1990s.

  51. I never lived in a house without central heating growing up but as a student in the early nineties I did endure some bloody cold winters in very shabby rented bedsits where I do recall sash windows with a half inch gap between the panes and ice on the inside of the windows, not to mention the toilet freezing over.

    When I lived in Finland in a 1960s studio flat I used to wear a t shirt except when it got to below -10c outside when I resorted to wearing a long sleeved shirt. I never needed a duvet in the cover either, which annoyed my Finnish girlfriend.

    Incidentally I find it interesting how well travelled the readers of this blog are and are still mostly anti the EU. It shows that leavers aren’t xenophobic little Englanders, regardless of the narrative spread by remoaners.

  52. Theo

    “Please do remind your father that this country impoverished itself fighting two world wars that Germany started….”

    My Dad was born in ’39, don’t think I hold him responsible for the war.

    My Grandad on the other hand knew exactly what the cold felt like, he spent most of the war in Russia…

    My other Grandad was in London during the Blitz fighting fires…

    As rationing in Britain after the war continued considerably longer than necessary, I think it shows that there is a substantial streak of self flagellation running through the British soul.
    Maybe due to the ruling classes mainly being schooled in places that make borstal look cozy.

  53. “The qualities instilled in a managerial class brought the UK from a world power to the shambles of the 70s.”

    Er…nothing to do with the disastrous Attlee government, whose influence was pernicious electorally until 1979? Or the trade unions? The superficiality of your views is mirrored by the depth of your prejudices against anyone you imagine might possibly look down on you. Which, given your role as an arms-length pimp, is not surprising, I suppose.

  54. Why all this chat. Why bring up the past. People just want to be warm in winter.
    Is this too much to ask.

  55. “My Dad was born in ’39, don’t think I hold him responsible for the war.”

    Not personally; but his remarks as reported by you show more than a little lack of context…

    “As rationing in Britain after the war continued considerably longer than necessary, I think it shows that there is a substantial streak of self flagellation running through the British soul.”

    Given the debts incurred by the UK to defeat Germany’s aggressive imperialism, and the international economic arrangements at the time, rationing was inevitable in the UK because of the lack of foreign exchange. Perhaps the allies should have dealt with Germany as Rome dealt with Carthage.

  56. I’m much warmer than you!

    The attitudes that swept over the UK in the 1950s have yet to be adequately explained I think. The mass stoicism and acceptance of mediocrity – British cars and light engineering in general, for example – the growing trust of the Man in Whitehall, the growing shame of ruling so many dominions. The trust that the working class put in Trade Unions who were split in totally dysfunctional ways, so that train drivers /engineers fought to preserve pay differentials over guards and ticketing staff and signallers, or the many bizarre ways in which people who built cars organised themselves. Frankly, I am surprised that the UK is still a major economy. Just how fucked up was everywhere else?

    And please can we stop the ad hominem insults, unless John 177 is around?

  57. Theo,

    As I’m sure you are well aware, the allies had total air dominance in the latter parts of the war.
    German civilians certainly felt the effects when large swathes of Germany were indeed razed to the ground a la Carthage.
    Maybe you think the wholesale rape of German women and girls after the war was perfectly justified too?
    Or maybe you just need reminding that History is written by the victors.

    Due to my heritage, I have a slightly more nuanced take on the war than most. having had relatives that fought on both sides.
    However I make no excuses about who was to blame for it or the right of Britain to go to war against an aggressive and expansionist enemy.

    That Britain had to effectively liquidate its entire Empire in order to afford to defend itself is more a reflection of the RealPolitik of the day where America deliberately bled us dry before stepping in to help.

    My comment was only meant as a light hearted and relevant anecdote regarding my Dads experience in England in the sixties.
    I think you maybe need to take a leaf out of Camerons’ book and chillax…

  58. Given the debts incurred by the UK to defeat Germany’s aggressive imperialism, and the international economic arrangements at the time, rationing was inevitable in the UK because of the lack of foreign exchange.

    To a certain extent this is true, caused by Lend Lease being terminated and the bill for everything we’d purchased from America during the war arriving the next day.

    Where it becomes less true is idiocy like Bread Rationing between 1946 and 1948 (bread was never rationed during the war), which was pretty much a posture to the Americans and was cancelled once the Marshall Plan aid was flowing.

    Meat rationing went on until 1954 and rationing of clothes and fabrics would have gone on for far longer except for widespread evasion making clothes rationing essentially irrelevant.

    Despite being elected in a landslide in 1945, the continuation of rationing after the war led to Labour support being undermined and was a key factor in the 1950 election (indeed a Tory manifesto commitment was to end rationing “as soon as was reasonably practical”) and a contributing factor in Labour being ousted in the 1951 General Election.

    Perhaps the allies should have dealt with Germany as Rome dealt with Carthage.

    What? You mean demolished the buildings, killing all the people and claiming the land?

    Because this is what happened with Carthage. Indeed long after the Punic wars were over, Julius Caesar built a new Roman city on the ruins of Carthage and it provided huge grain shipments to Rome (although nowhere near as much Egypt provided)

    Certainly British officers in the British Occupation Zone of Germany did describe it as “the newest colony of the British Empire” and this went down with the anti-Imperialist Americans like a cup of cold sick.

  59. In 2004 my parents split up. I was 20 and still living at home so went with Dad and younger brother. We rented a property with only storage heaters… All but two of which were condemned. One of the useable ones was on the downstairs landing of all the useful places. Some idiot had in the past had done a bad job when they painted around the window frame in my bedroom with the result that the window didn’t open… Or shut fully. It was stuck a fraction open. Luckily being down in Dorset we didn’t have the most extreme cold but I did wake to ice inside the window a few times and could sometimes see my own breath in my room.

    In retrospect I have no idea how the landlord even got away with renting the place out, although I do know we got to rent it cheap. When we moved in the scribbles on the walls from the previous tenants’ kids were still there, along with their litter – including mouldy apple cores – neatly swept into piles in the corner of each room!

  60. “German civilians certainly felt the effects when large swathes of Germany were indeed razed to the ground a la Carthage.”

    Unfortunately, those parts of Germany industry that fed the German war machine were not eliminated completely. Or sown with salt.

    “Maybe you think the wholesale rape of German women and girls after the war was perfectly justified too?”

    You reap what you sow, I’m afraid. If you don’t want to be raped by feral commies, don’t invade the Soviet Union. And don’t present as victims afterwards. Particularly when you’ve gassed millions of jews.

    “maybe you just need reminding that History is written by the victors.”

    The revisionist view of the 1914-1945 struggle is well under way. See Professor C Clark’s ‘The Sleepwalkers’…clue: Professor Clark’s wife is German and his children have dual citizenship, so no bias there.

    “That Britain had to effectively liquidate its entire Empire in order to afford to defend itself is more a reflection of the RealPolitik…”

    Perhaps; but is it not insensitive for your father to sneer at the standard of living in 1960s Britain when his freedom and standard of living in Germany were a result of allied sacrifice?

    “I think you maybe need to take a leaf out of Camerons’ (sic) book and chillax…”

    I would never chillax. But a good German reisling is another matter…

  61. “What? You mean demolished the buildings, killing all the people and claiming the land?”

    No. What Churchill recommended: turning Germany into an agricultural economy.

  62. Cutting off your nose to spite your face must hurt pretty shortly thereafter, even if not during. I find it hard to believe the Wirtschaftswunder wasn’t a net plus for the UK.

  63. No. What Churchill recommended: turning Germany into an agricultural economy.

    If they’d have done this then we would all have been poorer, both financially and as consumers.

    Britain should have had a veto over Germany forming and being a member of the European Coal and Steel Community though.

    Perhaps if they’d done that the EU wouldn’t be the monstrosity we see today.

  64. “the growing shame of ruling so many dominions”: the dominions had been self-ruling for many decades. You mean the colonies. Nor do I remember much sign of shame, nor pride, about them (though I may have been too young to remember). They just were and then they weren’t.

  65. @Theo
    My comment was against a background of a number of people recounting the rigours of living with what would now be regarded as inadequate heating. It would seem that the majority were doing so due to the strained circumstances of the times. Something that chimes with me. Growing up in a home where the financial constraints prevented us enjoying such luxuries as heated bedrooms.
    Thankfully, in my case at least, that’s very much of the past. Possibly, that’s true of most of us. Don’t know about anyone else, but I wouldn’t seek to impose such conditions on any child of mine in the mistaken belief that it was in some way character building. Character building, for me, would be not accepting those conditions should be imposed & doing something about it, if they were. Not supinely accepting.
    And thank you, yes, I do enormously enjoy my current business activities. Bringing up-to-date marketing & business management techniques to an industry’s hardly heard of them’s proving great fun & thoroughly rewarding. I might even get a book out of it. Although, for true veracity, I should learn to play the piano.

  66. Dominions, colonies,…. Dearieme is just a splitter but maybe dearieme can explain why that generation led to modern Britain. Wasn’t dearieme at the heart of it?

  67. I am starting to wonder whether dearieme was the man in Whitehall who was able to tell us what to eat, drink, snort and how best to organise our underwear drawers

  68. And, in unrelated news, is anyone surprised that Martin McGuinness is not retiring because of lead poisoning?

  69. OT

    A couple of months ago someone mentioned a US black journalist who went to Africa and came back realising that things weren’t so bad for blacks in the USA. I forgot to book the kink can anyone remember it?

  70. JG:

    “If they’d have done this then we would all have been poorer, both financially and as consumers.”

    And BiCR:

    “I find it hard to believe the Wirtschaftswunder wasn’t a net plus for the UK.”

    Up to a point, yes, probably. But taking a longer term view… ‘the German Problem’ is still with us, the EU is the Fourth Reich, and southern Europe groans under its yoke.

  71. Count me in on that central heating point.

    I was floored at how cold a middle-class home in Leeds was in December 1983. It hammered home a point to this central-heated-American-from-birth: Europe was just not as well off as America.

    In short, the data were right, and the “informed” opinions were not.

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