Well, so what? I can't remember when we ever had it "fat" in this here modest household, which has been running in relative frugality mode for ever -- much to the physical benefit and emotional happiness of its inhabitants.
Anyway, am I the only one to find the whole discourse going on in dear old Blighty about the credit crunch and the need to tighten belts somewhat half-arsed? I increasingly feel that all this collective wailing and gnashing of teeth is not really about existential matters (because those who have existential matters to wail about don't get the chance to do so in public), but about complete trifles -- such as foregoing the purchase of your third plasma TV, umpteenth handbag or replacement Svarovski-crystal encrusted mobile phone.
Ouch, that really hurts.
Now, I am aware that the British obsession with personal adornment has a long history. Here's a comment from 1592 by Frederick of Mömpelgard (later Frederick Duke of Würtemberg), on your average early modern Londoner's materialism:
But although the attention to ruffs and stuffs continues to be a favourite Albionic concern (though Manchester seems to have surpassed London as Britain's shopping capital, what with the Wags and all that), I must say I'm also far from impressed by the results of all that therapeutic preening (which is -- something I have never quite understood -- what shopping in excess allegedly is).
The inhabitants [of London] are magnificently apparelled, and are extremely proud and overbearing … The women have much more liberty than perhaps in any other place; they also know well how to make use of it, for they go dressed out in exceedingly fine clothes, and give all their attention to their ruffs and stuffs.
Sadly, the more the British press oracles advise us about how we may best consume our way out of the economic crisis and benefit from the great discounts to be found on the collapsing High Streets, the less hopeful I am for the end of bad taste and general commonness in the wake of a new age of austerity.
The new age of austerity, I fear, will not take place.
So here's my humble prediction for 2009: "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:10).
*A long farewell to shining trifles