August 2008: Recession unfashionable

The country is in recession. Not a block or a pipe has been laid in any building site in the country in the past few months.  And while I was listening to a program on the radio the other day about the re-introduction of third-level educational fees, I was suddenly aware of how some things were coming back into fashion as our economic hairline recedes.

You see the last time we talked about paying school and college fees we were just emerging from a recession. Now, we’re talking about them as we enter a recession. What goes around comes around, as they say. But if dole queues and college fees are becoming fashionable again, other exotic habits and pastimes are going out of fashion. Fast.

The first ones to feel the pinch will be the animals. Just as they’ve got used to nice normal non-GM eating habits and freedom to roam the fields, the general population decide that they can’t afford the hyper-expensive prices that organic meat costs. We will all revert to the water-pumped, force fed chickens once again. Because they’re cheap.  So it’s back to artificial fertiliser-laden fodder for our poor cows and back battered battery hens for Sunday lunch, I’m afraid.

If you think that organic feed and lifestyles for the animals will be unfashionable in the coming years, their pampered cousins will have it worse. When we ran out of ideas on how to spend our money on pampering ourselves, we started to pamper our pets as well. Now, in these straitened times, Rover will no longer be done up like the dog’s dinner. Dog grooming, pet-sitting, fur-cuts, nail clipping: you name it, we paid for it for our pooches.

We put them up in pet hotels when we went on holidays, we paid pet insurance to cover the cost of the vet’s visits when they got sick and, when they finally popped off, we sent them to the big dog kennel in the sky by way of cremation.

God love us, we couldn’t do enough for our pampered pooches. We were like Gaius Caligula, that general from the hedonistic Roman times, who made his horse a member of the senate.

Of course, we only started that nonsense after we had exhausted ways of pampering our own bodies. We have fake tanned ourselves to a deep shade of brown, we wear gel nails, we take diet supplements to counteract our fast food habits (no time to cook, you see, and we can afford takeaways every night). We installed gym equipment in our spare rooms in another effort to fight our bad eating habits. Teeth whitening became popular and cosmetic surgery was no longer a taboo topic for discussion over morning coffee.

Some F words have become very unfashionable as the recession bites deeper. “Flipping” property has become “flippin’ property we can’t sell” rather than a quick turnaround of a property purchase with maximum profit. Foreign workers will no longer be welcome on our shores as we fight to keep our own jobs.  It’s back to effing basics.

A lot of jobs that were created by our personal wealthy lifestyles will now be as unfashionable, and as unprofitable as they were before tiger times. Wedding planners will disappear into whatever black hole they crawled out of in the first place. Children’s party entertainers will go back to parading on Paddy’s day in silly costumes and auditioning for kid’s TV programmes. We will no longer pay people to iron our shirts, cut our lawns or clean our houses.

And I’d imagine that people will no longer pay others to mind their children in a “play zone” for four hours, at a tenner an hour, while they shopped until they dropped.

I heard of that money-spinner down the country recently. Now the poor darlings will have to put up with being unwillingly dragged around the shops as was foisted on us when we were young.

I mentioned wedding planners earlier. We have also been subjected to the “day after the wedding” party. I’m sure some of you have been forced into attending these. Usually, they are held in some relative’s house, where the guests whom have not embarrassed themselves too much at the real wedding the day before can relate their stories of the day, comment on how the bride looked and cure their hangover without remorse. You needed to buy another outfit to attend these. Another shopping trip to America justified.

Of course, even this was not enough for some people and lately, before the recession bit our bums, newly weds were having these post mortems in the same hotel that held the wedding or hiring in caterers. I suppose it was one way of showing off your new five thousand square foot house.

If all this sounds alien to you, don’t worry. You have been living in the real world and the recession might not affect you too badly, if you can hold onto your job. I, for one, will not miss listening to the stories about pampered pets, partied-out prodigies and extravagant weddings.

And there is one thing that I will be glad to see confined to the recession skip, along with the clapped out children’s trampoline, the propane barbeque and the punctured bouncy castle. That item is the property ladder. There are plenty who won’t be climbing that particular apparatus for a few years to come yet.

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