Sunday 15 July 2012

The New Poor

Why my family can’t live on £41K 

by “Kate Church"

From The Times 14 July 2012

She has felt the loneliness of middle-class poverty.
So five years ago, we downsized (a pleasant euphemism for a humiliating, traumatic event). Still, I was glad to give up my large, elegant house in leafy West London to move to a small, plain one, because that Georgian beauty was a nausea-inducing financial millstone — however, certain friends stopped speaking to me. One had old baby clothes to get rid of: “I’ll take them,” I said. Pride is the first luxury to go (shortly followed by the cleaner, the nanny, and the private nursery). My so-called friend dumped her cast-offs in my hall in a bin bag. She was awkward when I rang. My ex-neighbour (dinner parties, babysitting each other’s kids) was embarrassed to encounter me in the supermarket, post-move, and started bleating about her own imaginary money troubles — “If it weren’t for our savings!”. Her husband, sweetly ignorant of the new protocol, insisted that we’d “arrange something”. She couldn’t drag him away fast enough — I think she feared contamination… The cost of fitting in — I don’t mean keeping up — with friends gives me chest pain. (No longer able to afford “plane holidays”, they have a week self-catering in Wales.) it’s gorgeous. I was surprised… Despite relinquishing the gardener and other staff, and slowly rebuilding our careers, Tom and I find it a stretch to fund a “socially acceptable” existence… Lacking spa days and stuff is not the hardship: it’s the social pressure that’s so agonising to negotiate… We spoil our children with love, but it’s naive to pretend that love is everything. Sometimes, your kids just need to go to the fair with their friends…

Couldn't they have moved further downmarket, sent their children to state schools and let them play football instead of mother-subsidised “horse-riding and cricket”?


  1. How the mighty fall. She'll be dying her own hair hunched over the sink next.
    And there was I thinking I faced financial hardship. (I do).

  2. Haha same here! Did you read Charlotte Raven wondering how she could give up getting her eyebrows threaded? I almost sent her some tweezers.

  3. I'm afraid you might be missing the point. Isn't that more about losing friends and a sudden change of social circles in general? Also, she's simply used to certain things, and downsizing is hard then. She didn't even talk of things that are really just a matter of prestige, say whether the exact same milk has a Waitrose or a Tesco label on it. She didn't claim she was starving.

  4. I'm sorry, I couldn't share her pain about dismissing the gardener!

  5. I understand that, of course. I suppose it's easier to empathise if you had a gardener all your life and then have to dismiss him. (Or so I imagine.)

  6. Who needs friends like that????? I don't feel sorry for her losing those friends, but for having those people as friends in the first place.