Yesterday, I talked my elder daughter, who was born in 1945, and consequently whose childhood and early adulthood was in a period still recovering from the effects of WW 2. She raised the matter that she, like I, had had to pull ourselves up by our bootlaces, and this had provided us with a totally different view on life to those more fortunate. Everything we gained we had to work for, which we appreciated not only for our own success, but for their material value The next generation, those born in the late 60s or 70s, were often presented upon their marriage with a house fully furnished, a car, and an exorbitant holiday somewhere abroad. What has also snowballed is the cost of a wedding, and what seemed to be the incumbent prenuptial expenses as well. We no longer go to weddings, but our grandchildren seem to be going to them at an inordinate rate, and the total cost to the guests, of having to fly to the prenuptial party in some other country, having to fly to some castle somewhere, and provide what is considered an appropriate present, to our old eyes is exorbitant.
The increase in the average wealth of the nation, whether real or due to credit, prior to the credit crunch, made expenditure on social graces, and random pleasures, to reach average heights never previously experienced. This had two effects, the first was it put those less well off, into an embarrassing situation where they either had to stump up and make it up in some other way later, or not accept the invitation for whatever it was. The second was that material things and pleasures gained almost without a thought, were not appreciated intrinsically, in the same way as if they had been achieved by hard work and frugality. It arrived at a point where it was taken for granted, and we then achieved the throwaway society, where almost nothing is sacrosanct, but collecting tat from a bygone age, ironically is noteworthy, to the extent that programmes on a daily basis are devoted to it.
If I live long enough I think perhaps I shall see that the credit crunch will bring a little sanity to the way in which people value their possessions, and go for quality rather than brief fashion and style.