Signs of the Times
Anyway, I thought I'd better get my hair cut, so off I went to the hairdresser's. It's usually packed but today it was nearly empty. "We're closing at four," said Melanie as she cut my hair. "We have no more bookings today."
It was an amazing contrast from how it usually is and I said so.
"Yes," said Melanie, "it's because people are cutting down on their spending, and haircuts are an easy way to do it. For example, they are having whole head colour rather than highlights, because it's cheaper. If I had to pay to colour my hair now, I wouldn't be doing it."
Melanie started training as a hairdresser while still at school, qualified at seventeen, and now she's twenty-two she has been working for five years. She feels sorry for people who don't have jobs and this applies to many of her friends.
"Mind you," she said, "some people of my age have just never learned to work, because they've never had a job, and the older you get, the harder it gets." Good point, I thought.
On my way home I filled the car up with ridiculously expensive petrol. If we'd been told a few years ago that it would be THIS much, we'd never have believed it.
In the garage, as I waited in the queue, a line of smoky-smelling people were buying cigarettes. I looked at the choice, intrigued, because I've never smoked and have never bought cigarettes, not even for anyone else.
The most obvious things on the packets were the warning labels, which stood out far more than the brand names. A good job the buyers know what they're asking for or they'd have to go by the warnings.
"I'll have a packet of twenty THESE WILL KILL YOUs, please."
"Two packs of A SLOW AND TORTUOUS DEATH, please."
Listening to the radio on the way home, I heard a discussion about debt. There was a man explaining how to get help with it: help from the Citizens Advice Bureau and similar.
"And if you say you have debt of a hundred grand on credit cards, they won't turn a hair, so please don't be too scared to say so."
So: what have I learned today? In recession-ridden Britain, some people are getting ridiculously into debt: the more responsible ones are cutting back on everything including haircuts: some people are choosing to blot it all out by smoking and other life-threatening activities.
And I've learned how lucky I am to have work. And, especially, to have work that I enjoy. Blessings duly counted. Phew.