Frugal Living is back

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

For some of us, to be honest, it has never gone away regardless as to whether we may have the money to splurge somewhat or not. It is an ingrained way of life; to me at least. I grew up poor.

Some very frugal people happen to be those of the old money in the UK, as I have encountered. Those of what we call the new money are a different breed and they seem to have no inclination often to conserve resources and to live a frugal lifestyle. 

Sometimes it is understandable for some of them have come into money through often hard work now owning their own small to medium size business as builders and such and who frequently have come for a poorer background and now they are trying to live on a higher plane. 

But, often like most, they are only a paycheck, so to speak, away from falling down again but they refuse to see it and live the life of Riley, as they say in this country. 

Among the “old money” folks, even some of the aristocracy, if one knows those people on a personal level, there is a kind of frugality that was common with everyone not so long ago. It is, probably, for that reason that many of them still have money. 

Those that once were poor and have come into money, either by work opportunity and success, by inheritance or, like a couple, by winning the lottery, literally, seem to immediately go on spending sprees as if there is no tomorrow and in the early days of the lottery we used to hear some of the tales of someone having won tens of millions and then a number of years later finding themselves more or less penniless again.  

They, more than, despite of being poor were never taught proper frugality and thus as soon as they have money they run away spending, spending and spending, on things that have no long lasting value. 

But, alas, I digressed, as usual.

Frugality now is back, I should guess, with the so-called “cost of living crisis”, a crisis that is totally of the governments own making but affects the people and those of the least income worst of all. 

Some, however, do not know, and have never really know, what it is and means to live frugally. One can see that especially by what they waste, the things that they toss out because, as far as they are concerned it is obsolete, the food they waste because they have no idea how to cook from and with leftovers, and so forth. And many of those who are doing that are just the people who do not actually have the money to waste. 

While frugal living to some of us is very much an ingrained way of life and living some will have to learn it and learn what it means to be and live frugally. 

Making do is one part of that for sure and that means, as far as I am concerned, how things can be reused and upcycled, whatever this may be. The only problem that I have encountered with that mindset is that there are way too many things one comes across where the mind says “this may come in handy (some day)” and then one starts accumulating all those things and requires a barn to store them, and then finding the time to actually use those items, unless they are what could be classed as “spare parts” for something. 

Having grown up relatively poor but from a family where reuse and all that was a mindset I still today try to make things rather than having to buy them. If I can make something that I want or need, or reuse and refurbish something someone else has tossed out, then I will do so rather than spending money on buying it new.

The same goes for food, in a way, though different, obviously. I do not tend to order in or go out to eat – anyway to some degree an anathema among my People proper – but cook from scratch. That way I do know what is in the dish and also I know how to make use of leftovers, if there are any. The latter is something that, alas, many people, even and especially of the poorer in society, no longer seem to know how. 

The new frugality is nowadays more found among those who do have some money to spare, in a similar way as it is and was always the case with those of the “old” money. Those that really should have that mindset do not, as yet, have acquired it and then wonder why they cannot make ends meet.

Having said that, however, does not mean that it would help with paying many of the bills, especially with regards to energy, etc., as the “cost of living crisis”, as it is being called, is not their fault but, as said already, that of the respective governments. It is also not the fault of a country in the far east of Europe. Capitalism is the reason and nothing else. 

© 2023

London is in the midst of a cycling boom

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

According to a report by Transport for London (TfL) legions of Londoners have embraced cycling during the pandemic.

It found that bike journeys are up by a quarter compared to pre-pandemic levels, with an 82 per cent rise observed at the weekends. Almost 800,000 journeys a day are now made by bike; TfL wants that figure to be 1.3m by 2024.

The news follows the publication of another TfL report a week before, which found the number of cycling fatalities in London hit a record low in 2021.

While I have to admit that I have yet to full read the report to actually bring about a real uptake of cycling for the majority a proper and safe cycling infrastructure has to be created and not just in London.

It is more important even and especially in the suburbs and the areas servicing, so to speak, London, but then again not only there but this is applicable to all cities and towns in this country.

Also the countryside needs such a cycling infrastructure in order for cycling to become and be an alternative to the use of the motorcar and, when it comes to the countryside, the villages and small towns, other infrastructure too needs to be invested in, recreated and created, so that shops and other facilities are within cycling range, including schools.

It is a sad state of affairs that, even in London, cycle lanes are, in the main, a farce, as they are either part of the road itself without any physical separation between cyclist and general traffic, like most of them are on the European mainland in countries such as Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, etc., and that even those lanes that there are are (1) not protected from cars parking on them and (2) that they are often only very short before becoming a normal road again.

The talk is there about getting more and more people to use the bicycle instead of the car, especially for shorter journeys, but the political will does not seem to be present to actually create the right infrastructure for people, including and especially children and the not so confident, to safely take up the bike and use it regularly.

On the other hand there is also a problem with the attitude of many cyclists in the UK, and I am saying that being a cyclist myself (I do not own or use a car), in that many ride as if they are competing in the Tour de France or such an event and behave abysmal, ignoring traffic lights and zebra crossings, for instance.

Would it not be for such people with such attitudes one could safely, as is done in many countries, allow the dual use of the sidewalks for pedestrians and cyclists.

I cannot fathom why cyclists, much like drivers, in the UK have an aggressive style of riding unlike people in countries where there is a real cycling culture, be it the Netherlands, France or Germany, per example. In a number of places in those countries I have encountered the amicable sharing of sidewalks, albeit somewhat wider than most of them we encounter in the UK, between pedestrians and cyclists, with cyclists giving pedestrians priority.

© 2023