“Could I have ten 78s please?”
“I’m afraid the 78s are 82s now”.
“Oh well, I’d better have ten of those then”.
The postal rate to Britain had gone up without me noticing, apologies to anyone who got letters with insufficient postage on them.
An additional forty cent was no big deal, but there were others in the post office who would have been watching every price rise with trepidation, everything is going up.
The official rate of inflation is calculated by including a whole range of goods and services – many of which would never ever come into the thoughts of people on low incomes. A rate of inflation for the essentials would be considerably higher than the official consumer price index. Electricity is due to rise by 17.5 per cent next month, gas will follow suit, and the increase in the cost of utilities will provide grounds for a raft of other increases.
And prices are much slower to fall than to rise; despite the fact that oil has eased back to $130 a barrel from highs of $150, there is no sign of the petrol companies, who used the rising price as an excuse to raise pump prices, reducing the forecourt price levels.
There are lots of worried people. Sometimes fears have little foundation; speculative media pieces might fill air time, they also worry many, often elderly, people who still regard the news media as having the same gravitas as it did in generations past.
In the midst of it all is a lame duck government who could actually do something to reassure the people in the post office queue. The government profits hugely from rising fuel prices, its VAT receipts swollen by its percentage of every gallon pumped. The government could announce that the windfall would be earmarked to make sure that no-one is cold this winter and that no older person standing in the post office need fear that they won’t be able to make ends meet.
Of course, politicians in chauffeur-driven ministerial Mercedes wouldn’t be standing in post office queues, and have probably not bought a postage stamp for a long time, to hear what people are saying.
82 cent – that’s equivalent to about 65p Sterling. Thirteen shillings to post a letter to England.