Eat Your Savings

Jenny Diski

I misread the headline of Faisal Islam's blog on the Channel 4 News website. I though it said that the new deputy governor of the Bank of England told him that Britain's savers should now 'eat their reserve cash'. The fact that he's called Charlie – or Mr – Bean didn't help. But no, what he actually said was that people should be eating into their savings. It's the point of the Bank of England policy of keeping interest rates low, he said: an intended penalty, not, as the idiotically virtuous saver had supposed, an alarming side effect. How right I was to sneer at my parents' generation when they told me that I should save for my old age. It won't be like that then, I said. And here it is, not like that at all.

All those goody-goody youngsters who listened to their mums and dads and dutifully put away money instead of buying 45s and Mary Quant make-up, so that they could have some income when they retired, are now being told to spend it – by the Bank of England, no less. That's what's going to sort out the mess they and the banks got us into. So if you have a nest egg or a bit of capital, start spending it. It's your patriotic duty. But isn't this quite an inefficient plan?Why not simply legislate to nationalise all individual savings accounts? While they're at it, they should probably require Big Issue sellers to donate their takings to Rupert Murdoch.

What I'm not sure about, and would like advice on, is how best to spend for the country. Should I for example be shopping expensively at Net-A-Porter and Liberty for my knickers and frocks? Or should I instead buy lots and lots more from M&S and Primark? How many TVs and cars should I buy? If there's a concern about hoarding, which old people are inclined to do in any case, it won't matter because we won't be able to afford a living space to hoard things in. And what about that? Once I've supported the economy with the money I had supposed would come in handy when I had to pay for my old age care home, and run out, I'll be among the millions of homeless and hungry bag ladies and gentlemen, demented, incontinent, but having done our bit for England, roaming the streets. Since the coalition is already starting to dismantle social welfare, I presume plans are in hand to build the workhouses we are going to need. A boost for the construction industry there. Or is there a less-liberal-than-we-thought subtext to the easing of the DPP's attitude to mercy killing?


  • 1 October 2010 at 12:18pm
    alex says:
    Why not get yourself one of those big 4x4 vehicles? They cost a packet, use up loads of fuel, and there is the chance of running over a few elderly people as well.

  • 1 October 2010 at 1:41pm
    Joe Morison says:
    Lay in a stock of super strength lagers so that at least when you're on the street you'll have something to keep you warm.

  • 1 October 2010 at 4:52pm
    A.J.P. Crown says:
    I always liked "Eat the rich" as graffiti, it's so perfectly balanced: a frightening prospect if you are rich and a revolting one if you're not.

    • 1 October 2010 at 7:12pm
      Joe Morison says: @ A.J.P. Crown
      And i always thought that was about tea biscuits.

  • 1 October 2010 at 8:07pm
    pinhut says:
    Blow it all on a chin implant for Ed Miliband, you'd be doing everybody who has to look at him for the next five years a massive favour.

    • 1 October 2010 at 8:07pm
      pinhut says: @ pinhut
      Fair's fair, if there's any money left over, repeat the process with Gove.

    • 1 October 2010 at 8:10pm
      pinhut says: @ pinhut
      And Cameron. What the hell has happened to the chins in public life? Did John Prescott commandeer all of them?

    • 1 October 2010 at 8:49pm
      Joe Morison says: @ pinhut
      There was a time when Tory politicians judged their peers as being sound by saying that they had 'bottom'. I think pinhut's onto something: now it's a matter of chin.

  • 1 October 2010 at 9:28pm
    loxhore says:
    I had a sustained ~£400 splurge on Amazon this summer and halfseriously justified it to myself as economic stimulus.

    Leider, some of it was savings, but most of it was dole.

  • 1 October 2010 at 11:00pm
    redrick says:

  • 2 October 2010 at 3:38am
    Sarkis Shmavonian says:
    We ought all of us to chuck the bourgeois nonsense and live off our minds. How stands the garret supply in England? We can either follow the Koestler route and exploit the less leery or take our salad mix of high education, culture, intelligence, and manners off to play with each other elsewhere. Public life, there in England or here in the States, is only going to get seamier, because *all* politicians these days are bound to reconfigure an essentially fiscal crisis in social and economic terms so they can point the bony finger of blame. Rather, follow the money; then throw in a seven-second limit to public memory spans before the next paid-for barrage hits, and you have pretty nearly the current stage of breakdown. (One's younger friends will have to help out with the dodgy hips and balance the hardbound volume of Roland Barthes' essays on our frail chests as well.)

  • 3 October 2010 at 12:56pm
    Geoff Roberts says:
    Trying to cling on to some sort of reality in the time of financial disasters, I've come to conclusion that we can't beat the bankers, so we should try and join them. My 'bank consultant' - they don't try and do anything as crass as sell you something - has sent me three fifty-page books explaining that the bank has done absolutely everything to inform me, that losses are just as common as gains and that I must read ALL of the material she has supplied if I want to avoid unpleasant surprises. It makes me feel as if the bank is doing me a favour by taking on my money at all. I should be grateful etc. ... The bank made a 25% profit last quarter.

Read more