A Little Less

Now listen very carefully, because what I am about to say may surprise you. This recession is not just bad news -- it can be good news too. Now, I won't pretend that it is fun to be out of work -- that is destructive for the individual and society as a whole, and somehow we have to maintain levels of employment.

But making do with less? I don't see that as a problem for many of us. I see it as a bonus.

To begin with we could all eat less -- I know I could. Just look down. Can you honestly see your feet? I bet that ninety percent of everyone watching TV right now would be better off with less food, and indeed with less booze. See, I've just saved you hundreds of dollars, and what's more, you'll be fitter too.

We could also spend less on heating the home. Central heating is not necessary for survival, unless you are an unpleasant bacteria. They love it. I remember the days when I used to wake up to find ice on the bedroom window because we didn't have proper heating. Was I ill? No. Was I fitter? Yes.

Then there's all the money spent on hot water for bathing. I seem to remember I survived very well without a bath every day. We Brits used to be famous for using our baths to keep coal in. Whatever happened to that idea? Come to think of it, whatever happened to coal?

And then there is clothing. In these difficult times, we're going to have to learn to mend clothes again. Like mother did. I remember my mother darning and sewing, and turning the cuffs and collar of a shirt so as to double its lifetime. It was hard work, but in the past many did work hard. It might be even more rewarding than watching me on TV.

Another little saver - cut down on all those presents this Christmas. We all spend a ridiculous amount of effort every year spending money we can't afford, on presents of little conceivable use, for people who don't need anything in the first place. So scrap the presents for everyone except the children.

Perhaps we can grow our own vegetables too, and learn to preserve fruit and give the scraps to chickens?

Okay, I hear you -- you're sitting in New York and you don't have a garden, and the landlord objects to chickens -- OK -- but answer me this: Could you survive on less -- less food, less energy, less gas?

Aha, less gas. That's the big one. How about a smaller car or maybe no car at all? Think of it. If Manhattan were to be full of cycles instead of cars, how clean and quiet and safe it would be.

And above all, let us bring an end to the school run. To the sight of overweight parents parking their SUVs across the sidewalks and disgorging their equally porky offsprings. If they walk to school, they will be happier, and healthier, and safer. So what is the problem? We can all make do with less -- for some of us, the sooner the better.
By Peter Allen