New York Times Photography special:
Picturing The RecessionPicturing the Recession
Readers and journalists from across the world send pictures detailing the impact of the recession.
Even if the Independent likes to go for the sensational on their front covers – wasn’t it the Independent who forecast methane fireballs rising from the sea before the century is out, eviscerating all life as we know it? – things do feel slowed down. Frankly, with this sick joke of a summer, they don’t just feel down, they feel depressed. I didn’t go to the Notting Hill Carnival this year – crowds just too intense last year – but I’m sure even that felt grey.
More beggars for one thing. Even the return – admittedly only one, in the form of a short little guy with a beard and a beret who appears over and over on the train to Victoria – of aggressive begging. But you’re starting to see more beggars on the high streets, around the train stations. Regional accents mostly, but a few downtrodden Londoners.
But mostly you feel it in the job market. More ads flogging ‘fantastic’ roles for 15,000, 13,000 a year, or 7 and even 6 pounds an hour. Rents don’t seem to be going down but a few more sales for dress shirts, shoes.
But most importantly, you feel the change in the crowds. Little of the ebullience I felt when I first came back to Enterprise Britain one year and a half ago, when the little matter of all that personal debt was not considered to be a real problem, either here or in the US. Now . . . it seems to be a problem. A big problem. What do folks do when they can’t make the payments no more?
But back to the Independent article, didn’t a recent study find people in Britain were happier in the 70’s than they were now? After all, we had better art. Stanley Kubrick, Francis Ford Coppola. Punk rock. Hell, even disco seems refreshing now. And we had socialism, of a sort. Whatever the flaws of the pre-Thatcher era – and they were legion – turbo-capitalism sits uneasily with the British.