They say that one man’s fish is another man’s poisson. And it was over tuna sandwiches this week at the Institute of Directors that a small group of us, chaired by Rebecca Harding of Delta Economics, reflected on what some would call ‘bad news all round’.
Three of the gloomier bits of the ‘economic outlook’ that we picked over included falling house prices, banks being less willing to allow entrepreneurs to remortgage their houses, and people spending less on the high-street.
As I reached for a handful of what may have been Kettle Chips, I began to realise that by shaking my head in despair, I was actually being a bit of a hypocrite. So, reader, my confession has to be made, several days later;
Firstly, in a country where millions of young people struggle to get on the housing ladder, falling house prices will be greeted, by them at least (and in many cases by their parents), with relief.
Secondly, I have yet to meet the entrepreneur who told me of their house-remortgaging with a great big grin on their face. Instead, it only seems to bring stress, a lack of sleep, and a pressure on their family and colleagues. By contrast, those who have managed to secure angel funding, for example, have enjoyed, comparatively, sunnier times.
Finally, if I told you that I had personally spent less this year than last year on the high street, I think that you’d probably see that as a good thing and I doubt you’d offer me a comforting rub on the back.
This is not to make light of the turmoil faced by thousands of retailers, and it isn’t to be flippant about the challenges faced by estate agents. Both of the above categories make up my very nearest and dearest.
The way I see things, the British chancellor cannot come bounding out onto the steps of the Treasury and say;
“You know what, I think we’re all spending much too much money on tat which we don’t need and which, frankly, makes us less happy in the long run”
Nor can he shrug his shoulders and point out;
“Hey, look on the bright side, it’s good news if you’re a first time buyer”
In a ‘nice weather for ducks’ sort of way.
We seem to be given the ‘news’ by too many of the wrong people and perhaps if we had a more balanced set of messages, we wouldn’t despair so readily at the ‘way things are going’.
At the risk of this turning into a parody of Thought For The Day, if we found a way at school to let people know that stumbling on happiness was more about relationships, well being and a sense of achievement, than about owning the latest iPhone, maybe that would be a start.
After all, give a man a fish…