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  • Writer's pictureKemiALondoner

Cost of Living?

I've heard this term this week more times than I care to remember, but I remember I care about it every time. But the cost of living has always been an issue, so why the popularity of the term now?

Over the past fortnight we've heard a tale of two UK's in the news. On one hand you have the 'champagne guzzling, party popping, heating on and windows wide open' Conservative Parliamentary elite and co. who are disregarding all the rules they set for everyone (else apparently) and the other hand is 'down the back of the sofa gathering any pennies that may have fallen in there to make ends meet' Regular Joe's and Josephine's. It's just not fair.

In my life I've been poor. The lowest point was when all I had was a lettuce and a jar of mayo in the fridge and I was using up the emergency money, so the fridge was about to go off. Emergency money on the meter has always been a total rip off because you always had to pay back more than you used, as well as paying a standing charge for having a meter. The feeling of anxiety and worry about how I was going to survive filled me with dread and despair. Breakfast and lunch that day was mayonnaise covered lettuce with a side of water. After handing my CV (it was the olden days when people used paper) into about 20 shops, I walked up the road and into a bar, asked if they had any work, claimed to have pulled a pint in the past and because they were short staffed managed to pick up a part time job that worked around my studies. It didn't pay much, but it came with food and drink, was always warm and I could walk there, so there were no travel costs. I spent a lot of time at work so I didn't have many bills that year. As a young person I already was thinking about how to orientate a life of poverty.

I didn't realise I still follow those rules until recently when discussing "The cost of living' with a friend. Told her all the things I did to save money: cycling, turning off heaters in rooms I don't use regularly so as not to heat them (The bathroom - i'm not a millionaire!), thick curtains to keep in heat, turning of the central heating when I go to bed and having a hot water bottles instead, using the washing machine after 7pm because the electric is cheaper. I even eating at my project on a Friday - at the start it was a necessity. Being poor means you budget, scrimp to try to live as normal a life. Often on less than a shoe string. This attitude now ingrained in my brain. I take nothing for granted. Of course, some of these things are good for the environment too, but they were born out of poverty.

And I imagine i'm not the only person who operates like this. Millions of people are facing huge hikes in the cost of food and fuel, on top of the already obscene accommodation costs and lots of my friends work in the hospitality industry and have lost their jobs and have no income. I can not imagine any more concessions can really be made. People have been making the choice between heating and eating for YEARS, this is nothing new.

But, this year the question now is what can I not afford to do for the longest?

Eat or stay warm?

It's not fair.

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