Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Smugness of Poverty...

A continental friends of mine loves all things Irish but the topic of conversation that she hates the most is "Ireland in the 80s", as she has been subject to hours if not days of people competing for how bad they had it in the 80s. It strikes me that having lived through the recession of the 80s has turned into an achievement, a thing to be proud of, a thing to be smug about. Everyone I know of my generation will - at some level - look down on the Celtic Tiger generation with superiority or with patronising sympathy, as if those people have an inferior life experience than us who've been through the 80s.

Having a working class background, despite not having the characteristics of it, I get to be smug when pop stars or Bono shouts out for the people from the 'hood. I get to be smug about not having middle class guilt syndrome. I can compete strongly with other done-the-80s people.
I can associate myself with the coolness of Del Boy. The Poverty Smugness can go on and on.

But I've often wondered if it's made any difference. I don't think I'd be any more able to handle poverty if it hit me tomorrow, than someone born into a healthy economy. I've grown accustom to wealth. At least with the younger generation, they're young, and it will be a novelty. For us Generation Xers it will be oh no, not again. I don't want to cut my European city breaks, I don't want to give up my car, have to wait for the nite-link, cut down on my outdoors socialising, start to monitor my mobile phone calls - I'm too old for that enthusiasm.

Well at the end of the day, what can you do. Smugness is stronger than the will of man. We must succumb.

I had it worse in the 80s than you so there.


  1. Car and mobile phone. What else would I have to give up? Organic vegetables? I can't do the city breaks, we're on less than one European holiday a year. Our house is woefully in need of inproovemnt. We don't really go out. I think takeaways are our biggest indulgence! And yet, I'm always spending, never have anything in the bank.

    I hate not being able to keep up with the rest of the Celtic tigers, though I suppose I have the debt to match.

    And go back to a life without tv, washing machine, dishwasher, central heating! Yikes! It might be better for me though - certainly it would for the envirnoment.

  2. I've genuinely never thought of it this way. You might be right. We, would at least know where the rollercoaster to Hades was going whereas the younguns might just think it a fun ride and smile all the way.