The price of an ice cream

As a young child in the 1960’s my grandparents used to take the grandkids driving through France to holiday in Spain.

It was unusual for a working class family from Sheffield (grandad was a steelworker) to go on holiday abroad.

What a great experience!

One of the things I noticed changing during these occasional visits over the years was the price of ice cream.

In Spain and England it was at a very low price and affordable on my pocket money. In France it was a little different. You know, more classy with prices to match. 🙂

The price of ice cream was of course significant in my world!

Over the years the prices gradually increased and merged. They became global and consistent. The price (and quality) changed dramatically.

In retrospect I was experiencing from a child’s world view both globalisation and the way products are now priced ie at a level that the ‘market can take.’ Price was increasingly determined not by the cost of raw materials plus the cost of production plus a profit. There was a dramatic shift towards the price-we-can-get-away with charging. There were key stages of this change, including; the increase in international travel especially holidays, higher disposal incomes amongst more people in society, middle class growth, the moving on from the effects of the war, decimalisation, and VAT.

In a few short years the cost of ice cream went way beyond my pocket money, I couldn’t keep pace.

Now, I’m here living in Indya age 61.

I often say that India is a good teacher it illustrates and illuminates many contemporary issues.

Well we’re seeing exactly the same process going on here. Ice cream was and still is cheap but now there’s a whole range of premium quality options so prices differ wildly. There is a massive surge growth of the middle classes so new demands and greater disposable income, India has always been the world leader of flexible pricing (the least local you look the higher the price you will pay). Now we’ve got the addition of the introduction of GST (a General Service or Value added Tax) and the idiotic demonetisation which resulted in over 80% of currency becoming worthless overnight. Yet more reasons for prices shooting upwards! The price of ice cream, not being the only thing that goes up and up.

Think India is cheap? Think again.

We often think that India is a cheap place. That’s both true and not. It can be incredibly cheap and shockingly expensive.

A case in point.

Medicines.

The big box of twenty tablets costs, …….. wait for it……. 1760 Rupees! (That’s one GB pound per tablet) I’ve managed to get a 15% discount and I’m not paying firangi (foreigner) prices. The minimum daily wage here is 250 Rs per day how is someone who is poor, supposed to manage? I can tell you as an exceedingly rich (not) foreigner it’s hard to handle! Imagine what it’s like for poor people, or Manjula for that matter if she didn’t have access to our resources!

So what’s the point?

So, I’m seeing the same process of prices increases at work, here in India over fifty years later.

Prices are becoming more consistent around the world, reflect what’s possible to charge rather than actual costs, are often increased when there’s a convenient policy change such as change in taxation. It also serves to accentuate and polarising difference, it reflects the severe differences in levels of income and wealth, life and death experience in society.

Question

Did you spot the deliberate mistake? Check the photos above.

Ice cream gets more of a mention

Mechanical toys

The tour continues

I’m travelling back up north so what to do? Check out the Queen’s mini elephant?

And one or two other things…..

A wonderful exhibition of mechanical ‘toys’ or automata. Some minuscule such as the Queens elephant and some giants such as this amazing train!

In great location, country house with capability brown gardens in Warwickshire. Here at Compton Verney where there’s loads of exhibitions and Capability Brown’s landscape.

My advanced technical skills doesn’t enable me to get the map orientated properly.

muppet! .

More details here in the Guardian article.

It seems there are wonderful examples of these automata dotted around the country. One of my favourites is the little amusement arcade on the pier at Southwold in Suffolk.

Whispering Loudly

I’m a firm believer in listening to the whispers.

It’s not complex.

There’s often a pattern to the things that happen, that we hear or notice, or somehow seem apparent.

They are often messages we can choose to hear or ignore.

Today I’m fondly remembering a friend, my first proper girl friend. I set up home with Tricia at 18 before I even left school. We had a bedsit. It was the downstairs living room of a terraced two-up, two down. The kitchen was shared with the couple upstairs, toilet outside in the yard and ‘slipper’ * baths at the swimming pool down the road.

Well I learned today that Tricia had died earlier this year.

I’d bumped into Tricia again in TK Maxx in Sheffield a few years ago. I’d met her daughters, exchanged stories and introduced her to Manjula over the past two years. I was so pleased we’d reconnected.

I’m sad and sorry to hear she’s gone but grateful for our wonderful times together and that we’d found each other again.

I’m sending positive warmness to her husband and daughters.

The loud whispers ? : people’s deaths, great conversations with the 97 year old and Manjula’s near death experience this year .

The message? : cherish what you have, make the most of it, keep connected to the precious people in your life, be good.

From the Peace Gardens, one of our places in Sheffield

Farrell factoid

* a Victorian swimming pool often had slipper baths alongside. Small bathrooms where you could go for your full wash. Instead of the tin bath in the living room on the fire hearth

Douglas and I

Donkey loses legs!

Road Trip …. with a great geezer.

Attention!

Douglas and I spent the day together travelling from York to the Deep South!

It helps me realise how important it is to keep connected and spend time with those we might not ordinarily come into contact with….

… age difference 36 years!!

It was a great, fun journey and took maybe six hours (this disUnitedKingdom is a VERY BIG country, or so the Brexiteeeers think) taking in an extended lunch (talking) and unplanned detour (my battery ran out and talking).

Talk time was on a ratio of 9-1 Douglas to me). You may find that hard to believe but absolutely true.

Douglas is the father of Liz and grandpa of my sons Ben and Ol.

I’m clearly a donkey and my hind legs have now fallen off.

What a character! Aged 97 he retired from the army decades ago!

His final rank being lieutenant colonel (pronounced leftenant, in some inane British attempt to prove we’re not French. It’s a French word!) his experience is vast especially in logistics and management, nuclear armament transport (his daughter and I and Ben, years later would be demonstrating against those very things), the first Army helicopter outfit, suez crisis, parachutist, internal army machinations (like all organisations), and he’s an intelligent, thoughtful, aware guy and not the rabid Tory you might expect.

So thanks Douglas. Top man, great time and conversations.

It helps remind me that we just need to give people time and recognise that wealth is in sharing our knowledge, experience and opinions.

At ease

UK refuses holiday visas

The Home Office also refused visas by saying it was not confident the applicant would leave the country at the end of their visit despite applicants clearly visiting for a specific purpose, such as a weddin; submitting evidence that they had booked and already paid for hotel accommodation ending on a certain date; presenting letters from employers, that stated they had been granted a specific period off work for the holiday; or running their own, successful business back home.”

Guardian Article

This is exactly what happened to Manjula two years ago….. check below for links to the story of Manjula’s visa application.

A holiday visa is applied for

All she wants is a holiday

Let’s try again

She did succeed in obtaining a visa and now has had two wonderful trips to the UK