On the train up to London on Saturday morning we were heartened by the presence of some Brit's keeping to their native culture and ethnic identity. It was five young men who just happened to have a crate of beer with them and were getting stuck in before 9.00 a.m. Alas modern manners are not the same.
In my day the sight of an old codger panting quietly would have allowed the courtesy of the offer of a bottle or two, sadly no longer. They were a little noisy but very smart and no trouble. At least it gave the rest of the carriage the chance to listen to their conversation and judge their life, it's style and interests.
Essentially, these involved, sport, beer, money, beer, the usual entertainments and of course, beer. So what changes, you might ask, justifiably? One thing that has is the money and on my return later in the day it gave cause for thought. But not beer, although a bottle of fizz was involved.
At a patisserie in Covent Garden, the chit tells me £7.80 was spent for unexpected extra marching rations on a small baguette, a pastry and two half litre bottles of water. When first in London as a Hampstead hearty nearly sixty years ago that sum in cash would have kept me for a week in decent digs and a modest but active life style.
On the train the chatter mentioned the price of tickets at sports events. For some special events hundreds of pound were involved and for leading soccer matches many tens of pounds. Yet even only thirty to forty years ago four of us were in a stand at Anfield, the Liverpool ground, for less than a fiver.
Inevitably there was passing reference to property and the figures involved were a hundred fold on those of forty to fifty years ago. In their talk there were many items where a lot of "grands", that is thousands, were the norm. This is inflation and despite claims of "low" or "managed" forms it has been with us now for all the lives of many of the living. So most or nearly all now cannot understand what life is like without it.
There are a great many problems with statistics in comparing with the past and this item is not enough for that, but even the matter of the price of a loaf is not simple. The Chorleywood process, new varieties of grain, new methods, forms of transport and all the rest have impacted, let alone that bread for very many is no longer the staple but an optional item.
Money, however, is at the heart of politics, the class system, how we run our lives and almost all the major decisions. When money becomes uncertain and unstable then so does the way humanity conducts its affairs.
We have not had monetary stability recently we have only had less instability than before. The signs are that this "truce" in the war of our wants and desires may be about to break down and another age of serious instability is on the way.
Few can recognise what could happen, fewer are prepared for the consequences and all will be affected. Recently, the instability we have had has allowed the rich to become richer and greater disparities of wealth and income.
But it can happen if a real monetary storm occurs that even the rich may not be able to ride it. If they cannot then nobody will. So when our governors talk of "controlling" inflation when it is clear they are not and perhaps cannot anything can happen.
The young men then may need a crate of money to buy a bottle of beer.