Has enterprise lost its bottle?

I've forgotten why but I'm off the booze for the duration of March. (A sort of Atheist's Lent.)

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

To say I'm heartily sick of V8 juice would be an understatement. I've already got through two bottles of Tabasco and Lea and Perrins in a sad attempt to liven up my evening's drinking. Even plonking a stick of celery into the Virgin Mary does little to raise the spirits.

No. It isn't a lot of fun and a friend down the street who is enduring the same month-long act of self-denial has become so desperate for his kicks that he's taken to chewing raw jalapeno chillis of an evening. I'm quite worried about what it's doing for his outlook ‘The problem,' he told me, ‘Is other people. Socialising becomes a chore. Although, in the spirit of an AA confessional, I suppose I should admit that socialising always is a chore... except it's a fine excuse to have a drink.'

It's made me think about the mentality of this new Age of Austerity that the doomsayers say we're entering. Denial is becoming the key. Certainly with the unemployment numbers hitting two million yesterday there are many unfortunates who are going without because they have no choice. But there are millions, still in a job and with lower mortgage payments, who are actually better off than they were pre-Crunch. But they won't spend. They've lost the urge. The three-year-old car that would have been replaced without thinking during the euphoric bubble remains on the car port. The delightful summer holiday to which one could look forward remains unbooked. Why go out to eat when there's pizza in the fridge or deliverable on a moped?

It's a sort of New Puritanism - and we all know the Puritans were never exactly a barrel of laughs. ‘Socialising becomes a chore' writ large is a turning inwards. The refusal to go out and discover opportunities can ultimately turn into a very unwholesome protectionism. Of course we needed a correction and those greedy feckless bankers sure as hell have helped us over the edge and into it like matter into a Black Hole. But the truth is that downturn is boring and destructive of innovation; it sucks out energy and a willingness to take risk. The sooner we get out of it the better. If only it were to end, with my fast, on April Fool's day.

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