UK inflation woe: Can I pretend to be Irish and get a big bail-out?

WHAT I wouldn’t give for a double espresso . . . Sadly, there aren’t too many baristas plying their trade at the side of a muddy pitch of a midweek evening. I could kill for coffee – mainly because I was up 40 minutes before official sunrise and have thus got that spacey feeling.

I was up early to deposit Emma at school by 6.45am, ready for an art trip to London. And now, towards the end of the day, I’ve driven James six miles to rugby practice – where I wait with my stale but welcome slice of fruit cake and thank my lucky stars I’m not involved in the crunching tackles I witness through the windscreen.

The radio chatter is about how rising costs are choking the politicians’ latest, stereotyped, special-interest group: the squeezed middle. They must mean us, because the family budget has about as much room to manoeuvre as a mouse having a close encounter with a boa constrictor, what with fuel prices pushing up everything.

Strikes me, though, that we need a more sophisticated measure of inflation to describe accurately what’s happening to different groups of folk. We don’t all return from the shops with the Government’s basket of goods that makes up the Consumer Prices Index. The Darcys, for instance, don’t have much need for dating agency fees or medium-density fibreboard . . . unless there’s something being hidden from me.

If you’re a parent, your fortunes are measured not by the CPI but KIDS – something of my own invention. It stands for Keenly-Increasing Domestic Shellings-out. (OK, rubbish name, but it’s late. Best I could do.) It tracks the “essentials” we have to buy for our offspring. Looking back through a year’s receipts, here’s how the Darcys have fared under KIDS:

You may also want to watch:

Music festival ticket, +9.68%; shoes (now wearing out faster than Michael Schumacher’s tyres) +11%; iPod, new in the basket and thus +160%; make-up (Emma’s, not James’s) +12%; personal 24/7 taxi service (using our car) +21%; CDs featuring singers adults have never heard of, +34%; faster broadband that soon becomes outdated because geeks just as quickly fill it up with more complicated graphics, +4%; computer games borrowed from library, +8%; apps that launch an airbourne attack by Angry Birds (no, I don’t understand it either) +59% . . .

The only fall is a 85% saving on football collecting cards (so yesterday). Of course, we don’t measure children by balance sheet, for, when all’s said and done, we’ve got a full “profit” column and nothing on the “loss” side.

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(Of course I’m being genuine. Why do you ask?)

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