April the First. It should be a time of excitement. Hope. Daffodils fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Fun. A few japes thrown in (at least before 12pm).
But this year, it seemed to me April Fools’ Day was all about economic gloom.
If only I’d have thought about it, I would have stocked up on everything in preparation for hibernation before this blighted date as it seems everyone and everything is using the advent of the new financial year as an excuse to bump up prices.
The cost of posting a parcel has rocketed as the Post Office again rejigs its pricing system. Air passenger duty is due to soar further, shoving the age of cheap flights even more firmly into the past. Even my favourite massage therapist sent me an e-mail admitting that, from this terrible day of doom onwards there would be “a slight increase” to her prices – a blow cleverly tucked away in an e-mail packed with spring offers.
I have noticed that cafes are sneaking up their prices – informing customers with tiny signs that, due to cost increases in, presumably the price of coffee, frothy milk and tray bakes, they are being “forced” to pass on the hikes to customers. Some private nurseries are also using the beginning of spring as an opportunity to increase their fees.
Meanwhile, food prices continue to creep up at a rate of more than 3 per cent a month. Sadly, many employers have chosen April to issue bad news: many workers are not getting a cost-of-living increase, while inflation continues to rise at 2.8 per cent by the last reckoning in February.
This discrepancy has ruined April for me. It would be preferable if all these increases had come in the depths of winter, when we actually want to do nothing but stay at home, hibernate and watch property programmes on television.
The world would be a better place – for at least half the year – if we kept the bad news for winter. Dark days should equal dark days, while in spring and summer we should feel light and free and fluttery. Just like the daffodils.