Rich House, Poor House
Love In The Countryside
Forgive me for waxing nostalgic, but one thing was definitely better in the Heath-and-Wilson era when Britain was just getting the hang of decimalisation: the coin-operated electricity meter.
Anyone handy with a screwdriver could whip the bottom off and keep reusing the same 10p piece. The meters didn’t know the difference between ‘ten new pence’ and a French franc either.
True, the chances were that after you’d diddled the meter, there’d be a power cut anyway. But there was a rough justice in that.
These days, as wealthy vets Colin and Lizzie discovered to their horror in Rich House, Poor House (C5), the leccy meter is an implacable digital beast. It works only when a microchipped, pre-pay key is charged and inserted. And every time you boil the kettle, it deducts around 14p from your account — and even more at peak times.
Former Royal Navy engineer Ross and his wife, Sarah, and their children, outside their terrace property in Rich House, Poor House
Trying to live on a £122 weekly budget for food, clothes and fuel, Colin worked out that brewing up eight times cost him 1 per cent of his disposable income . . . and that’s before he’d bought milk or teabags.
Usually, he and his family had more than a thousand quid a week to spend on life’s little luxuries. The show didn’t mention it but, according to the press release, their hobby is taking day trips to France, trawling the bric-a-brac markets for antiques. Well, why not?
They were staying in a cramped terrace house in Redruth owned by former Royal Navy engineer Ross and his wife, Sarah . . . who meanwhile had moved in with their two young children to Colin and Lizzie’s spacious farmhouse elsewhere in Cornwall.
Both families were