Today I shall live like a king

and so will you, unless you’re reading this on your smartphone while sleeping rough… I’m currently reading Ian Morris’ Why The West Rules for now and it struck me that in terms of lifestyle we live the life of former royalty. Take Queen Victoria, which whom Morris opens his book – despite being the richest person in the country at the height of Empire, she couldn’t do many of the things I can. There’s a chair in the drive with which I could be off and at the Scottish border by midnight, there are machines to do the washing for me and I can see and talk to anywhere in the world for a modest cost. Unlike even thirty years ago when I was at university, the accumulated knowledge of the world is largely at my fingertips – right here in the garden, I don’t even have to get up.

So despite the Joseph Rowntree Foundation telling me that I am an impoverished Ermine unable to take part in society

Straight between the eyes, no? You do not have enough to live on
Straight between the eyes, no? You do not have enough to live on

I live better than Queen Victoria, sitting in the garden out in the summer heat with a glass of iced coffee watching the birds sunning themselves near the bird-bath. I can get anywhere quicker than she could, indeed I am less than twenty-four hours away from any of the pink bits on the maps on her walls. I have libraries immeasurably richer than hers, and the state of medicine and health in Britain is much better too.

And sometimes it’s good to lift my eyes from what’s wrong about the world and tip a hat to what’s damn well right with it.


Drinking iced coffee on a day that's too hot to do anything else with isn't all bad, JRF - I think Queen Vic would approve
Drinking iced coffee on a day that’s too hot to do anything else with isn’t all bad, JRF – I think Queen Vic would approve




32 thoughts on “Today I shall live like a king”

  1. Enjoy it Ermine, relish every moment.

    I’ve been spending all day devoid of motivation to turn the handles today. I’ve mainly been staring out the window dreaming about doing what you’re doing right this moment, my misery just compounded by checking the train companies website and seeing delays expected for my journey home.

    BTW, I hope that coffee is from Mrs Ermine’s stove top? 😉


  2. Completely agree, we have a lot to be grateful for (or I certainly do, e.g. being born in a developed country), sometimes it’s easy to forget that. The UK is a great place to be when the weather is good!


  3. @UTMT crikey, half a pint of espresso is probably a controlled drug 😉 Filter all the way for me, I’ll leave the hard stuff to the real addicts…


  4. Actually, I am reading on a smartphone and I slept rough last night and will do so again tonight. I find that precisely this combination of hunter gatherer nomad lifestyle with the hard edges softened by modern conveniences (hunting in the financial markets, gathering in supermarkets, $6000 of bicycle and camping gear to support the nomadism) maximizes happiness. For those of us with good health, modest or better amount of passive income, and developed country citizenship, there has truly never been a better time to be alive.


  5. Very succinct & that sums it up nicely for me too. i never take what we have for granted. there will always be people with much much more…. that is capitalist society for you…. but we all know that excess material trappings don’t ultimately bring happiness.

    My mindset is to enjoy every day, take in new experiences when you can, & enjoy your work, friends, family, neighbours & community whenever & however you can.


  6. @Matt DB

    “The UK is a great place to be when the weather is good!” I agree 100%. I’ve been fortunate (or maybe unfortunate depending on how you look at it) to spend a lot of time in many developed and developing countries for my work. When the sun is shining in this great country there is no better place in the world I’d rather be.

    That said it’s likely I won’t be staying as I’m concluding that there are a couple of European countries that will overall offer my family and I are far better life given my current financial and non-financial position.


  7. I echo Retirement Investing Today’s remarks on the UK being a great place to live when the weather is good. Despite all our complaints; The summers arnt intolerable and the winters relatively mild. I lived in Sydney for awhile and the summers there are spent dashing across the street to get from one air-conditioned mall to the next without getting skin cancer.

    My partner occasionally moans that she feels poor as I flat out refuse to get takeaways 5 days a week or spend thousands on all-inclusive holidays.. however articles like this remind me of how rich we all really are in terms of knowledge and lifestyle.

    Enjoy your iced coffee Ermine, Im off to prepare for a BBQ this afternoon having talked the other half out of going for an expensive restaurant meal instead 😉


  8. @EarlyRetirementGuy, RIT – indeed – I know we moan about it interminably but it’s good on both extremes. Hope the BBQ wins against the thunderstorms 😉

    @dearieme gotta put my hands up on the lazy thinking, well, she was Queen dammit! Nevertheless even if she was bottom on the equivalent of the Sunday Times rich list of the day the fact that as a JRF identified impecunious ermine I can do so much more a century later than she could at the height of Empire is still pretty cool IMO!


  9. A fantastic post, you said what many of us were thinking, but didn’t think to say. For all the wrongs we can cite in modern day Britain, we can too easily forget how if you are not genuinely impoverished it is a great place to live. And I’d rather be down on my luck here than in many other places in the world. A quick glance at the headlines is enough to tell us no more needs to be said on that.

    Modern life is not rubbish.


  10. I’m currently reading Ian Morris’ Why The West Rules for now”: goodness me, I’ve just finished it.

    I found him weak on the things where it’s very difficult not to be weak (the future; alternative histories) but thoroughly interesting otherwise. I’m glad to have read it.

    P.S. I’ll bet Queen Vic could have had an iced coffee: she must have owned an ice-house or three, and could have well afforded to buy imported ice from Canada, say. On the other hand, you are unlikely to lose your beloved to an infectious disease caused by polluted tap water.


  11. “I have libraries immeasurably richer than hers” – I presume you mean electronic ones? – as the “real” ones are disappearing quickly and without much protest. A loss we will never recoup I’m afraid.

    But all the best to you. It is good to be reminded of what we have.


  12. @dearie – indeed – it’s the nailing of a lot of commonplace nasty hazards that is such a great part of the improvement of living standards. It never occurs to me to look askance at the tap water – I may mona it’s to chloriney at times but then if I want ot be such a peacock I can go get 2l of spring water from Aldi – just like that.

    Even in more recent times, in my childhood there were still a lot of victims of polio which seemed to be in water, the vaccine was new when I was born.

    @Cerridwen my copy of Morris’ book is from the excellent Ipswich county library – I browsed it in the library itself and then took it out. They’ve made it easier to get stuff in from across the other libraries and to find it. And the reference part has greatly improved – the online newspaper archive search is awesome compared to my University and early work days where you had to tinker with microfilm readers. I’m with MMM that the library is a great way of educating myself at low cost.


  13. Ahhh I love posts such as these! Well written and thoroughly thought provoking and entertaining at the same time. I have a similar one in draft but now I will have to wait a month or two to post it lest it look like I’ve copied your ideas 😉

    Incidentally mine spurred from reading another book, “Guns, Germs and Steel” which I would recommend if you haven’t already read it. There is one copy in the whole of West Sussex Library system so I had to wait a while to read it but it is a very good book. It is a brief history of the evolution of human civilisation so again gets you thinking along the lines of how easy we have it compared to our ancestors. I’ll add this one to the reading list 🙂


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