You know things are bad when

  • You know exactly what the population of Iceland is and can also pronounce the name of its prime minister.
  • Even the word ‘crisis’ seems to have lost its currency.
  • Countries pop up for sale on eBay for 99p and get few offers.
  • Posters on BBC messageboards stop discussing the undulating pitch of Robert Peston’s voice and listen to what he’s actually saying.
  • The speech bubble on Page 3 of the Sun is given over to discussing the credit crisis.
  • Financial market updates displace stories about Jade Goody on the tabloid front pages.
  • Bad news stories from government departments are rushed out day after day and not even the Opposition seems to notice.
  • Estate agents finally admit house prices have fallen but tell you now is a really great time to buy because the market is stabilising.
  • People marketing get-rich-quick property seminars don’t get taken seriously any more.
  • The Chancellor, writing in the Financial Times, says that “now, more than ever, we need new ideas”.
  • Your primary school-aged children know that credit crunch is not a type of biscuit and that IMF isn’t just a fictional organisation in Mission Impossible.
  • You go for a while without noticing one estate agent’s mini and then you see a whole bunch of them on the back of a car transporter.
  • A pensioner on the evening tube train from Canary Wharf gives up her seat to a banker because she reckons he might need it.
  • The Ivy rings to ask if you’d like a table tonight or any night.
  • There are no spare trolleys when you turn up at Aldi to do your weekly shop.

This article was first published on 10 October 2008 on