When it comes to the crunch
One of the most remarkable things about the latest recession is that nobody actually wants to call it a recession. The term ‘credit crunch’ seems to be the acceptable face of economic decline, falling into everyday usage with great speed. ‘Credit crunch lunch £4.95!’ shrieks an A-board of one of my local pubs.
I love words and finding new ways of describing things, but the term credit crunch sounds like such a desperate PR job on something that isn’t nearly as cute as its terminology suggests. But I guess “Ooh, got to start saving because of the old credit crunch” sounds a bit sexier than “I can’t spend any money because of the recession”, and we must take our fun where we can in these supposedly doom-laden times.
Another word which seems to have been brought back from the dead is the marvellous ‘spiv’. I saw it for the first time in years this week, describing traders at the major banks whose actions have allegedly resulted in just about every major financial institution checking down the back of the sofa for stray 50p pieces.
The word spiv brings to mind for me a petty thief from some kind of ‘50s or ‘60s British movie. He would have a pencil-thin moustache and be wearing along overcoat, deep within which he would have an array of knock-off watches and/ or jewellery.
It is the Daily Mail, champion of the not-so-polite middle-classes that has been among the most vociferous in its condemnation of such ‘spivs’, but as I really couldn’t bring myself to read yet more tales of economic armageddon, I didn’t bother to find out why the traders had acquired this moniker. A lot of these traders, however, live out in Essex, are a bit flash, speak with broad estuary accents and are usually self-made.
Could the word spiv have been brought out of retirement to make it clear to readers that these traders were ‘common’ and ‘not like us’? It's the ultimate 'looking down your nose' word, which is what the Daily Mail does best, after all.