Schadenfreude, taking pleasure from the misfortunes of others, is a wonderful thing, even if it makes you feel bad to feel so good.
I had lunch a few weeks ago with my friend Roger, who lives in London for 6 months every year but has a small house in South Africa. It was a chilly day and he was at pains to point out that in a few weeks time he'd have left this miserable English weather behind and he'd be sitting in the mountains near Cape Town, in warm sunshine enjoying a splendid lunch with South African wines at a fraction of the price we'd just paid in Dorset. Yes,yes, that's great, lucky old you.
Today I had an E-mail saying that he and his wife were a bit under the weather, literally. They'd both caught colds on the flight to South Africa, as you do, the weather there is very cold and grey, the man they pay to look after their garden (now jungle) has done nothing for a year, the bathroom has some serious plumbing problems (maybe fatal, and certainly expensive), they've had a minor car crash and the other driver was not insured, and the S.A. bank has just charged them £150 for putting their own U.K. money into their own bank account.
As you'd expect, I've sent them a cheerful reply, pointing out that we deprived old folk in Somerset are feeling fine, we're enjoying lovely warm weather, and Mr. George Osborne has decided not to penalize us, so we'll be retaining the free TV licences, the heating allowance, the free bus pass etc. I did mention the need for continued fiscal restraint in the 'fat-cat' London area however, particularly with regard to taxation of second homes, and the heavy taxation penalties regarding non-declared overseas assets. I also felt it necessary to point out that Mr Osborne has decided that the £12 billion cost (billion, trillion, whatever, another few billions or so is small beer) of the Olympics will have to be met by London property owners, as they will benefit from the sport. It will be in the form of a toilet tax. Pay as you go.
The cut-backs in public services, particularly police manpower, are going to cause big problems though. I heard the other day that the police station at Weston-Super-Mare is only open intermittently and whilst it was closed, burglars broke in and stole the safe, the furniture and all the toilets. No arrests have yet been made. The embarrassed police spokesman explained that they have absolutely nothing to go on.