This England

Such a comfort

So how much does a married couple with three children need to live the sort of life that reasonably well-off people of my parents' generation took for granted? Property alone - a house in the country, perhaps a flat in London - will cost a minimum of £3m. Then the school fees will be £75,000 a year plus extras; after which the odd holiday and all the rest will add another £50,000 at the very least.

Even if you own the bricks and mortar outright, that implies a pre-tax income of at least £200,000. Throw in a mortgage and a margin for error, and you'd better be on . . . what, a third of a million a year? And this, mind you, to live comfortably, no more.

Sunday Times (Harvey Cole)

In the club

Sir, I founded a club for those who have not seen The Sound of Music 40 years ago in Leeds. My late uncle was an ardent fan of the film and tried to persuade me of its merits. In this he failed, but it was through him that I learned to swim and he did introduce me to Chablis.

Letter in the Daily Telegraph (Richard Fearn)

This article first appeared in the 14 May 2007 issue of the New Statesman, What now?