We have noticed since the recession started that the quality and value of goods at Tesco has declined. Hence, we have been doing more shopping at Iceland for basic products (a store that offers lower prices than Tesco) whilst buying more quality items at Marks and Spencers.
Supporters can't switch football clubs in the way that shoppers do. It's a matter of identity, often something that you are born with, although there was a time when I lapsed from the faith. Indeed, a Manchester United supporting friend of mine has told me more than once that my Addicktion is hopelessly retro and I should find a proper club to support.
This season I have something of a dilemma. Do I take a ten minute trip to Harbury Lane to watch newly promoted Leamington? This means that I can get some work done on Saturday morning and am less pressured to work on Sunday. Or do I take the two-and-a-half hour trip to The Valley to watch League 1 Charlton? I have already bought my season tickets for both clubs. In the case of Leamington, this includes access to the vice-presidents' lounge at half time, a free cup of tea and the biscuit of my choice.
Actually, having looked at my travel schedule for the next few months (Finland, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, States) I am going to miss quite a few match days at both clubs.
In practice if Leamington are at home and Charlton are away, I will go to Harbury Lane. I used to go to a lot of Charlton away matches, especially in the days when I could get a lift in the West Sussex minibus which stopped en route in the Midlands. It was always fun with Brian Cole as driver, although occasionally they used a guy who was a hearse driver in his day job and did we go slowly!
If Charlton are at home and Leamington are away, the choice is also clear. But supposing both clubs are at home? One factor that could affect my decision is the atnosphere of gloom and negativity among the Addickted.
Now they could reasonably argue they have good reasons to be gloomy. One well-known Addick commented on Facebook yesterday: 'anyone who hasn't had the effects of two relegations in three years, managerial instability, boardroom division, financial meltdown, mass staff redundancies, a total loss of PR judgment, a threadbare squad and the inability or unwillingness of key people at the club to answer simple questions about the future swept aside by the majesty of a meaningless pre-season 2-1 home win over Ipswich must indeed fall into the category of a 'moaner'...'
Fair enough. And then there is the Phil Parkinson question. I am not a great PP enthusiast. To paraphrase a comment once made about American vice-presidential candidate Dan Quayle: 'I knew Alan Curbishley. You are no Alan Curbishley.' However, PP inherited a poisoned chalice. In my view there was some improvement in performances after he took charge. And it may well be that he can function as a perfectly competent manager at League 1 level. At least he should be given a chance.
Fans have also been upset about the lack of communication from the board. This reminds me a little of the line in the famous television series The Prisoner. The hapless prisoner was constantly told, 'What we want is information', but the nature of that information was never specified.
Of course, what has frustrated fans, and understandably so, is the long drawn out 'takeover'/restructuring negotiations. Unfortunately, the board is constrained by both legal and commercial confidentiality considerations in terms of what it can say. What would seem to be the case is that the prospective owners don't have that much dosh and restructuring the club's debt without incurring a points deduction has proved difficult. But that debt is certainly well less than £40m.
The Australians like to call us 'whingeing poms' (although given how The Ashes are going it may be their turn to whinge). But they have a point. I have travelled extensively in Australia and I like the 'no worries' attitude of people there, a casualness which covers a helpful efficiency as I found when I missed a plane in Canberra earlier this year.
If I take the two countries I have lived and worked in, the US and Germany, Americans certainly have a more positive outlook. Germany is a different story, of course: 'ordnung' is the word that comes to mind.
Now I must say that I do prefer the British sense of humour to the American (even though I like Jon Stewart). Sense of humour in Germany is a tricky subject. When I was in Berlin in the time that it was a divided city, I treated the provocations I helped an American colleague to stage in East Berlin as the equivalent of a practical joke. This did not go down too well as he was seething with anger against the 'Commies' whereas I thought the East Germans were just ridiculous, althogh no doubt living there was not much fun (as some excellent films have subsequently demonstrated).
My stance did not also go down too well with my German colleagues in Goering's old Air Ministry building, although one Bavarian could see the funny side of things as well (but this led to the 'Apfel Strudel' incident, but I have digressed enough). Incidentally, one curious legacy of all this is that I am told I speak German with the accent of someone from a small town in East Germany.
Surprisingly, the East Germans did turn out to have a sense of humour. One day I went across on the U-bahn on my own to the weekly goosestepping ceremony at the war memorial in the vague hope I might locate some dissidents. Someone carrying the party newspaper Neues Deutschland and pretty evidently a Stasi operative sidled up to me and asked in German, 'Are you with the Party delegation?'
I am now off topic, although the point was to talk about cultural differences and how they affect attitudes to life, not least football. I am always sceptical about arguments that the crowd is the 12th man. Equally, if the first mistake is pounced upon by boo boys, it isn't going to do any good for team morale. Nor is a negative atmosphere going to attract people to The Valley.
Our situation is challenging in many ways. But being gloomy and pessimistic is not going to make it any better, rather the contrary. Now is the time to demonstrate and celebrate one's Addicktion which is why I shall make every effort to be at The Valley as often as I can be.