Ignore the snobs - cheap airlines, shops and pubs are worth their weight in gold as prices rocket

In trying times, the price and the value of goods are, if not everything, then at least of paramount importance to many of us, says John Dolan
Ignore the snobs - cheap airlines, shops and pubs are worth their weight in gold as prices rocket

The price of a pint can vary greatly, and competition is good for consumers. Picture: Stock

IT’S funny how some words go full circle, and come to mean the polar opposite of what was originally intended.

Take ‘awful’, which started out as awe-full, meaning something that inspired awe. Or awesome, if you like.

How it flipped over from describing something that was awe-inspiring to something that was dreadful, having dropped the ‘e’ along the way, is a mystery.

I guess a similar thing has gone on in more recent times with ‘sick’, which used to mean vomit and now means ‘brilliant’ - or at least it did the last time I got down with the kids! (If I ‘get down’ with the kids these days, I might not get back up again).

It seems something like this happened with the word ‘snob’.

Apparently, it was first used 200 years ago in England, to mean someone without high status.

Students who sat exams at Oxford and Cambridge colleges and who did not have a title were described by the Latin phrase sine nobilitate (without nobility) , or ‘s.nob’ for short. (Presumably so the markers knew they weren’t offending any VIPs?!)

Over the years, this shorthand word for ordinary people came to mean something very different: A snob is now a person who believes they are extraordinary, and above ordinary mortals: their tastes are superior to those of other people, who they regard as their social inferiors.

Not too long ago, I imagine, when times were tough and money was scarce, Ireland couldn’t afford to harbour snobs. However, a few decades of growth, plentiful jobs, and wealth creation (for the lucky ones) has changed all that. 

I often think snobbery is more prevalent here than in England - a place we often regard as the epitome of class consciousness.

Snobs are annoying enough when times are good, but in straitened times like now, when prices are soaring and many people are finding it hard to get by, they are insufferable, as they pour scorn on the cheaper versions of anything that injures their strange moral code.

There are a few areas where they have been showing their true colours of late, acting as though money is no object. The first, and perhaps the most objectionable type, is the beer and pub snob.

Ever since a certain cut-price pub chain - let’s call it Wetherspoons, for that is actually its name - announced plans to open a bar in Cork city a few years ago, the snobs have been out in force.

The UK pub brand has gained a reputation for under-cutting its competitors, and offering meal- and-a-drink deals that are cheap as chips.

Many people, in conversation and particularly on social media, find this highly objectionable.

Of course, they can always exercise their free will not to darken the doors of said establishment, but that’s not enough for the snobs. They didn’t want Wetherspoons to open here in the first place, and they don’t think anybody else should enter its premises either.

Many of us will be familiar with these bores: Bar counters are full of loud and obnoxious beer, wine and whiskey snobs who think we should be imbibing only Old Speckled Testicles, or a glass of Chateau Extravaganza, or a single malt that works out at a tenner a sip.

Balderdash!

Money is tight, and a pint is a pint. What’s so wrong with having the option of paying top dollar for one in a ‘high end’ place, or paying something similar at the cheaper end of the spectrum and having a decent meal thrown in?

It’s not everyone’s glass of stout, naturally, but it’s nice to have the choice. Indeed, for the hard-up, it might not be a choice at all.

Lookit, Cork city has a surplus of fantastic pubs and long may they continue to thrive - but competition is important too, and if a Wetherspoons pub is helping keep a lid on prices, what harm?

The snobs like to look down their noses at anyone who shops around for a cheaper pint, and bully for them, that money is not a consideration when they are out and about - but it is for many of us in this day and age.

The cost of living, an issue for a long time in this country, has hit staggering highs very quickly of late, and not all of us managed to squirrel away a few grand while working from home during the pandemic.

I’ve been living in Cork for 21 years now, and seen booms and busts aplenty, but this is as tight a time financially as I have known.

And the pub snobs want us to pay more for our pints, to suit their high-falutin’ agendas? They can get stuffed!

Then there are the airline snobs.

Again, I am going to state the particular target here, as we all know its name anyway: Ryanair.

Now, I appreciate the airline and its vocal chief executive get up people’s noses, and if those people can afford to pay the going rate for other airlines instead, then that’s their choice.

But many of us will be eternally grateful to the company for its low fares, and for keeping its rivals’ prices in check too.

Ryanair got flak recently when it was accused of jacking up prices for refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, a claim the company denied.

A few people came out, urging us to boycott the airline, which is all fine and dandy if money is no object. But will I be heeding their call next time I book a flight? No way. Money, along with flight times, is my over-riding concern.

This kind of snobbery can even extend to the supermarket you shop in, although the discount chains which have arrived in the past decade or so have worked hard to shake off the ‘cheap’ tag.

But it isn’t as prevalent with shops - the snobs seem particularly put out by cheap pints and cheap flights for some reason.

Oscar Wilde is said to have coined the phrase: “The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

In trying times, the price and the value of goods are, if not everything, then at least of paramount importance to many of us.

A tweet on social media went viral the other day, after a woman up the country faced a bill of €50 for three coffees and scones at a swanky hotel. We have also seen scary stories about the price of a pint in the Temple Bar area of Dublin tipping the €8 mark.

Those who are happy to pay through the nose for such items are welcome to do so, but the rest of us are equally free to shop around and hunt for any bargains we can find, without being accused of letting the side down.

My message to the snobs among us is simple: I’m not a snob, I’m just better than you are.

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