Lisa Unwin has been “outed” in several national newspapers as the woman behind the “anonymous” blog Austerity Mum. Why is this news? Because in real life, she’s married to the head of PricewaterhouseCooper’s £200 million a year City consulting business.
“She openly admits her two children – nicknamed the “diva-in-waiting” and the “smallest man with the biggest attitude” – have come to believe it is normal “to have a seat that turns into a bed if you’re on a flight for more than three hours”.”
“She writes that her other half has come to expect only handmade shirts, revealing: ‘Not even Prada is good enough anymore, can’t recall why.’”
“Her interpretation of the make-do-and-mend philosophy: forcing her husband to get his Berluti shoes resoled by a specialist Bond Street cobbler instead of replaced.”
There I was, reading along with both eyebrows firmly raised, when I realised that I’d never heard of Austerity Mum or come across her blog. This seemed strange, not just because the Mail and the Telegraph describe the Austerity Mum blog as “an internet hit”, but also because I know or know of most of the UK bloggers covering frugality, austerity and budgeting. This is a very well-patrolled little patch of the UK blogosphere, I’ll have you know!
What was also strange was that none of the newspapers had linked to the “internet hit” blog. Why not, I wondered? So I googled Austerity Mum and found… nothing. Just a heap of newspaper and scraper sites doing the “outing” and doing the frothy indignation bit.
Curious and curiouser.
On a hunch, I googled this “anonymous blogger’s” real name: Lisa Unwin. The first result:
Hmm, maybe not so anonymous (or popular) then?
Lisa Unwin’s Twitter feed contains links to a number of Austerity Mum posts. The blog itself has now been restricted to invited readers only, but if you’re quick enough you can view some of the cached posts.
The blog includes photographs – again, not exactly “anonymous” – and to be perfectly honest, it really isn’t half as horrible and outrageous as the papers are making out. Here’s a typical extract:
“Have been listening to politicians all morning and have realised that what we need is a proper October spending review. Out with the general piffle about “the need for cuts” we have to be specific. I now know the lingo, so we have to identify what is going to be “ring fenced” and where the cuts will bite.
“We also need a list of quangos that could be up for being abolished. I think our equivalent of this is subscriptions, so where to start? Sky TV is an option (I would be happy with just radio 4 but I think the animals may totally rebel if unable to watch endless sport/CBBC/Ben 10). Or what about the subscription to Wallpaper* (see how I remembered to put the little star there)? For those unfamiliar with it (you must not have an unfettered spending habit) this is a fancy looking magazine with nothing I would consider wearing in it, which just gives Chief Spending Officer more ideas about gadgets, gizmos and items of furniture that we simply can’t live without. Worse still, he keeps all the back catalogues laying around for those times (rare) when he is lacking in inspiration about what to buy next. (Come to think of it the very existence of this magazine is probably the root cause of us now having too little space and therefore having to buy this blinking new house which has led directly to the austerity measures). There! It has to go.”
True, it reflects how the other half live – to call it Austerity Lite would be generous indeed – but it’s a light-hearted read that pokes a lot of fun at that other half. And why not? It isn’t as if there is some unspoken rule that you have to be on your uppers to blog about your purse-strings and cutting costs. Each to their own. In fact, the more of us, the merrier!
When The Daily Telegraph contacted Lisa Unwin for comment, she told the journalist:
“My husband has quite a big job at PwC, it was never meant to be taken literally.
“It was intended to be tongue in cheek.
“I don’t work any more and I used to be in communications, I took a creative writing course and I just wanted to write… I’ll have to find another way to write.”
In the meantime we are expected to put up with the incredibly earnest “impoverished me” drivel from the likes of extremely well-paid journalists such as Liz Jones and Rosie Millard, in the same newspapers. I think this is one of the reasons why I am annoyed at the furious tirades against Austerity Mum: pots and kettles come to mind.