Austerity Mum: jeez, give the woman a break

Miss Thrifty9 January 20, 2011

austerity mum lisa unwin 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.

Predictably, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Guardian are all frothing with indignation at Austerity Mum’s unthinkably vulgar revelations:

“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:

Lisa Unwin - Austerity Mum on Twitter

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.

Did you enjoy this post?

Free Daily Digest

9 Responses to “Austerity Mum: jeez, give the woman a break

FruGal says:

I’d never heard of her either before those articles, and I agree, it seemed very tongue in cheek, so don’t know what all the fuss was about. Liz Jones on the other hand, I could gladly slap. Not because of her ‘improverished me’ attitude, but because she is the most annoying media personality in the country! Did you know her husband left her?! You might not know that because SHE NEVER EFFING TALKS ABOUT IT.

January 20, 2011 at 11:24 am

Obelia says:

Great post and fascinating links. Unwin’s blog is an entertaining read and I can imagine it becoming a guilty pleasure – unlike Liz Jones’s “Help, I keep spending £thousands I haven’t got”.

That said, a public blog (as austeritymum then was) is part of the public conversation, and as such it’s not unreasonable for people, including the mainstream media, to comment on how it treads a fine line between entertainingly tongue-in-cheek and crashingly tone-deaf, and how that feeds into the perception of whether we’re really all in this together.

Fair point that furious ranting’s hardly appropriate in this case. However, it’s a bit unfair to lump the Guardian in with those “frothing with indignation”. As far as I can see, the Guardian’s just been poking fun back at Unwin’s blog in a couple of its more light-hearted sections, which seems like the right way to go about it.

January 20, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Popbabe7 says:

Interesting post- never heard of her before!

January 20, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Miss Thrifty says:

@Obelia: Hi Obelia – thanks for your comment. That’s true about the Guardian: they are helping to heap on notoriety, but they haven’t done so as unpleasantly as some of the others. Since I wrote this post last night the Mail has waded in with another hatchet job, which probes into her family life; the Express is also going to town on the story. Rachel Johnson at The Lady has just offered her a writing gig though… So maybe something good will come of this after all!

January 20, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Miss Thrifty says:

@FruGal: I thought it was pretty awful when Liz Jones went on in the Mail about how poor she was, and worried readers started sending her money. And then she put her country des res on the market for gazillions! Even worse than when she (memorably) spent £585 on a pair of silver leggings…

January 20, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Diana says:

From Chicago, IL, I’m trying to think of a U.S. figure of notoriety that compares to Austerity Mum. I specialize in DIY frugality and not the society pages, so can only think of the obsession here with anything Kardashian, which isn’t really owing to their popularity as much as the zillions they must give to their pr reps. But we have our share of the poor-mouthing wealthy.

Remember that saying, just because you’re rich doesn’t mean you have good taste? I never read her blog, but perhaps Lisa Unwin should enroll in that second creative writing class and hone her skills in tongue-in-chic so they absolutely cannot be construed as mocking.

January 20, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Darren Wilkinson says:

If you were to meet the people that you cast comment on you would feel completely comfortable that the people we are talking about are completely first class.They are without a doubt the reason britain is great.We can however drive them from our shores to take thgere careers somewhere they can remain anonymous.I know these people and can reveal thet they are the backbone of our society.Trust me working class from Sheffield

January 23, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Why is it that the British press love to goto town on someone instead of just reporting the facts in an unbiased way. I wonder what would happen if those same journalists and editors had their lives emblazzoned accross all the papers witheveryone upin arms over osme trivial point.

January 26, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Leave a reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *