Why aren’t essentials in ‘shopping’ basket?

I’m convinced they take us all for idiots. Inflation, we are told, is currently around four per cent. Higher than Government targets, but still very much in single figures.

Now I don’t know what you spend your money on but in the Freeman household the lion’s share of it goes on food.

Because we don’t buy the same things every time we go to the supermarket it is difficult to be sure, but I swear the average bill for essentials such as bread, milk, eggs, detergent etc is now at least 20 per cent up on a year ago.

When once, we would spend £19 - £20 at the checkout it now regularly hits £24- £25. And it’s not because we have developed a taste for luxury foods. Quite the opposite in fact.

So just how do the statisticians arrive at their figures? Well the ‘basket of goods’ used to calculate the Consumer Prices Index changes over time to reflect shifting buying patterns. I understand this.

We seldom buy beef dripping these days, though it was a regular on the table when I was a child; carbolic soap and Fray Bentos pies are no longer on many people’s list of essentials.

But a quick glance at items now used in the calculations don’t seem to reflect my life either.

Among goods deleted from the ‘basket’ for 2011 are four cans of lager and a pork shoulder joint.

Now I like a pork roast from time to time and a glass of lager is always nice on a summer’s evening, so I would not rule out spending my hard-earned income on such things.

Added to the official basket are dating agency fees, flat panel TVs, sparkling wine, women’s high-heeled shoes and medium density fibreboard.

I confess we did buy a new TV a couple of years ago, but sparkling wine is strictly for special occasions. I can’t see me buying MDF this side of retirement.

Obviously the matter of heels is one best left to Mrs F – and the dating agency fees will only be necessary if I keep going on about the heels!