What can a flat cap tell you about inflation? Seemingly not a jot, given that it’s an inanimate object. And even if it could talk, you wouldn’t think it would have much to say on such matters. It is the hat of the people, after all. The headgear of choice of the working classes in the north of England, worn – according to the stereotype – when out walking the whippet. Perched atop noggins in ancient times, upon the nation’s mountains green. “My dad used to keep his keys and loose change in an old flat cap,” reports Mr Tom M Ford, Editor of this parish and genuine salt-of-the-earth Mancunian (well, he supports Manchester United at any rate).
The UK’s Office for National Statistics thinks differently, however. First compiled to evaluate how workers were affected by price changes during WWI, what is now the Consumer Price Index is its official measure of inflation of consumer prices in the UK. The data is collated using a hypothetical shopping basket of goods and services, chosen to reflect the country’s changing buying habits. And in order to stay relevant, new items are selected and old items jettisoned according to the demands of the market.
The latest additions to this metaphysical basket (given that it contains more than 700 items, we’d assume a trolley would be more fit for purpose, and a big one at that) were announced earlier this week. What with the UK’s current preoccupation with baking, it’s no surprise to see baking trays and roasting tins arrive in this list. Also new: smart devices such as Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Home speaker, and, at the more low-tech end of the spectrum, fruit tea and popcorn, which are currently flavour of the month with British households.