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British Expat Newsletter:
21 September 2005

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.

In this issue

  • This week: Marital and family status
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Joke and quotation

This week

Single, married, divorced, widowed, single parent, married with children, childless and trying, childless by choice… These are just a selection of the status anyone might have at any given time. You’d think that British society might have got used to the diversity by now. Not so. There still seems to be a lot of prejudice around, where people suffer – or are discriminated against – if they don’t happen to fit into the prescribed flavour of the month box.

A recent article in The Independent newspaper discussed how single people – whether single by choice or not – have to endure the social stigma of not being in a relationship. People over a certain age who don’t have a long-term partner are regarded as being a bit odd at best, a social failure at worst. Just think of all the connotations behind the word “spinster” – and, to a lesser extent, “bachelor”. Even otherwise successful people like Ted Heath were seen as somehow not quite right.

But it doesn’t stop with the social stigma. Perhaps more seriously, single people suffer financial penalties too. This might come as a surprise, as we’re all used to seeing the figures trotted out telling us how much it costs to raise a child to adulthood. But single adults without dependent children are now the biggest group living in poverty in the UK.

48% of adult Brits are currently not in a relationship. Yet single people pay more for just about everything. In many cases, of course, this is simply a matter of economies of scale – if you’re shopping for food for two, you may be able to buy and use the larger, cheaper packs before they go off. Likewise, heating and lighting cost little more for two than they do for one. A recent survey found that a couple living together might expect to spend just £60 a month more than a single person.

The cost of buying property is another hurdle which the single person struggles over. It’s tough to save up the money needed to put down a deposit on a property, during which time the singlie has to spend possibly even more money on rent for an equivalent property. Meanwhile, a DINKY couple (Dual Income, No Kids Yet – I’ll come back to that “Yet” in a minute) can save the deposit twice as fast, loses person for person half as much “dead” money in rent, and gets the mortgage more cheaply. Small wonder that singles are clubbing together to buy property even when they’re not in a relationship with their partner investors.

There are other ways in which singles appear to be penalised just for being single. Holiday companies’ single supplements are one – we’ve all seen the prices “based on two people sharing”, haven’t we? Leisure organisations from the National Trust to the local gym offer family memberships. Car insurance companies consider married drivers a lower risk and offer lower premia – beyond what the lower risk justifies. Singles appear to be penalised in every way.

At least now there may be some recognition of this. More and more companies are belatedly realising that they’re missing out on a significant market, and are offering products and services tailored to the single consumer. As ever, it pays to shop around.

Perhaps in time childless couples will also be recognised as having rights too. Now there’s another issue. Having children seems to be the easiest way of escape for teenage girls in Britain – have a baby or two and the council will provide housing and benefits. Where’s the incentive to try to make something of yourself?

There are plenty of other cases of rewarding people with children. Businesses and other organisations asking people to relocate as part of their job – this includes the employers of most expats – often allocate larger houses, a bigger package of allowances (school fees, paid holidays, medical care), you name it. All this costs a lot of money, which pushes up prices for the business’s consumers, or adds to the taxpayer’s burden in the case of government employees posted overseas. And yet these employers continue to reward those who multiply, whilst punishing those who don’t (or can’t) – even though the latter group saves them a fortune.

Given the diversity in Britain these days, why should everything still be geared to the family (or single parent) with 2.3 children? It doesn’t make sense.
Do you have anything to say about this topic, or do you have some suggestions for other issues we might discuss in our weekly email? Why not comment and tell us?

Virtual Snacks

If statistical comparisons are your thing, there are more stats than you can shake a stick at on NationMaster. Did you know that 22% of New Zealanders have tried cannabis, or that the average Briton drinks as much tea as 23 average Italians?


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Bizarre Searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • beware thou the mutant beware thou the mutant
  • information about humour
  • wisdom of yoda poster
  • tied penis
  • women humped by big dogs
  • carrie anne moss removes mask
  • wobbly bottom
  • the real calendar girls appears in movie
  • animal sex in dublin
  • hamlet quote wrotten
  • diy whisky
  • no carrot in ground

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

British Expat Magazine


“I never married because there was no need. I have three pets at home which answer the same purpose as a husband. I have a dog that growls every morning, a parrot that swears all afternoon, and a cat that comes home late at night.”
– Marie Corelli, novelist (1855-1924)


A woman was shopping at her local supermarket where she selected four pints of full-fat milk, a dozen eggs, two litres of orange juice, a large bag of washed ready-to-eat salad leaves, a bag of arabica coffee beans, and a 250g packet of bacon.

As she was unloading her items on the conveyor belt to check out, a drunk standing behind her watched as she placed the items in front of the cashier. While the cashier was ringing up her purchases, the drunk calmly stated, “You must be single.”

The woman was a bit startled by this proclamation, but she was equally intrigued by the drunk’s intuition, since she was indeed single. She looked at her items on the belt and saw nothing particularly unusual about her selections that could have tipped off her observer as to her marital status. Curiosity getting the better of her, she said, “Well, you know what, you’re absolutely right. But how on earth did you know that?”

The drunk replied, “Because you’re ugly.”

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