I had lunch at Prego last week. It had been a financial car crash of a week, but judging from the browsing and sluicing going on, it wasn't the end of civilisation as we know it. Maybe everyone was adopting a stoic Battle of Britain attitude: if Armageddon is a comin' one may as well go out with a bang and a bottle of Bolly. Either that, or Generation X - I am 41 and a Depeche Mode fan - has never really known proper financial misery so it hasn't quite sunk in.
Granted, when we were kids in the 1970s oil crisis there were carless days but that just meant I had to get a lift to ballet with Donna's mum. We argued all the way - she said unions were holding the country to ransom; I did my best teenage commie stirrer rhetoric. Shut up: it's age-appropriate to be a lefty when you're 13.
When the sharemarket crash happened in 1987 I was a poor student. I lived on bran muffins and cheap gin so the demise of the razzle dazzle 1980s did not mean any great personal lifestyle sacrifice.
The early 1990s were a bit grim as I was looking for my first proper job as a journalist, but when a big financial decision is whether you have a dollar for the bus, central bank monetary policy shifts seem a bit remote.
Now it is different. My contemporaries are the most unlikely capitalists. They are bleeding hearts who have become property bores. They don't have any love for private enterprise but have done pretty well, thank you, out of the reforms of the 1990s. They instinctively understand the concept of creative destruction, although if you asked them they might say it sounded like a heavy metal band.
My generation understands that change is painful, but that doesn't mean it is not necessary. This is always easier to say when you are not the one who is losing the family farm. And we only know about that because we read Denis Glover's poem The Magpies: "Elizabeth is dead now, it's years ago, Old Tom went light in the head, and quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle, the magpies said. The farm's still there, the mortgage corporation couldn't give it away, and quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle the magpies say."
Cheery bedtime book for your toddler, but among bourgeois New Zealanders it is hard to imagine what really tough times feel like. The middle classes have become accustomed to having new whiteware, Made in China tat and so many cars they spill out of our driveways. Lots of people think it is below them to live in a house without indoor-outdoor flow. So imagine how these pampered punters will feel about negative equity. They probably don't know what it means.
Looking around Prego I wasn't sure that anyone was thinking about it or feeling much pain. Rod Petricevic was having a bottle of Gisselbrecht Riesling ($55). He was sitting in the far back table with his back to the room - incidentally, in the seat where my sister's waters broke with her first child, although that was 10 years ago so I am sure it is well-scrubbed now.