RICHARD BELL learns just how hard life can be when the economic climate puts the dampers on a night rubbing shoulders with Oxford Fashion Week beauties at the Living Room in Oxford Castle.

With Government cuts being what they are, we’re all going to be feeling that pinch soon enough (indeed, some of us are already in the clutches of economic difficulty).

The recent VAT increase has made everyone’s wallets seem that little bit barer and our spending has to stretch that little bit further.

In these days of austerity, the major thing that we really have to decide is when and how we’re going to be spoiling ourselves.

We can’t go out spending ludicrous amounts on luxury holidays or flat screen TVs anymore, and yet that compulsion to spend a little more is irresistible. I mean, let’s face it, if you don’t keep a very tight leash on your spending, you’ll soon end up in a fix.

In terms of nightlife, these decisions have to be taken carefully as well. If you’re looking for a cheap night out you’ll start drinking at home before going to the Purple Turtle or the Cellar, but if you’re out to spoil yourself, you could do a fair bit worse than the Living Room.

Located in the Castle complex, the Living Room caters to the affluent young professional crowd, meaning that unless you earn enough to know that you shouldn’t wear trainers out, you’re really not going to fit in.

That said, last Friday was an Oxford Fashion week special which made me regret my attire the moment I arrived, particularly when I took in the abundance of beautiful faces casting their eyes down at my own choice of footwear with a critical and faintly repugnant expression.

Disappointed in myself for not having planned my evening better, I decided to console myself with a trip to the bar where, leafing through the pricey menu, I was further disappointed by my own poor, oh hell, miserable state of affairs.

When a bottle of beer runs close to £4 and a cocktail will set you back £7, I’m afraid I reverted back to my wary self with both hands keeping a tight grip on the purse strings.

I would have liked to say that the Living Room is a classy, enjoyable and interesting place to go for a night out (which IS true), but unfortunately, unless you really can afford a night out here it’s extremely difficult to let go of that overwhelming sense of caution every time you visit the bar.

A night out should entail letting yourself go but when the prices are like this, I’m afraid it’s just not possible, and as such, speaking as your standard, every day, Regular Joe Oxford clubber, the Living Room proves to be just a little too rich for my blood.