WHEN I was studying English literature at grammar school, we were made to read and analyse TS Eliot’s The Waste Land.

Yes, I know it’s meant to be a masterpiece but to be honest, as a teenage boy, I found it completely impenetrable and could barely understand a word of it, let alone decipher its hidden meanings. However, one thing did stick, the opening line of the poem which says April is the cruellest month.

Now I don’t know what cruelty Eliot was referring to when The Waste Land was published back in 1922, but today – 100 years later – April really is turning out to be very cruel indeed, especially if you are on a fixed income.

So as inflation reaches levels not seen since the early 1990s, I thought I’d have a quick look at what we can all expect to pay more for.

Let’s start off with posting a letter. The price of first and second-class stamps increased from April 4. The price of a first-class stamp goes up by 10p to 95p with a second-class stamp going up by 2p to 68p.

What about your home entertainment? Well a number of broadband, mobile and TV providers have announced price hikes, YourMoney.com reported. Sky increased its broadband and TV prices by around £43 per year on April 1. And depending on which service you have and when you signed up, BT, EE and Plusnet customers will have seen a 5.4 per cent or 9.3 per cent this month.

Fancy getting away from it all? Well you may have to dig a little deeper. Travel is going to be more expensive.

The “shake-up” of air passenger duty, the tax that passengers pay on flights that take off from the UK is due to come into effect this month. Changes announced in last autumn’s budget will see long haul flights become more expensive.

And if you let the train take the strain, commuters are “on track to be hit by the biggest increase in rail fares since records began”, The Telegraph reported. “Ticket prices are expected to increase by about 10 per cent if ministers keep them pegged to the Retail Prices Index.”

Let’s have a look at taxes, shall we. Generally speaking, water rates and council tax are up this month as are national insurance contributions which are increasing by 1.25 per cent. In Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spring statement, the NI hike to pay for NHS health and social care was not delayed or removed as many had hoped and called for. However, he did announce a £3,000 rise in the threshold on NI payments, allowing people to earn £12,570 before national insurance becomes payable, but this only kicks in in July.

And last, but by no means least, we come to energy bills.

Britons are facing the “biggest cost of living crisis in decades”, said The Mirror. And front and centre is the surge in gas and electric prices. If you’d been “worrying about energy bills going through the roof this week, you should”, said the Birmingham Mail.

As one woman interviewed by Sky News said: “I never thought I’d see the day when using electricity was a luxury.”

In February regulator Ofgem confirmed that the energy price cap was to increase by a record 54 per cent from April 1. Ofgem’s price cap on an average bill will rise £693 for approximately 22 million customers. Those on default tariffs paying by direct debit will see a £693 increase from £1,277 to £1,971 per year and prepayment customers will see an increase of £708 from £1,309 to £2,017.

And don’t expect respite any time soon with the pain only likely to get worse in October when the next energy price cap comes. Some industry experts are already saying the average bill could rise to around £3,000 per year.

All the while, the ‘Big Six’ energy companies are making massive profits, protected by a Chancellor who has declined to impose a windfall tax or remove VAT from energy bills.

Yes, April may well be the month of the April Fool’s Joke, but the cruel joke is on us and it’s not funny any more.