Archive for January, 2009

A BITTER CHILL

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

The danger in writing a blog of any description is the possible horror of simply adding to the junk silting up the internet. So we have vowed to keep it short.

At Fox and Angel we began our speculative political campaign because in some perhaps naïve and desperate way, (although the desperation came from what we saw in the world around us, not our individual psyches), we felt we wanted to do something with our talent, as well as paying our mortgages, to try to help make the country better.

We began with a campaign for the Conservative Party because we thought it was pretty obvious at the time that they would be the next party in power. This is not as obvious as it once was, although perhaps they will now need us more rather than less.

We wrote to David Cameron who seemed interested and passed us on to someone who did not want to see us, in fact ignored our phone calls and e-mails. We had a meeting with Theresa May, we hoped in connection with her campaign “Women to Win” but she said she had enough women, thank you very much.

We contacted Boris Johnson who passed us down the line to someone else, and this someone sent us reams of forms to fill in, the subtext being “DON’T BOTHER US “We are an equal opportunities employer, BUT THIS DOESN’T MEAN YOU”.

We are sending again to Boris as we think he may not know, (along with Dave Cameron) that the small innovative enterprises that he trumpets about so much are being fobbed off. We shall enclose a copy of “Who Moved My Blackberry” by Lucy Kellaway which is a terrific novel-as-treatise on corporate bullshit.

Anyway it is January 2009. The world has been taken over and overtaken by financial calamity which affects every human soul.

So how was it this crisis, (and it is such a HUGE crisis that world leaders have been effectively silenced), came about exactly?

Well, it seems that a lot of risk-taking men took risks that made a lot of easy money and then a lot of more sensible men were told by their bosses that they were under-performing if they did not do the same so they were dragged into it too and they found that despite their reservations they were getting away with it, although they wondered how long it could go on, (but not for long enough to stop doing it of course) and anyway there seemed no end to it, they were keeping all the balls in the air by lending to each other so everything was up, up, up.

Although the men didn’t really know who the people were lending to that they were lending to but this didn’t seem to matter, (and in any case it had got a darn sight too complicated to actually fathom), and it was obviously working so why worry, their own contracts were pretty water-tight and even if it went a bit wrong, or possibly badly wrong they knew their personal money was guaranteed and since everybody was doing it there was safety in numbers and no one person could be blamed.

Even when one or two of these men saw that it was getting a bit hard to actually see how it worked even for those who were in the thick of it, in fact especially for those, (there was a “wood for the trees” aspect in all this) the accountants seemed to know what they were doing, (that is what experts like that are for to make sure nothing goes wrong) and the auditors gave it the nod too because the checks and balances put in by governments kept everything above board and if huge companies used a one man book-keeper from down the street that was prudent good-housekeeping and just keeping over-heads down.

And everything was just hunky-dory until some people in America, (although it could have been anywhere), started to default on their loans, and men seeing their debts were being dishonoured by people who had never had any money or any likelihood of money in the first place and shouldn’t have been lent any, let alone what they couldn’t afford, started pulling their money out, right, left and centre. Without warning.

And because we have gone global and global is good the disaster began to travel right around the world unfolding and unravelling gaining momentum as it went. Here in England there was a run on a bank called Northern Rock which had such a solid sounding name but turned out to be built upon sand and people were queuing right around the street to get their money out.

Now many people have no houses, no jobs, and no security but have been told to go out shopping and then everything will be all right, or it might be, because Gordon Brown says so.

Although if you had ever read a political memoir like “Cold Cream” by Ferdinand Mount who worked for Mrs Thatcher, or “Downing Street Diary” by Bernard Donoughue who worked for Harold Wilson you might have already concluded that Parliament, is all about theatre, posturing, infighting and muddle.

Except that if the men in charge actually went to the theatre or read literature they would know to look out for these kind of scams and with some intelligent reasoning could have even averted the whole crisis. “The Voysey Inheritance” written by Harley Granvile Barker was first staged in 1906 (and recently by the National Theatre) yet describes the Madoff scandal of 2009. “The Way We Live Now” written by Anthony Trollope with a similar theme but of earlier vintage was even recently on T.V.

History, even on T.V. is not quite all bunk then?

Or is it just life imitating art?

It was Linda Davies (a former investment banker turned novelist) who wrote “Surely the lawmakers can do something? They have tried but the creativity of the fraudulent and the sheer enormity of their incentives will always be greater than that of the lawmakers. Constructing fences is much duller than leaping them”.

Indeed. And that is the million dollar answer.

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