Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Thursday 30 October 2008

Mortgages...two and two make eight.

"We are victims of irresponsible lending" - the words of a couple forced this week to sell their home because they could not keep up with mortgage repayments. This unhappy story is being played out up and down the country, resulting in much hardship and distress. However...

The couple in question are city traders who 'needed' £1.5 million to fund the purchase of a 'dream Sussex farmhouse'. A broker arranged a loan for the full amount (eight times their regular income) which was agreed by the bank without any salary check. Four months later, the couple are selling because they cannot make ends meet on the mere £1,300 they have left after paying the mortgage each month.

This is worthy of comment in so many ways that I shall leave it to you, dear readers, to muse at leisure on the matter. Meanwhile I shall refrain from comment on the issue du jour except to say that far from the 'adultification' cited in my previous post, the radio equivalent of two little boys shouting obscenities through someone's letter box and running away is a perfect illustration of the infantilisation that permeates contemporary society.

Monday 27 October 2008

Of Ghoulies and Ghosties and Long-leggety Beasties

Well, something out there seems immune to the credit crunch - latest forecast figures from Planet Retail predict that Britons will spend a total of £195 million on merchandise for this year's Hallowe'en (up from a mere £12m in 2001).

This growth (up 22% from last year) is due to what they call the 'adultification' (yuk!) of the festival - Asda alone stocks 15 different costumes in adult sizes.

Does this mean we are about to be beset by 6' tall trick-or-treaters intent on recouping the £25 cost of their outfit or is it a bizarre form of last hurrah as the ruins of our economy crumble about our ears? Either way, it's too late now to wish you'd bought shares in SweatshopHorrorDuds Inc.

Me? I'll be the one bobbing for apples by the light of a tattie bogle.

PS We are, at least, still some way behind the Land of the Free where this year's Hallowe'en expenditure is set to top $5.5 billion.

Friday 24 October 2008

A crisis by any other name...

Today is officially Downturn Friday. Those clever chaps at the BBC have put their thinking caps on and decided that using the word 'crisis' might just be damaging public confidence. Shame that their laudable efforts to turn it into a 'downturn' are completely undermined by the hysterical red arrow plunging downwards from their carefully designed logo.

Not since Robert (Stormy Petrel) Peston stood admiring the queues outside Northern Rock has such an iconic manifestation of impending disaster graced our screens. Its visceral appeal to our inner lemming should ensure that the retail sector shuts down faster than a speeding quark.

Wednesday 22 October 2008

Giving fleas a bad name

A charming comment this week from Lord Tebbit, the soundbite king, reminded certain well-heeled Tories that 'if you sleep with dogs you get fleas'.

The lattices of an alternative reality intersected with the real world on the island of Corfu where, a dimension away from the sunburnt vulgarity of the package resorts, a group of honourable gentlemen were wined and dined at the expense of the mega-rich.

Now here's the question; are they being economical with the truth, or were they invited simply because they are their own delightful selves? The former is, of course, out of the question, so we are left with the happy thought that this gathering was a metaphorical garden of roses and the subsequent vitriolic exchanges purely a figment of our collective imagination.

PS Don't let the story put you off the Agni Taverna; your correspondent has been there several times and can reassure you that there was not an oligarch or plutocrat in sight.

Monday 20 October 2008

We've been here before....

And so the party's over. The bubble has burst. Thousands of people have seen their life savings wiped out in the worst economic crash in living memory. Payments to bankers continue while ordinary people lose everything. Scotland faces fiscal chaos as the banking system threatens to collapse.

Just when a national disaster seems inevitable, the English government steps in to help with a massive injection of cash - but at a price; Scotland must lose its Parliament and all future government is to be based in Westminster. It will be nearly 40 years before confidence is fully restored in Scottish banking.

A bleak forecast for our future? No, dear reader, the year is 1707 and Scotland is reeling from the collapse of the Darien Adventure. Perhaps instead of maths and physics graduates (now leaving in droves to enter the lions' den of teaching) the city should have been recruiting historians.