Friday, August 5, 2011

Barroso fucks up big time, while those at the bottom of the pile are reminded that the best advice as far as hope is concerned is to forget it. Plus ca change . . . Oh, and I go for a walk

For these last few entries, I have been banging on about how doomed the euro is, how the eurozone is bound to collapse and how the EU will go the way of the dodo. I don’t know about you, but I have no stomach at all to bang away for another entry. What has been happening over the past few days in no ways persuades me that I am wrong and about the only sensible and useful comment that can be added is: what kind of total fuckwit is Jose Manuel Barroso (or Manolo Blahnik as he calls himself when he’s in London selling shoes). We have a saying (of which there is any number of variants, and of which the Australian variants are by far the most amusing): he’s a sandwich short of a picnic, or given the bureaucratic nature of his existence, he’s a reassurance short of a total fuck-up. If you
Shit! I think I've fucked it. Me and my big mouth

think I am being harsh, let me remind you of how he poured oil onto a smouldering fire rather than, as would have been wiser, onto troubled waters. (And if that doesn’t win Hollywood’s Most Convoluted Simile next year or even Most Contrived Addition To Most Pointless Blog next year, there’s no justice in the world.) Just to remind you of quite how assinine he proved to be, he sent a letter to the head of states of all the countries in the Eurozone which can easily be paraphrased: ‘Lads, we’re in deep, deep shit, but don’t panic. If we all pull together, some of us might still get out of this alive. Don’t count your chickens, but don’t give up quite yet.’ If there were anything which Brussels might hope would inspire a little confidence in ‘the money markets’ (in this context quote marks imply that if they are not yet crooks, they are just a deal or two away from gaining that hallowed status) Barroso letter of reassurance was not it. Not by a million miles. Stock markets throughout the world (and, by some accounts, in Alpha Centauri) took fright as investors sold up and took off for an early weekend. Can you blame them. With ‘presidents’ like Barroso, who needs nasty little Englander eurosceptics like David Farr-Wright?

. . .

What bothers me more than anything is that it will be the same folk who will carry the brunt of the coming bad times as it always is: those at the bottom of the pile. When economies contract, as they invariably will, ‘labour flexibility’ will once again come into vogue and firms will ‘lay off’ — that is sack — as many of their workforce as will allow the bosses to survive. They will undoubtedly do so with ‘a heavy heart’ but when they do and when they confess their sadness at what ‘economic forces’ ‘oblige’ them to do, remind yourself that in this world there is nothing cheaper than words. In the meantime, our politicians, esteemed these days by ever fewer of their electorate, will retire to whatever comfortable bolt hole they have arranged for themselves, to write their memoirs, pass on their wisdom, admit candidly — now that the danger has passed — that they made mistakes and generally reflect that, on balance, life isn’t quite as simple as it might be. No, it isn’t, and it is even less simple for all those who have absolutely no control over circumstance but who have to live by the stupid decisions you make.

. . .

I realise I am getting rather incoherent here, but I put that down to anger. For all my life I have been cursed by an ability to see much from both sides, and, on the one hand I could here and now write the apologia of those politicos who meant well, stuck to their principles and who were desolate at how it all turned out, as I hear the desperate cries of unemployed folk throughout history who have been comprehensively shat upon only because they are apparently of no consequence and who have no control whatsoever over their destiny. I fully understand what is meant by and what are the advantages of ‘labour flexibility’. In a certain context it makes complete sense. But I also feel nothing but contempt for those who regard ordinary folk as nothing but an economic factor. And there are plenty of those. All my life the right has regarded me as a leftie and the left has regarded me as of the right. To this day I don’t know where I belong. But I do know one thing: you cannot treat people like shit. Not now, not ever. And that is what will happen yet again over the coming years as the euro goes phut, as the world economy grinds to a halt, as economically Asia gets the upper hand over Europe and the world as we 61-year-olds have known it is transformed into something entirely different. It will happen again as those who, for whatever reason, find themselves cleaning their lavatories see their wages cut because that is what economic circumstance and ‘the market’ demand, while those who are already earning too much will be paid even bigger bonuses for coming up with suggestions as to how to get out of the economic mess their kind produced in the first place. Am I a Tory or a Leftie? I really don’t know.

...

For a guy who lives in the depths of North Cornwall on the edge of Bodmin Moor and in an area which for many others is a holiday destination where they can find fresh air and peace and quiet, I spend scandalously little time out-of-doors. Well, this afternoon I decided to do something about that. For these past three or four weeks I have been feeling curiously out-of-sorts. Nothing physical, it’s just that I can’t get enthusiastic about anything. So earlier today, I decided that what I needed was fresh air. My son is now 12, but six years ago, he used to enjoy taking me for a walk and showing be corners of the village he had discovered. Unfortunately, he is now far more in love with his Xbox and the PC, but, hoping against hope, I asked him whether he would like to go for a walk with me. His answer was inevitable. ‘Er, no, not really.’ So I took myself off and visited - well, it’s not even a hamlet. It’s called Bradford and there are about four cottages and a farm more or less near each other. There is a pretty little bridge over what are the beginnings of the Lank river, and I sat there doing absolutely bugger all for quite a while, just enjoying the breeze and the flow of the Lank. Here are three piccies. They were all taken on my, now exceptionally ancient, Samsung mobile phone.


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