October 14th, 2008

Interesting Times

Gordon Brown has moved, in a few days, from being the worst Prime Minister in British history to the Saviour of the Western World. I don't remember a political turn-around like it.

Has the world changed? I mean, has the financial crisis irreparably changed things? Will historians look back and see a watershed or a blip? Too soon to say. The media are doing their best to make us frantic, but I look round and the sun is still shining- or not, as the case may be- and citizens are going about their business as normal. The hit that the high street shops have taken means they're competing for customers and prices are actually coming down. So, excellent news for consumers. The price of petrol (gas) which was climbing towards £1.20 a litre is now down to just over £1.00. Who'd have predicted that a few weeks back?

I'm reading Bulgakov's the Master and Margarita. There too, in the Moscow of the 1930s, the sun is shining, people are buying fizzy drinks in the parks, the tram cars are running and there's a jazz band playing in the restaurant of the (exclusive) writer's club- while just out of frame the most frightful atrocities and follies are being committed. Life goes on- I think that's what Bulgakov is trying to tell us- no matter what.  People- like cockroaches- are terribly- magnificently- resilient. 

Here's one thing that's changed- probably. The collapse of the Scottish banks- HBOS and RBS- and their takeover by the British government- means that Scottish independence- which seemed as certain as eggs is eggs- is now off the agenda. Or, that's what the commentator in the Telegraph thinks. Is he right? Only time will tell.

Brown's takeover of the banks is an almighty gamble. It could steady the markets, it could prove disastrous. Every morning we wake up to surprising news. It's all rather exciting. Nobody knows what's going to happen next. Nobody knows a thing.