Saturday, 17 October 2009
Back to the blog
It wasn't swine flu. I didn't have the cough or the sudden high temperature. It was just the usual sort of autumn virus.
For a week or so, everyone except me seemed to have a virus so it wasn't surprising that I succumbed. It wasn't a good time. Taking time off work would have placed an impossible strain on colleagues, who were also working while ill. And adrenalin got me through the last week and a half, though not as successfully as I would have liked. Last Saturday involved six hours of non-stop talking, which became croaking and finally a hoarse whisper. At home everyday tasks like loading the washing machine or putting out the wheelie bin required sustained concentration. Away from work, I didn't go out or blog. Instead I huddled pathetically in an ill-made bed, grateful when the cat purred on the pillow beside me.
Every so often I noticed a subject for a blog. "I must write that down," I thought, but didn't. It seems a little late for my thoughts on the forthcoming government by the Bullingdon boys. I'd have liked to discuss the background to the postal strike and the need for a national, well-managed mail service but an article appeared with more knowledge and thought than I could provide. Others have written well on the recent political impact of Twitter. I managed a couple of tweets myself, mentioning Berlusconi, Blair and Jean Sarkozy. I felt old.
Meanwhile, I noticed reports on the economy. Some people said the crisis was over. Others predicted a steep rise in unemployment. Goldman-Sachs, which took public money, gave a lot of it to its employees in bonuses and was startled that anyone should object. Politicians competed in the savagery of the cuts they promised, assuming that voters would elect the candidate who threatened most jobs and the swiftest sell-off of public assets and resources. And every so often I met someone I knew who was threatened with redundancy or had lost a job.
Commentators assume there's a sharp line dividing those with jobs from those without. They assume the employed will spend until the economy surfaces from recession. I doubt that's the case. People live in families and circles of friends. Surely we'll help families and friends to purchase necessities before we head out on the extravagant spending binge urged by economists? That's enough to bring down a society built on debt and the sale of services and luxury goods.
Perhaps it's time to tear up the old model and start again. But where do we go from here? Can we really progress through co-operation when hatred and bitter competition have grown so strong?