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The economy is bad

November 26, 2008

Well, the economy is in meltdown and Gordon Brown is eating money faster than he can shit it out, but I don’t feel unduly worried. Much of the credit crunch doesn’t appear to have any effect on me: I don’t own a car. I don’t own a house. I don’t have a mortgage and my work, although not as frequent as I’d like, seems fairly unreliable. I own very few stocks and shares and what money I have saved is in a bank that hasn’t just been bought by Zimbabwe.

I feel very much like a spectator watching the Official Credit Crunch games. The events seem somewhat surreal, but I clap politely and make the right noises when watching the highlights on Newsnight. However, I have worked out a few things. First of all, the government wants the banks to start lending to people. Given that the whole crisis was prompted by banks lending to people who couldn’t afford to pay them back, this seems a bit odd. If people can’t afford things, don’t fervently encourage the banks to give them money that they won’t be able to pay back. Ever. It’s like giving someone a spade and telling them not to stop digging until they’ve made it to the moon. I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work.

Also, this VAT thing. It’s a bit rubbish, isn’t it? A whopping 2.5% off the price of an mp3 player isn’t going to make me rush out to Currys and buy an Ipod. I suspect the government knows this and is thinking “Let’s annouce a change that sounds really big, but in essence will have no effect whatsoever”. I do the same myself quite often.

Of course, the real Credit Crunch news is that Woolworths might close down. That would be very sad. I can’t say that I love Woolies. No-one does, not even Mr and Mrs Woolworths, but it’s a good, practical shop. It sells things that people actually use. I live in Muswell Hill. For those of you unfamiliar with north London, Muswell Hill is now a vaguely pretentious middle-class enclave (by day anyway. At night it’s quite different) in which the local currency is houmouss. Over the course of my life, Muswell Hill has become increasingly gentrified. Every shop that closes down is reopened as a bistro, a patisserie or some kind of art bric-a-brac shop where you can buy Kandinski posters. And there are about 5 delis offering French cheeses. In the midst of all this, like a beacon of common sense, stands Woolworths. It’s the only place in Muswell Hill where you can buy an iron. Or a CD. Or a kettle. Or a plug. Or a lightbulb. It even sells cheap kids clothes, which is handy for my sister (she has a child. She doesn’t wear kids clothes herself). I imagine that if Woolies does close, the premises will reopen as a fondue restaurant or an organic pottery school. 

So please Woolies, don’t go. We’ll always need lightbulbs.

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