CategoriesThought of The Day

Chickens and hedgehogs

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We’ve had chickens in back our garden for over five years. The original three chickens are – miraculously – still alive. In fact, they’re in fine form!

Now with more free space in my life to ponder the majesty of nature, for the first time in decades, I really immersed myself in our garden. I appreciate that we are fortunate to have a multi-faceted garden, teeming with nature. Without our garden, lockdown would have been far tougher.

Given that our broody chickens needed extricating from their hut – for they would sit there all day on non-existent eggs, if they were not moved – today was the first time that I felt the urge to pick them up. Simple.

Up close, chickens are majestic animals. If you have never studied a chicken, I suggest that you do so. Perhaps I wouldn’t have eaten so many over the years had their glory been so plane to me before. Handling a live chicken wasn’t on my bucket-list, but gently plonking our family friends down on the ground, free to roam, it did feel as I had secured a small victory.

Whilst relaxing in the garden this evening – at only 5:30pm – I was visited by the bravest of hedgehogs. Watch him sniff my feet in the video above! Hedgehogs don’t normally do this, particularly when there is a dog in the garden.

Although this is trite to write it, it feels as if my close encounter with our spiky friend wouldn’t have occurred had I not today made friends with the feathery occupants of our garden. Karma in the garden.

 

CategoriesLegalPoliticsEssaysThought of The Day

The Middle Class Advantage?

(I would prefer never to speak of any particular “class”, but as the term retains utility, I shall use it.)

On Friday evening, I had an emergency telephone consultation with a GP. Her advice was unequivocal: go to A & E. Not what I wanted to hear – of course – but I appreciated the clarity.

What I think I needed was for my blood pressure to be checked. Attending A & E alone was a non-starter, as I couldn’t stand up. We therefore asked our wonderful neighbours for an emergency babysitter. In that chat group was a GP.

Now I can assure my readers that I did not want our friend to check in on me, but check on me she did. (As I thought, my blood pressure was too low on standing, flooring me. A & E was spared my needless presence). For our friend, I feel immense gratitude, and I hope that she never needs to check on my again. But such fortuitousness (or not) gave me pause for reflection at the reason for my “luck”.

During my teens, my middle class, wonderful parents secured me two weeks of legal work experience. Unpaid, of course, as such work experience always is. These two weeks not only set me on my career trajectory, but then made it easier for me to find my first job in law. During my gruelling interviews to become a trainee solicitor, I remember citing my work experience as evidence that I understood the profession.

Today, routinely I help my friends and family with their legal problems. No question. Like me, most of my friends and family are “middle class”. Candidly, in the past, I was more likely to sanction a work experience placement if I knew the family.

But let me confess: over the years, I have joined in the pillorying of Old Etonians – particularly the Bullingdon Club boys – for using their upper class connections to further their interests. Even recently, Reckless Boris appointed yet another “Buller” to – believe it or not – take a seat on the Whitehall sleaze watchdog. And let’s not forget Matt Hancock, who appointed his “friend” from Oxford as a non-executive at his department. They soon got to know each other better.

Writing in The Times, Matthew Syed notes:

“The American data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz estimates that the son of a president is 1.4 million times more likely to become president than an average American. He also shows that the sons of governors have a 6,000 times greater chance of reaching high office, and the sons of senators have an 8,500 times greater chance.”

Such statistics will be similar in the UK. Locally, my former colleague, Richard Burgon, MP for Leeds East, is the nephew of former local MP, Colin Burgon. More famously, in the next constituency – in Leeds Central – we find Hilary Benn MP, son of Tony Benn. Tony Blair’s father stood for the Conservatives, although usually most Labour MPs are drawn from unions – another club of sorts.

Witnessing the building work carried out on our house, it is clear that tradespeople, on the whole, have their own code of honour, able to call on each other whenever they need to. I envy it. Just as when I give free legal advice to friends or family, or when Reckless Boris appoints another mate, tradespeople often go to who they know; whom they trust; who is any good.

In the same Times piece, Syed also notes that the world’s greatest sport – football – is immune from nepotism. Billions play it, because all you need is a football and two jumpers for goalposts. Very few barriers to entry. In football, family ties mean almost nothing: you need ability to succeed. Connections won’t get you far. Unquestionably, the quality of football improves each season. No Premier League Winner in the 1990s would make a Premier League-winning team in the 2020s.

Whilst I am sure that we would all like to live in a more meritocratic world – a world which is mercifully becoming more meritocratic – it would pay us all dividends to consider how we use our own networks to get on, and to help “our own” to get on. The Etonians of this world are just doing what the rest of us do. The only difference being is that they usually control the levers of power. Our GP friend checked up on me – to my advantage – because we live in the same leafy suburbs. I live in a leafy suburb, thanks in large part to the advantages bestowed upon me from childhood. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with such opportunities being passed down the generations– that I should have rejected our friend’s generosity, due to an acknowledgement of historic injustices – but it is right that I realise that most people cannot call upon a friendly GP on a Friday evening.

Turning to our “clan” is what we have always done as a species. In football, we can see a brighter future, where all our talents are deployed to the benefit of the collective; a nirvana to aspire to. In the meantime, next time I contemplate decrying Reckless Boris, I shall first consider my own hypocrisies.

CategoriesPoliticsThought of The Day

In Cummings We Believe

This evening, Cummings enjoyed a one-hour prime-time slot, interviewed by his chum, Laura Kuenessberg.

In this blog, I’ll set out Cummings’ broad thesis.

  1. The party system is flawed.

As Cummings put it, any political system which provides Johnson and Corbyn as the only realistic options is – without doubt – broken. Hobson’s Choice, he says. Cummings highlights that, for MPs to climb the ladder, then they must play the party political game. This game does not promote the best people that the country has to offer.

  1. Whitehall is broken.

One plank of Cummings’ three-pronged deal with Reckless Boris – or “The Trolley” as he prefers to call him (noting that, like me, and unlike Starmer, Cummings wants a name to stick in the mind of the people) – was that he would only enter government if he could smash and then rebuild the civil service. His other demands were: that he could “get Brexit done”; and that he could heavily promote science.

  1. People are generally either competent or incompetent

Time and again, either in interviews or in his meandering tweets (rarely seized upon by the media, so frenzied they read), Cummings takes the view that either you’ve got it, or you haven’t. Accepting that it’s an unfashionable view, Cummings’ elitist position will win him few friends. For it is he and his coterie of “a few dozen Vote Leave key personnel”, he says, who make these decisions of far-reaching consequence for the rest of us. This Illuminati of British politics, he reckons, determine a key person’s ability to govern, casting aside “losers” and promoting their own.

  1. Johnson is clueless and dangerous

Devoid of any plan to govern, and “ludicrous”, said Boris of himself, that he was PM, Cummings admitted that his intention was to steer The Trolley. Post-2019 General Election, however, Cummings says that Carrie – Reckless Boris’ umpteenth partner – commenced a purge to remove all of the Vote Leave executives, supplanting them with her friends.

  1. To make an omelette, eggs need breaking

Explaining the nadir to which our politics sunk, with the unlawful prorogation of Parliament, the misleading of the Queen and the firing of multiple high-ranking Tory MPs, Cummings defended his tactics. His view was that he was without options: that the establishment had lined up to thwart Brexit and, in a political war, no prisoners could be taken.

Let’s quickly examine his positions.

Incontrovertibly, on counts 1, 2 and-4, Cummings is right. And he may well be correct on point 5, too. With point 3, surely people are on a sliding scale of competency.

The party system rejects the independent-minded. The brightest and the best don’t apply. Wannabe MPs have to fight unwinnable seats to prove their mettle, often taking decades to secure election, finding themselves in a seat which they don’t know. Once an MP, though the salary is double the national average, for many MPs it’s a pay cut – a pay cut coupled with a schizophrenic existence: Parliament and the constituency. Few sane people would wish for such an existence, all the while pilloried on social media, or under constant scrutiny, or threat of real danger, as what happened to Jo Cox MP.

Unlike in Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand and other countries, the British response to Covid was lamentable, almost genocidal in its effects. At the feet of Reckless Boris, I lay a good chunk of the blame. Time and again his instincts and slow decision-making costs thousands of lives. The last 11 years of Tory mismanagement of healthcare must shoulder a sizeable amount of blame, too, with the rest lying squarely at the door of the senior civil servants. As Cummings points out, when Covid came, the plans were deficient. The wrong stats were used to determine policy. Senior mandarins have had centuries to improve this process, failing us all at the most urgent of times. The deliberately delayed inquest into this carnage will not be kind to the zenith of our civil service.

Reckless Boris’ every key move during Covid has been wrong, or wrong as well as being too late. What Reckless Boris somehow has evaded blame for – though he should face trial for – was ramming home Brexit in the midst of this pandemic. Not even Farage could have blamed him had he pushed it back one year. Worse still, he threatened a No-Deal Brexit at this time, with the concomitant upsetting of our EU friends. When we needed cooperation, Boris sowed division. This is reckless in the extreme, utterly unconscionable, though brilliant. Such malevolent shenanigans unidentifiable through the Covid fog.

To make the omelette – to “get Brexit done” – essentially Cummings took the view that this was war; that the moral political equivalent of carpet bombing was permissible in the circumstances. On this, I shall ponder his view, which has the hallmarks of Machiavelli’s recommendations to statesmen in The Prince, together with Sun Tzu’s Art of War. Whilst considering the ethics of Cummings’ approach, I shall also contemplate the possible return of one, Tony Blair.

CategoriesHealthThought of The Day

Get Well Soon?

Chronic conditions are the hardest to treat – as the prophetical Seth Godin just blogged here – simply because we don’t pay them sufficient energy. This is not just true of medicine but for all realms. Covid’s acuteness trumps the existential chronic-ness of climate change. Chances are, we will die from a chronic condition, rather than an acute one.

 

Suffering from a chronic health condition requires the patient to become their own advocate; their own post-doctoral research fellow, too. Few people have the skills, time and money to do that effectively. Oh, and luck – you need vast amounts of that, too, should you want to make any progress. And the bloody mindedness to challenge and push the medics.

 

If we were to start from scratch and ask ourselves – how should we provide healthcare in 2021 and, of course, how should we provide pre-healthcare, so that fewer require acute interventions? – then we would not design what we have. “Time to return to the drawing board” would be apt, had the drawing board ever been used in this case. Time to buy one.

 

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I have the YouTube algorithm to thank for recently introducing me to British philosopher, Alan Watts. Long since dead, Watts studied the Eastern traditions, leaving numerous voice recordings of his musings. This one moved me. In it, he tells the story of a Chinese farmer.

 

Elegantly, Watts says:

 

“Once upon a time there was a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away. That evening, all of his neighbours came around to commiserate. They said, “We are so sorry to hear your horse has run away. This is most unfortunate.” The farmer said, “Maybe.” The next day the horse came back bringing seven wild horses with it, and in the evening everybody came back and said, “Oh, isn’t that lucky. What a great turn of events. You now have eight horses!” The farmer again said, “Maybe.

 

The following day his son tried to break one of the horses, and while riding it, he was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbours then said, “Oh dear, that’s too bad,” and the farmer responded, “Maybe.” The next day the conscription officers came around to conscript people into the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. Again, all the neighbours came around and said, “Isn’t that great!” Again, he said, “Maybe.”

 

Wise farmer. Wise Watts.

 

Being ill, perhaps permanently so, is – I tell myself – a “maybe”: neither good nor bad. Contained in that simple logic there is immense hope.

 

Watts’ story reminded me of the key learning point in the harrowing Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankel. Holocaust survivor and psychotherapist, contemporary of Freud, Frankel explained that man needs purpose in order to survive any horror – well, to psychologically survive at any rate. After all he endured, Frankel would know. My hope is undiminished; more possibilities have opened up in my mind.

 

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This week, my awesome Quaker friends delivered a signed Get Well Soon card, of sorts. Well, our Quaker version of the Get Well Soon card. In it, the card reads: “Thinking of you all during this time of change.” Gorgeously put: thanks everyone! A “maybe”.

 

Purchased from the Woodlands Trust, (as of course a Quaker card would be), the front cover depicts an enchanting path, leading through some woodlands in the summer: a journey has commenced. It’s as if my friends knew what I was thinking this week.

 

CategoriesThought of The Day

Potholes

In the days following his murder – though the Jury deemed it to be Death by Dangerous Driving – often I would find myself, in the middle of the night, inconsolable and alone, on the bridge where he met his tragic end. An instantaneous end. Murder, in my book, for it was deliberate, unprovoked, drug-fuelled. Fleeing the scene, when he could have been alive, callous in extremis.

On the tarmac, forensic officers painted white circles to highlight where the various parts of his body were found; mostly the smashed teeth, I think. Even now, twenty years on nearly to the day, each time I see a painted circle around a pothole in the road, I think of him. What would he have become? Would we still be friends? Frankly, I cannot imagine him as anything other than the student with whom I lived, frozen in time.

For many years after, I relished the pain, the anguish. Such intense, profound, all-consuming grief surely meant that we had been good mates, right?

These things shape you – don’t they just? – but, sadly, foolishly, maddeningly, it’s only in my latter years when I have come to realise that each person has battles – won and still ongoing – that we know nothing about. Don’t judge others! It is often said that if each person’s problems were clear to see, then we would choose our own troubles. That is certainly true for me.

CategoriesHealth

Diagnosis: Dysautonomia

(This is written primarily for my kids, and for me)

Dysautonomia is my diagnosis. I hadn’t heard of it, either. Essentially, it’s a syndrome – a collection of symptoms with a probable root cause – rather than a specific diagnosis. But this is what the specialist GP declared after yet another chunk of time off work. It’s a badge, a label, not one I want to wear and perhaps a blue badge will follow in due course. Only time will tell. Since that fateful appointment, I think about this word – all, the, time.

After years of crumby health, leading to acute prostatitis/sepsis in March 2018 with an admission to hospital and a drip to smash the infection, my health has never fully returned. Since that hospital stay, always after doing too much, I predictably crash, leading to a few weeks away from home-life and work-life. That infection destroyed my thyroid – for life! – and still my irksome prostate issues continue.

This time, my fall-off-a-cliff crash, following a hectic time in late April 2021, is different. The crash deeper; the recovery stuck.

Ten days ago, my GP, who specialises in chronic health concerns, definitively gave me this diagnosis. At first, I was grateful that I didn’t have ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Expertly, the GP gave me a number of websites and videos to watch about this syndrome, requesting that we meet again soon. Digesting the recommended materials, the penny dropped: this was a big deal.

The autonomic nervous system (ANS), which in my case is damaged, talks to all organs. This system controls the fight or flight response. Dysfunctional ANS is either primary or secondary. Primary is more impactful, permanent feature than the secondary type, which is triggered by something else. Fingers crossed that this autoimmune condition – where your faulty immune system attacks the body – is of the secondary version (as I think it is). Cure the cause of the autoimmune response and your symptoms are likely to improve, though never go away.

I shall spare my readers the intimate details of my symptoms, suffice to say that my heart, breathing, blood pressure and temperature regulation, are skew-whiff. Sudden, loud noises feel like a life-or-death attack: I flinch. Standing up causes my legs to fill up with blood, requiring a lie-down to achieve equilibrium. Sleep is disrupted and frequently narcolepsy-like. My mornings are worse, improving as the day progresses. At times, the tiredness is all-consuming and sleep non-restorative. At other times, I can walk quite far and perform some work. Other than the occasional unpredictable shooting pain, pain – mercifully – does not feature. Now that’s something to be grateful for!

As a result, I have quit wheat/gluten (following a blood test sent to the US), sport, alcohol, caffeine and most morning work. Daily, I must consume vast quantities of liquid in order to increase the blood supply. Fortunately, I’m instructed to add salt to all my meals, to retain liquid and therefore increase blood volume. Perhaps the wheat/gluten intolerance caused all my problems: I hope so.

What’s the prognosis? I don’t know. What I can say is: I’m not angered by this impediment. Several years of daily blasts of Stoic philosophy have prepared me for this. I am, though, profoundly sad for my family and my awesome work colleagues, as they all bear a greater burden. But my children will learn to appreciate their health and empathise with those who aren’t well: such a great lesson. My colleagues will thrive, stepping up, challenging themselves and continuing our mission.

“The obstacle is the way,” as Marcus Aurelius would say, whose advice I recommend to injured people in my Truth Legal Blog. I shall master this obstacle.

CategoriesPolitics

Goodbye to the Lib Dems

This week, I resigned from the Liberal Democrats as my membership expired. It’s hard to dislike a Lib Dem: they are good people. Usually ideology-free, the Lib Dems wants the best for their local. Localism is what defines them, which often leads to different political positions dependent upon the ward or constituency. This, in turn, irks the other parties, who fairly accuse the Libs of flip-flopping.

My criticism/observation of Libs is that their North Star – their guiding principle – is to disagree with the Conservative Party. Essentially, their identity is not to be the Tories. That was my view before I became a member and remains my view. In recent polling, they are marooned on 5%.

Sadly, most of the Lib Dems I know frown upon any prospect of an electoral pact with other parties, but this is their only route to electoral success, barring a Covid and/or Brexit seismic political event. Disappointingly, tribalism is alive and well in the Libs. Tribalism is of course a base, pathetic instinct from another era.

Nearly everyone that I have met in politics wants the best for their country, yet each side denigrates the motivations of the other. Party politics unnecessarily pits good people against each other. With the antiquated whipping system, good politicians vote for bad laws – like against Marcus Rashford’s free school meals plea – in order to survive, thrive and to climb the ladder.

The representative system is flawed. Constitutional reform is the order of the day, but how to achieve it when the incumbent system benefits those in power? E-democracy – like Polis from Taiwan – could shake things up.

CategoriesHarrogate

Return to the Office

Quite rightly, Covid has given us the chance to reconsider our lives. Nobody, it seems, wants to return to commuting. Environmentally, this is indisputably a good thing.

Home working – which my firm has been doing for years – has countless benefits. The negatives, however, have not enjoyed enough oxygen yet. A balance – a harmony – is usually optimal. For knowledge workers like me, it is our solemn duty to train the next generation. It’s a mistake to think that such training can happen remotely. It can’t.

I posted about to this issue on Linkedin. In response, one professional put it elegantly: “It’s difficult to replicate the on-the-job learning, snatched questions, observations and ‘ear-wigging’ of conversations etc. which all contribute to a lawyer’s development.” Indeed.

Although I have been back in the office for months, I appeared in this week’s Harrogate Advertiser, given that this is the week that Reckless Boris has pushed the return to the office. Here is my quote to the paper, though only a few words were used:

“The duty of any professional person is to train the next generation. Such training cannot all take place by Zoom, email or telephone. This training – often by osmosis – must take place in person. Too many employers are making the mistake – which isn’t easily fixed – of thinking that their junior staff can learn their profession adequately from their spare rooms (if they have them).

Pre-Covid, for most knowledge workers – particularly lawyers, for whom I can speak about – it was farcical that so many were forbidden to work from home. During and post-Covid, many businesses have gone too far. Harrogate businesses must find a middle-ground.

If all professionals are now home-workers, then the main factor which will determine for whom you work is pay. Many jobs will therefore be outsourced to cheaper countries. Though home-working, which crushes the curse of presenteeism, is perhaps more meritocratic, new people to an organisation will struggle to bed-in. Any existing cliques will continue. Through home-working, the culture of an organisation will slowly perish.

The pandemic reminds us all – should we need reminding – that we are all, from a health perspective, inextricably linked. What’s more, the pandemic has revealed that, economically, we are also inextricably connected: if some businesses collapse, then so will others. Harrogate is at precipice: we must act in unison to save it. Adhering to guidance, the businesses of Harrogate must return to the office, for our town needs our presence and our cash.”

Here is the story in the paper:

Harrogate Advertiser September 3 2020 A

Harrogate Advertiser September 3 2020 B

CategoriesPolitics

Perfect is the Enemy of Good: Part One

So said Voltaire, with similar versions from Shakespeare and Confucius.

Throughout lockdown, the lack of schooling for my kids – and to millions of other children less fortunate than mine – has incensed me.

Generally, private schools have moved their lessons online, doing so at pace. State schools, however, have largely failed their children, though there are outliers, by mostly shunning online lessons.

For the sake of posterity, and so that my children know that I tried to make a difference. I offered constructive help to my kids’ school, even offering to pay for an IT consultant to help – which remains unacknowledged. I explained that the Information Commissioner has stated that they will take a common sense (read: generous) approach to data protection regulation during the pandemic. Sadly, my generous, helpful letter was rebuffed.

Broadly, the response from the school was:

  • Teachers are forbidden to check on their pupils by telephone, unless they attend school to make the calls. Hogwash.
  • Given that not all children have devices, we will not offer any online tuition. But we will make no effort to pool resources from other parents.
  • We will send numerous emails with work to be completed, with parents and carers having to sit with them all day, even if they are working full-time and don’t know how to teach.
  • We haven’t sought feedback from parents as to what they want: we know best.
  • Teachers aren’t trained to give lessons online, so we won’t experiment.

Given the disastrous, Delphic way that schools are managed – a hodgepodge of Local Authorities, Academies, powerless governors, Ofsted policeman, Department for Education, trade union involvement, with omnipotent, overworked Heads – not one organisation or person is responsible for the mess: but of course, all failures rest with the Government. Gavin Williamson must be fired.

Because it’s tricky to offer a proper education in lockdown, many State schools have taken the view that because online education can’t be perfect, nor equitable, they won’t try. Of course, the losers won’t be the privileged kids, rather it will be children who are less fortunate. Educational attainment levels will further widen.

I predict (yes, another prediction) that Boris will shortly launch a war against the teaching unions, which will, because of the failure to provide online education, enjoy popular support in the country. You have to admire Boris’ Machiavellian approach: tarnish the unions, even though millions of children have been deprived of an education since March, in order to crush them, permanently.

CategoriesBusiness

The Mother of All Recoveries (The Sequel)

Fasten your seatbelts. Our cryogenically-frozen economy, though in tatters, will recover at a never before seen pace. As an SME-owner here in Yorkshire, let me explain.

Last week brought confirmation – as if it was needed – that the economy took a 20% fall in April. The only surprise was that it was only 20%. Of course, some businesses are booming, but the majority have been hit, just as my law firm has suffered. Large swathes of businesses are in stasis, never to be seen again, when (word of the year) furlough is ushered out.

With our economy heavily dependent on the pursuit of pleasure, our economy ought to be permanently poleaxed. A 1930s-style depression – not just a recession – ought to be a sure thing, right?

The Bank of England defines a recession as 6 months – i.e. two quarters – of concurrent negative economic growth. Q1 – January to March – saw a small Covid-caused contraction, which won’t be a patch on what awaits us in Q2, taking us to the end of June. But will the recession be a continuous feature as many argue?

Brexiteers should be quick to recall “Project Fear’s” warnings, some say led by Bank of England economists, that a guaranteed Brexit-induced recession would commence at 10pm on 23 June 2016 if the people dared to vote against “The Experts”.

Like many Remainer Economics grads, I was convinced that a recession was here to stay. As the economy tanked, “We told you so,” was going to be the refrain to every Brexiteer. Although post-Referendum the Pound took a pummelling, there was no recession.

Which leads me to the failure of economists. On the left, there are Marxist economists, and on the right, we have Thatcher’s and Reagan’s go-to economists at the Chicago School, with every shade in between. Science, medicine and law do not suffer such polars. Economists agree on little. Despite our fetishisation for the opinion of demi-god economists, we must remember that economics simply isn’t a science. And we now know that scientists aren’t always right!

In forecasting what economic fortune awaits, economists frequently miscalculate likely consumer behaviour. People rarely act as anticipated and our economy is powered by this unpredictable force. Economically, Brexit was like the Millennium Bug: we survived it and thrived. Post-Referendum, confidence – the currency of capitalism – was not dented. As the queues I saw outside Sports Direct in Harrogate attest, the confidence gained from the opening of shops will power us out of the carnage.

Whilst my colleagues trickle back to (socially distance) join me at work, Yorkshire’s economy awakens. Listening to my SME clients and witnessing all around my town, I can feel the most powerful economic positive multiplier spinning into action. As a result, Quarter 3 must be better than Quarter 2. If so, recession over, second wave or not.

Though for millions the economic misery will be devastating, unlike when a typical recession hits, such devastation will play out in a rising economy. Capitalism which got us into this mess, through its intrinsic creative and dynamic juices, will get us out of it. The AC – After Corona – economy won’t resemble the BC – Before Corona.

Like pulling back a giant elastic band for three months, either the band will snap, or fly. Fly it should. April’s collapse in GDP wasn’t caused by the economic cycle, which Gordon Brown told us he would conquer, rather it was a choice we had to make. Consumers will ignore the war-era debt mountain and the inevitable tax hikes, and buy that coffee.

Shortly unimpeded by EU State Aid rules, given the need to shorten supply chains, manufacturing will return. With our lower cost base, Northern areas should benefit most. And assuming the Prime Minister survives, we will have a leader oven-ready for the good times. Like him or not, he will be better at getting the country going than in mastering Covid minutiae. My only hope is that in recovery austerity is confined to the ash-heap of history.

From Boris to Karl Marx, accurately bogeyman Marx, in a little-read passage, explained how crime had economic utility, arguing that crime caused better locks, and locksmiths, police, lawyers, judges, law books and law tutors etc. Already, Covid has been the midwife to numerous businesses. More will follow. Excitingly, some of the largest companies were founded in recessions.

In closing, in the US Fed Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan used to study male underpant sales. Why? The theory was that men – and their partners on their behalf – would only buy new underpants when they were feeling confident about the economy – i.e. the ultimate discretionary spend. I don’t know about you, but I’m off to M&S.