Over many years the image of the professional expert and the mass of unskilled ‘nobodies’ has taken root. It is of course pure nonsense as the collapse of the financial sector demonstrated. People in suits carrying laptops filled with exponentially smoothed graphs no longer impress, we now recognise them as no more productive or skilled than the PR spin-doctors so beloved by ministers. But the damage has been done, we no longer manufacture things and many of the old skills are vanishing as artisans going into retirement are not replaced – apprenticeships having becoming virtually extinct. And yet if it is real skill you seek, you need to take a second look at those so derided by the Bullingdon set!
Yesterday I visited the home of a pal from the allotment community. Since retiring he has built the most spectacular garden I have ever seen. The layout is superb and incorporated in it are various buildings built of stone, and containing every comfort of a ‘den’ fit for a king. As I walked the walk I found myself wondering how we ever came to believe that manual skills are in some way inferior. And when we chatted I found that my pal has an in-depth view of the economy that sounds a good deal more sensible than that being put about by the ultimate whizz-kid in a suit, George Osborne.
Faced with a growing chorus of concern that his programme of rapid cuts will lead to disaster he constantly claims that it will lead to a huge growth in private sector volumes and jobs. He will have noticed that yesterday’s opinion polls show Labour on 45%, the Conservatives on 35% and the Lib Dems on 9%. But he will continue to believe that a new boom in growth is around the corner. For all our sakes let us hope he is right, but how can he be?
As my pal commented, if people are in fear of redundancy, are being squeezed as inflation tears into their disposable income, and face rocketing power bills the most likely response will be to switch from actual shopping to the window variety. Seems obvious doesn’t it? It prompted me to do a little research.
The 128- strong chain of Oddbins went into administration yesterday, blaming a poor Christmas and a difficult retail environment. Mothercare and Laura Ashley both warned that trading has deteriorated considerably in recent weeks while Easy Living Furniture, a 20-strong chain in the south went into administration. H & M announced a 30% fall in profits, the “result of a wodespread decline in consumer spending”.
On Wednesday, the boss of electrical goods group Dixons said that the ” government cuts were having a chilling effect on consumers” as the group announced that like-for-like sales at its Currys and PC World stores tumbled by 11% over the past 11 weeks. Signet announced weak trading at its H Samuel and Ernest Jones stores. DFS said growth had slowed and even Domino’s Pizza, the stock market darling, admitted to falls of up to 10%.
In the interest of balance I tried to find reports of rapid growth but found none. Everywhere in the retail sector there is doom and gloom. And as the cuts begin to really bite over the next few months it seems inevitable that the position will worsen. How can there be growth when no one, bar the rich, has money to spend on other than the bare essentials? In fact the situation is even bleaker than my amateur research suggests. The Bank of England has reported that the number of people defaulting on their mortgages has climbed sharply!
Yesterday I nominated ways of reducing costs without impairing growth. But the reality is that the coalition is being driven by inbred ideology. Only the Lib Dems can bring influence to bear and there are increasing signs that people like Lucas, Farron, and Kennedy are much closer to Miliband than to Clegg. But he holds the power and can be relied upon to echo his master’s voice.
To return to my opening point there are many highly skilled and perceptive people outside of the politicians. But the gulf is now enormous. As my pal put it the most dangerous people of all are those that believe their own bullshit!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; ”Michael Jackson, also known as the ‘carrier bag’ -white, plastic and best kept away from kids”……..Angus Deayton “Rap music sounds like someone feeding a rhyming dictionary to a popcorn popper”….Tom Robbins “It’s called rap music because the ‘c’ fell off the printer”……Allan Bease “I don’t like country music, but I don’t mean to denigrate those who do. And for those who like country music, denigrate means ‘put down’ “…..Bob Newhart “I wanted to be a country singer but I took the test and I had too much self-esteem”…..Brett Butler “The hardest thing about writing country music must be thinking up clean words that rhyme with ‘truck’ “…..Brian Kaufman “Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and instead of bleeding he sings”…..Ed Gardner “I’m sitting at the opera, and I’m thinking ‘Look how much work it takes to bore me’ “…..Dave Attell “I went to watch Pavarotti once. He doesn’t like it when you join in”…..Mick Miller
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Jon Pertwee 2. Peter Bowles
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which singer was know as ‘Old Groaner’ ? 2. In which country did he die?