During these tiresome times The Gospel According To Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, which inveighs us to “accent-uate the positive, e-lim-inate the negative” seems sound advice, and might keep you hurling yourself from a top floor window.
It ill behoves me, as someone who earns his monthly crust with the written word, to cavil at the exhaustingly negative approach taken by Fleet Street’s vultures at those early evening press conferences. When, a few weeks ago, the earnest man from The Guardian was patched in, only to discover he was talking to himself rather than the nation, I fleetingly wondered if some Number Ten spin doctor had niftily pulled the plug.
Perish the thought…..
Thus, in an increasingly desperate search for something – anything – to lift the daily gloom, I’ve been a loyal follower of Arlen and Mercer’s advice. As a result, I have discovered….
- Renewed hoovering skills, long forgotten since my days in a seedy bachelor pad that my father described as “being only one step removed from the town tip”.
- Joe Wicks isn’t entirely irritating: his online workouts| for ‘seniors’ are sufficiently brief to invoke a smug sense of satisfaction, even if his encouragement to touch your toes is ridiculously over-optimistic (go on, admit it: can you?).
- The early morning queue at Waitrose looks endearingly like a mass stick-up by a roving gang of masked pensioners.
- If you’d had shares in Zoom before lockdown, my best wishes for your retirement to the Bahamas.
- Some experts need to discover the art of timing. Professor Neil Ferguson, whose coronavirus pronouncements made him the least likely recipient of the Little Ray of Sunshine Award, encouraged everyone to keep fit and lose weight in a message he delivered on Easter weekend, just as the nation was embarking on the biggest chocolate-fest of the year and that was all before his resignation as a government adviser as a result of accusations of double standards.
As reported last month, I’ve steered well clear of checking my investments, despite my IFA telling me she sees ‘green shoots’. Which is hardly a felicitous comment to make – didn’t former Chancellor Norman Lamont use those words during the 1991 recession, only to discover the green shoots were dandelions and daisies?
As the late Kenny Rogers opined in The Gambler, “when the dealin’ is done” we will be confronted with some ghastly figures outlining the damage wrought to the UK economy by Covid-19.
So, in a search for some perspective, I was intrigued by a Twitter posting outlining a comparison of each country’s national debt. Probably inaccurate, like most of the stuff on social media, but it alleged Britain is the third most indebted country in the world.
Other, more reliable, sources have us further up or down the international league table, although most have the United States at number one with a debt of $18,286,510,000,000, and rising.
And if you want to see international debt constantly rattling up like an out-of-control fruit machine in some Alice in Wonderland casino, log onto www.economist. com and take a look at its global debt clock, spinning faster than your eyeballs.
How do you describe incomprehensible figures like that – gazillions? It will make the inevitable national bill for tackling coronavirus look like loose change. No consolation, but at least it should give us some comfort that the economy will heal itself in time, and we can then continue to rack up our national debt.
And with that thought, I’m now off for a bit of recreational hoovering.