Saturday, June 13, 2009


a) The Historian in me watches with interest the different approaches being taken to the recession. Obama’s America has gone for stimulus spending The argument is that increasing the deficit is prudent. France and Germany worry that such spending spirals into inflation. Time will tell.

b) The Economist yesterday had an article about Gordon Brown’s survival. Out of curiosity I looked at the comments that had been made about it. Again I was struck by the intemperate language. Extremism is dangerous especially when it is muddled up with racism. But it is more than a lunatic fringe. Conspiracy theories abound. We peddle vitriol at our peril.

c) My advanced years might not have brought serenity or wisdom. But they have increased an awareness of the complexity of things. I find in many discussions people work from prepared positions as if its trench warfare. A few evenings ago I listened to a ding-dong argument over state intervention or a hands off approach. It was an either/or argument; neither side prepared to concede the other had some points.

I was asked my point of view. It satisfied neither side. There are some givens. The answers are legion. It doesn’t matter if a millionaire or the most lowly paid worker pushes the flush toilet button someone somewhere has to ensure that there is infrastructure in place to cope with the consequences of that deed. There is not just only one way.

d) Any person’s life is littered with ‘what ifs’. Last year I read an interesting life of the famous ballerina Margot Fonteyn. In 1940 some clot in the British Council decided to send Sadler Wells, the company in which she danced, to Holland as a goodwill tour in the closing stages of the phony war. Just ahead was Dunkirk and the French surrender. The group arrived in Holland the day Hitler’s troops invaded. They were bombed, shot at, but eventually got away on a tramp steamer crowded with Dutch refugees. There were no casualties.

They were lucky. They could have all been killed or imprisoned. The world might never have seen the breathtaking artistry of one of the greatest ballerinas of all time. There is a further chilling question. What other potential great but unknown artists were killed in that massive conflagration?

Fonteyn loved steak and kidney pie. She used to have them delivered from the Savoy hotel. It was one of my favourites when I was cooking. My meals would not be up to Savoy class. But they were tasty. You either like kidneys or you don’t. For many people who don’t it’s the thought rather than the taste or look. I like pastry but I didn’t bother with it usually. Basically what I prepared was a steak and kidney casserole made with dark beer.

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