Saturday, 3 October 2009

In which there are green shoots. There! No, over there! Nope, gone again.

Printed 18/06/09.

The recession has ended! Apparently. It has, I read it in a paper, and they never lie.

Admittedly I did read only that; those words, “The Recession Has Ended”, before thinking “oh good” then skipping on to a recipe for something involving goat’s cheese, but I know I definitely saw it. And while I accept that it isn’t maybe the most reliable approach, to garner all of my current affairs knowledge from the snippets of headlines I see while I’m looking for Times2, it usually serves me well. I know that Ronaldo is leaving somewhere to go somewhere else, potentially Paris Hilton’s hotel room, I know that the Foxy Knoxy tag is really getting a bit tired now (in the latest pictures she, like, totally has a cold sore), and I know that whatever David Miliband may or may not be doing, he is definitely no relation to the Steve Miller Band, and I know that for sure.

But you see, it wasn’t really laziness that prompted me to flick on and not read the rest of the article. It was an active decision, fuelled by a delicate balance of derision, disbelief, and plain old dread. For one, there is the knowledge that sub editors are crafty weasels, prone to writing promising things like The World is Best it’s Ever Been, Cheryl is Leaving Ashley or Lady Ga-ga Garrotted by Own Pants, only for the full story to reveal a distinctly less exciting, completely tenuous, truth (“the world is the best it’s ever been”, say handicraft enthusiasts constructing ninth model of the solar system out of papier mach√©; Cheryl is leaving Ashley… for an overnight shopping trip to Roberto Cavalli Kids; Lady Ga-ga actually was garrotted by own pants, but survived and now everyone is doing it.).

So I knew it was pretty likely that if I read “Recession Has Ended”, it would be revealed all too quickly that what they actually meant was that somewhere, far off in the dark reaches of economics (a place I like to think of as the Pie-Chart Pleasuredome), a statistic had shifted. And this little statistic, like a domino, had bumped into a few other statistics, jigged everything round a bit, and put into motion the enormously long train of events that will mean, in perhaps a decade, we can buy chewing gum for a sensible amount of pocket change again.

I knew that was probably the reality, and so I chose the path of blissful ignorance. I can believe it’s all over, if nobody tells me otherwise. Conversely, though, was the acknowledgement that actually I don’t want to know because I sort of don’t want it to be. Not yet. Not quite.

Because, as a fresh-out-of-the-box graduate, the recession was turning into perhaps the most convenient excuse there is. I’ve spent entire evenings sat in student pubs, common rooms, the back of the 43 bus, saying things like “yar, of course I don’t have a graduate job lined up… it’s the recession… I’ll be lucky if Wimpy let me operate the desert carousel…”. But now, if it really is all over, I am forced to face the truth, that recession or no recession, there are no jobs for new journalists anywhere. At all. The media is full.
On the plus side, that goat’s cheese tart was really very good. And if Ronaldo and Amanda Knox ever get together, I promise I will read the article word for word.

* * * * * * * * * *

I must start writing down every fantastic soundbite I overhear on the streets, potentially with a view to turning them into a Christmas stocking-filler bestseller (everyone else in the world having written one already, I feel a bit left out). Here, for you lucky readers, an extract of my favourites:

Man on Bike on Phone, as he whizzed past – “I hope you’ve been to the Doctor’s to get it looked at.”

Woman at Table at Pavement Caf√© – “Actually, we didn’t ask her about the body hair...”

Yummy Mummy in Caffe Nero, Highgate – “I wish I could come, but I have a pasta-tasting session and I don’t want to be late for pilates.”

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Last week, an unpublished T.S. Eliot poem was discovered. This made me very happy. Firstly, because I am a geek. Secondly, because it makes my degree all seem worth something when I can sigh “ahhh, Eliot” and gaze off into the middle distance in a knowing manner. And Thirdly, because the poem was all about his deep mistrust of cows.

As anyone who has ever seen me try to interact with a dog/cat/goldfish will know, I am not an animal lover, and I can’t help thinking this should be the first in a long tradition of anti-animal poetry, as payback for all the insipid tripe that has been written over the years about people’s ickle fluffy cats. I will write the next one, and it shall be called ‘Don’t You Point that Ferret at Me.”

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