Wednesday, 22 April 2020


When at any time there is a blundering or confusion in a manoeuvre, ride in amongst the soldiers and lay about you from right to left. This will convince people that it is not your fault." 

                                             - Francis Grose, 'Advice to Officers', 1783

The current situation has a few benefits - for example there are far more butterflies than usual to be seen when I go for my allowed daily constitutional - but far more downsides. Among the smallest of these is a lack of inspiration regarding what to post here. I am very reluctant to write directly about the pandemic, mainly because I have nothing worth saying, but also because there are reams and reams already being written, to the exclusion of almost everything else. This blog's Luxembourg correspondent advises that he has largely given up reading and watching the news, which certainly struck a chord with me because so have I. Sadly, for that reason we had both missed the recent publication of the obituary of a mutual acquaintance, but no doubt we had  also avoided the stress of trying to reconcile a whole raft of entirely mutually contradictory explanations and predictions. 

As for the politics, beyond expressing Captain Renault style shock at the inability of Johnson and his cronies to rise to the occasion I have nothing much to add there either. No doubt readers have viewed with the same contempt as me the government's all too obvious focus on trying to shift the blame for their own ideologically fuelled mistakes on to civil servants and others. One factor in their abject performance - on top of their general, inherent inadequacies - may be that not one of them has ever had a proper job running any sort of organisation. I, on the other hand, have many such roles and regular readers will not be at all taken aback when I tell you that inevitably among them was a stint working for a company that makes surgical gowns and masks. I was therefore already aware that the manufacture of them is entirely outsourced to the Middle and Far East. I shan't dwell now on my experiences in the sector (although I do have a mildly amusing anecdote about the condom production line which I may return to in happier times) except to draw one point of similarity with the financial crisis of a dozen years ago. 

What we found on that occasion was that in the case of the banks' profits in the good times all went to the bankers, while losses in the bad times were paid by the rest of us. What we have here is the same thing: the financial benefits of cheap off-shore supply chains have been taken by the owners and managers of the firms involved, and now it's all gone tits up the rest of us have to step back in and pay the price, financially and otherwise, of failure.

“Just as not all butterflies produce a hurricane, not all outbreaks of bubonic plague produce a Renaissance.” - Eric Weiner

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if there will be a 'Khaki election' next time as in 1945 ? , the up sides is perhaps this has saved the NHS for the foreseeable future ?