The trouble is, the news is just too good for me to blog about respectably at the moment.
In fact, the really terrible consequence of the global economic meltdown (have you started saying that as one word, too? “Glerbleconmicmeldow”?) is the dreadful impact on our objectivity as bloggers.
Witness, for example, James Graham’s further descent into North London dinner table property angst (while the real James Graham peers out mutely from inside and can see perfectly well what is happening to him, which I don’t think is helping one bit). I on the other hand, whose North London dinner table is currently locked up in a storage facility in Finchley, am rather chipper. In this, the greatest crisis of our times (what, did no-one else watch Return of the King on channel 4 t’other weekend?) I am the one standing at the back going, “Oh. So massive inflation will adversely affect the savings I don’t have, while a stupendously overdue correction in the credit market will bring crashing down the prices of houses that I currently can’t afford. Right. Gosh, that’s… awful.”
Throw into the mix a luckily timed parental downsize, a temporary (albeit irksome) lack of living costs, and the fact that my earnings look set to double in my second year freelancing (don’t get too excited on my behalf though; two times one baked bean is still only two baked beans), and you are looking at possibly the most economically bombproof person in the western hemisphere today. (Though I mean “today” quite literally; tomorrow I might lose work and Alistair Darling might waggle his eyebrows at an awkward moment, and who knows what tsunami of destruction that might unleash.) Ok, so I still have to move three hundred miles from my birthplace and wait another six months in order to be able to even rent my own flat, never mind buy one. And I’m still absolutely not very well off. But relatively, my position has improved by literally 100%, and my range of options has vastly improved on the ones I had six months ago.
The reason for my devil-may-care attitude to recession is, of course, that I’m not in any direct sense a stakeholder. When you ain’t got nothin, it don’t mean nothin, as someone-or-other said. You are immune from all the direct and specific worry. Any worry you do indulge in is likely to be long-term and vague, much like the effects on you will be. My earnings might drop and food bill might rise to unsustainable levels tomorrow, just like everybody else’s might, but for now there’s a peculiar sort of grim luxury in knowing that everyone else has been brought down to my level, that I’ve at least got a fighting chance now. I spent the last boom year of the economy living off basics range pasta, feeling deeply alienated by the cultural celebration of wealth and practising (as it turns out) for hardship. Now suddenly I land slapbang in what is probably one of the best financial positions I’ll ever be in in my life. It feels like getting a second chance you had been told you were definitely not going to get.
It bothers me, of course. A historian should maintain a constant awareness that they’re a hostage to fortune like everybody else. I don’t like to think of myself as the kind of subjective knee-jerker who crows at “the rich” when they’re down (whoever they are). And while I’m not a stakeholder myself, others are whose fortunes matter to me, personally and financially. Plus I expend a lot of time and vitriol berating people for attaching emotional interpretations to economic events (“The cupboard is bare”, “He didn’t mend the roof when the sun was shining”. FFS. Clegg skewering those two bits of abominable fluffspeak is still my favourite bit of his conference speech – “What is this? Just William?”). So I certainly ought to be giving short shrift to my sneaking sense of moral superiority that things are temporarily set my way (ner, ner, shouldn’t have ignored me and my kind for so long then, should you, Mister Property Market, eh? eh?). The world hasn’t actually recognised the petty injustices of my position and decided to give me a break. And I mustn’t behave in the pub as if it has. Nonono.
But self-reproach must wait. For now, I’m off flat-hunting.