An adequate way to drive to hell.

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  • Sat, Dec 13, 2008 - 04:31pm

    Golden Age

    Golden Age

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    Joined: Aug 02 2008

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    An adequate way to drive to hell.

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This is a humorous way to look at the coming economic collapse "over there" by Jeremy Clarkson.  Laughing


I was in Dublin last weekend, and had a very real sense I’d been
invited to the last days of the Roman empire. As far as I could work out,
everyone had a Rolls-Royce Phantom and a coat made from something that’s now
extinct. And then there were the women. Wow. Not that long ago every girl on
the Emerald Isle had a face the colour of straw and orange hair. Now it’s
the other way around.

Everyone appeared to be drunk on naked hedonism. I’ve never seen so much jus
being drizzled onto so many improbable things, none of which was potted
herring. It was like Barcelona but with beer. And as I careered from bar to
bar all I could think was: “Jesus. Can’t they see what’s coming?”

Ireland is tiny. Its population is smaller than New Zealand’s, so how could
the Irish ever have generated the cash for so many trips to the
hairdressers, so many lobsters and so many Rollers? And how, now, as they
become the first country in Europe to go officially into recession, can they
not see the financial meteorite coming? Why are they not all at home,
singing mournful songs?

It’s the same story on this side of the Irish Sea, of course. We’re all still
plunging hither and thither, guzzling wine and wondering what preposterously
expensive electronic toys the children will want to smash on Christmas
morning this year. We can’t see the meteorite coming either.

I think mainly this is because the government is not telling us the truth.
It’s painting Gordon Brown as a global economic messiah and fiddling about
with Vat, pretending that the coming recession will be bad. But that it can
deal with it.

I don’t think it can. I have spoken to a couple of pretty senior bankers in
the past couple of weeks and their story is rather different. They don’t
refer to the looming problems as being like 1992 or even 1929. They talk
about a total financial meltdown. They talk about the End of Days.

Already we are seeing household names disappearing from the high street and
with them will go the suppliers whose names have only ever been visible
behind the grime on motorway vans. The job losses will mount. And mount. And
mount. And as they climb, the bad debt will put even more pressure on the
banks until every single one of them stutters and fails.

The European banks took one hell of a battering when things went wrong in
America. Imagine, then, how life will be when the crisis arrives on this
side of the Atlantic. Small wonder one City figure of my acquaintance
ordered three safes for his London house just last week.

Of course, you may imagine the government will simply step in and nationalise
everything, but to do that, it will have to borrow. And when every
government is doing the same thing, there simply won’t be enough cash in the
global pot. You can forget Iceland. From what I gather, Spain has had it.
Along with Italy, Ireland and very possibly the UK.

It is impossible for someone who scored a U in his economics A-level to
grapple with the consequences of all this but I’m told that in simple terms
money will cease to function as a meaningful commodity. The binary dots and
dashes that fuel the entire system will flicker and die. And without money
there will be no business. No means of selling goods. No means of
transporting them. No means of making them in the first place even. That’s
why another friend of mine has recently sold his London house and bought
somewhere in the country . . . with a kitchen garden.

These, as I see them, are the facts. Planet Earth thought it had £10. But it
turns out we had only £2. Which means everyone must lose 80% of their
wealth. And that’s going to be a problem if you were living on the breadline

Eventually, of course, the system will reboot itself, but for a while there
will be absolute chaos: riots, lynchings, starvation. It’ll be a world
without power or fuel, and with no fuel there’s no way the modern
agricultural system can be maintained. Which means there will be no food
either. You might like to stop and think about that for a while.

I have, and as a result I can see the day when I will have to shoot some of my
neighbours – maybe even David Cameron – as we fight for the last bar of
Fry’s Turkish Delight in the smoking ruin that was Chipping Norton’s post

I believe the government knows this is a distinct possibility and that it
might happen next year, and there is absolutely nothing it can do to stop
Cameron getting both barrels from my Beretta. But instead of telling us
straight, it calls the crisis the “credit crunch” to make it sound like a
breakfast cereal and asks Alistair Darling to smile and big up Gordon when
he’s being interviewed.

I can’t say I blame it, really. If an enormous meteorite was heading our way
and the authorities knew it couldn’t be stopped or diverted, why bother
telling anyone? Best to let us soldier on in the dark until it all goes dark
for real.

On a more cheery note, Vauxhall has stopped making the Vectra, that dreary,
designed-in-a-coffee-break Eurobox that no one wanted. In its place stands
the new Insignia, which has been voted European car of the year for 2009.

This award is made by motoring journalists across Europe, and, with the best
will in the world, the Swedes do not want the same thing from a car as the
Greeks. That’s why they almost always get it wrong. Past winners have been
the Talbot Horizon and the Renault 9.

They’ve got the Insignia even more wrong than usual because the absolutely
last thing anyone wants right now, and I’m including in the list
consumption, a severed artery and a massive shark bite, is a four-door
saloon car with a bargain-basement badge.

Oh it’s not a bad car. It’s extremely good-looking, it appears to be very well
made, it is spacious and the prices are reasonable. But set against that are
seats that are far too hard, the visibility – you can’t see the corners of
the car from the driver’s chair – and the solid, inescapable fact that the
Ford Mondeo is a more joyful thing to drive.

In the past, none of this would have mattered. Fleet managers would have
bought 100 of whichever was the cheapest, and Jenkins from Pots, Pans and
Pyrex would have had no say in the matter. Those days, however, are gone.
The travelling salesman is now an internet address, and the mini MPV has
bopped the traditional saloon on the head. I cannot think of the question in
today’s climate to which the answer is “A Vauxhall Insignia”. And I’m
surprised my colleagues on the car of the year jury didn’t notice this as

Then I keep remembering the Renault 9 and I’m not surprised at all.

I feel, I really do, for the bosses at GM who’ve laboured so hard to make this
car. It’s way better than the Vectra. It looks as though they were bothered.
But asking their dealerships to sell such a thing in today’s world is a bit
like asking men in the first world war trenches to charge the enemy’s
machinegun nests with spears.

Right now, there are two paths you can go down. You can either adopt the Irish
attitude to the impending catastrophe and party like it’s 1999. In which
case you are better off ignoring the Vauxhall and buying a 24ft Donzi
speedboat instead.

Or you can actually start to make some sensible preparations for the complete
breakdown in society. In which case you don’t want a Vauxhall either. Better
to spend the money on a pair of shotguns and an allotment.

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