The clock that is set perennially twenty-one minutes fast is digitally displaying the fact that its way past four in the morning; I’m stood – feet barely touching the ground – beside a straggling, thorn-encrusted, rose-bush whose full-blooms are fading with every-other petal long fallen.
Looking up and looking in through an all-too familiar window, I hadn’t thought that there was anyone there but, by seeing the ‘phone answered, its obvious that there is. The shape has its back to me, receiver to ear – clearly intent on an exchange of information.
I feel as if that room is vaguely familiar but it looks altogether different in the half-light; there are a pair of ornate white wall-sconces set mid-way to the ceiling above a set of double-darkened-doors that I don’t recall being there before – they’re shut now, blocking off the room to an outsider. I watch the beautifully scruffy dog walks to its bed in the corner, turn three full circles before settling down and yawning, its eyes wide shut.
There is a dining-table laid for more than four, a starched white table-cloth on which cut-glass gleams; yet, more chairs than necessary have been set around in an almost complete circle and the pictures on the wall are not as once they were; nor are the walls themselves because they’ve been covered by old-fashioned school-blankets. Embers from a long-ago fire are throwing a dull-red glow against one of the luminous chairs yet the chair isn’t alight; its gently – smokelessly – shouldering.
I have to deliver a message; walking down the hill I’d tried texting earlier but the reply that came back missed out two words in every three. Each time I looked down at my ‘phone, trying to pick out the pieces, it resembled communication by code; a code that Morse himself would have had difficulty in deciphering.
The happily chattering voices sound closer; damn, they’re right overhead. I shrink back. A door that I hadn’t even realised was there creaks opens in surprise; will I be discovered, crouching in the shadows? I am – ghosts stare, unevenly, at ghosts. Two women – neither of whom I know – materialize, standing fully clothed yet virtually topless; both wearing matching black and red peep-hole bras that reveal nipple-less breasts. They stand face-to-face, bosom-to-bosom, each admiring the other in soft undertones.
I try to explain that the deposit for the borrowed lap-top hasn’t been received and that there is now a man in the White House who has been made to give up both of his Blackberrys; I tell them he doesn’t even have a lap-top but the tinkle of laughter at this absurdity drowns out my crying to be heard – dinner is ready to be served. A gong sounds, the double-doors open…
An impossibly tall man advances from out of the gloom, bowing his head… it can’t be… surely not… but, it is – he looks straight through me, Sorry Neil, it was inevitable. The flickering moon that sheds light onto the confused candle-light as they all take their places is set high above a plain-sailing river that’s illuminated by an iridescent turquoise sky – nighttime and daytime have merged. A choir is softly singing: We’ll meet you on Clare Island, take the boat out from Rhuna and go skinny-dipping on the strand. Descending, there was no sound – just whispers in a swirling breeze. Then, quick as an unexpected flash, the ‘plane’s wheels screech out a welcome on the tarmac of fear high amongst the rooftops. Relax said Frankie, I can’t though. I need to look down but the wire between the buildings is worryingly thin.
Metallic blue and gun-metal grey march me right on down to the waterfront in the far distance – left, right, left right; high above black and white gulls cry to each other drowning out the sounds of a red telephone-box ringing. The blindfold beckons and I do look down – I knew I would – and , it’s a lot further than I’d thought… oh, heck. If I take that step, would a half-completed patchwork save me? I’m teetering… swaying back and forth on the edge of the cold crevasse’s embrace, the glacier’s bowels beckon… Looking down on…on people. Far-below shapes… breathing out, breathing in; just breathing.
People walking past, chattering idly into cell-‘phones clamped to frozen ears as a mid-morning watery sun makes ivy-leaf shadows across the brick-work – the cat in black makes improbable angles, washing its paws as the rifles are raised; there is another on the same ledge staring with criminal intent at a half-empty / half full glass of orange juice; I’m guilty, I know I am… I’m sorry. Ready, aim… I’m twisting and turning, rolling-over in my sweat-soaked borrowed bed, clutching at straws, clutching at… before the stream of light invading one side of the black-out blind catches me unawares. I can hear the bolts being drawn back in unison; I’m going to fall, I know I shall…
Enough, enough; stop… no more… the fierce jolt of coffee to freshen befuddled dreamscapes. Switch on, gather knowledge. Turn the page. Discover; read and learn.
A report published during the last few days by the Financial Services Authority makes absolutely stomach-churning reading; since – according to them – a family is being ejected from their home every ten minutes because they’ve failed to keep up with their mortgage payments.
If – repeat IF – that statistic is correct (and, conversely, why would anyone doubt the FSA), then that equates to one hundred and forty-four families being removed from their homes… each day of the week, Sunday’s included. Today is Monday – traditionally the start of the week.
Their figures also claim that the amount of families losing their homes is showing as a one-hundred percent increase over the previous twelve-months and that precisely 13,161 families were evicted between July and September 2008.
However… I’m thinking its important to bear in mind that these particular figures, relate to the period of time before the banks started crashing like so many out of control bumper-cars. Which, therefore gives a bit of credence to what the Council of Mortgage Lenders has also said very recently whereby they are predicting that there will be over 75,000 houses repossessed during 2009 – that equates to between 225,000 and 300,000 men women and children put out of their homes.
An iceberg; a bell being furiously tolled… too late… and a doomed vessel named RMS Titanic – that was, according to folk-lore of the time, unsinkable – spring to mind.
Further to this, in the last few days, it has been revealed that UK unemployment is hovering just under the 2 million mark – much has been made of the phrase or words – just under.
Yet… the published figures are not, by any stretch of the imagination, accurate.
First, they’re over a month out of date; secondly, the long-term unemployed are officially recognized as being ‘in re-training’ thus (apparently) that number doesn’t count when the overall is added up and thirdly – with (again from published figures), somewhere around two and a half thousand people losing their jobs on a daily basis – the utilization of the phrase just under does not stack up.
Equals, in whichever manner any official agency calculates the figures, the numbers don’t just top 2 million but – I would suggest – actually add up to a lot more than just over.
Indeed, certain commentators – this taken from a radio programme I listened to the other morning en route to Pinewood – and who, from what I could work out seemed pretty well informed – are stating that within the next nine months the figure will head north of the 3 million mark and may well by-pass 3.75 million.
Nevertheless, in the last forty-eight hours, yet another set of – official – published figures have confirmed something that pretty much everyone has hid behind the sofa of acceptance (and, thus, not accepted) as a reality. We’re now – officially – in a… recession.
It is now an official recession since (apparently) it can only be so-termed when two consecutive quarters’ figures show it to be so. Equals… the Government and their agencies have, up until now, been allowed to – officially – hoodwink us mere mortals because they’ve not – officially – been able to use the word recession up until now.
Oh… dear. Isn’t that absolute bollox..? Perhaps common-sense really has departed the nest and flown right out of the window..?
Why so? Because… you see… my Voltaire on its grassy knoll doesn’t agree.
Yeah – like you really know what you’re banging on about Neil. That may well be so… perhaps I am just a casual passer-by but… my arithmetic observation means that one plus one does equal two.
Which tells me – we’re long past the point of recession and now firmly in the grips of a full-scale economic depression…
And I’d further suggest that its about bloody time that governing authorities actually stood up, were counted and… told it like it is.
I’d also say that the time for nimby-pambying around with this set of figures and that set of numbers in order to present official statistics is absolute, total, bollox too – since they just display an unrealistic and (therefore pointless) point of view – is long passed.
It is quite clear that the so-called ‘global-credit-crunch’ has got a shed-load worse since September… who, after-all, could deny that as a pure fact?
The tinder-dry box of unemployment is exploding – that, too, is an unarguable fact; not far short of 100 firms – both the great and the small – are going under in the UK daily. And, worldwide – not a particularly sunny outlook there by all accounts either.
Thus, it logically follows that more and more families will be placed in the invidious position of being rendered homeless.
And thus, IF one uses a bit, just a scrap, of logic, it follows that this, British, economy is – really and genuinely – teetering on the brink of disaster. And globally – the cold-front of icy-change is edging ever closer, every day.
Equals #1… depression with a capital D.
Equals #2… just about the worst time imaginable to fly the flag of belief that Project X will fly.
But… I am flying it and… its fluttering high and proud.
The next IFPI meeting has now been set – for a week today. Within which, there will be more key-movers-and-shakers around their corporate table, all wanting to discuss how best we can progress the base idea and turn it into a workable reality.
Further to which, yet another organization emerged out of the woodwork last week wanting to structure a deal with us based around an enviable catalogue of material that they’ve already assembled.
It all adds up to the one small step for man, one giant leap (of faith) for… you get my drift.
The depression with its capital D is about facing an unpleasant reality and dealing with it.
Its about accepting that a world one once knew – and (perhaps) were comfortable in – no longer exists; its about recognising that the next two or maybe three years will see fundamental changes right across the board.
As such, it’ll be about adapting and not burying one’s head in the fast-encroaching (quick)sand.
Thus… for Project X, it’ll be all about keeping faith; dreaming that much harder and working with the new to turn (what many deem to be impractical) idealism into… actuality. This is all about being in… the arena.
It is not the critic that counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles. Or where the doer of deeds could have done better. Credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement. And at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
President Theodore Roosevelt, Paris 1910.