Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Global financial crisis: Mrs Bryant not interested.

Here we are, dumped unceremoniously into the new year like a sack of Coliban potatoes being dropped in a darkened pantry and not knowing whether they are to be mashed, chipped, baked, grated or fried.

Ouch. Is that pessimistic? Maybe it's the hangover talking. The 2008 hangover.


Nobody knows what will happen otherwise it wouldn't, because we could avoid it. If that makes sense. It's just that if I were a close friend of mine, which I am not, I would not right now, just at the minute, be buying a house at a price five times the friend's annual salary on a deposit of 5%.


Know what annoys me about this whole financial crisis thing? The media regularly tout it as being something no-one could foresee. It was not. Many commentators have maintained - some since late last century - that a never-ending boom is an oxymoron. Yet the world forged on into debt like there was no tomorrow, secured against a future of ever-growing wealth that had to come from somewhere. Somewhere else.

Then we ran out of somewhere elses.


New Year's Eve was quiet. The only partygoers in the street vacated their celebration around ten to watch fireworks in the city. I’d rather go to bed. New Year's morning dawned damp and cool; drizzle followed until lunchtime. I spent those hours cutting holes in the sides of cardboard wine cases to make armour helmets for the boys. They looked like a pair of Sidney Nolan Ned Kellys galloping about and falling on the lawn. I think they enjoyed the boxes more than I enjoyed the contents.


Ring, ring.

Phone: Hello, it's Mum.

Me: Hi, Mum. Happy new year.

Phone (a little later in the conversation): Mrs Bryant wants to know if anyone wants a television.

It was going to be one of those conversations.

Me: Just a moment, Mum. First, who is Mrs Bryant? And second, what business is it of hers should I or anyone else be wanting a television, which I don't? I don't even want my own television - given the standard of programming - let alone someone else's.

Phone: Mrs Bryant lives six doors up. And it's a perfectly good one, she says; it's just that she doesn't need it any more.

It's not necessarily dementia or Alzheimer's, it's just a bunch of octogenarians, who seemingly all settled this district at the same time after the war, gradually sinking into a kind of collective eccentricity. Most of them have gone, of course, but the hardy ones are sticking with it and passing on televisions to fellow stalwarts and their families in a last return to the post-war austerity of their just-married years. You can kind of understand. (I remember Mrs Bryant. I went to kindergarten with her daughter Janet in 1961. We walked together each morning there and each afternoon home.)

Me: Just tell Mrs Bryant that everyone's gone out and bought plasma screen TVs with Mr Rudd's $1000 and that maybe she should donate it to St Vincent's or the Salvos.

Phone: Why, that's exactly the reason she's giving it away! She just bought herself a plasma screen television so she could watch Inspector Rex and be able to read the subtitles without having to wear her glasses, which she can never find.

We changed the subject.


Julie said...

I saw the housing crash coming, not because I know economics (I absolutely do not), but because I'm aware of human greed. That alone should be a clue how obvious it was to those paying attention; I saw it coming, and I am not remotely an analyst for those things.

The conversation with your mother... well, I'm very amused, but I always enjoy when seniors march along with technology.

kitchen hand said...

I consider it an advantage not to know economics, Julie. Here, Treasury forecasts are a national joke.

Anonymous said...

I know some economics, which is why I saw the housing bust coming. I did not see the financial crisis coming and neither did you, from the sounds of it, since you seem to think we've been in a boom for the last half a century which we patently have not. We have enjoyed unparalleled economic growth over the last sixty or seventy years, but not all of it was (nor will it be) wiped out by this crisis. The crises pertains to many factors but among them are fairly recent (within the last 10-15 years) evolutions in financial markets and securitization methods.

kitchen hand said...

I don't remember suggesting we've been in a half-century boom, Anonymous, but I might have. Although your unparalleled economic growth over the last sixty or seventy years is not a million miles away from that description.