[audioplayer src="http://traffic.libsyn.com/spectator/TheViewFrom22_20_March_2014_v4.mp3" title="Harry Mount and Ben Judah discuss how to buy your way into Britain"]
[/audioplayer]‘Money has won,’ Martin Amis said this week, promoting his BBC4 programme Martin Amis’s England on telly this Sunday. The class gulf has disappeared, he said, replaced by a money society.
It’s a little more complicated than that.
William Hague was on rather shaky ground when he argued this week that Moscow has chosen ‘the route to isolation’ by recognising Crimea’s referendum. On the contrary, it is the European Union and the United States who look as if they have seriously overplayed their respective hands in Ukraine. Across Asia, Africa and Latin America, the cry of ‘western hypocrisy’ has been heard much louder than complaints about Vladimir Putin.
It was an averagely OK evening at one of London’s smarter restaurants: the food was edible, the wine wasn’t vinegar, the company was quite adequate and I managed to return home without actively wanting to shoot myself, which is always a plus. But a mere 12 hours later these feelings of nondescript non-satisfaction turned into a boiling rage, because it had happened yet again: an email pinged into my inbox.
From the age of 13, when the hormones kicked in, till I left my parents home at the age of 17 to become a writer (nearly forty years later, I’m still waiting) I must have been the most sex-mad virgin in Christendom. Nights were spent dressed as a West Country approximation of a transvestite Port Said prostitute, blind with eyeliner and dumb with lipgloss, alternately dancing like the lead in a Tijuana pony-show and hiding in the toilets during the slow numbers, crying repeatedly ‘Why won’t all those men just LEAVE ME ALONE!’ Days were spent in an attempt to evade the attentions of the regiment of leering males while voluntarily rolling up my regulation school skirt so high that it resembled a cummerbund.
When I told a friend that my nine-year-old son was staying with his grandparents for the whole week of the half-term, she said: ‘A whole week! My son would be lucky to get his grandparents for a weekend! Who are these people?’
‘His grandparents are working class,’ I said.
She looked puzzled. ‘What?’
I explained. ‘Working-class grandparents are the best you can have — these days middle-class grandparents are bloody useless.
Tattered green Hamas flags still flap above the streets in central Gaza and posters of its martyrs hang in public spaces. But these are tough times for the Hamas government, and not just due to the recent flare-up in tensions with Israel.
In December last year, they cancelled rallies planned for the 26th anniversary of their founding, an occasion celebrated ever since they seized power here in 2007, and though usually secretive about their financial affairs, they revealed a 2014 budget of $589 million, with a gigantic 75 per cent deficit.
There are two major schools of technology investing. The first believes that all investments these days are fundamentally technology investments. Every big company relies to a greater or lesser degree on the innovations and efficiencies of technology to replace the high costs and laggardly habits of human beings. The faster they do this, the higher their returns.
The second school covets the pop and fizz of the new.
There were no fireworks, and not much champagne. Indeed, it wasn’t an anniversary that many people noticed. But on 9 March, the bull market in equities was five years old. It was on that day back in 2009 that the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the key global benchmark for stocks, edged down another 80 points to close at 6,547, its lowest level since 1997. Although no one knew at the time, that was the bottom, and it was to go no lower.
I have a confession to make. I earn my living advising my readers whether particular companies’ shares are going to go up or down. I have no idea whether an individual share will go up or down. Fortunately, nor does anyone else.
That goes for the analysts, investment bankers, fund managers, accountants and other professionals who work in the City and earn a great deal more than I do. As the scriptwriter William Goldman said, no one knows anything.
Every night, while my husband reads by screen-light, my mind runs like an invisible rat two miles north to the house we’re rebuilding in Islington. And there it scurries from room to room, around the rotten skirting boards, up walls, into corners: testing, considering, fretting. Carpets or wooden boards? Which doorknobs, latches, hinges? Which white for the walls? What will look best, and what (hang your head, o rat) will your friends envy and admire?
Towards 1 a.