Of natural beauty and interesting markets

It’s important to get a sense of perspective sometimes. We have bigger problems than the markets at the moment. Pestilence stalks the land. Let us be thankful that the fatality rate of it is in low single figures percent-wise. So far although there have been missteps I am of the opinion that the people have handled it well, and I am quite impressed that the fragile just-in time systems of delivering essentials have been adapted quite well. The Chinese managed to keep the wheels running in Wuhan as far as the essentials of life. We do face problems with food in the medium term if Tim Lang is right. Many face more immediate problems with food due to their precarious economic situation. However, so far I have been cheered by the response of the British people. Adaptable bastards, humans, even if deeply stupid in many ways. Good luck to us.

The drop in economic activity makes some things change for the better. I live in a small town so air pollution is low here, but even so the drop in traffic makes one’s sense of smell more acute as Nature blooms. Mind you, I can also smell people (not in a bad way, I’m not saying they are crusties) from further away than 2m, particularly downwind. So social distancing may reduce the likelihood of infection, but given that smell is airborne chemicals interacting with the olfactory bulb in the old hooter it probably doesn’t preclude it. It is what it is – we need to get some exercise to avoid becoming fat as moles.

Birdsong is increasing. You’re likely to have more time to listen to it – our blackbirds are lovely at this time of year.

He will become more mellifluous as he hones his art with practice. I got to middle age before realising this. With time to reflect, it’s a little piece of magic that unfolds each year, and I will try and honour the beauty. As long as one of the neighbour’s cats doesn’t get him first… The National Trust is doing this sort of thing in a bigger way on #blossomwatch.

Enough of that. Jurgen Klopp had the right idea, I have no more expertise in epidemiology than he.

of markets and mayhem

Ah, the smell of excitement on the markets. I have cleared out some of my premium bonds, shunted into Charles Stanley before this tax year end. I borrowed nearly a year’s worth of ISA from them and tossed it in premium bonds, because I couldn’t really bear to invest in the stock market at high valuations. It looks to me like valuations are getting better ๐Ÿ˜‰

I am keeping a leery eye on my Gold holdings, for once I am cheered that the buggers are in my ISA. Gold is sort of like cash but with a vague anti-stocks trend in times of trouble. Apparently the correct way to do this is with long-dated bonds. But I am simple and have seen gold do this job before, twice.

In normal times it’s a deadbeat and pays no income. But Harry Browne had a point, I am roughly back to the same asset allocation I had in 2012. Except that all the numbers are a hell of a lot bigger.

I reckon this bear market has legs, and it ain’t anywhere near done and dusted. Unlike normal stock market crashes when people simply get pissed off with high valuations and look down like Wile. E. Coyote and succumb to gravity, there actually is a genuine out of the blue problem here1, which is going to result in reduced economic activity. When a lot of customers are at home and the workforce is down and it’s a global problem then the velocity of money is likely to be less. Yes, the Fed has thrown a shedload of money at it. I’d say there still be lots of trouble ahead.

In my view this is likely to be a crash and a bear market – months not weeks. I am not an unreserved buy and holder, and I don’t have much reserve to buy in, though I do have a steady income so I don’t depend on the markets.

I am going to stick my neck out. I sold out some holdings on March 10th, to give myself some ammo. I still have 2/3 of my equity holdings, all my VWRL, and all my HYP from 2009. I am happy with these, but I cleared out everything that I didn’t love. Marie Kondo would be proud of me. And I cleared out half of an IT and all my FTSE100 holdings, although they probably aren’t overvalued. I’m just a cheeky bastard and want to buy that back either as income-paying ITs, or simply for cheaper, the FTSE100 seems to have taken an outrageous hammering since I sold. All that oil, oy vey… I have a Google spreadsheet of all that I sold, what value I sold at, and what the current -15min valuation is because googlefinace makes that easy.

Let’s just say it was well worth doing. When the aggregate gain from selling halves, then I should start to consider chuntering back into the market because obviously I cocked up and this bear market will have been shot on sight. However, my heart of darkness wants it to double, because that will also be a good time to buy. Valuations were too high before. I don’t regard the losses as anywhere near enough to compensate for the likely hit.

There is a second-order problem, however. We look at our share prices in GBP. If you look at how many GBP you need to buy the IMF special drawing rights, a balance of currencies, you see the GBP has been having a torrid time of late. You see a similar pattern with US Dollars and with gold, so it’s us, not them. This has an inverse relationship to international stock prices, so the falls in real value are about 10% worse than displayed on our screens.

How many GBP to buy IMF SDRs

Something really dreadful seems to be happening to the pound. ZXSpectrum48k seems to be on the money that the UK is more akin to an emerging market.

Now I’m not one of the people yelling that it will be like the 1930s again. It may be, while it is usually unwise to say it’s all different this time I would say the pestilence stalking the human populationย  is certainly unprecedented for 50 years.

I’m shorting some of the equities I do own.You can argue that’s barmy, why not just sell, but what I am shorting are my investment trusts. I am shorting half of my ASL, which is pretty much just as well, it’s my worst performer. That’s not that tough to understand, small UK companies are basically roadkill.

I am of the view this is going to go titsup a long way more. If shorting works out I get more working capital to put into my ISA over the bear market, and I can take some solace in the losses in the ISA as they are balanced in the gains on the short ๐Ÿ˜‰ If the market suddenly has a fiery fit of the vapours and skyrockets to UKX=10,000 then I look a right tit and get soaked on the short, and get to sell out of my ISA to pay for my stupidity.

Bear markets are exciting. Things happen a lot quicker in them – spread betting which is my tool of choice for shorting is like an ISA in that there is no tax hit if it works, but has a high cost of carry and high costs of doing anything – it’s a dreadful TER. That doesn’t roll up so much in bear markets because of the faster action, I don’t expect to be in IG for more than a year.

Buying in again

I have some piss-taking limit buy orders in the ISA to buy things like VWRL and also ULVR that’s I’ve wanted for a while. I need to find out if iWeb let me do regular monthly purchases2, because I am also minded to buy VWRL steadily across the next six months.

Obviously I am not a strong believer in buy and hold, and I think valuations matter, and for God’s sake don’t even think of doing that sort of thing because its not passive. Just buy and hold… It does come good in the end, as long as you live long enough.

I don’t have any intention of selling any more in the ISA- the point of getting out of what I did when I did was to give me working capital which I will roughly double with extra cash this year and next. I hold some of that working capital in gold ETFs because I don’t trust the pound to hold value through this. I naturally take a hit on the turn and the annual costs on SGLP.ย  Bear markets are shorter than bulls. If I wanted to hold for 10 years then I’d sweat about the costs of carry and the opportunity costs, but I am chilled on that.

This needs to start working for me. I have the feeling income is going to be bought much easier in the months to come than in recent years. I want this to be a good bear market. I’ve seen this movie before.

So there. I’m probably going to be excommunicated because I’ve gone against the buy and hold shibboleth.ย  I learned that I had no stockpicking edge over the years. But I still believe in the importance of valuation, and it’s getting a lot better.

I also got a family member out of 100% equities and into VGLS80:20 favouring bonds at the end of January. She has about five years to go to call on that wedge, and a 100% equity allocation at high valuations felt bad. I am owed a beer in five years time. Mind you, if she buys into the bear market than I will buy the drinks, because that sort of chutzpah deserves a hat tip. I know from experience that it’s incredibly hard to do. I at least now have some metrics from tracking what I have sold 3.

But it still will be gut-wrenching and a bastard, because buying into a bear market still means looking at a potential 30-50% loss after you buy in. I can’t call the bottom, but I can call overvaluation. Bear markets fix that sort of problem within one to three years, whereas bull markets can stay up in the sky for years. I am glad to see this bull market get the order of the boot, though I am naturally saddened by the shocking human misery that was the coup de grace that pushed it over the edge.


  1. there is an argument that things like the GFC were also an out of the blue problem, inasmuch as knowledge of the rot was not widely disseminated. Some crashes are a crisis of confidence, however – October 1987 springs to mind. 
  2. Maybe they do let you do regular purchases, but I sure as hell aren’t bright enough to see how. If you know, please enlighten me! 
  3. I will see if googlefinance lets me scale that dynamically to IMF SDRs, I am tired of having to mentally offset the vagaries in the pound to get a clear picture 

27 thoughts on “Of natural beauty and interesting markets”

  1. Point very much taken about acknowledging that many really have been plunged into a dire situation in short order.
    Worrying about investments should be taken in the correct context, but that said, we’ve still got to think about what to do.
    The only deviation I could dream up from the passive mantra was possibly taking a tilt toward dividend hero type ITs to take advantage of the increased yields and, in some cases, widening discounts.
    I’ve taken a big hit on the new portfolio I created last Nov, especially the portion that was the income producing IT experiment. I wish I’d had your pause for thought on overvaluation but I followed the stats on lump-sum investing.
    I do have a pretty conservative emergency fund, which is something to take solace in.
    My job doesn’t look like its going to last much longer as I’ve fallen out with the CEO of a very small startup, so that is effectively terminal. Slightly annoying as the SIPP salary sacrifice set up would have been a good way to pound average into the dip. But hey ho, timing doesn’t always go your way.
    The offset IO mortgage experiment might also not pay off now. Although the interest rate is now only 0.75%! On that one I am absolutely kicking myself I didn’t go five years rather than two. I hadn’t realised the importance of duration. If I am unemployed when remortgaging rolls round then I’m a forced seller. I still have a year and a bit for things to change though so fingers crossed..

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    1. Sorry to hear about the bust-up with the CEO! Is there any mileage in trying to get your existing IO extended while you are still employed? There’s a case to be made it could be a prudent attempt to reduce your exposure given the trying times etc etc… I guess they will be indundated with requests for mortgage holidays though. Still, a year and a bit should be good enough. Basically either it’s out of lockdown, or it’s gonna be so titsup that mortgages won’t be so much a worry relative to other things…

      > your pause for thought on overvaluation

      It’s only any good if I can make myself buy ๐Ÿ˜‰ Having said that, I just couldn’t do it. I know the stats, but then I am not a net buyer for more than the next two years. Those stats are more for those with decades ahead, and that’s just not me.

      > taking a tilt toward dividend hero type ITs to take advantage of the increased yields and, in some cases, widening discounts.

      That’s a route I want to favour. If I can ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  2. I was always blown away when I made a springtime visit to the Netherlands and heard the blackbirds singing from the rooftops. Our North American grackles are handsome birds but they do nothing but squawk. We have our robins and finches though.
    As far as investing goes I am totally passive and I have taken my lumps, especially in preferred and dividend trusts. The Canadian dollar is essentially a petro currency and we know where that is going these days.
    With our cruise to Spain and Italy cancelled and being in lockdown right now, our expenses are low and most of our income is pension related so it’s no big deal short term.

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    1. Re pensions: I believe this mayhem will further hurt DB fundedness measures (assets divided by liabilities) two-fold: the liabilities will increase due to lower bond yields; and the assets will fall in line with the Portfolio construct used. So agree this is probably “no big deal short term”, but longer term, I think we will have to wait and see.

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  3. It’s still a little early here for the blackbirds to be singing, but I’m sure it won’t be long before they’re again serenading us every evening from the top of the telegraph pole just outside our garden.

    What we’re also starting to see regularly, are buzzards soaring above the house. We’d never seen them around here at all before last autumn, but apparently they’re now more common across the UK than kestrels (which we still see all the time).

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    1. Re a little early for blackbirds to be singing – yes, that seems to be the case where I am too. You hear the occasional slightly panicky sounding chatter as they get disturbed by something and fly off all of a sudden, but the lengthy exchanges with more distant ones from up on top of the chimney pots aren’t to be heard quite yet it seems …

      Nice though it is to listen to blackbirds singing just as the sun’s on it’s way down in early evening, I really love listening to that increasingly rare of birds around here – the song thrush. Now that’s a really rich and varied song !

      Back around 2015 the BBC produced an hour long documentary entitled “Dawn Chorus: The Sounds of Spring”. I assumed it was by the wonderful people in Bristol (aka the Natural History unit) but the end credits don’t seem to acknowledge that. Anyway, the song thrush makes it’s contribution to the content around six minutes into the program.

      Thanks for the article, Ermine – it’s prompted me to go re-watch that programme as I had the foresight to record it. Just occasionally normal terrerstrial TV DOES show something worth watching and (more so in this case) listening to.

      On the subject of just sitting and listening to stuff, I think it was Jeremy Clarkson (of all people !) who I remember observing many years ago in one of his books that we just don’t sit and listen to music these (at that time anyway) days. When was the last time you put on one of your favourite albums and just went and stretched out on the sofa, closed your eyes, and just listened to it, appreciated every note ? Up until recently, we’ve all been tearing about like lunatics (relatively speaking) “earning a crust” and music’s just ended up as “acoustic wallpaper” to use his wording.

      Maybe that’s something else we’ll have time to fully appreciate again now we’re finally beginning to understand how the cat feels when the flap’s been set to “in only” … ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. interesting post.

    – I’ve no intention of selling (I can’t market time) but I agree this bear market feels like it has a lot further to run. I did (just for a moment) toy will the idea of selling last sunday – that would have been a mistake proving I can’t time.

    – One thing to think about. Don’t under-estimate Western govt / central banks appetite to create liquidity to pump up asset prices. Rates can go negative / Banks can print money. Everyone with assets is levered into this

    – I have a reasonably good cash reserve, some sterling reserves, gold coins and dollar tips. Majority is not in sterling as I have less and less faith in our currency

    – I have a unjustified feeling one day banks will be unable to print enough money to keep the music rolling and the party will stop with rather nasty consequences. But I am not smart enough to know when that will be or what will happen

    – I agree one positive side effect is that life has become quieter. Amen to that. Obviously for sad reasons.

    – But I’m a couple of decades younger than you (I believe). So I’m still in the realms of wealth creation not wealth preservation. Although the word ‘seeking’ looks like it might need to stay a bit longer on my nickname

    – I do think the govt guarantees will create some interesting moral hazards in the future. Not that I disagree with their course of action.

    – Make sure you have at least a few years savings in reserve. This could have further to run – I say could. Base case 2022 dividends are coming back on stream.

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    1. For me, this has a long way to go before it’s a case of “back to normal” (whatever that means these days) …

      The thing that stopped me in my tracks was whilst watching that recent Horizon Special programme about Coronavirus – in particular the bit about 13 minutes in where Hannah Fry’s presenting in graphical form how Covid-19, SARS, MERS & Ebola compare in terms of death rates.

      At first, it doesn’t look especially problematic, then 50-80 days after the start of the outbreak, the bloody thing just completely takes off exponentially ! IF … if she’s right on that, I can fully understand why governments (not just ours) are having real trouble in coming up with exit strategies for the current lockdowns. Keep everyone at home for months on end – the economy’s toast. Release us from lockdown – wholesale infections and with it the death rate takes off again, all of it engulfing the NHS, funeral directors and so on. For once, the government has my sympathy – I really don’t envy them the choices here.

      The nearest I can get to an analogy is trying to eradicate greenfly once you start to see them on your roses. Unless you can be ABSOLUTELY sure you’ve got every last one of the buggers there’ll be an explosion of them in no time at all. I sure hope the Chinese know what they’re doing right now …

      This feels horribly like we’re waiting on the hopefully strongly collaborative efforts of the vaccine development community around the world to come up with a “get out of jail free” card, and a hell of a lot faster than would normally be the case. And that’s not going to be here tomorrow. The longer this goes on, and the less intelligence we have to work with given the lack of testing going on, the more it’s looking to me like lockdown’s going to be around for a long time yet. Stock market recovery ? Based on what exactly ?

      I hate being so gloomy about all this, really I do, but what worries me is that previous crises have been magicked away with a bit of government and central bank smoke and mirrors “confidence building” guff. This time it really IS different – this is a war with an unseen enemy that has a simple but highly effective battle plan. Without a vaccine the only serious weapons at our disposal are to attempt to starve it by avoiding giving it any more material (us through isolation) to work with … that, and the intelligence we (supposedly – I sometimes wonder when you watch the news …) possess to deploy that strategy in an equally ruthlessly logical fashion for long enough to kill it off. The trouble is the moral dilemmas this raises in a civilised society where we have the disabled, elderly relatives needing care, etc where total isolation just isn’t possible … that and the fact the enemy has no such dilemmas to impede it’s progress.

      This isn’t something you can negotiate with, threaten sanctions on or break off diplomatic relations with – sorry Mr Trump, this isn’t going to cut you enough slack by May, not when you see the horror show that is New York right now. Never in my wildest nightmares did I imagine we’d be seeing mass graves being excavated in such a place as New York !

      Does anyone else wake up in the morning, look out the window at another lovely blue sky, and think “Is all this some bad dream or is it actually happening ?”, then go to the computer and open up a browser on a major news site to check ? I just had to do exactly that to verify the paragraph above. If you live in London I guess one look at the almost totally empty streets gives a strong clue, but where I live it’s really difficult to see much difference as it’s normally pretty quiet.

      Anyway, back to stock markets and other financial matters, remember that old saying “save for a rainy day” ? Sadly, as Ermine has called out many times in previous articles over the years, it was said for a reason – unfortunately, people generally only start listening when it’s already raining …

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  5. I think that in the long term around about now will be seen as a good time to buy. One of those dividend heroes fell 50% in the last month! Mind it could halve again, but how low do things need to go before you buy?

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    1. > but how low do things need to go before you buy?

      That’s why I am trying to find out how to get iWeb to regularly buy, with the aim of spreading myself out over the next nine months or so. I don’t think they do that, so I guess I have to do it by hand ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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      1. I’m 39 and 100 % equities so the last 2 weeks have been fun. Feb was also the time a very large retention bonus ( about 15% of my current pension) went in right at the peak and promptly disappeared, with the rest going on my isa and also disappearing.
        I’m not unduly worried other than the wider economic impact. I would for a mega Corp so pay and pensions secure. I’m hugely grateful for that stability which gives me a little longer to prepare. They say you only understand your risk tolerance. I’m happy with 100% equities at my age but wish I had 12 to 24 months in cash rather than the 6 months I’ve got. I do have another 6 months in a 40/60 equity bond fund which I’m now thankful for and more money coming out of a Saye in December next year so I’ll manage if the worst happens. I am extremely thankful for discovering the fi movement and to be in the position I am to weather this. Also just last month I’d arranged for my mortgage to be changed to interest only to free up more investment capital so couldn’t have times that better!

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      2. > went in right at the peak and promptly disappeared, with the rest going on my isa and also disappearing.

        Commiserations on the retention bonus, though by the time you get to use it in the SIPP in 15 years this will look like a minor bump in the road.

        Now that SAYE, on the other hand, will probably come out and the option may lapse, but in December hitting the next one will be sweet.

        The last SAYE scheme I grabbed with both hands at a lovely price in the GFC, it paid me nearly a year’s gross salary in profit ๐Ÿ˜‰ There was too much to shunt into an ISA and I’d already filled that year’s ISA so I had to spread out running it out over a few years to avoid being nutted for CGT.

        Although it’s 3.5/5.5 years off, it’s worth informing yourself about the special rules to transfer proceeds of SAYE in specie into an ISA because I am sure I cocked something up there. If so I really ballsed up. But it’s a nice problem to have, and hopefully one you will have in a few years!

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      3. I’m virtually certain you can’t do it with iWeb other than manually at ยฃ5 a pop. You can with their sister platform (Halifax) but it still costs ยฃ2 a time and there’s a ยฃ12 a year flat fee so that doesn’t save a huge amount if there is only a single trade each month.

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      4. @Sean – Thanks for the confirmation, it’s been driving me nuts because this was a facility all other providers I’ve used had. But not iWeb, it seems. It’s not the worst defect, but searching their Ts and Cs has been tiresome.

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  6. No blackbirds for me, but I do have a very loud African Grey in the front living room reminding my why I don’t work from home full-time usually ๐Ÿ™‚

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  7. โ€œHe will become more mellifluous as he hones his art with practice.โ€.

    I had never thought of this before, but it makes sense. We heard an early skylark last week and my husband said that he wasnโ€™t very good so I quipped back that he would get better with a bit of practice! Nice to know that I was right ๐Ÿ™‚
    Well, it is something to look forward to on the allowed daily walk, lโ€™m counting my blessings that our home is near a field with a footpath. Looking forward to the dawn chorus – there should be no one else about that early!

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      1. I wish I could remember which bird it was I used to hear that seemed to be mimicking the ring of a good old fashioned BT telephone – I swear to God, that’s what it sounded like. Then there’s the often confused sound of a robin and a rusty wheelbarrow with a squeaky wheel ๐Ÿ™‚

        I had a read of that link to Tim Lang and the looming food crisis. I can’t say I’m that surprised by the overall message but I was certainly shocked by the woeful amount of land used for growing fresh produce (as opposed to the far larger area growing stuff that goes into all the processed rubbish).

        The current lockdown is proving interesting in some respects: without deliberately going on some wartime crash diet, I am discovering how to make food go further and just how long you can go without having to visit a supermarket (or even the village shop for that matter). In my case, it’s been three and a half weeks now, and I estimate I could manage at least another fortnight. And that’s without having started with the sort of supplies that a prepper would consider normal or justifiable accusations of hoarding either !

        Normally, I think “oh God, it’s a bank holiday – better stay out of town as it’ll be absolutely rammed”. Now, it’s “better stay out of the supermarket because everyone will be there loading up to survive to the other side of Easter bank holiday”. Honestly, I can say that’ll be the most dangerous thing I’m likely to do over the coming weeks/months – just picking the quietest time to go out for food ! Crazy, isn’t it ? I have no other need of a car either – it hasn’t seen a petrol station in weeks.

        I remember various historic series Ruth Goodman’s been in when they’ve been talking to experts in the period (most likely Wartime Farm ?) Clearly, compared with that, over the years we’ve generally got used to just eating too much really, haven’t we ? If not, why all the TV programmes about obesity, diabetes and other health implications of eating too much of the wrong stuff ? It’s a little surprising to see how small an amount of food is needed to yield 2500 calories. Compare that with the average takeaway …

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      2. > mimicking the ring of a good old fashioned BT telephone โ€“ I swear to God, thatโ€™s what it sounded like

        Most likely a starling, they are good mimics.

        > and I estimate I could manage at least another fortnight.

        Mrs Ermine has this under control. I have to admit that if it were me in charge of this the best I could do is about a week. Although I served my role before the lockdown. I got a load of decent red wine. We aren’t too far into it.

        There is a sort of back to the 1970s air about things now. Not everything about that is bad, less noise, fewer aircraft, less air pollution. The sense of smell and oddly that of hearing seems more acute now.

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      3. > Most likely a starling, they are good mimics.

        Thanks for that – yes, that’s quite possible.

        > I got a load of decent red wine. We arenโ€™t too far into it.

        Hmm, bad habit confession time with a twist – I can confidently say I could look a doctor in the eye and answer “insignificant” to the “how many units a week ?” question. I only ever have a pint (two at the most) of beer if in a restaurant/pub celebrating someone’s birthday (2-3 times a year at most, and probably not at all this year by the looks of it). The only thing I drink (of a potentially intoxicating composition :-)) at home is scotch, but a normal size bottle of that stuff will easily last me a couple of years – I still like it but it certainly wouldn’t pose a problem if I had to pack it in altogether.

        I’ve met people who reckoned to get through a bottle a week – how they were still alive and ticking (and probably solvent for that matter) beats me ! On the other hand, I doubt anyone’s checked to see what happens when the Coronavirus blitzkrieg finally goes head-to-head with a strong dose of Scotland’s finest, especially if the alcohol producers are turning their production over to making hand sanitiser, hmm … ? … ๐Ÿ˜‰

        That’s just reminded me of the 1954 Ealing comedy “The Maggie” – there’s some wonderful exchanges in that, especially about 37 minutes in (for anyone who’s got the film itself, sadly I can’t even find a clip of the relevant bit on Youtube): MacTaggart’s triple bluff ๐Ÿ™‚ The walk across the sands in search of a telephone’s a good’un too. Ah, the days of films with a good story line, eh ?

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  8. >The drop in economic activity makes some things change for the better

    Agreed. Somewhere midway between now and normal seems about right. Less air travel, less commuting, less buying of consumer tat and expensive coffees as the only measure of GDP… and perhaps more recognition of what’s valuable work: keeping the food supply chain going at minimum wage is a lot more useful that most 30k+ “graduate” roles.

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    1. Since this lockdown started and the consequent reduction in pretty much all forms of travel, I’ve started to think back to how things were in the early ’70s with the oil crisis, miners strike, etc. I’m certainly not arguing that any of that (or what’s happening now of course) is in any way good, but it’s had the weird effect of sort of taking me back closer to my childhood/early teens when life felt far simpler – doubtless it certainly wasn’t for my parents (if I could’ve understood their problems in any meaningful way at the time) what with inflation eating savings and the various risks associated with having just gone self-employed.

      Given the observation that there’s been a big increase in people getting back into gardening and growing fruit and vegetables again, I won’t be a bit surprised if the BBC starts re-showing old sitcoms like The Good Life from the period.

      Going by your username, I’d welcome a re-run of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin too (the original of course – Martin Clunes is excellent in Doc Martin, but personally I think Leonard Rossiter was best as Perrin). I thought the ludicrous success of that piss-take of a shop of his at the start of the second series magnificently sums up the state of modern consumerism. Well, that and the three “exclusive” (ha!) interviews that followed … ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Yours

      Cedric De-Vere Fitzpatrick Thorneycroft … er, no, I don’t think so ๐Ÿ™‚

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