Wednesday, October 15, 2008
A croc of gold and the global market crash
During the last three weeks I have been travelling: England, Paris, South of France, a party in Cornwall and now back here to Ghana. The curious aspect to it all is that, despite only having lived here for a few months, it felt very good coming back. I was born in India and my parents took me to England after a four year life of servant orientated luxury. Not only to England but to dismal Leeds in late November with food rationing, no fuel and certainly no special servant assigned to make my little life all a-cosset. There’s a certain familiar feel to being here (apart from having a batman or Ayah!!!) in that nothing can be taken for granted; poverty, though not starvation, stalks the rutted earth roads and there are great disparities between the urban middle classes and country villagers and the squatters who grab any spare land in the city, and have corn as high as an elephant’s eye in a matter of weeks. Thus I am claiming a kind of circularity, a tarot cycle which has brought me through innumerable vicissitudes back to being the unnumbered Fool card, a wandering rootless character, wondering whether I have finally come home.
I wrote a blog or two while travelling, on issues that drift like leaves in the autumn of life and put aside, for future writing, what seemed like nourishing material in the news. This included the ring of a missing person in a crocodile’s belly, Colin Powell dancing impromptu hip hop at a public gathering in London, the fall in the World Stock Markets and the fact that I am suddenly in receipt of the State Pension, which I still think of as the ‘old age pension’. Can they be encapsulated in one blog?
First, I have no time for Powell who is regarded here as a coconut (black only on the outside). The fact that he has a sudden public penchant for hip hop just shows how deeply hypocritical the man is. I am old school rock and roll and never felt that the Devil’s Music could be aligned with the Right in politics, never mind the fundamentalist/neo-con/creationist extreme of it. Second, sixty five seems a good age with lots to look forward to, including strutting to some raucous band or other, mouthing an anthem to sex, liberty, nomadic adventure or the political struggle and fantasising what life might have been like if I had had even a modicum of musical ability in my fingers. Third, watching, rather too closely, the shifting shares in the global market place was a bit like viewing bad election results, knowing that those flickering figures represented not just the inane financial risks taken by executives of banks (who, no doubt, pilloried and/or imprisoned Joe or Jane Bloggs for some overdraft transgression, re-possessing their houses, while themselves receiving 79 billion pounds over eight years in bonuses) but those same figures equated to lost pensions and unemployment for millions.
Fourth, the croc of gold. A man goes missing in Australia and his ring ends up in a crocodile. Certainly a human tragedy. Beyond that, symbolic. A crocodile is killed or dies. Forensics discover that the swallowed human cadavar has been digested and transmuted into crocodile flesh but the ring of gold remains, immutable, unchanging, desirable. The Stock Exchange normally has bull and bear markets. But that was in the protectionist old days of gluttony and self-gratification among our financiers. What we have now is a crocodile market. Everyone’s lives are being ground up in the teeth of rabid market forces that are gorging on everything, including themselves.
Only gold holds its value.