We had Bonfire Night (or Guy Fawkes Day) this past weekend (Remember, Remember...) All you living in the US who don’t know what I’m talking about, go here and bone up on all things Guy; we’ll wait.
Okay, now that you have educated yourself, we aren’t actually going to discuss Guy Fawkes, bonfires or the significance of the 5th of November at all; we’re going to talk about the state of the economy. Your effort was not wasted, however: you have enriched your knowledge and expanded your world view—a commodity you cannot put a price on—so, give yourself a pat on the back.
And don’t worry if you know nothing about economics; neither do I. As a prognosticator, I am remarkable only for my unwavering ability to be wrong (as I have mentioned before, I went with 8-track tapes, bought a Betamax and once wrote a memo to my boss telling him there was no future in Microsoft Windows), but I do know fireworks when I see them.
During my early years in Britain, I dubbed the weeks from the end of October into the New Year, “Fireworks Season,” as it contained Bonfire Night, Diwali, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, meaning there was a reason to set fireworks off on almost any given night. And, by golly, they did. It was amazing to sit out on the balcony and have the night lit up, accompanied by cracks and booms, as people randomly set fireworks off in their back yards. Add to that the numerous official (and much larger, longer, noisier) fireworks and it seemed as if there was a display of some type going off every night.
Alas, that all came to an end a few years ago, when the bankers decided they needed our spare cash to pay for their bonuses, and then thought the government should take all the money they took from us and give it to them, as well. After that, no one felt like celebrating much, and if they did, they had no money for fireworks. It would have been a crime to throw money away on such frivolity while there was still a banker with a pool patio that needed re-grouting. So the official fireworks, and the private parties, all came to a stop. It was a dark time.
This year, however, I see some hope. On Halloween, our town put on a festival that included an impressive fireworks display, and over this past weekend I was astounded anew at how much disposable income people seemed willing to literally send up in smoke.
Out on the balcony that night, it felt like I was in the middle of a battle—a really tame and wimpy sort of battle, but that’s the best analogy I can come up with. The detonations were not timed or coordinated; instead explosions burst randomly from behind, to the left, the right, far in the distance, near at hand. They filled the night sky with smoke and blazes of light and left the air heavy with the smell of gunpowder. It was wonderful.
Now I can’t honestly say this display signifies the beginning of a lessening of the Big Squeeze, but I can’t deny that this is the first year I have seen so many fireworks—public and private—in a long time, and I know they aren’t cheap, so unless these people were using the grocery money for pyrotechnics, their personal economic situations must have improved to the point where they were at least able to save up some of their disposable cash and put it toward a bit of fun.
I like to think of it that way, rather than entertain the more likely scenario that they financed one last Hoorah! with the mortgage payment and will be out on the street next week. Rest assured, the Banker will still get his pool patio re-grouted, which, after all is the important thing.