Monthly Archives: March 2009

The joy of re-reading…with Charlie Brooker

The joy of re-reading – now I really hate re-living moments, whether it be books or films (except for music, I can play a song for hours on end til I break the record).

I had to re-think my stance though, after reading Charlie Brooker’s insightful piece

Apparently 65% of us have lied about reading the great works of literature. We needn’t have bothered

Haha, I love Charlie Brooker.

Well, I’ve got to say – no I haven’t read 1984, I’m trying to gather the courage to pick up Ulysses, i read the entire Bible when I was 12 and I feel embarrassed admitting Tolstoy’s War and Peace is my favourite book of all time.

The first three don’t bother me so much but War and Peace, well there is a conundrum, I think of it fondly and I might cite is my favourite 1000 pages but I can barely remember a word. So,

why is it my favourite? Maybe because I read it in Italy while I was backpacking and it reminds me of the carefree, orange-blossom smell in the air. But it’s more than that, as a book the language is beautiful and precise, and helped me evolve as a fictional writer – I just wish I could remember.

I have read nearly all the greats, or what I consider the worthy (minus the post-1940s disappointments) – but can’t remember.

Nevertheless, I should re-read all these novels that gave me so much joy, taught me about love (every single Victorian novel, my favourite of course being, the oh so unsatisfying, Jane Eyre), it taught me about life and every other thing that anyone needs to know under the sun. (Oh except for animals, don’t understand them, don’t read about them, so can barely tell them apart – never ask me about badgers/porcupines/beavers/otters/moles…)

Because although the fictional world had a heavy hand in moulding me into who I am today, I still bloody well don’t remember.

Soooo, next I want to read The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid.

And I want to read the last Anna Politkovskaya book sitting on my buckling shelf, and the end of the Amber Spyglass so I can return it to my friend, and finish Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, and read whoever won the Man Booker this year, and last year and maybe 2007.

And I want to read what I have already read: my falling to pieces War and Peace, my annoying Anna Karenina (so when I say she annoys me I can back up the why), and finish Dante, and re-read (in English) Madam Bovary, and Tess of d’urbervillles, and The Master and Margarita, and The Satanic Verses, and Crime and Punishment and Villette (consequently the only I really remember vividly).

But I can’t, or won’t, because I still sit at home…watching TV.

But, I most definitely do not say I have read a book just so that I can seem more attractive, a) because it’s pointless; knowing me, my date would quiz me, and b) I’ve usually read anything they have anyway. Plus like Charlie says, who really thinks “man, s/he is totally hot, now that I know s/he’s read Lord of the Rings”.

So here’s what I should do: make a list of everything I want to read, ask everyone else what they think I should read, include Richard and Judy ‘s book recommendations, and ….

… only read War and Peace and Agatha Christie for the rest of my life.

P.S. There’s a grossly blatant repetition here, can anyone spot it?

P.P.S. I miss Jon Ronson and his crazy ways.


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BN Magic money from the Bank of England

My hands are clammy, my heart is racing…yep, I’ve just read the Bank of England is cutting interest rates to 0.5 %.

Does anyone else feel the room closing around you when you read any news on the melting economy…we’re all doomed!

So what’s happened exactly?

First of all, the Bank of England cut interest rates by half a percentage point to a new historic low of 0.5% today.

Then…they decided to pump £75bn cash into the economy by buying up assets

So, tommorrow….the idea is that all this cash will be pumped into our pockets through lending and hand-outs.

The nuts and bolts of it is that the Bank of England is buying assets without issuing gilts thus increasing the quantity of hard cash in the economy

So what does this mean for the average jo and joe? Well, not much to be honest.

By flooding the banks with hard cash it should stimulate lending, however, considering their constant tightfistedness this is unlikely, but all that cash combined with historical low interest rates (since 1664) means that if the banks do decide to continue stashing all that money in their coffers there will be no benefits for them.

In so stimulating lending to me and you, and all those in between.

Funny thing though, with my basic understanding of economics I had always thought of the flooding of the economy with freshly printed bills was a very bad idea, I mean this is how inflation gets out of hand and economies are ruined as they are led down the road of hyperinflation eg Weimar, Argentina.

This quantitative easing that the Bank of England is doing is interesting but by no means is it a sure thing.

So, we know the how and the why, the when is a few months, immediate returns are unlikely.

Savers out there my advice is sit on your money for now, don’t hawk-eye your savings but  rather spend wisely to help unclog the economy, although interest rates are so low as to give you negligible returns on your savings, say this: whoever got anything for free? It’s not like the initial amount you put in is devaluing so stop worrying.

Rates on credit cards/loans will continue to rise, although they are not based on the central bank’s interest rate but rather the borrower’s risk which is emphatically increasing.

Mortgage rates have also been cut.

A good crystal ball is the US and their economy, they went into recession six months ahead of us and have already cut the central bank’s interest rate to 0.25 % as well as started quantitative easing.

What do the experts think? The Guardian (interest rate cut: blahhh, quantitative easing: positive outlook), Financial Times (all about gilts and bonds), Simon Ward (blog for the high brow), and from my favourite money person Martin Lewis (interest rate cuts for dummies).

Oh yeah and for the love of god do not support English jobs for English workers aka protectionism aka very, very bad for the economy, at least I know that much.

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