Tuesday 18 November 2008

How to get the economy back on track

All my life I seem to have been out of step with the rest of humanity: a one-man Awkward Squad.

So now, as the economy spirals downwards because of the abject terror paralysing other consumers, I find myself spending money I have not got like there is no tomorrow. I have become the J.P. Morgan of the Great Crash of 2008.

For a start, I am chucking money at two houses in the doubtless vain hope of making them saleable, so that my fiancée I can set up home together. Which would be a more convenient arrangement, on the whole, after we are married.

Then there is the wedding itself to be paid for. (When the groom is almost as old as the bride’s father, it seems unfair to land him with the bill.) It is genuinely delightful to see the smiles lighting up the faces of gloomy retailers and service providers as we wander into their lairs. I particularly love the way they ask hopefully “Is it for a wedding?” so that they can add an automatic 150% mark-up to their quotes.

This has powerfully reminded me how much weddings cheer people up – potential guests and mere spectators, as well as the suppliers of goods and services. We clearly need more of them; and one in particular. After all, what lifted the national mood from the intense gloom of the early 1980s but the marriage of Charles and Diana? Well, that and our triumph in the Falklands War. But with the current overstretch in the armed forces it would surely be imprudent to look for a re-run of that, even if we could find an obliging South American dictator to kick it off.

I hate to disagree with my counterpart in this space yesterday, but there are two snags with his idea of a coronation as a national mood lifter. First, by tradition (and what use is a monarchy if it does not stand up for tradition?) a coronation must be preceded by a funeral, which is hardly a barrel of laughs. Secondly, and much more importantly, the heir to the throne is vastly less popular than his mother, and equipped with a wife that a large chunk of his people evidently cannot stand.

Charles’s misfortune has been to marry the right woman, but to get round to it about 35 years too late. I can well relate to that.

So I fear that a coronation would be the occasion for much divisiveness and a sharp upsurge in republican sentiment. A royal wedding, however, need raise no such difficult issues.

The only obstacle is the failure of the younger generation of royalty to propose. One can well understand why Prince William would not wish to rush into marriage with, say, a neurotic, manipulative virgin who was determined to eclipse him in the public’s affections. Though I cannot help feeling that he has now known Kate Middleton long enough to satisfy himself on at least some of those points.

So let us sort it out for him by finding a suitable bride with the aid of Simon Cowell or Bruce Forsyth in one of those Saturday night TV contests that seem to be the only other thing standing between the nation and mass suicide. We could call it Search for a Queen or The R (For Regina) Factor. Or maybe Strictly Come Plaque Unveiling.

It would obviously be dangerous to entrust it to the BBC, as the voting might be rigged to land us with a differently-abled, asylum-seeking lesbian as the winner. If not a dancing dog.

So all that stands between us and the return of financial sanity through good cheer and free spending is tracking down an independent TV producer with the skills to make it happen. Is there anyone out there who fancies the job?


Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

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