It\’s easy to feel remote from your fellow-countrymen. I felt like a visitor from another planet when the nation went into collective mourning for Princess Diana, and I did again last week, as tens of thousands of people began baying for the blood of radio presenters.
Initially I felt irritated by \’Manuelgate\’; the furore seemed like a distraction from \’real\’ news, like the continuing collapse of global capitalism. Then I realised that these were actually the same story: while regulators dozed, infantile over-paid idiots with egos the size of counties caused havoc with their reckless speculation. Both disasters started out small, noticed only by the aficionados, but rapidly snow-balled to become national (if not global) crises.
To stretch the comparison, we are now assured that there will be a retreat from risk-taking. Bankers will no longer trade arcane and spectral financial instruments, but will return to their \’boring\’ core business of offering punters somewhere to keep their money (which they can lend out to other punters). Similarly, BBC radio hosts will have to find something interesting or amusing to say between playing records (which doesn\’t necessarily involve prank calls, rude words or sex with burlesque stars).
A retreat from risk may seem reasonable, especially after the turmoil we have witnessed in recent months, but slipping back into stagnation, culturally and financially, does not seem very appealing either. Are we even capable of finding a happy medium, between stodgy and stifling conformity on the one hand, and the unconstrained exuberance of adrenaline-charged nutters on the other? It\’s too early to tell, but the omens are hardly promising.