So, this evening's post was meant to be one of those 'things I wish I had known earlier' essays.
You know the type of thing...
1. I wish I had known before I had children that when I thought I was tired, I wasn't, not really. Tired is not when you find yourself needing an extra diet coke to make it through the morning. Tired is when you find yourself incapable of answering a straightforward question about what you did at the weekend because you really, truly can't remember, and I must remember to pick up some nappies before I head home and oh god did I leave the iron on and who are you, anyway?
2. I wish I had known that I wasn't alone in feeling so alone when I first gave up work, and that most people deal with that if they've had anything approaching a job they enjoy. I also wish I had known not to get so het up about it, and that life without office politics is a thing to be treasured. (It gets replaced by school-gate politics soon enough, in any case. More of which another time...)
And so on...
But then I read this excellent post by Valley Girl.
And I can't help myself. I have to talk about the elephant in the room. I know, I know. You've got enough gloom and doom coming at you from the tv, radio, newspapers and on-line news-sites, the last thing you need is to come here and find more of it.
But I'm sorry. I have to say it. Be afraid. (Insert Jaws music here if you like that kind of thing. Which, I can't deny, I do...) Whether or not you are directly employed in finance, whether or not you think that the banks and their employees have simply got what was coming to them, don't kid yourself. Wall Street and Main Street are simply different ends of the same thoroughfare. What is happening in the markets is going to affect just about everyone.
Living where we do - Bankerville, London - you can't help but feel it in the air. There is an atmosphere of muted panic, a sense of helplessness, a 'waiting for the volcano' feeling. One friend - closer to market movements than most - described the situation as follows:
'Imagine a picture-perfect little alpine village, nestling in a valley at the foot of the mountain. The villagers slumber peacefully in their beds. But up on the higher slopes an avalanche has begun, and is racing towards the the sleepers. They don't know it's coming. But it's coming anyway. Wake up!'
Scared yet? Good. If you spend a few hundred pounds / euros / dollars less on your credit card in the run up to Christmas I will consider this post and the resultant fall in visitors worth it...
Sure, there are a few - a very few - fat cats who have made their money unscrupulously and should pay for putting reputable financial institutions at risk, or even under. But there is a vast majority who were simply doing their jobs. And whether or not you think they were paid too much, what happens to them and their employers will impact on your life.
For example. Want to remortgage to; get a better interest rate when your introductory period runs out; build an extension because you need a bigger house but can't afford to move because the market is so rubbish right now; pay for a newer car because your old one has clapped out, etc etc? It could be tricky, if not impossible. And what if you simply can't meet the repayments on your home?
I don't want to be a harbinger of doom, but sod it, I'm going to be. All those people who think that the markets should be allowed to descend into chaos because a 'natural readjustment' is preferable to pumping in billions of dollars to pull the 'greedy bankers' out of the muck? I sympathise, I really do. Why should we support them? The buck stops at their door, right?
If something isn't done to stop this helter-skelter ride, the buck will stop at yours.
Note: Apologies for the gloomy tone of this post. If you want to read news and comments from people who do actually know what they are talking about with regard to the credit crisis (i.e., not me), I suggest you check in with the Financial Times on: http://www.ft.com/home/uk