350 years ago, Mr Pepys described his yesterday (8th May 1662), thus:
At the office all the morning doing business alone, and then to the Wardrobe, where my Lady going out with the children to dinner I staid not, but returnedhome, and was overtaken in St. Paul’s Churchyard by Sir G. Carteret in his coach, and so he carried me to the Exchange, where I staid awhile. He told me that the Queen and the fleet were in Mount’s Bay on Monday last, and that the Queen endures her sickness pretty well. He also told me how Sir John Lawson hath done some execution upon the Turks in the Straight, of which I am glad, and told the news the first on the Exchange, and was much followed by merchants to tell it. So home and to dinner, and by and by to the office, and after the rest gone (my Lady Albemarle being this day at dinner at Sir W. Batten’s) Sir G. Carteret comes, and he and I walked in the garden, and, among other discourse, tells me that it is Mr. Coventry that is to come to us as a Commissioner of the Navy; at which he is much vexed, and cries out upon Sir W. Pen, and threatens him highly. And looking upon his lodgings, which are now enlarging, he in passion cried, “Guarda mi spada; for, by God, I may chance to keep him in Ireland, when he is there:” for Sir W. Pen is going thither with my Lord Lieutenant. But it is my design to keep much in with Sir George; and I think I have begun very well towards it. So to the office, and was there late doing business, and so with my head full of business I to bed.
All of which is annotated above.
Not quite ExCeLling
Malcolm’s day, yesterday, involved a jaunt to the ExCeL Centre (which must qualify as one of the more obtuse uses of cApItaLs going) for the Grand Designs Expo.
Malcolm freely confesses he is an addict of the Channel 4 programme — described on wikipedia as “a programme covering unusual and elaborate architectural homebuilding projects” — and Kevin McCloud. It all seems to come down to “how, given only a pile of straw bales and some imported Italian fenestration, we created a Palladian villa for the twenty-first century”. Definitely property-porn, and highly addictive.
The expo is Ideal Home for the epicene bourgeoisie. Much of it involves what Malcolm’s mother characterised as “more money than sense”. Over the years it has provided Redfellow Hovel with roof insulation and a nifty loft ladder. What is clear, however, is that the Great British Recession is hitting even this market demographic: this year a considerable space is devoted to electric cars.
Not by Boris
Getting to ExCeL , by public transport, from Norf Lunnun used to involve a convoluted passage via several underground lines and the Docklands Light Railway. We now have the revived, renewed East London Line, from Highbury & Islington, all the way to West Croydon and Crystal Palace. So it’s change at Shoreditch; and it works a treat. Those Class 378 electric multiple-units are nifty, too — though looking the length of a train, with no “proper” carriage divisions is a small eye-opener.
Thank you, Mayor Ken Livingstone, and those dear, dead enlightened days when Transport for London was more interested in shifting people than in vanity buses and perpetual fares increases.
The convenience of this new magic-carpet ride meant Malcolm missed out on his promised afternoon of indulgence involving Broadsides at the Bridge House, returning instead to Abbot and a pub steak at Highgate’s Gatehouse. Tough, really — or perhaps not (and the steak wasn’t). A pleasure deferred …
Anyway, Malcolm had an evening commitment.
Brendan Barber may be “stepping down” as TUC General Secretary, but there’s a promotion in the pipe-line — to become President of Muswell Hill Golf Club.
Last night Brendan was doing his party-piece at Hornsey Labour Party, and wowing the troops.
The troops, of course, were already on a high: Joanne McCartney barely scraped home in the GLA 2008 vote — this time she is sitting on an absolute plurality, a majority of 25% with some 18% more of the vote. And the icing on the celebratory cake is the total collapse of the LibDem vote, now below 9½%: just 13,601 votes across the five parliamentary constituencies where there were 48,511 in the 2010 General Election.
Back to Brendan Barber
He hammered home one essential point: the massive bulk of the austerity cuts are still to come. That is generally well-appreciated, but his cruncher was, for every £ already cut, there are £16 more still to come.
That leads into:
Paul Waugh did a good bit of butchery on yesterday with Cameron and Clegg’s rose garden in a tractor factory:
The ‘We-Never-Promised-You-a-Rose-Garden’ summit was all set — and perfect for the early evening news.
That was the plan. Unfortunately, it suffered from a couple of flaws.
First, you just can’t get away from the fact that the PM and DPM just look awful together. These days, each is devalued by rather than reinforced by their lookalike.
Both wearing identikit suits, and only differentiated by the blue and yellow of their ties, it wasn’t a good look. (It’s no wonder the PM took his jacket off halfway through to distinguish himself from his partner). As one factory worker said “You two need to get your act together…” Cameron on his own looks much more at home on his PM Direct events.
Second, words are just as important as pictures. And the PM had some rather unfortunate words as he dropped his guard on the deficit. In answer to one question, he said:
“What you call austerity, I might call efficiency…”
Brendan Barber takes that another way. When Osborne went with his first “emergency” budget, his pet-poodle, the Office of Budget Responsibility, calculated it involved around 300,000 more unemployed. The latest OBR forecast updates that from 300,000 to 700,000.
At which we should all have a sharp intake of breath. Since we have no fewer than seven Treasury ministers (Osborne, Alexander, Hoban, Gauke, Smith, Lord Sassoon and Maude — though the last is PMG and works out of the Cabinet Office), ably assisted by an army, four figures strong, of the brightest-and-best of the Civil Service, why do we need a further level of “responsibility” for the budget? Particularly when that “office” is 233% out in an essential prediction?
There seems to be a bit of doubt on the quality of Pepys’ Spanish. The sense of Sir William Coventry’s irritation at Penn is patently clear, though. Similarly, one decent cut might be the useless OBR, so:
Guarda mi spada!