The London Paper – 9 Jan 2009
‘What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul.’ For some twisted reason that quote has been playing around in my head ever since I heard about Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, the French investor who killed himself a couple of weeks ago after having lost him and his clients many millions as a result of the Madoff scandal.
I suspect that this poor chap was taking everything a little bit too seriously as he perhaps unintentionally parodied the actions of stockbrokers who supposedly hurled themselves off skyscrapers after the 1929 Wall Street Crash. It seems to me he was also blatantly getting his priorities arse over tit. To consider self-slaughter as the sensible option simply because you and your pals will be merely millionaires and not multi-millionaires seems … well, silly.
I believe that the moral I draw from Monsieur de la Villehuchet’s story may soon have relevance for many as the pessimistic economic forecasts for 2009 prove themselves depressingly accurate. Many people I’ve met of late seem resigned to having an appalling horrific time as recession kicks in and makes everyone poorer, more insecure and more depressed. I can’t help but feel that such an attitude will engender a self-fulfilling prophecy and that we Londoners will all be the victims of our own negativity.
But it really doesn’t have to be like this! Where’s the gallows humour and Dunkirk spirit that this still great country possesses? 2009 could be a barrel of laughs if we approach it with the right attitude. In order to help kick start this process I list below five reasons to be cheerful about the looming recession:
1. People might stop talking about effing property prices so much, ruining otherwise pleasant dinner parties.
2. Recessions often produce great art as the complacency and apathy that widespread affluence creates is swept away. Give me the innovative Bauhaus and surrealism of the depressing 30’s over the recent money-making gimmickry of jokers like Hirst any day of the week.
3. Recessions often produce amazing ground-breaking music like that produced by the Sex Pistols, Kraftwerk and Bowie in the dismal 70’s whilst boom times give us manufactured profit-inspired X-factor crap. Would rave culture ever have prospered in the early nineties had not the depressing economic climate encouraged loved-up hedonism?
4. Apparently, we have more sex in recessions as we choose free forms of ‘entertainment’. Perhaps love will also be more likely to flower as we reconsider life’s priorities.
5. People may revaluate their long-held priorities that money is all that we should strive for. The greedy Thatcherite ambition to simply make more cash than your neighbour and the P Diddy-influenced obsession to buss the latest trainers and flashest bling may be replaced by more spiritual goals.
There is no doubt that 2009 is gong to be economically screwed but if we all pull together it might just be the most sexually, artistically, musically and spiritually fulfilling year for decades.