Being able to watch/listen in to London life from a distance is an odd privilege. You have a much stronger sense of how closed a society it is, how its citizens are in a sense trapped within a mesh of routines and expectations that seem truly bizarre to me now after just 6 months of exile status.
Listening to the news of MFI and Woolies going into administration today part of me thought good riddance. By the time they'd mentioned the fact that Woolworth's was a 'national institution' all of me was saying it. Crappy stuff for crappy people. It can't be a bad thing that less money will be wasted on scented candles and cooking oils with floating chilies in them this December in the UK.
Christmas was one of those things that kicked off here in Guatemala whilst I was away in Belize. The Gallo tree that soared from the highest point in Flores and the annoying radio jingles were the first warning I had of this unfortunate state of affairs after re-crossing the border. But it's a real lesson to spend the last 30 days or so before Yuletide in a country such as this where consumerism's hold is a tad more flimsy. You have to look a bit harder for pointless toot on which to frit your away your income here, though they seem to overcome this problem by literally burning their cash on fleeting pyrotechnics.
I still feel some of the old righteous anger welling up inside me when I tune in to Five Live on my Internet radio. Today the bile was triggered by a pensioner complaining that her credit card company had raised her monthly payment threshold. Why do people in Britain still feel they have some sort of right to live off someone else's money? And Peter Mandelson seems to be encouraging the notion that Brits can borrow and spend their way out of recession, as if that, and all sorts of other forms of robbing the future to pay for the present, weren't essentially the problem in the first place. How about some saving for a change?