The Writings of Ingrid Pitt

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Ingrid Says... Pitt of Horror Website Message

October 2008
Ingrid Pitt Ready For Action

It's a long time since I received such good news as I have had today. Here was I thinking that we were in for a bad time, economically, for the foreseeable future when it appears that I've got it all wrong. I am sure I am not alone in thinking that when money is tight you retire to a cool dark corner and eat rats until it is time to loosen the purse strings again. How wrong can a girl be?

I have it on no lesser authority than that financial wizard, Gordon Brown. What we have to do is spend, spend, spend. At last the mantra of Viv Nicholson is being justified. Viv is the woman who won the Football Pools and when asked what she was going to do with the money said, "Spend! Spend! Spend!" And she did just that. Not for her the tacky business of shovelling a few quid into National Savings or a brilliantly illuminated pension certificate. Like millions of us she spent and spent and hoped for a miracle. Well it seems that the miracle has happened. Our Gord has given us leave to pull out all the stops and save the country from a fate worse that cancelled credit cards and repossessed homes. To save the world he is advocating spending our way back to economic stability.

So let's think about this. I've always had a bit of a yen for a BMW convertible. Silver, I think. That's my first shot to help Gordon out. Then I'm rather partial to a house with a lawn running down to the River Thames. Not Henley, too bourgeois. Rather fancy Hurley just a mile or so down river. And a boat. One of those swish ones with enough room for a party. Holidays abroad are out because that would mean changing our precious Pounds for some of those dodgy Euros or Dollars. The Grand at Torquay sounds about right. A suite of course.

I see one little problem in this splendid Brown plan to revive the economy. Where do I get the money to spend it in sufficient amounts to jack-up the moribund financial position we now find ourselves in? Bankers are not lending and most of the mortgage houses seem to be teetering on the brink of repossession themselves. But - I'm sure Gordon has it all figured out.

Of course Maggie Thatcher had it all wrong. She advocated that where finance was concerned we should not spend more than we could afford to pay back. She had this ridiculous idea that people should look after themselves. Own their own houses, pay less tax so that they had more to spend and therefore breed a stronger economy. Then we had the problems of the early nineties and luckily the Labour party knew how to fix that. In future there would be no more 'Boom and Bust'. Gordon saw the dangers and promised that, whatever happened, it was going to be an expanding economy all the way.

So he sold off the gold reserves. For what reason did we want dirty great chunks of metal lying around in vaults when we could sell it off and turn the space into a Wine Bar? And pensions? Don't worry. We'll employ a few thousand more managers and jobsworths and there will be no problem about how you live in your old age. The state will provide. Maybe a slight miscalculation there?

Now I believe every word Gordon tells me. He has to be serious - he hasn't got the face or demeanour for frivolity. But I must admit that some of the things he proposes leave me a little worried.

First of all, how did we ever get into the present mess with GB in charge? It is obviously the fault of the villainous Yanks but I'm still not sure why their double dealing affected us. Gordon promised that this sort of thing would never happen again, especially on his watch. And what happens after I do persuade a few greedy salesman to underwrite my purchases and it becomes obvious that I can't pay the bills myself - how do I get in touch with Gordon to bail me out? I rather suspect he will be busy deciding how many millions of the tax payers money the bankers, who got the economy into its present state of meltdown, will get when they gracelessly retire.

But is it really the bankers who got us into the state we are now in? Nah! We did it ourselves. While Brown seductively blew in our ears and told us that it was good to borrow and feed the economy, the city spivs fed our yearning for illicit pleasures and we couldn't get enough. In every post there were offers of credit pushed through our letterboxes. Mortgage companies no longer made it difficult to get more credit than you could afford. Banks went mental with crazy charges on loans that had been extended to customers they knew didn't have a hope in hell of repaying their overdraft. Twenty years ago you had to prove that you were worthy of being allowed to buy stuff on a hire-purchase basis. Now you are bombarded with offers of goods that you don't need to pay for until twelve months time. What is that supposed to do? It means people buy things now, spend like crazy for the next twelve months and then find they have a mountain of bills that even Sherpa Tensing wouldn't fancy scaling.

To help out we have the Credit Card companies. They entice borrowers to swap their card for another at a better rate of interest. Which turns out to be a larger amount of debt than the customer is already saddled with - but over a longer period.

What is amazing is that Brown's idea of a stable economy has lasted so long. And what is even more amazing is that he thinks the way ahead is to spend even more. I lived in Argentina when they had inflation at over 2000%. Nobody wanted it but it was impossible to arbitrarily say that by cutting the interest rate, printing more money and reducing taxation they could 'buy' their way out of a recession. A recession is just that. A time when the economy implodes on itself and recesses.

Everyone knew that house prices were soaring skyward like a runaway rocket. But it didn't matter. Property would always have an intrinsic value. Somewhere you could rest your head on a pillow while the world shook itself to pieces. The dream, for thousands of people, has now become a nightmare. When a house goes into negative equity and you lose your job the future is not just bleak, it is non-existent. I know. I've been there. And debt isn't something you can shake off like a dog shedding fleas. Or perhaps it is just that. Fleas are pretty tenacious.

Take some advice from a not very frugal housewife. Don't trust banks. Don't trust insurance companies. Don't trust politicians. Don't trust anything that sounds too good to be true. Don't Trust! Just work it out for yourself.

Remember Micawber. "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."

28/10/2008

The Writings of Ingrid Pitt