Saturday, September 15, 2007

half formed musings on Northern Rock 

Heading to buy foodstuffs at little Sainsburys yesterday I observed the long queue of (mainly oldish) people outside Northern Rock and briefly thought that the sign in the window ("Come in, let's talk") was proving to be amazingly effective. But then the half listened to news item from earlier in the day came back to me and I realised that these people were actually panicking to get all their money out. They'd formed an orderly (and seemingly stationary) queue to do so but they were, nevertheless, panicking*.

Have these people never seen "It's A Wonderful Life"?

I was thinking that the whole situation was very like that thing from game theory, The Prisoner's Dilemma, but actually on closer inspection it doesn't quite fit. There's the possibility in the dilemma for a better personal outcome through taking the unselfish option, just so long as the other guy does too, whereas everyone getting their money the hell out of Northern Rock I guess has nothing to (personally) lose by doing so. Apart from the day they spent standing in a queue (and actually, given how few days some of those people looked like they had left, maybe they should have considered this more fully).

The woman on the checkout in little Sainsburys enquired as to the state of the Northern Rock queue as she bipped my foodstuffs and a Grauniad before lapsing into a reminiscence of the wartime/post war queues of her childhood (a lot of semi-retired types on the checkouts in little Sainsburys - normally a better bet than the bored teenagers). Not quite the all in it together/Dunkirk spirit vibe to all this though.

* At least most of them were. Maybe there was somebody near the back who just wanted to pay in a five pound postal order and wondered what the fuss was about.

the simpsons skit on "It's A Wonderful Life" is good.
there's a run on the bank and everyone wants their money so the james stewart character says "i haven't got all your money it's in your house Frank and your house" Moe then asks why franks got his money in his house and punches him.
Then a riot breaks out


I re-watched "It's A Wonderful Life" on video on Christmas day last year. A bold/foolish move given that I was only a couple of months out of my relationship with The Woman Formerly Known As The Missus, between long term residences, generally rather unsure of my future, full of booze and thus, in all these ways, more than usually prone to tears. Luckily my generous hostess for the festive season started in early on the weeping front and demonstrated considerable stamina in this regard. As such the occasional moment when my manly resolve was challenged by my getting something in my eye went pretty much unnoticed.

I went to see "It's A Wonderful Life" many years ago at the Duke of York's cinema in Brighton, a few days before Christmas. Not a dry eye in the house, and also the only film I've ever seen in a cinema where the whole audience spontaneously all rose to their feet at the end of the film and broke into applause. It was really, really, touching.

Sadly, despite this, I still recall Christmas being as shit as ever that year.

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