Thursday, 17 December 2009

New Kids on the Blog

I have decided to schedule some guest slots on Chemo Chic. Look forward to reading ramblings from luminaries of style Kell Skott; Trinny and Susannah; Iris; Wanda; Bella Freud and my Mum, to name but a few.

To kick off the programme I am proud to bring you a Christmas Message from J.J. Connolly, celebrated author of Layer Cake.

My Christmas Message to the Commonwealth

Every year it's the same - that "where did the year go?" feeling...

Just as I'm getting used to putting one year's date on cheques and invoices, they go and change it all over again, leaving me playing catch-up. I’m sure it’s not personal. But precious few cheques are getting written these days, what with Internet banking and the much-loved inter-bank transfers. And precious few invoices either, what with that nasty global recession business.

They say as you get older the years speed up - something to do with Einstein and his theory of relativity. According to Albert we begin a sprint towards life’s finishing line. If this is the case, I’m getting worried because I appear to have gained a momentum of a runaway train coming down a steep Alpine mountainside, the years rushing past in a blur. Someone needs to pull the emergency brake handle PDQ - and hang on tight – swing on it if necessary.

Add to the heady new year party punch the fact that we are about to leap feet first into a whole new decade – that will eventually be, no doubt, christened “the teens” - it all becomes too much to bear. When I was a kid ten years was ten years – it felt like ten years. Now it seems like only the other week that we were all getting terribly excited about the turn of the new millennium. The Queen and Tony B. were down the Dome yodeling Auld Lang Syne – the Queen looking, it must be said, like she would prefer to be anywhere on Big Planet Earth than next to Tone and his Big Mad Grin. I’m not big on sympathy for royalty but you’d have to be totally heartless not to feel for the old dear...

And now ten years later we’ve been handed the check - the reality check – and we’re all scratching our heads like some squiffy Japanese tourist in a Soho clip joint.

Transpires it wasn't just me who was running a large tab throughout the spendthrift noughties and has suddenly been hit up with the mother of all credit card bills... it’s like all your Christmases and January statements have come at once. Seems everyone was living on credit - individuals, the banks themselves and entire countries - and the money was just spinning around and around and around. It was all an illusion - a nice, warm, cuddly one but an illusion nonetheless. But we were all getting a little more than just lightheaded – mesmerized would be a better word. We were behaving like sailors on shore leave.

The noughties were not as obviously brutal as the Eighties when we were all programmed to become ruthless, Armani-wearing cannibals and eat more raw red meat, but in a cunning, sneaky way, during the last ten years, we became slowly persuaded that it was foolish not to be borrowing vast amounts of money and living on limitless credit...

Bailiffs knocking the door off and making off with the telly? Priceless.

Late payment charge, sir? That’ll do nicely...

Disillusionment is sometimes a gift and sometimes a swift, harsh lesson – a big slap up around the head. Bankers, their bonuses and billion pound bailouts are the new vaudeville villains and scapegoats but the truth is, if we dare to admit it, we believed what we wanted to believe – that we were all flush and getting richer just by tumbling out of bed in the morning and being good enough to pay the overextended mortgage. The problem with spinning like a Dervish is that you get trés dizzy and start to fall over - not while you’re at it and having a giggle, but when you stop... that when the trouble starts… especially if you have to stop abruptly.

And now it’s tough “Out There” again. And maybe that will be the making of us. Maybe it will make us see the value in things - what’s actually important, who’s actually important in our lives - rather than spending our time and energy ramping each other up in some smug, ultimately hollow, mass hypnosis. But I remain, like most people, a sucker for a charming snake-oil salesman, so if anyone knows any get-rich-double-quick schemes, foolproof investment opportunities, treasure maps, disused gold mines, legal or semi-legal swindles, you be sure to let me know.

For some unknown reason, maybe all this talk of the filthy lucre, I am reminded of the gent who, when asked - in the unlikely event of him being fortunate enough to win millions on the national lottery - what he would do about all the begging letters. He replied that, in spite of his newfound wealth, he would continue to send them - you never know what's around the corner.

I take his point.

- J.J. Connolly


Lawrence O'Connor said...

Brilliant. I needed to read that. Thank you!