Stress testing middle britain

William Hogarth. The Rakes Progress. No.2 The Levee.

“The second scene sees Tom in his new palatial lodgings where he is holding a morning levée in the manner of a fashionable gentleman.

Amongst the assorted visitors who have come to offer their services is a jockey, a dancing-master (with violin), a music teacher (believed to be based on Hogarth’s great rival Handel), a landscape gardener, a poet and a tailor.

On the wall behind hang some of Tom’s recent acquisitions three Italian paintings – Hogarth was known to dislike the fashion for acquiring Old Master works (which he branded ‘dark pictures’) at the expense of paintings by British artists.”

text source and image copyright: Sir John Soane’s museum

As it ever was, and ever will be

And this being the fourth Sunday of the month the revd. Samweller came up to the pulpit and laying his paws upon it – said:

Brethren, Woof be unto you, my reading today is from Bankers 7:32 (phat boy pharoah remix)

“And so it was in the days of Gordon that a plague fell upon the land and wasted hard upon the people. In tribulation the sons and daughters of Albion came unto the bankers, lamenting. Saying:

What should we do now that our mouths be filled anew with your succour as they were in the times of plenty? Oh bankers at thy bidding we built the fatted calves, from brick and mortar, each family, did we build them. And each thought that this was a work blessed before you, for you laid down a pleasant and easy road before us.

And was it not good in your sight that the calves waxed fat elstwhile why should thou haved succoured us more , even unto a twelth part of our living, upon the sight of the waxing calves?

But now there is a plague upon the land and the mortar of our equity crumbles even unto dust. Oh bankers give us more succour, even as a mother gives milk unto the hungry child at her breast.”

Then did the bankers speak unto the children of Albion

“Hark for even as we too are bruised at the heel down to our last million upon million still we are thy Lords and all thy flocks belongeth to us. There shall be a new covenant. And it this:

First, those that took our succour shall be named the succours for verily thou turned to us for succour. And this sign shall be upon their brow even for a generation. And those with the sign upon them shall we tax hard. And should any not pay we shall smite seriously upon their hinds as is written in the book of Tarantino. For we did not succour you as the mother succours the child but gave you but of a loan of milk. Those that understood not these things did not read even unto the smallest of our writings.

Now, with the plague upon you, it is the time to put away childish things and become wise in the world- as it ever was,and ever will be.
Henceforth, thou shalt eat only from the sweat of thy brow, after we have first fed, and not from the fatted calves. For we look upon your flocks and truly they are wasted and now please our eyes not.

And the name of the new covenant shall be “Loan to Value” and it shall be set at three quarters of the calves. And whoever has not a quarter of the calf unto themselves shall come unto us in fear and pleading.”

And the people muttered amongst themselves saying to the bankers

“But, you levelled the mountains and raised up the valleys to make a wide way for us to come into this place of desolation.”

And the bankers answered

“Tough teats be unto you”

And so it was in the days of Gordon, where once the people made a loud and joyous noise and danced before the fatted calf of their house, a silence came upon the land.

Here endeth the lesson, woof be with you.”

Further Reading

The debt binge

Despite the deceleration in the rate of income growth from 2002, households on average, maintained rising living standards at least until the end of 2007.

From 2000 to 2007, consumer spending by individuals grew by £55 billion more than their income. Over the same period, the Government’s index of retail sales by volume grew by no less than 35 per cent in constant prices, more than three times as fast as disposable incomes.For a while Britons – across income groups – embarked on a mass spending spree while much of the nation appeared to drip with affluence.”


There are about 25 million households in the UK, so in those 7 years we spent about £2000 per household more than we earned. That’s average – some spent more, a lot more.


source: UK Social Trends 2009








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