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Friday, 14 November 2008

Musings from the 10:15 to Manchester

As no one has pointed out, there were a couple of false premises in my recent post 'Oligarchs Form An Orderly Queue'. Firstly it was inaccurate to state that Frieze sales 'could now be as much as £100 million'. The referenced article actually stated:

"the total amount of money that is expected to change hands during Frieze week is around £100 million … and only a small part of those transactions take place at the fair."

Secondly, my assertion that Russian oligarchs are 'recession-resilient' was quite naïve, given a story I've just read in The Guardian explaining that:

"Russia's wealthiest 25 individuals have collectively lost $230bn"

It seems that the oligarchs were given massive loans by the Russian government, which they used to buy shares in Russian companies. They subsequently borrowed even more money from US banks, using those shares as collateral. Now the Russian stock market has lost 71% of it's value, and the banks want their money back, causing a collapsing pyramid of debt.

Things are apparently so bad that Moscow's top restaurants have stopped accepting credit cards.

"Inevitably, the amount of Russian money 'loshing around' the west end of London will diminish" says Chris Weafer, an analyst with the Moscow-based brokerage UralSib.

So I just wanted to apologise for my fallacious assumptions.

Speaking of fallacious, or a word to that effect, I've just googled the word 'loshing' on my phone and found a definition that's far too filthy to publish on the esteemed Artsadmin Artsblog. Just as I am pondering how the word made it past the The Guardian sub-editors, the lady opposite catches my attention by blurting the following phrase into her mobile:

"It was so stiff, Martin!"

There's a sentence you don't hear very often. She continues:

"He was wearing a dicky-bow, it was a load of bullshit really, the only time I loosened up was when Alan's dad threw up over the cheese-board.'

I begin to reflect on the positive and negative effects of mobile phones on trains. One the one hand you have the annoying man to my right who is texting furiously yet has not disabled the keypad volume, only stopping intermittently to call members of his family to explain that he is going to have to give a strong talking to his nephew, who was so rude to his grandma that she locked herself in the bathroom crying.

"I've got to tell him to turn it down a couple of notches" he says, in each conversation.

On the other hand, the same cellular technology allows one to eavesdrop with an unprecedented level of convenience; as I sit here tapping away (keypad volume turned off, of course) everyone else assumes I'm merely texting.

After all, people on trains not using their phones can be just as annoying.

Thus I advocate covert liveblogging about fellow train passengers as an effective way of dissipating your anger. Try it in the comments section below.

NB. Richard reserves the right to alter his attitude regarding train eavesdropping, should he discover that other passengers have been posting pictures on the internet of him picking his nose.

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