Hairdressing or pizza delivery?

By Simon Round, January 29, 2009

I was up and about early this morning searching for green shoots. The ones I was specifically looking for were the green shoots of economic recovery but to be honest I would have been happy to have spotted a snowdrop or a daffodil popping through. However, there was little to see. Deep recession and deep freeze is a rather depressing combination

Enough of gloom. I’m a strong believer that recession is in the mind (er, and the banks, the service sector and manufacturing). So perhaps we can think ourselves out of it. By this I don’t mean that we should all encircle the Houses of Parliament, link hands and make the building levitate, but rather, dream up some creative solutions to alleviate the economic situation. I’d call it blue sky thinking if I was the sort of person who liked using clichéd marketing slogans.

The fact is that there are always people, companies and indeed countries which fare better in a recession and these tend to be the ones who think originally and creatively. We should all try to do the same.

For example, in this country we are sitting on a fantastic asset. People love the English countryside – so why don’t we sell some of it. The public debt is now standing at hundreds of billions and rising fast and we don’t really have any more nationalised industries left to sell off… but we do still have Herefordshire. If Arab billionaires are prepared spend hundreds of millions on buying a football club like Manchester City or Liverpool — how much more would they stump up for a proper county? We would of course have to accept the imposition of Sharia law and those of us with Israeli stamps in our passports would no longer be able to visit, but to be honest, it’s mainly just fields with cows and stuff — so you might as well go to Shropshire instead.

It also occurred to me that this recession is not biting as deeply all over the world as it is here. Israel is doing OK (although it has run into a few minor problems in other areas) and so is Poland. A new survey predicts that half of the Poles who settled in this country may move back. Maybe we should follow them – after all many of us have roots in that country. Sure, there may be the odd pogrom every now and then but beetroot grows abundantly and by June the thaw should be well underway.

Alternatively, think about swapping jobs. It’s fine being an accountant in a boom but at the moment there is no money to count. It’s time to think about hairdressing. Hair grows at the same rate regardless of whether the economy is in boom or slump. People don’t have longer hair in a downturn (although in the recession of the 1970s it did get curlier for some strange reason). Our ancestors were tailors so we clearly have an atavistic feeling for scissors.

There is also something in the fact that a) the pound is weak which makes exports competitive. And b) people spend more money on takeaways in a recession. Perhaps we should think of ourselves less as a country and more as a massive pizza delivery service, using our unrivalled communications hub to get cheap fast food to our hungry and slightly more prosperous European neighbours.

Forget Keynes, what we need is calzone.

Last updated: 12:51pm, January 29 2009