Friday, December 26

Boxing Day

Boxing Day dates back centuries when it was the custom for the Commonwealth's richest to give gifts to their employees or people in a lower class, most especially to household servants and other service personnel. Here in ye Olde England, a more recent tradition is the Premiership which plays a full programme of matches - sorta like Detroit on Thanksgiving only our teams better to watch. This year's Bank Holiday is closely observed as the High Street is feared to go into the toilet thanks to the recession. All stores are discounting and attract they do: Oxford Street expects footfall at >half a million. Eitan and I brave the zoo (Madeleine recovers from last night) and we park the car at Hammersmith then wisely tube to Piccadilly Circus. In two words: mad house. Eitan is hell-bent on an official Premier League football at Lillywhites, the largest sport's store in London and blessed by HRH. We claw our way to the second level then push through Russians loading up on branded gear (it is always the Russians). We score and head for China Town and dim sum then more stores and more crowds.

I admit to struggling a bit with Eitan around a conversation - it is tough to get inside an eight year old who is otherwise inclined to keep things private or assumes I know already or finds it too much work to share. Our discussions, which I try not to force, concentrate on school pals, teachers, sports and football (of course) which gets his fullest reaction. I tell him anecdotes some hit and others don't. I am dead proud to take this handsome little kid around Mayfair but for him it is mostly work (I remember this age for sure) - he would rather practice his football and in fact cries hard tears realising the early sunset will keep us from the common. I feel bad and allow him to buy a DVD ("Kung Fu Panda - "an easy choice" he says - "It is my favorite") and we head home in better sorts.

I just do not get the (credit-card) spending and buzziness I see today. In one of the gloomiest reports yet for the UK’s finances, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) predicts that the British economy could shrink >2.5% in 2009 as bank lending continues to stagnate and business investment slashed. That would be the biggest slump since '46 when the UK was wrestling with both a freezing winter and the effects of mass demobilisation after the Second World War.