The Island Atelier is the creative domain of AJ Bealing. It's an island of peace in a crazy world.
The annual budget has been delivered, decried, denounced and damned. 'Twas ever thus.
It's a very long time since we had an empire to plunder. The British Empire was the nation's bank of Mum and Dad. Mum and Dad are long deceased and we have to stand on our own two feet. And we're finding it a bit of a struggle. We've borrowed up to the hilt and we can't face the idea of payback.
The problem with payback lies with who should do the paying back. Those who have never earned any money have no means of paying back, and those who have earned have been paying for those who haven't so they don't see why they should pay in duplicate or triplicate or any other multiple. But you can't get blood from a stone.
There is a strong argument for borrowing more: borrowing to invest such that the investing generates the dosh with which to do the repaying. This could and would work if the circle were closed in upon the UK. Or, better still, closed in upon the UK in such a way that it was sucking dosh in from the greater circle of the world beyond the UK. The problem is that this would not happen. The problem is that what is happening would continue to happen: the additional borrowings would be spent on goods from China and other lands in the greater circle. It would feather nests external to our own. And reduce their debt but not our own.
If a million people each have a thousand extra pounds, what will they spend it on? A Toshiba telly, the latest Apple pip and designer denims from anywhere in Asia. Asia may or may not deserve - that is some other question - but the diversion of dosh in that direction will not and cannot reduce the indebtedness of a post-imperial anywhere else.
Until such time as we get our heads around the fact that Buying British is the only possible route to paying off British debt, we will have to allow our elected representatives to punish us. Or perhaps we just don't care about being in debt enough to make the sacrifices necessary for its elimination. If that is the case, then we risk - and deserve - the wrath of the next generation who will be saddled with a sad inheritance.
Today the internet is awash with comment of the balloon disaster in Egypt. Much blame is attributed to Egyptian lack of Health & Safety. This seems unfair. The balloon operators I observed in Egypt did not appear any less competent than the ones in England except in their command of the English language.
The balloon flight I took over Dorset swooped dangerously low over a busy main road, missed the power lines by a hair's breadth and landed with an almighty crash in a field full of bullocks and barbed wire. The pilot said the landing was normal. I broke my nose when the elephantine person behind me crushed my face into the frame of the basket on impact. Before this very expensive 'Champagne Flight' we were expected to assemble the balloon. At the end, we had to pack the balloon up. This took over two hours: two very uncomfortable hours in a bitterly cold field full of cow pat and thistles in pitch blackness. The support vehicle was mysteriously unable to locate us until the pilot confirmed that the balloon was all packed up and ready to go.
Taking to the skies in a crate heavily laden with people beneath a large inflammable bubble with a substantial cylinder of gas and a powerful naked flame must surely come with risk. The only real surprise is how few ballooning disasters there are. In making one's choices, one takes one's chances.
Salisbury racecourse is flanked by large warning notices which state:
Presumably this is because we have eaten all the horses.