London is a long way from Maryland.
Last night, we watched a group of people in what looked like black chicken outfits dancing on the roof of the Royal Festival Hall. A bit later…we heard the voice of an opera singer.
There seems to be some strange cacophony of artistic expression coming out of the RFH. Earlier in the week, people walked on a sort of conveyor belt while reading their own prose. And out in front, there is a group of what look like tool sheds, each with some artistic purpose. As near as we could tell, one of them really was a tool shed.
London is a big city. In fact, it is a new world. The world that is modern London has nothing to do with the world that was rural Maryland in the 1950s…or even much to do with London circa 1950. It is a globalised city…with globalised industries…and a globalised population. In the centre of town, police sirens wail at all hours…helicopters often hover overhead. Police boats zip up and down the Thames.
People are young…usually unmarried…and often very wealthy. They seem to want to find ways to distract themselves…or make money.
Back in the ’50s, we were too young to sense it perhaps, but we don’t recall making money as such an important motivation. There were people who did make money – but not many. Most people just got along as best they could. Few could imagine getting rich. The best you could do was to earn a good living, when the price of tobacco was high…take to the Chesapeake when the crabs and oysters were thick…(a good oysterman could earn as much as US$100 a day at the height of the oyster boom of 1968…but already, the money economy was coming to the tidewater area). People had more free time. We just can’t remember running around so much or so quickly. We spent less time in cars. We spent more time admiring ripe tomatoes in the summer and wood fires in the winter. We didn’t know anyone who read the Wall Street Journal…nor anyone who could tell us what the Fed’s key lending rate was. These things just didn’t seem to matter.
Is it a better world now that they do? London certainly seems like a gayer city…from the grim metropolis that we imagine it was in the ’50s. Maryland, on the other hand, seems worse, not better.
Will the future really be better? Should we really be in such a hurry to get there?
We don’t know. Heck, we aren’t even thinking about it anymore. We’re just feelin’…nostalgic…
Markets and Money