Week 40 of Gibraltar Diary

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Sunday 14th December 2008

A very lazy day spent reading the newspapers and watching Poirot on the TV. In the evening we eat at the Rock Hotel which only has three occupied tables including ours.

Monday 15th December 2008

Back to the UK! This is the Pyrenees ... very cold

Tuesday 16th December 2008

My rubber plant is feeling very sorry for itself but is pleased to see me.

Wednesday 17th December 2008

I always complain about towns that are so self important that they just assume you know where you are. So it is a pleasant surprise when we drive over the Penines to find a town that not only tells us where we are but the day of the week as well - very handy.

Thursday 18th December 2008

We have to go right up North and on the way back we pass a shop for sale. I have to say that 99p for a shop seems very cheap but we are in the most serious depression since 1929 and this is Scotland so maybe it is about right.

Friday 19th December 2008

We go out to eat with some friends - this is Paola practising before the meal arrives.

Saturday 20th December 2008

Back to Malaga. When the plane lands we all climb into a bus that has a very clever triple pole to hang onto.

On the subject of grasping hands, according to The Times, the chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, Seán FitzPatrick, has resigned because he lent himself €87 million of the bank's money and then hid the loan from regulators by doing clever year end transfers. Where the money is nobody seems to know but I daresay he has some idea. Frankly, he should go down for twenty years for that even though what he did was totally legal.

Bent bankers have a long tradition. According to John Kenneth Galbraith's masterpiece, The Great Crash 1929, the Chairman of Chase National Bank, Albert H Wiggin, made over $4M (about $60M in today's money) selling short the shares of his own bank, using the bank's money! That was legal too but in due course he resigned because he was exhausted from the years spent "promoting the growth, welfare and usefulness" of the bank. No doubt they gave him a gold clock.

The tragedy of this kind of behaviour is that it gives Capitalism a bad name (OK, a worse name) but really this has nothing to do with Capitalism or any other "ism" for that matter - what we are looking at is human greed untrammelled by any sense of what is reasonable. Having said that, I suppose it is no different than taking home a pen from work - just on a somewhat bigger scale.

The test of behaviour should be "would you want this on the front page of your local newspaper"? If not, then don't do it. Or if you do, have a good alibi and an escape route planned.

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      End of Week 40 of Gibraltar Diary

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