Margaritas are the frozen limit

In capitalism, does a little bit of what you fancy do you good?
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The Independent Online

Jane, Laura and I are hunkered down on the sofa in my local bar. Judging by how long we've been here, we're not so much on the sofa as in it. This vast, low, squishy furniture has kept us captive for the past three hours and shows no signs of relenting.

"Just as well, really," Jane says. "After all these frozen margaritas, I'm not sure I could stand even if I wanted to." I laugh tipsily. Laura snarls ever so slightly and says: "Speak for yourself." Jane and I gaze at Laura's mineral water. "Sorry, sorry," I say, trying to sound apologetic but not managing because there's nothing like a really good frozen margarita for making the world a much happier place.

"Yes, well," Laura replies. "Most of the time, I don't mind not being able to drink. Anyway, now that the bulge is showing, I dare say someone officious would come along and glare at me if I even tried. It's just, sometimes, at the end of a puzzling day, it would be so nice to have a little sip of something."

And she's right. It has been a puzzling day, the latest in a long series of puzzling days. Suddenly, it feels as if everything is changing, but no one is quite sure exactly what it will turn into.

Take the merger of the London and Frankfurt Stock Exchanges. Is that good for the City or not? Is this a bold one-off experiment or the first sign of a general trend? Will all the money markets go the same way? Does this mean we'll have to work European hours and be at work even earlier?

"Well, they'd better come up with answers soon," Jane says drily, "or the first thing that'll happen is a shortage of question marks."

"You know what I mean," I say, and Jane and Laura say they understand where I'm coming from, and are just as confused about where we're all going to.

"Take all those Liffe traders," Laura says.

"Take them where?" Jane says hopefully, no doubt remembering Darren and Bobby, the loud and brash duo we met on holiday a couple of years ago. Laura brushes the comment aside. "I think we should feel sorry for them. There you are, doing well because you've got a big voice and nerves of steel - and all of a sudden you've got to sit all day at a computer like everyone else. It can't be easy to readjust. It's like putting a wild animal in a cage," she says.

Jane and I laugh, but sympathetically we hope. No one is safe from extinction in the City these days. Perhaps global capitalism has become too successful for its own good.

"Well, the May Day protesters obviously thought so," Jane says. "Mind you, I'd be a bit more sympathetic if so many of them hadn't appeared to have trust funds born out of the profits of some of this country's biggest businesses. They can hardly claim capitalism has made them suffer."

Then I see it, the one clear thought I've had all evening. It's that unfashionable middle-of-the-road concept - moderation. A little of what you fancy does you good, so perhaps it's not mad to believe you can actually have too much capitalism and too much change and progress for everyone's long-term good.

"I need another drink before I can handle that idea," Jane says.

"Haven't you had enough?" Laura says.

"Oh no," I reply. "You can never have too many margaritas."

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