Terence Blacker: How a recession will affect you ? and your cat

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The Independent Online

YOU MAY have heard about the chill wind, which is about to blow in from abroad. It will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls. It is what the financial pundits insist upon calling "the chill wind of recession".

YOU MAY have heard about the chill wind, which is about to blow in from abroad. It will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls. It is what the financial pundits insist upon calling "the chill wind of recession".

Already, pre-chill indicators are becoming evident in the human and natural worlds. Maybe you have noticed some of them yourself.

1. Everyone becomes obsessed with houses. Estate agents are on street corners, begging to be given a chance to sell or buy or just have a good look round your property. Anthropologists believe this behaviour dates back to the palaeolithic age, when our ancestors, aware of the atmosphere of quiet tension that precedes a chill wind, would scurry about in search of caves with easy access to multi-leisure facilities.

2. Your cat contains the secret of recession. It knows intuitively that a slump is coming and may even have a sense of whether it will have long-term effects on the country's manufacturing base. So it asks to be picked up, then claws your back as it jumps free. It can't decide whether to stay in or go out. It catches a shrew, then lets it go. These are symptoms of the spiritual uncertainty that lies ahead.

3. Do not, on the other hand, waste time studying your dog. You look at it and it barks because it thinks that will please you. A plank has more intuition.

4. The way people talk suddenly changes. When we lived in caves, the sound "oo" could only be made when our forbears were relaxed – it made them vulnerable to sabre-toothed tigers. For this reason, today's shop assistants and call centre operatives will say "ye" instead of "you", sometimes asking "ye" to join a "quee, tee".

5. I have not watched television for some time, but I would lay money that a classic comedy series – Dad's Army, Porridge or Rising Damp – is currently being shown. When a recession is approaching, there is a craving for the ancient, class-based certainties that these programmes enshrine. Conversely, comedy that is genuinely original will cause widespread panic.

6. Country folk have commented on the dearth of swallows this year, and this, too, is a result of the imminent recession. These famously sensitive birds react to what zoologists call "vibes". This april, as they approached the southern coast, they "sussed the vibes" and elected to spend their summer in France.

7. Telephonic behaviour tends to reflect the insecurity of the times. Whereas, normally, office workers will return two in 10 calls, the average moves to eight in recession. The view of the experts is that this is a version of a tribal gathering before a storm. Essentially, these people are saying: "I bond with you, tribesperson. Will you bond with me?"

8. At times of stress, the reproductive cycle of large mammals such as the African elephant accelerates dramatically, and so it is with humans as recession approaches. The current obsession with sexual release has not surprised specialists in the field – a basic primal urge to propagate the species is at work .

9. The new popularity of Latin American rhythms is a reflection of this pre-chill yearning. Those attending weekly salsa classes may believe that they are acquiring a ballroom skill, but what in fact they are doing is undulating around a campfire with a view to finding a sexual partner before the great wind arrives.

10. Those in a relationship may already have noticed the effect of this changed atmosphere on their home lives. Whereas normally their loved one would stir from a profound sexual slumber once or twice a month, they now express a new ardency, sometimes even before Newsnight ends. Those without partners would be advised to pop down to a club or pub, where a pleasant surprise may await them.

terblacker@aol.com

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