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Listening to the faint refrain of Formby

Has anyone heard of the banjolele? Not many, I would think.

Few have played the instrument with any success, which is hardly surprising, because it sounds awful.

Quite why anyone thought it would be a good idea to combine these two God-forsaken instruments, the banjo and the ukulele, passeth all understanding.

There is only one exponent of the thing in the last 100 years and that man is George Formby (pictured).

He was the Northern lad with the gap-tooth smile who became a household name between the wars, regaling the nation with hits such as Leaning on a lamppost and When I’m cleaning windows, and filled theatres and music halls up and down the land.

I am sure you are wondering what this has to do with the topic in hand, but all will be revealed.

What a good week for metaphors. My original piece for this week was to have lifted the lid on the Monetary Policy Committee, but I don’t think I have the space to do that justice.

You know the sort of thing – what really goes on behind closed doors on the first Thursday of the month. Not an original idea, I grant you, because the mortgage media has its own versions of the MPC, with its expert opinions and analysis, and it knows much more about this stuff than I do.

Anyway, about metaphors, especially weather-related – this credit crunch is a godsend for anyone writing about financial services.

Here is a a selection from the trade press. Gloomy outlook/ HBOS blown away/Fannie and Freddie sunk/Fannie and Freddie floated/Storm clouds over ailing AIG – the list goes on.

But here’s the thing. Talk of globalisation and the international effects of the crunch is just a fudge designed to put us off the scent.

The Phantom can exclusively reveal that last year at the September MPC meeting the governor of the Bank of England decided there was likely to be too much flak coming the way of the regulator and a banking system that encourages poor practices, including short selling.

And his answer? Blame the poor people with sub-prime mortgages, even if there is no suggestion that they were likely to be defaulting on their mortgages en masse.

This leaves the MPC free to dispense with a long discussion about economic indicators, gross domestic product ratios and the rest, and have a musical interlude instead. The BoE governor, a Northern lad himself, is a keen exponent of the banjolele and a big fan of Formby. So rest assured that while the crunch continues to cast a large cloud over the rest of the nation, a faint refrain of Formby’s greatest hits may be heard in and around EC3 on the first Thursday of the month.

And I’m sure it will be a case of When I’m cleaning windows for those poor souls who have lost their fortune, jobs and livelihoods through the awful mess that is the credit crunch.


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