I had a lovely couple of days in London. A half price lobster dinner early on Sunday evening was followed by my being in bed by 9pm - which of course meant I slept until about 3 am and was wide awake the rest of the night. Monday started well with a productive meeting, a most pleasant lunch, then a visit to a cousin in hospital who had broken her hip. The day was rounded off by my giving the Eldest Ms. Lear her birthday present ( which I may say she opened a month early) and a meeting which then lasted until the early hours of Tuesday morning, but which, hopefully, will lay the foundations for good things in the future.
Prelunch on Tuesday I had a drink with someone I have long wanted to meet, who proved, if anything, more interesting in person than my imagined persona.
So all in all an excellent time. I enjoyed taking the train - somehow more relaxing than the flights ( get on getoff, security, hang about etc etc.) and pretty much the same cost overall.
I also managed to read a couple of books, neither of which, in themselves was staggeringly interesting. But from one there were a couple of insights which I found interesting, and which then threw up an extreme counterpoint.
The first was that Rome fell when the it's army was no longer regarded as a good thing in itself. We have an exact parallel at the moment - less money spent on the forces, a fall in recruitment, more being asked of serving personel, and finally Rome's army broke - long before the vandals sacked Rome. Our own forces are in desperate straights, but Flash appears to be as unconcerned as Des Browne, who has to be the worst government minister there has ever been. In the past, the ministers in charge of the armed forces actually tried to get more money, men and equipment. Browne appears to try for none of these things. Parsimony rules.
The second was the counterpoint to this.
An attractive young girl, her mother and ( I assume) father or at least step-father were arranging a party in the bar of a hotel where I was having a drink. I suspect it was either an engagement party or a wedding. In any event, the girl seemed quite laid back, but the mother was determined to have the lot - and as each item was costed and multiplied by the number of guests, I could see the poor man who was going to have to pay for it all flinching and shrinking. I felt seriously sorry for him. No expense was to be spared.
So the next time you are thinking about an expensive party, think about this - the best things in life may not be free, but they certainly don't need to be the most expensive. Tesco's £7.99 French Champagne will get everyone just as drunk as vintage Krug at £69 a bottle.