Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Rose Red City...

I've been away, dear reader in Canada and the States.

Apart from putting on about half a stone ( 3.5kgs if you are under 40) I had an excellent time.

The most interesting part was being in Detroit.

This once truly great American city has lost about 65% of it's population over the last 7 or 8 years. Whole sections of the city are derelict, cut off from their surroundings by the roads and dead car parks that leaders of the Automakers insisted be provided.

There are no buses or trains or trams - they wouldn't allow them. But they needed to get their workers to and from the huge plants dotted about the city, and they wanted them ALL to buy a car every year, so the roads got built.

Over time, it meant that sections of the city lost people, then imploded. All the shops are no longer in Detroit - they are in the malls, half an hours drive away.

The first Black Mayor ever in Detroit in the '70s ( not really surprising - over 80% of the population is Afro-Caribbean) tried hard to help the City, right into the '90s. All the things he wanted to do to redress the balance were fought tooth and nail by the car companies and by the whites. When he stepped down, he had achieved virtually nothing to redress the problems.

Now, the (white) mayor is beginning to suggest some of the things that should have been done nearly 40 years ago.

There are no people wandering around - why would they? There's nothing for them to do in terms of shopping or sports or anything. The car parks stand as mausoleums to a failed environment.

What struck me most forcibly was that even before the cars came, Detroit was a rich city. Indeed, one of the reasons the cars got built there was that the money and the infrastructure existed. The rich executives and owners of Ford, General Motors, Chrysler ( and all the long forgotten firms they swallowed up) gave millions to the city to found schools, art galleries, concert halls - they gave to the City in their droves, as well as building fine buildings both for themselves and their businesses.

Now, many of these buildings have no future other than being flattened, and the land underneath returned to pasture. Even Henry Ford's first production line factory lies derelict - a plaque claiming that in 1925 it produced over 9,000 Model T's in one day.

But why -what has happened now? People are still making money in Detroit - lots of it.

They just don't give it back, they take, and take again.

John F.Kennedy and his brothers still hold a strong grip of American's souls, and Teddy's death last year boosted that, as does the 50th Anniversary of Jack's Presidential address.

His words are everywhere, and they are as relevant today for America and for ourselves as they ever were:

" Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather, what you can do for your country."

We've all forgotten what that means.
PS The picture is of the Renaissance Centre, GM's world headquarters.
It's a fabulous building - with nothing round about it. They are starting to landscape and riverscape round about, but all the shops have gone and there are either expensive good restaurants or hash-joints in terms of food.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


The compliments are coming thick and fast at the moment. Our man in China asked for a picture of me and this was his reply:

"You look as a handsome,robust,kindness man I think."

Of course, I am his customer, so there just may be a touch of sycophancy there...

Anyway, today is a day when Mrs. Lear goes to Yoga.

There are two distinct classes, the Blingers, and what she calls the Norms & Nicies.

The Blingers mostly drive black 4x4s, and get very upset if the perfect line up outside the class is broken by eg a Ford.

They arrive late and chatter.

They've all had breast enhancement. How can you tell? When they lie on their backs, their boobs stick straight up.

The Norms & Nicies on the other hand, turn up on time, concentrate on their Yoga, their boobs meld into their chests when they lie on their backs, and generally drive ordinary cars.

And they don't care where or how they are parked.

The point of this story is that the Blingers are slowly but surely diminishing in number.

This is the direct result of the present economic conditions. Some of the 4 x 4s have gone. The husbands are either having to put more money into their businesses, have lost their jobs, or, if partners in law firms,have no net salary this year.

These are the people who would normally keep the economy growing by their spending habits, but these are the very people who have been hardest hit.

The Banks, of course, have been waiting for the little glimmer of hope so they can start liquidating any problem loans ( they don't do it at the bottom, only when it starts to improve). They've also been hugely encouraged by the Basel III bank ratios, as to all intents and purposes all UK banks are well within the parameters.

Which would make you think they would start lending again.

But of course not. As someone recently told his bank manager:

" Listen, if you hadn't caused the problem in the first place, you wouldn't be causing us ALL problems now!"
PS In case you are unsure, this is NOT a picture of me. I am far more handsome... and incredibly modest.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Ah So!

I received a very nice compliment today, in that someone who had read this blog asked me to contribute to another. Regretfully, I declined, as I have too much to do at the moment as it is.

I do, however, intend to contribute to stillsexyatsixty when it's up and running. After all, I have several birthday cards from a year or two ago which say " older.... wiser.... sexier." And who am I to disagree?

Anyway, the other nice thing that happened today was I had an exchange of emails with a lady in China, who says her name is Jane Russell.

Now actually, I'm pretty sure her real name is something like Wang Bo, and she just wishes she had the body and looks of Miss Russell ( By the way, did you know Howard Hughes invented a special bra for her for one of his films? I presume he had to handle her breasts a lot to make sure it fitted...As I recall the movie was "The Outlaw" -appropriate, I think)

She is our account executive at one of the parking companies we use for domains, and her emails are a permanent delight. We ask her to do something, which she does, but then goes way way beyond the call of duty, and is pathetically eager to please. If all the Chinese that people deal with are like her then we might as well give up now.

So you can imagine my delight when the following came in from her..:

"Thanks for your reply ,I find ideas from your ideas and will tickling up to senior management."

In the UK, I'm sure she would be done for sexual harassment, but I'm pretty sure it's a good career move in China.