I went to the bank and asked if I could borrow a cup of money. They said "what for?" I said "I'm going to buy some sugar" - Stephen Wright
I had an epiphany. I finally realized the full extent of my naivety when leaving university. I had run into the first artsy-sounding job that hit my radar and put up with being paid minimum wage, way below if you count overtime, to be a clog in the machine of consumerism. Somehow tricking yourself into thinking data entry was a creative job with litres of gratuity booze and some hijacked goods, plastered with names. Don’t believe me? I sat in a meeting where the head alcoholic ranted about the company investing in new software to cut down their work by 75%, leaving more time for ‘client-relations’. But the first thought that came into my head was that 75% of the people in the room would be fired. Unless he had some brilliant plan to hoodwink the company into paying them to hang out 75% of the time. I gazed into his glazed eyes and thought, “probably not”.
But there is another way. The land of milk and honey! except who cares about cripplingly over-produced milk anymore? And honey? Leave it to the bees, they need it more than we do now. Instead it’s 'the land of greed and money'. A place for all those special perks of money; hedonism, lose morals, strange dollar bill signs in your eyes. Where you sacrifice the right to wear bright colours, just slipping back into uniform for the Etonians. But you get a lot of money. Same menial, data entry job but this time with commission. Suffice to say, it’s jammed full of Oxford. Even the occasional turncoat ‘die hard’ socialist, which is always amusing to behold in pinstripe.
England is crippling it’s own economy, with its best and brightest adding their skills forged in dusty libraries to the tune of bach and the scribble of pens. It’s not their fault, its chaos theory. We’ve just reached beyond our grasp and let our lives be governed by it. The bankers know their job, they know how to make money. They just happen to be in charge of more than their own selfish desires. Game theory is all very well until taxes get cut for the super-rich. And bankers are wallowing in their success, powdering their noses with 50 pound bills whilst the NHS gets cut. The heart of socialism in the UK operated on by the inept hands of a shaky politician, so that the pigs can remain fat. Because if there’s one thing we’ve learnt from our briefly acquired middle ground it’s that it’s healthy to let the rich get fatter and the poor leaner. Although ironically, this time, it’ll be the other way round. The poor will be choking down MacDonald’s while the rich dine in gold-guilt for free because they made the most money that week. Coddled by their misguided faith that the market acts as a rational system. Never wondering about the implications of that sheet of numbers they have to increase. Smearing away their guesswork with some dippy science and an over-arching desire for money. But watching the bankers laugh at the economists, doesn't exactly fill me with joy.
Because that’s the problem with bankers, they are free radicals thinking only as far as their pension, capable of upping sticks and moving to Dubai, Hong Kong or America. Where ever seems the best place to worship their Golden God. The people whose money they control are more dispensable to them than their Jag. What do they care for the poor fools who haven’t seen the golden light of God - metal, paper and all. Those who didn’t join the pre-recession free-for-all that went on behind the banks’ closed doors. That is, you and me?
We could be angry, we could be ravaging the City as I speak, as the bankers suspected when some of the corruption came to light. But alas, Britain’s economy is dangerously dependent of revenues from the financial sector. You can thank Margaret Thatcher for that. So we’ll have to sit tight accepting the hefty commission we pay on our money, funding the bankers’ habit. After all there’s no rehab for money-addiction. Communism is long gone.
And so, I cooked some sickenly sweet chocolate lollipops. Flavoured with rose, beer and pig fat. Corruption-flavoured in fact. Pigs for pigs. Their smiles still fixed in place as their faces become frenetically morphed in Dorian Gray’s final visage. The Earl of Rochester would empathise with their rotted noses and unseeing eyes. I just wanted to see the bankers munch on their own visage, in decadent white chocolate, feasting on the spoils of their corruption.
And off I trotted to the City, land of greed and money, armed with a box of chocolate lollipops and a camera.
I had to put up with a lot of beady eyes looking at me in disbelief and agitation, with pinstriped patriarchs asking “why are they free? That’s not how the world works”. Well maybe not for you, who have sold your soul, but for the rest of the world a simple act of generosity can make all the difference. Which I tried diligently to preach to the Bankers, in the knowledge that my words would not wash and their paychecks would remain fat.
Some were quite friendly, wishing me luck making it as an artist; hardly knowing the irony that there’s no place for art in their paper religion.