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B A R B I C A N L I F E


The Music bookcase in its new home


of sleeping on a growing bump, during pregnancy. I rejoiced at the thought that here she was with a baby and a new product, facing her life with curiosity and fortitude. Women increasingly encourage me. She has made something which will be useful to half the population. She visualised a problem, and a solution, and made it happen. Imagination and visualising what it would be like in practical terms are useful skills, and women seem to be better at it than men. If we manage to teach all the women


in the world to visualise the real economy, and help them to relate one thing to another, joining up all the important facts, looking for causes, there would be a revolution within a generation. Women might live in their imaginations, for their own comfort, most of the time. As we close our eyes, most women find that they are good at visualisation of reality. Women should get back into observing and extending that observation to visualise the world – 1813 was also the year when Pride and Prejudice was published – Miss Austen, sitting in her parlour meek and unobtrusive, had published a meticulously observed parable of folly and misplaced pride, which we study even today – in the same year as Lord Wellesley ordered Donkin’s canned beef to be sent out to sea, and wars raged across Europe and America. Miss Austen of course would not


have used the expression ‘Does what it says on the tin’; it hadn’t come into the language yet – today it is a real compliment. Buying something tinned implies an act of trust and faith; in some ways the expression has become a metaphor for all things which we take on trust. Until recently, before the advent of


the internet, if the ‘tin’ did not satisfy, one had recourse to the manufacturer or retailer. I suppose that is where the expression ‘can of worms’ comes from – something which was ‘unknown and contained’ when purchased, and sold as nutritious, but which once opened, reveals a revolting reality. These days the fact that the tin had lied on its label can be discussed openly; the liar has nowhere to hide – thanks to the internet. Politicians operate more in the open than they had ever expected. Not having anywhere to hide makes for their acute level of discomfort, and


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knee jerk responses. I suspect that most women have noticed, like me, that nothing they say seems to be congruent with what they had said a few minutes ago. Banks are being supported, and regulation tightened, but crowd-funding is growing in the country. Mr Luke Lang, of Crowdcube, who I met at Venturefest in Oxford last July is doing a roaring trade. Bank lending is increasing, but so is the business of Zopa, a peer to peer lending company which apparently is taking London by storm. If you lend money on Zopa, you will get a much better interest rate than a bank deposit would offer you. Default is rare. Does any of this scan? Communication which is costless at


the margin is potent stuff; email and internet platforms have given this to almost every household. When the US Government shut down for a few days, the women of one neighbourhood, reported the FT, collectively hired a local security contractor for policing its streets for a month. The writing for many centrally run services is on the wall. What they do with our taxes should become easy to track – because increasingly we will expect it. Efforts at making local and national


governments more transparent have shown up a major flaw in our education system. Almost nobody other than the accountants who make them up, is able to read a set of accounts in this country – I quote the OECD studies of the last five years. Pockets of knowledge which remain are the basis of power pools. But even that will slowly be eroded – particularly when the women in all households are financially literate. We have but to devise a course which won’t bore them silly. I returned to my chair in front of


the computer. Hope came in the shape of a short email. Happily, it was a woman, who had restored my faith that joined up thinking is alive and well, and resides amongst other places, in Clerkenwell. My friend, let us call her Sarah, to whom I had passed on a music bookcase, had taken a picture of it in its new home, filled with sheet music, and sent this message : ‘Thank you to all involved in making, giving, transporting and loading the bookcase’. If we thought about it, we would all thank our supply chains. Actions all belong in a chain. I turned to take a last look at the tin


can, and its progress through history, and was relieved to find that chance had favoured my theory that the women of our planet can see to the logical end of a problem. The progress of the tin can ended with vacuum sealing – and the patent for that was filed by a Miss Amanda Jones, who also wrote poetry, believed in spiritualism, and made fabulous jam. She never made much money, and her enterprises were hampered by her desire to know new things. Maybe she lacked a single-minded focus on profits, because she could see that we are connected to each living thing in a fine web of location and events, and each day brings us closer to seeing a larger pattern, as we try to discern purpose and meaning in our lives. Which brings me back to the


holiday season approaching – the purpose of it being to celebrate the birth of God on Earth – each culture does this; Christmas candles in the British Home Stores, and Diwali candles at home, diverse groups of women inviting guests and lighting lamps to celebrate the eternal light which burns in all our lives – is this joined up thinking? What was the definition again? Thinking about something in a way which takes into account all the important facts. The most important of those facts come in the shape of the people whom we love, and those to whom we matter. It makes a great deal of sense to join with them in the praise of all that is good. The sound of singing practice came


from the room next door. The Messiah cometh. I found myself smiling. Music in the winter – there is nothing more uplifting is there?


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