Town Mouse on the Phoney War

Birds are gathering on the telephone wires; something ghastly is about to happen although until it does, the very normality of the scene is itself spooky. London awaits the recession. Taxis have become suspiciously easy to get. The hairdresser over the road is feeling the pinch.

The owner of a dress shop, asked by my wife if she could help the school fete, said: ‘I think they’ll soon have to help us.’ But the Apple Store was buzzing with people wanting to buy computers at 8.30 at night. And although the friend who took me to lunch at a West End restaurant spent most of the time ‘awfulising’ about future prospects (‘hope you’re heavy in cash’), every table was taken.

True, there is the case of the man who, only last year, bought a house in these parts, tore out the recently fitted kitchen and bathroom (they all do), and removed the roof as part of what would doubtless have been a stylish revamp; only, at that point, he lost his job in the City. Work stopped, and neighbours now pass by on the other side of the street for fear of the evil eye. Otherwise, we seem to be at the Phoney War stage, which might barely be noticed if it weren’t on every front page and news bulletin.