An extraordinary week to be away. An extraordinary week to be without any of our normal communications; no phone, no broadband, no telly, just a crackly old boom box which tunes into radio 4 with a protesting hiss and fart, fading out in an explosion of excruciating white noise at the pertinent point… “Global meltdown!” “Financial Armageddon…” “A day so black it’s impossible…” “No one has seen the like since 1920…” “The chancellor has just announced…” “Now we are going to our correspondent in Reykjavik for the latest on the collapse…” the rest frustratingly disintegrates in a furious high pitched whine.
Yes, I have savings in an Icelandic bank; researched carefully on such sites as moneysupermarket.com, make-your-money-work, what-to- know-about-investing-your-savings and how-to-get-the-best-out-of-your-money. Before we left for Scotland I seriously toyed with the idea of moving my money out amid the panic and mayhem – but where to put it? Nothing seemed secure. In the end I decided it was probably best to leave it alone, after all it was FSI backed.
Through last weekend the panic and collapse of the financial system worsened. We gleaned snippets in the foothills of the Cairngorms of the drama being played out across the world; stock markets crumbling, banks folding. And in the car driving to Robert’s aspen conference dinner we heard of the American 700 billion dollar bail out being thrown out, and then succeeding in an enlightened form. Arriving at our destination high in the remote north-west highlands, we learnt of the lack of positive response in world markets, which continued to plummet in chaos and turmoil.
Surreal, and strangely bizarre. On the one hand my eyes and mind were hungrily drinking in the remote ancient wild beauty of a landscape that feeds my very essence and on the other there was the banal, yet very real, material worry that I could lose my hard earned savings.
It would probably be better not to have even a radio. Not a thing I can do about it. I now inhabit a part of the world that is clothed in rocks three billion years old. Today, in a wild isolated hanging valley, I stood at the head of the highest waterfall in Britain, watching a rainbow caught in the fall’s spangled spray which played on quivering, golden leaved aspens; around me a curtain of blown mist parted to reveal scenery that made me ache with its beauty. Billions lost? The fall on Wall Street? The crumbling City? The crazy machinations of bankers? Armageddon? Standing there in the wind and the rain I felt rich beyond words and extraordinarily fortunate.