Recession – A Beginner’s Guide

Recession – the bane in any economist’s jargon-filled handbook. The flip side of economic growth, the beginning of the end, the rocky-est bottom imaginable. For an economy to stick their hands in the air and admit, ‘Okay, we have to face the facts – right now? Our economy SUCKS’, it is often both a difficult and degrading thing to do. Yet, as we’ve seen with the likes of Greece and Ireland, it has to be done if ever a country is to bring itself back to full strength. HA, I feel sorry for them, I’d hate for Britain to be in… wait, what? Britain has always been one of the powerhouses of the global economy – with a world-class university system, as well as being one of the first ever countries to industrialize, you’d think we’d hold our own and be king of the hill, right?

Sadly, just like our star-studded friend in tights at the beginning of the article – even the most powerful of people are not immune.

Standard economic theory, a la A-Level Macroeconomics, states that a recession is ‘six months when real GDP (growth) is negative and can also be characterised by a negative output gap within a domestic economy’. Yikes. Despite the Olympic Games providing a large boost to our economy’s growth, it was only ever going to be a pipe-dream that this would grant us sustained, economic growth. We have to take off our rose-tinted spectacles and realise that the economy is in need of a face lift. Despite good news that the unemployment rate declined last January, there are fears that as Britain takes off its gold-plated AAA rating and settles for a not-as-impressive AA1 rating, we will have to embrace the word we hate so much, as economists speculate Britain will delve into triple-dip recession *cue high-pitched girly scream*.

So what impacts will that bring for Our Majesty’s pride and joy? Let’s just say we shouldn’t welcome it with open arms as, well, the symptoms aren’t something to look forward to. Often you hear people just blame any old thing on the recession. ‘Seriously, how long is this bus taking? Buses are so late these days!’ ‘It’s the recession, the recession I tells ya! *shakes fist in air*’. Not everything can, but certainly we will see a reduction in capital investment, as a squeeze in company profit means Mr Boss Man might have to save up his coppers until the ‘calm of the storm; as well as a reduction in our disposable income as a consumer – which may mean that you Subway lovers might have to reduce your foot-longs to a six-inch. It certainly won’t prove beneficial to any active member in the domestic economy.

The Chancellor, after his annihilation by a Mr Ed. Balls, is being pressured to boost spending on infrastructure projects and housing if we don’t want to have a taste of this unappealing triple-dip – I for one, don’t want to remain at this rocky bottom. No Power Ranger, not even 007, can save us from recession. If we want to escape, then, we need to consider if our current economic plan is going to bring us out on top. If we do? Well, to mimic a favourite ‘Wallace and Gromit’ special of mine – it’ll only be by ‘a close shave’.

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1. Half full… awesome!

2. *Ugh*, it’s half empty. Well that’s just great…

3. Seriously, it’s a glass of water, who gives a shit monkey’s?

Who would have thought filling a cup mid-way could provoke so many responses! It seems like a simple enough concept, right? Right? Sadly, I used to think it was – but it turns out, everyone has a little something to say about this half-filled glass of H20. Philosophers have questioned the logic of it; Scientists have attempted to provide an explanation for it, and Optimists and Pessimists have long fought to claim this idiom as their own. The Glass of Water debate – let me (being a pro at Pictionary, of course) sum up all of this aquatic nonsense in one word – Perspective. ‘Is… is that Jesus’ face in my coffee?’ ‘Dude, you crazy?’; ‘That cloud looks like a rabbit!’ ‘Really? Looks like a cloud to me.’; ‘M-m-mum, that cup just accidentally smashed onto the floor – it’s a ghost!’ ‘S-s-son, I just saw you trip and drop it. You’re paying for that.’ To look at something, like an object or a situation, and see it in a completely different way to someone else? As someone who I can’t remember probably might have once said – It’s All A Matter of Perspective.

Certainly, as Lent begins to kicks into its full ’40 Days and 40 Nights’ swing, I’m really beginning to see how important perspective is within our lives. What are you giving up for Lent? is the perfect question to ask if you really want to get perspective out in the open! At this time of year, 9/10 times we feel we owe it to J-man to give up something we take for granted, something we could do without for just a little while. On our own personal level, it feels as if it’s the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do… but tell someone else? And they just might ‘LOL’ in your face at how pathetic you’re sounding. I’ll take myself on this one – in my perspective, I saw through my own square-eyes that I needed to part ways with my mechanical best friend, the Playstation 3. As I got my last kill streak on C.O.D., I put the controller away, said my goodbyes and shed a solemn tear as we parted for fourty long days and fourty sleepless nights. So, what did you give up for lent, Ady? I… * croak*, I had to give up the Playstation… *sniff*’ Oh… poor you, I guess? In someone else’s perspective, my heart-breaking decision was to them, a piece of cake. Or rather, a lack of cake, as they had given that up instead! Perspective always brings out something different in us, possibly even in the same situation.

Sadly, perspective has brought one bad thing into this world – your hormone-filled majesty, her royal ‘cry’ness, ‘The Drama Queen’. *Shudder*, sadly, these Queens do not create a good and prosperous society for their populace; they just create large mountains from molehills instead! It is in their perspective that things just really are worse than they may seem. Remember Veruca Salt from ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ (I WANT IT NOOOOOOW) ? In her perspective, Daddy’s wallet and a trip to a secret chocolate factory with colourful midgets singing show tunes just wasn’t enough for her! Thankfully, she was labelled as a ‘bad nut’ and herself, her perspective and her pride were all sent down a garbage shoot. So what good has perspective brought then?

Thankfully, perspective has brought a hell of a lot of good in our lives! We all live in the same world, surrounded by similar influences – but that doesn’t mean we all have to react in the same way. Piccasso, Da Vinci and MickyAngelo would have all started out with coloured paint; yet, they all saw the world they lived in a completely different way and chose to put brush to canvas and smere something completely different. Or even playing Pictionary – seriously, just draw a basic shape and you’ll be surprised what you get back. Perspective really does make the world an interesting, strange, dysfunctional, fun, entertaining place to be – just like a glass being both half full and empty, it can be all of them at once!

At first I thought it was because it was due to genetic differences; yet what amazes me is the fact that I share a completely different perspective on the world with my identical twin brother, Ant. We have the same hobbies, the same friends, the same diet… basically everything is the same. Though, we have grown up to want to do different things later in life and to achieve different things! Yeah, we do finish each others sentences and make a cracking ‘Fred and George’ impersonation act; but our perspectives just can’t be identical. It’s all a matter of perspective – the way you see the world is unique. You might see your cup half empty, or half full. Heck, you might even think ‘Ew, water’s gross, it doesn’t even taste of anything!’. But, whatever the measurement, your perspective might someday change the world. Though… if you do someday become inspired from this and get rich? Don’t forget whose perspective it was who inspired you! *nudge nudge*

You’re The One Who Is My Man Crush

In light of Valentine’s Day (or Thursday, the 14th of February we singletons prefer to call it), I’m going to share a little something with you. As couples reel out the ‘Pretty Woman’s and the ‘Titanic’s in preparation for a soppy, tear-filled evening; as roses are bought and love-letters are sealed with a great, fat *MWAH*; and as Cupid readies his golden arrows in the hope of shooting some poor, lonely sod in the derriere and filling them with a rush of hormones, I begin to realise that I’m one of the few people who will spend their night singing Akon’s ‘Mr Lonely’ in front of a mirror. Yet, we ‘lone wolves’ are capable of feeling as mushy as a plate of school dinner mash-potatoe around this time of year, too – I certainly am. Though, not in a But, but you don’t understand. I love her so much it hurts! kind of way. In a different way…

Whether it be at parties, or just randomly with my best friend, this question has awkwardly been placed into conversation, with me as its victim. So, if you had to pick one person, who would you say your man crush is? ‘The Man Crush’ – normally, I have never been able to answer this question at the expense of both my pride and my heterosexuality! However, thanks to the likes of ‘Urban Dictionary’ (which is much better than your mainstream dictionary, if not slightly more dysfunctional), I realise now that I completely misunderstood what I thought, at first, was a teenage guy’s answer to a ‘social taboo’. Respect, admiration and idolisation of another man. Bearing that in mind, I feel that to myself and my readers, I can finally answer this question without the fear of being called ‘a puff’. This is slightly awkward for me, so rather than telling you my man crush is Johnny Depp, I’ll just show you a picture of him instead:

*Lone wolf whistle*, hellooooo Johnny! Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a bad-looking chap; but it’s not his looks that encouraged me to publicly embarrass myself on WordPress. Rather, it’s the fact he has grown to become many of the traditional, fictional characters that I myself have grown to love ever since I was a little kid. Captain Jack Sparrow – the treacherous yet coward-like pirate who spends the majority of his time chasing after girls and long-lost treasures, with the question ‘Why is the rum gone?’ always at the back of his mind. Edward Scissorhands – an unfortunately disfigured ‘creation’ who doesn’t make the best first impression, but chooses to make cracking ice sculptures instead. Mad Hatter – a dysfunctional, loyal friend to Alice who throws the best damn tea party in all of Wonderland. Seriously, ask anyone! All of these different, unique characters came about from this one man. This is what makes Mr Depp worthy of being the man who is worthy of my crush. Okay, the elephant in the blog post is that all actors do this – yet, not all actors can do it in the way that he can.

Whether it be a role-model, an inspiration or an *insert sex here* crush, we enjoy to follow them by example. I realised that just having a broad, Yorkshire accent isn’t the most entertaining and inspirational one to listen to – the answer to solve this problem was in fact GCSE Drama. I thought I’d follow Johnny’s example and maybe try out a few more accents here and there. Just like he expanded into all of these different characters, I enjoyed embracing my sense of creativity and venturing into these different, cultural voices. There was a Gok Wan here, an African-American Vicar there, even a West Country farmer somewhere else! Now? You’ll certainly want me on your side when you’re prank calling someone! Having an idol to measure up against helped me achieve such a goal, albeit, a rather child-like one.

‘Measure Up Against’ being the key phrase in that sentence! In one shameful way from another, we have had to bear witness to some people who, rather than just having a crush or a role model to admire, have one instead to duplicate. Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Joker – we’ve sadly seen them all. I think the joy of having someone to look up to is that we don’t change who we are in an attempt to become someone else; but instead we can change the way we are because it seems the right thing to do so. I’m going to bear in mind the cliché Facebook ‘You’re The One Who…’ comment: You’re the one who’s great, so don’t ever change! If it’s a real crush or a ‘Johnny Depp like’ one, remain true to yourself before you send that extra cringey Valentines Card or shave your head because ‘Britney did it so I totally should!’.

Time Is Precious, My Precious!

This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.

This sneaky old riddle was muttered by none other than our ring-loving, schizophrenic quiz-master Gollum in a recent spectacular, ‘oh my gurd this is amazing’ feature film known as ‘The Hobbit’. Honestly, if you’ve not seen this film yet, get yo hairy, hobbit feet off to the nearest Vue Cinema, you’ll leave that screening room a changed man/woman/thing! Whilst seeing Dame Edna’s counterpart play a Goblin King, as well as seeing a wizard ride a sleigh with a chorus of rabbits pulling it a.k.a. Middle Earth’s answer to ‘Santa Clause’, were pondering on my childlike mind as I left the screening and Middle Earth, it was this riddle that really tugged on my mind as I travelled back to my own home (which thankfully, isn’t a hole in the ground). Figured it out yet? Or have you already seen this film? Well, I was option two, so let me provide you with the answer – Time.

Just when I thought I had this bad boy figured out, it comes back to slap me in the face with its second, minute and hour hands. Back in t’ day, Adrian junior began to be around this four letter word more often than anything else, even his Hot Wheels cars – and boy, was he around those Hot Wheels cars a lot. It’d be on his Maths worksheets, asking him whether it was ‘to’ or ‘past’ the hour; it’d be on his television, being the ultimate decider in shows such as ‘Countdown’ and ‘The Weakest Link’; it’d even take different forms in his favourite songs, whether that be ‘Hammer’, sometimes even ‘Chico’! He knew of it, he was always around it; yet, he never quite understood what it was. A bit like the Moon – ‘Scrubs’ told me it was ‘the Sun taking a night shift, whilst ‘Wallace and Gromit’ delightfully taught me it was made out of cheese. Oh how I wish they were true!

Science has taught me that the Moon is in fact Earth’s natural satellite (totally would’ve preferred the previous second option) – how do we know that? Man’s second most effective way at finding answers, (Google being first) travel. Travel has helped me to answer many questions throughout my life. From visiting my grandma in Ireland, I now know that the answer to the slightly stereotypical/border-line racist question, Is Ireland full of Leprechauns? is sadly an n, o, no. From visiting France umpteen times, I learnt the hard way that the question, So, sir, do you think this GCSE in French will help me to speak actual French to real French people? wasn’t really worth asking. Travel seems to be the answer to all of life’s questions, right? NAAAAAT. Even now, with all of our to-ing and fro-ing, travel hasn’t helped us to understand this word ‘time’ any more than square one. Whilst Scrooge/Michael Caine/Jim Carrey might understand his past, present and future more thanks to a bit of the ole travel, the modern age still wants to travel through time to gloat to their neighbour about the brand-spanking new, flying car they’ll be driving in the future; or travel to the past to be able to say ‘MUM, MUM, I… I JUST HIGH FIVED JESUS!’. Sadly, travel hasn’t brought us any closer to making these claims. Pardon the pun, but are we wasting our time trying to answer its mysteries with travel?

Now more than ever, time is the only resource I’m aware I use so much of. Sure, I might get carried away singing in the shower and use up that extra bit of water. Or I see a coat reduced in the sales, where I throw away my money in the excitement of the moment. Time is a completely different concept. From childhood to now, whether that be thanks to The Hobbit, school or travel, I’ve learnt many a thing about time. In all of its mysteries, it has one important aspect – you can’t get it back. Until the lads/lasses at Yorkshire Water go on strike, I’ll always have water. Until I buy a car and race off to university, I’ll always have money. Time, however, I have less and less of it every day! As I begin to grow up, this fact couldn’t begin to sting more than it has. On some days, I wish I could have more, more, more. If I had to give up a fiver or a bottle of water to grant myself an extra day of the week I would, as Nick Hewer once said to Alan Sugar in an episode of ‘The Apprentice’, ‘be all over it like a tramp on chips’! Sadly, we’re stuck with what we’ve got.

Sometimes time can go in a flash, or it can drone on and on. What’s important is that we look back on the flashing (not that kind of flashing) and the droning without regret. Now, let’s hope that reading this post was as good a use of your time as it was for me writing it! If not… we’re sorry, my precious :/