Forget your economic indicators, which includes such slippery figures on such meaningless concepts as "unemployment", "growth", and "spending" – brace yourselves, by the way, for weekly updates on the Christmas shopping markers, as if the best measure of how close we are to The Road is how many people are going to unwrap Twilight calendars on Heiligabend (apparently reliable economic research institutes project that if more than 30 percent of 25- to 40-year-olds buy an image of an unrequited teenager or a sallow-skinned immortal then we should all start buying tinned food) - there is no more reliable statistic than the number of cynical interpretations per nice news item.
When people feel miserable, they get suspicious, and apparently it takes unnatural, almost Michael Palin-esque levels of niceness to resist the temptation to decide that everyone in authority is an evil reptile, and join the Tea Party.
Anyway, there have been just two items of happy news in the last few weeks – two items that have generated a little love in the world – and, because people hate good news so much, both have been subject to conspiracy theories. First there was the Chilean miners being pulled out of a hole. Apparently, this was all set up by the Freemasons. Secondly, Paul the Octopus died, and apparently, a bit like Paul McCartney – he has been dead since just before the World Cup final.
All I can say is that I just wish one of these stories was true. I wish the Freemasons actually cared enough to bury a bunch of miners and then pull them out of the ground one by one. It was better and more uplifting than any movie, except maybe Die Hard 3 (Die Hard With a Vengeance). The thought that someone would put themselves out enough to set this up as a kind of ritual for our benefit would only make it more comforting. I always liked the Freemasons, and the Illuminati, for that matter – matter-of-fact, artistic atheists and scientists to a man with a taste for the theatre of power. Who can't admire that?
As for Paul, I never liked that little twat.