Strange goings on in Canary Wharf

Why the nation’s economic forecasters have been relieved of their jobs, and why  it doesn’t matter.

Now I don’t have anything particular against bankers and their chums. That is not to say that some of my best friends are bankers. In fact the reverse is true; none of my best friends are bankers.  But I have always assumed that by and large, as with every other industry and trade, there are your good bankers and your bad bankers.  For the last 30 years our country has fallen under the spell of Bad Bankers.

But I must admit I started to look upon bankers in a different light when I recently took a friend on a tour of docklands using different modes of transport.

We used the Docklands Light Railway (the train with no driver), Emirates Airline (the cable car that takes you over the Thames), the standard Underground, the Greenwich Tunnel which allows a gentle stroll under the river from the Isle of Dogs to Greenwich, and the ferry from thence back to Westminster.

In between our travels I decided to take in lunch at Canada Square and it was here that I discovered that bankers in Docklands now have their own free newspaper: The Wharf.

Nothing wrong in that of course – there is all the latest news on the financial district, some sports information (mostly about sports I’d never heard of, but I think these people have a different lifestyle from me), lifestyle comments (ditto) and then, to my absolute surprise a page called Witch of the Wharf.

This was indeed a full page which covered mystical readings and prognostications, although not including, I was sorry to see, anything related to which shares were worth buying pending their rise the following week.

There were, however, lots of tips and hints relating to how one could make one’s particular way in the world as, I suppose, a financial wizard.

Their prime recommendation seems to be to the placing of a lump of fire agate on a business proposal, leaving it overnight (presumably protected by a bevy of armed guards) and then retrieving it (while, I guess, returning the fire agate to the vault).

In case you are not familiar with fire agate it is a gemstone found in Mexico, Arizona and California.  As such it is rather valuable, which is why the notion of leaving it out overnight probably sends shivers down the spines of insurers.

The page also has some rather dubious advice for certain people telling them whom to be aware of and whom particularly to avoid.

Reading all this I began to wonder if there wasn’t some sort of underhand, underworld and quite possibly under the table, financial dealing going on here, the sort of thing that involves shady characters, armed escorts and bank accounts in Panama.

Turning back to my table as our food arrived I then found that the waiter had left me with a leaflet advertising a meeting of the Canada Square coven, and this really did begin to spook me a little.

I do know that we hold a small collection of witchcraft paraphernalia in our storage facility for one of our clients, but I took this in on the basis that none of it was actually real or likely to have any effect.  But if our nation’s esteemed financial experts are getting involved in the dark arts, I wondered whether I should not be questioning what exactly is being stored within.

So I called my customer, and he agreed to pop round to put my mind at rest.

Over a coffee he said, “There is an expression to the effect that economic forecasters only exist to give fortune tellers a good name.”  As I pondered this, he went on…

“The economic forecasting industry has been responsible for more financial disasters than any other branch of the fortune telling industry.  While Gypsy Rose Lee might tell you that you are coming into a large sum of money, or your daughter might meet a tall dark handsome stranger, the economic forecasters predict the route of the entire economy – and always get it wrong.

“Thus following the stock market crash of October 19, 1987, known as Black Tuesday the Venerable Guild of Economic Forecasters gave up their learned studies and took up astrology instead.”

“Does it work?” I asked.

“The results are much the same as before,” he admitted, “but it does mean that the economists get out more and spend less time in the pub at night.  Anyway, in return for giving the banking industry free advice, the astrologers and other luminaries are given space in The Wharf to advertise their wares.”

“Hasn’t anyone noticed that economic forecasting is in the hands of a load of fortune tellers?” I asked.

“I am sure they have,” he replied. “But I think by and large the fortune tellers tend to charge less than economists, and since the accuracy of the results is pretty much the same as it was before, everyone is happy.”

He bade me good day, and I was left pondering.


Storage isn’t just about bringing items into our facility.

 It’s something our bodies do all the time!

I wrote a little note recently about some of the myths that surround food and as a result had several people ask me if my comments to the effect that you don’t need to drink eight glasses of water a day and that sugar does not make children hyper were actually true.

I was, of course, deeply miffed that anyone should disbelieve any of my words, but having at last overcome my bout of miffedness I can return to the theme and say, yes, both were true. The notion that sugar leads to observable hyperactivity in children and the notion that we need to drink all this water, are simply inventions of the fake news industry.

And since I have returned to this theme, in order to answer that point I have decided to go a little further.  This piece of fake health news is, I must admit, one I didn’t know until recently, but it was pointed out to me following the last article – and I’ve checked it out, and again I can assure you, what I write below is indeed true.

The notion that our bodies should go through an occasional or even regular periods of “detox” is a load of bunkum.

What is true is that most of us living in Western societies have lots of undesirable stuff inside us.  There is a truly exciting volume (well, no, actually a rather boring volume) called the National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, which is published in the US, which shows that virtually everyone has a body packed with nasty things.  If you think about the poisons, pesticides and pollutants in the atmosphere it is easy to see why.

The notion of the detox in order to get rid of all this seems fairly logical and reasonable.  But beneath it hide two questions: do any of the popular methods of detox work, and even if they do work, do they actually do us any good?

We have inside us things called the liver, the kidneys and a rather nifty operation called the digestive system – all of which are incorporated into the human body in order to help us break down food and get rid of any bits that we shouldn’t have ingested in the first place.

Indeed if one thinks about it for a moment, although industrialisation brought us within reach of many new toxins, there were plenty enough in the environment of stone age people, and for them the walk to the chemist to get a remedy when something went wrong was a bit of a problem (what with there being no chemists).

But the problem arises with some items we ingest known as “fat soluble chemicals” which can take a while to be processed by the body – and so can build up inside us.  They can hang around for up to ten years in many cases.

So, surely it must be a good idea to get rid of these nasties.  And yes it is. But the problem is that doing what the detox diets suggests (such as having a spot of time only consuming liquids) has no effect at all.  Rather boringly the best way to get rid of “fat soluble chemicals” is to stop ingesting them for six to ten years.

And unfortunately, that is not only boring; it is also impossible.

Worse, the notion that one can go on a diet (i.e. have a period of significantly reduced food, rather than switching to foods which are better for you) can actually have the opposite effect than the one you want.  Sudden changes to our diets can raise the level of such things as pesticides in the blood dramatically, which is why many people actually feel far worse during and after a period of attempting to lose weight quickly.  It is also why some people eat so much when the diet is over.

In short, sudden dieting can cause far more problems than the detox programmes claim to be getting rid of.  The reason for this is that the body is programmed to react to sudden shortages of food and drink and to adjust accordingly.

Unfortunately, that adjustment programme was built into us as we evolved several million years ago when food supply was erratic. It was highly relevant then, in the era when food supply could be erratic.  It is not relevant now.  But the adjustment programme is still there.

Sadly, the most common toxic chemicals around in our society (nicotine and alcohol) are the ones that people either can’t give up or return to quickly after giving up for a while.

The only way forward to a healthier body is to get your body weight to an appropriate level by having a balanced diet, taking serious exercise at least four days a week, and cutting out the nicotine and alcohol.  If that seems too much, then start up the exercise regime, cut out the nicotine, and reduce the alcohol.  It’s not perfect but for most people it is good enough.

But, of course there is still a problem with this.  Taking a detox programme for a week or two and then going back to normal just seems so much easier.