Surprise 1: Inflation soars to 4.2 per cent, higher than expected.
Surprised? Amazed? Flabbergasted? I am all those things and more. Why, I keep asking myself, has it taken so long? And why just 4.2 per cent?
Inflation is too much money chasing too little in the way of goods and services. And the Exchequer has been printing money like a daredevil counterfeiter, while the amount of goods and services has been growing slowly if at all.
Much of this freshly minted cash goes to service the already existing public debt of over two trillion, with another two trillion expected to join the fun in the next few years. After all, our government is desperate to ‘level up’, an undertaking that invariably fails but always costs.
Excessive government spending funded by borrowing and the printing press is a sure-fire guarantee of burgeoning inflation, as any first-year student of economics will tell you. Among other things, the cost of servicing the national debt will shoot up pari passu with inflation.
The only real way of stopping that rise is for the government to start paying its way. Yet that’s a political impossibility: too many promises have been made, too many hopes stoked up, too many votes bought with spending pledges.
The short-term solution is to raise interest rates, and that’s what the Bank will probably do – with predictably dire consequences for investment and growth.
Economists use the term ‘misery index’ to describe the sum of inflation and interest rates. Ours is still a manageable 4.3 at the moment, yet it can reach double digits within months (but for my customary reluctance to play Cassandra, I’d predict that it definitely will). That’ll have a shattering effect on the economy and the Tories’ electoral chances.
Surprise 2. Some of the inflation has been caused by a sharp increase in gas prices.
Really? Seriously? Just because Britain gets almost half its gas from the EU, the EU gets a third of its own from Russia, and Russia is using its gas as a stick to beat Europe with? Wonders will never cease.
Surprise 3. Belarusian Arabs are now attacking Polish border guards with rocks, strobe lights and clubs, with more potent weapons to follow soon.
The Poles are countering with tear gas, flash grenades and water cannon, with more potent weapons to follow soon. The ensuing noise muffles the roar of Russian tanks moving to the border with the Ukraine.
Now there’s a surprise. Turns out Col. Putin doesn’t have to rely just on gas to put pressure on the West. And it’s already paying off: yesterday his best friend Angie Merkel turned herself (and therefore the EU) into a supplicant by ringing Lulashenko and begging him to desist, with Manny Macron making a similar call to Putin.
Massive concessions will doubtless follow, for both Putin and, as an afterthought, Lukashenko. And there I was, thinking the West doesn’t negotiate with terrorists. Only joking. I’m not at all surprised.
Surprise 4. The Church of England does have an important role to play.
Who says the C of E is useless? Certainly not Muslim asylum seekers: the Church has been facilitating their applications by converting them to Christianity.
I would have thought a passionate protestation of Christian faith would in today’s climate be rather seen as a disqualifying circumstance, but to my surprise that’s not the case.
Alas, as they find Jesus, the chaps don’t quite lose the customs of their cradle religion. One such new convert joined the faith at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, which he was then going to blow up during the Remembrance Sunday service.
However, he only succeeded in blowing up himself, when his shoddily built IED exploded in his taxi on the way to the cathedral. There’s another surprise: I thought Muslims, crypto- or otherwise, would have learned how to handle explosives by now. They’ve had plenty of on-the-job training.
Surprise 5. Last but not least: Emily Ratajkowski is a victim of sexploitation. (This is the only Surprise I am illustrating pictorially because… Well, my reasons needn’t concern you.)
Emily is an actress and model whose only discernible talents are pouting lips and what Americans unkindly call T&A. Now she has had a book ghost-written to complain how she has been forced to monetise those assets into millions of dollars by posing in various stages of nudity since she was 12.
I’m surprised that so few nurses, factory workers and school teachers have expressed their unequivocal support for Emily’s plight. After all, how is she supposed to survive on a net worth of merely $8,000,000?
And that’s not all. Apparently, Emily, already a successful model at 15, was raped by a boy of 16. She surprised herself: “Why did [I] not scream at the top of my lungs? Why did I moan and whimper softly?” Why indeed.
She surprised me too. The definition of rape must have changed dramatically since I was a teenager. Then again, that was a shockingly long time ago.