Saturday, May 14, 2011

Filthy lucre

My thoughts have been more than usually concerned with financial matters of late as I attempt to rejig my modest investments in the light of the changing economic and financial environment, and bring them into line with my assessment of the current risks and opportunities out there. It's difficult to know where to put one's savings these days, with currency turmoil and sovereign debt problems adding to the usual uncertainties. I may in the future have a go at talking in detail about these matters though I still have a residual sense (derived from a rather old-fashioned upbringing) that money is not a proper subject for polite discourse!

The most unlikely people have spoken in praise of money - and in the most unlikely circumstances. The English television and screen writer Dennis Potter was interviewed on Channel 4 by Melvyn Bragg a short time before his death from cancer. He was in pain, and occasionally sipped a morphine-based concoction from a flask. He spoke of his early life, his work (he was trying to complete a final television drama), politics, English culture, and of his desire to murder Rupert Murdoch. Despite his left-wing views, Potter admitted to a strong preference for traveling first class. A disarming aside stuck in my memory. "Money - I like it," he said.

If lefties and the dying normally refrain from speaking in praise of cash, so do other categories of people, including Romantics and romantics. And, of course, the traditionally religious. The notion of holy poverty ("Blessed are the poor ...") is a major New Testament theme and a strong element in most Christian traditions, including Roman Catholicism.

So this couplet by Hilaire Belloc, a writer who strongly identified with the Roman Catholic church, has rather more punch than it would had it come from the pen of a worldly cynic:

I'm tired of Love; I'm still more tired of Rhyme.
But money gives me pleasure all the time.