Saw a preview of Noises Off at the Old Vic. Superb, classic farce from Michael Frayn about a touring theatrical production of a terrible farce, which alternates between front of house and backstage action, showing how the tensions between actors manifest in the production.
Brilliantly funny, with a slow start building to an intricate mix of verbal and physical comedy. Very well played as the actors come into and go out of character. Totally worth seeing.
We paid £10 each for tickets along the side of the upper balcony with a bit of a restricted view. It's worth going for more expensive tickets if you can though, £20 gets you forward-facing seats at least.
What I'm Reading
Stalin Ate My Homework by Alexei Sayle. Interesting memoir of his childhood and adolescence in Liverpool, raised by members of the British Communist Party.
Pretty funny and very compelling. Has an elegiac feel later on as the cosy warmth of belonging to a subculture with a certainty of moral conviction starts to evaporate.
Commentary. Daily Mail Sarkozy snubs Cameron, Fabians: Cameron veto undermines Britain's future . New Statesman: EU treaty is a disaster for the left. Centre for European Reform: Britain on the edge of Europe Newspaper front pages. "PM has shown great political courage". Express: Britain close to EU exit.
I'm not sure what to think yet. The details are pretty sketchy and we don't really know what's going to emerge.
On the one hand, I have some sympathy for David Cameron, who had a very weak hand going in. While he's getting the blame for derailing a change to the Lisbon Treaty, it's not at all clear to me that that option was even feasible. It was a titanic struggle getting even the Lisbon treaty passed by every EU nation, and that was a minor technical change in a time of prosperity. Getting an actually substantial treaty change passed in a time of fear may well have been impossible, in which case Cameron is just the fall guy for something that was inevitable.
On the other hand, this outcome seems pretty terrible for everyone.
The Eurozone rescue efforts are now handicapped because they have to use new rather than existing treaties and institutions. What threatens the Eurozone threatens the UK. Much of our trade is with it: a recession there drags us down. The international banking system is fragile and interlinked: Eurozone bank crises will affect our banks even more than the US sub-prime mortgage fiasco did.
Single market regulations, including banking regulations, are set by qualified majority voting: there's no UK veto. While the point was theoretically to protect the City, there's a great danger now that the 17-26 "inner nations" will now agree regulations without any UK voice or consultation; then the whole EU will rubber-stamp it regardless of UK opinion.
City boys tend to think in the short term. Cameron has doubtless done exactly what they wanted in the short term, they'll be slapping him on the back that everybody's 2012 profits and bonuses are safe from a financial transaction tax.
In the long term though, this may threaten the City's status more than a deal. After slapping him on the back, his City buddies may well quietly, one by one, slip off to Frankfurt and Paris where they're closer to the centre of power, while London is gradually hamstrung by EU regulations.
(Note 1 for right-wingers. Leaving the EU wouldn't even help: the EEA nations and Switzerland still have to abide by EU regulations. They can't opt out of individual regulations, even the Swiss have only a theoretical opt-out of huge chunks of regulation governed by whole treaties.)
(Note 2 for left-wingers. I've seen some talk about how because the proposed deal limits national budget deficits for Eurozone members, it's a fundamental change to sovereignty. Don't forget that the old Growth and Stability Pact also supposedly limited national budget deficits for them. So the change is just that they might actually enforce it this time round.)
When we examine the effects of offshoring on wages for different knowledge groups, we find that offshoring has the largest positive effect on occupations that require communication and language (premium of +4.4%), followed by social sciences (+3.7%), and maths (+2.7%). The premium for natural sciences and engineering is close to 0. This may seem curious given the policy emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) education in many advanced economies, but if science and maths are universal languages, jobs requiring them can be done anywhere with an educated workforce.Pics. Old London maps..
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