Thursday, 23 October 2008
Death Rides an Iron Horse: suicide by train in the Credit Crunch
Here are some figures you won't have seen in the national press. One week. Three journeys. Four suicides.
Last week my associate Charles Shaar Murray traveled to Oxford to lay some cool slide guitar on a friend's album. Both journeys out and back to London were delayed by a fatality on the line, one of them on the Tube leg of the trip. My Bedford train from St Pancras the next day was delayed by a fatality on the line. Another friend, in town for the day, was late due to ... a fatality on the line!
If we had four deaths in three journeys (one of them a return), what sort of suicide pattern must be emerging across London and the UK, let alone all the other countries hit by the recession?
The money-making jamboree of the past decade made unimaginable fortunes for bankers until the Credit Crunch and sub-prime market failure ended their bonanza but they're not the ones picking up the bill. The depression in the 1920s may have had bankers leaping off skyscraper ledges but no such luck this time around. All gilt, no guilt, they've been insulated from the fallout — their fallout — by governments too scared to take meaningful action except chuck our money at them (coins sharpened to a razor's edge are acceptable, thank you, but not billions from public funds, if you please), or which are so heavily compromised themselves that they risk being squished in the bail-out feeding frenzy.
Despite government bluster that bloated bankers responsible for the bad debts and subsequent economic collapse receive no bonuses, Lloyds TSB, having just shared in the £37 billion rescue package due to having nothing but moths in their coffers, now insist that their executives get their bonuses because "they deserve it". I do wish the culprits would get their just desserts in this instance but the deity in charge of cosmic justice must be washing her hair. It's now workers without millions to cushion them who face eviction, destitution, rising bills, failing services, relationship breakdown and all-round general purpose hardship. Most of us have few savings. British debt is running at £1.69 for every pound made so many people have no slack to take them through the next nightmare period.
The train suicides are the canaries down the mine, the frontline, the first over the top of the trenches. The rest of us can only watch and shudder knowing that soon It Could Be You stepping off the planet. Better buy that Lottery ticket quick while you can afford it coz it's the best chance most of us have to extricate ourselves from Other People's mess. Some hope!
Poor train drivers. I hope they're getting counselling coz there's gonna be a lot more of this going on for the foreseeable.