Money in mayhem

messy roomI quite like Mark Carney. He’s very dashing for a Governor of the Bank of England and he has that reassuring Canadianness that reeks of honesty and trustworthiness.

But what are we to make of his speech yesterday when he warned bankers that unless they cleaned up their act and recognised their responsibilities to society, as well as to the market, unfettered capitalism would end up destroying itself? I wish I could believe him, but chutzpah, risk-taking and originality will always win over workaday effort, it’s just the way we are made. Where there’s muck there’s brass. Which reminds me – I tidied my bedroom yesterday. It took about three hours and by the end of it I had two bin bags of waste paper, another of jumble and a headache. Had I been paying myself the going rate, it would have cost me £20 to hand it over to a cleaner, or £120 to a professional declutterer. Had I left it as it was, described myself as an artist and got on the blower to Charles Saatchi, he’d have paid me £100,000 to take it away. What’s in a name?

But what separates my grimbly bedroom from Tracey Emin’s is more than a label and a price tag – and that is what I mean by chutzpah, originality and risk-taking. People flock to see her unmade bed so that they can peer at the discarded pill packets and grubby sheets and judge and cluck and go home muttering, “I could have done that”. Yes, but you didn’t did you? And that’s the point. And now, 16 years on it’s being dusted down, ever so gently, and put up for sale where it’s expected to fetch more than a million pounds. Tracey Emin was talking about her bed on Radio 4 yesterday and it was difficult not to warm to her when she was describing how she spend the day ‘installing’ it and how weird it was that every pair of grubby knickers or scrunched up tissue or bit of dust and fluff had been transported to its new home in its own individual plastic bag to protect its authenticity.

Over 16 years its value has increased tenfold, meanwhile the hourly rate for a cleaner has risen by less than twofold from £3.60 in 1998, when the minimum wage was brought in, to £6.31, which doesn’t give much hope to us all buying in to ethical capitalism. Market forces aside we still haven’t got a cleaner, which is one reason why Doughnut’s bed hasn’t been swept, let alone made in a while. Not only has he got his mucky paw prints all over it, it is also strewn with this morning’s discarded painkillers and anti-inflammatory pill that he painstakingly picks out of the ham I try to disguise them in. Wonder if Tracey has room at the foot of her bed for a new installation?

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