Ghost Town


Surely it is time for a reissue of the Special Aka’s paean to the economic consequences of Thatcherism on our urban landscape? To fit into the zeitgeist, perhaps it should be recorded by the winner of this year’s X Factor.

Other than by those directly affected, the collapse of Comet – the latest example of economic Darwinism in action – is unlikely to be mourned by many. Generally located in some god forsaken out of town retail park and boasting a stock level that was worse than an East German supermarket in the Communist era and a workforce who were both under-motivated and keener to display their latest body art and piercings than their intimate knowledge of the goods on display, Comet offered a salutary shopping experience. Latterly, it was somewhere you would go to check out the goods before ordering them through some on-line discount supplier.

Founded in 1933 as a business charging batteries for those new-fangled wireless sets, it opened its first store in 1968 and following its acquisition by Kingfisher in 1984, expanded to become a household name in the late eighties and nineties. However, its business model failed to keep up with the changes in the buying patterns of its consumers. Its latest owners, a private equity company, OpCapita, bought it for a nominal £2 (was this subject to the price match guarantee?) last February from Kesa Electricals, have decided enough is enough and announced they are calling in the administrators. Only time will tell whether anything of the business will be salvaged.

Dark days indeed.     


Time For Plan B?

An interesting piece of economic analysis by Alan Taylor and Moritz Schularik I picked up from Slate magazine ( into the respective recoveries of the US and the UK economies against the two economists’ initial predictions.

The UK economy, whilst performing relatively within expectations in 2008 and 2009 (years 1 and 2) falls way behind the US in years 3 and 4 (2010 an 2011) and drops below the forecast track in 2012.

Remind me, what happened in 2010?

Have They Really F**ked It Up This Time?

Babel – Mumford & Sons

To successfully follow up a critically acclaimed debut album is always a difficult trick to pull off as, unfortunately, the Mumfords have found out. “Sigh No More” was a breath of fresh air because of its joie de vivre and the deployment of a frenetic banjo as the lead instrument. That was then – the novelty has now waned but Babel treads the same path as its predecessors. It is not a bad album and there are some highlights – I particularly like Holland Park – but it seems to be formulaic and suffers from over production.

They need to get back to basics, pare down the production values and add some variety to their approach. For the true devotees of the Mumfords, this album will cement them in their affections. For those of us who thought they were a breath of fresh air in an increasingly stagnating musical landscape, we will be disappointed that they have played safe and not really kicked on.