Bleak house, but great expectations

Suffering of late with a rather nasty cough, Mrs Simms was keen to check that she wasn’t keeping me awake through the night. “It did at first,” I said, munching through my breakfast. “But I soon got used to it, like the way you do with a particularly loud clock.” The usually affable Mrs Simms looked a bit miffed at this, as she checked: “So in this scenario, I’m an annoyingly clamorous clock?”

Realising I might have started digging a hole for myself, I scrabbled to climb out, saying: “Not necessarily a clock; perhaps either a train or a plane, depending on where we lived. Although they tend not to fly at night, so the metaphor doesn’t quite hold.”

It became clear to me that Mrs Simms was failing to focus on the positive, which was of course that I was managing to enjoy an unbroken night’s sleep in the face of her constant hacking. Despite our somewhat bleak house, it seemed there was a good chance I could come through the whole thing relatively unscathed, leaving me optimistic for the evenings ahead.

Sensing a possible way out of my deepening hole, I suggested to Mrs Simms that she was bit like 2019. Plenty of doom and gloom, and with the potential for things to get a lot worse. Economically, we’ve had the constant threat of the fallout of a disorderly Brexit, early warning signs of a UK recession amid a global slowdown, and nothing but bleak prospects for the year ahead.

But expectations have lifted. Economists are forecasting modest growth for 2020 in the UK, and the IMF goes further in its latest World Economic Outlook to predict a recovery in global growth. At a time when everything seemed to be going backwards, that’s reason for optimism. Of course, so much of the growth potential for the UK depends upon an orderly Brexit, and we’re not out of the woods yet, with Boris Johnson still holding the threat of a hard departure from the EU should we not have a trade deal in place by the end of the year. But for now, it feels as though we can finally put some firm plans in place, invest in our businesses with a little more confidence, and aim to be fast out of the traps as sentiment improves.

I took another bite of toast and looked across the breakfast table to see if I was back on firmer ground. Mrs Simms coughed.

Mark Simms Editor

Industrial Technology

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