Someone very kindly sent me an advance copy of ‘A Life Too Short,’ which tells the story of German goalkeeper Robert Enke, who ended his own life after years of struggling with depression.
It is not out until the end of the month, so I won’t say too much, other than the fact that having started to read it on the flight out to Kosovo on Monday, I was really looking forward to a good long read on the Budapest-London leg of the flight home. It is a very sad story, and a very good book.
However, my chances of getting stuck in were somewhat limited by the fact that the man in the seat next to me greeted me with a very warm and friendly ‘hello Mr Campbell,’ and went on to devote the entire flight to fairly intense conversation. Being a lot more polite than you might imagine – well, some of the time – I only managed about ten pages of the book, did a bit of work on a speech I am making about mental health in Cambridge today, and chatted away.
My neighbour was a banker, but very interested in, and well informed about, politics, and by the end of the flight I felt I had been through a gentle but lengthy q and a session. All the usual stuff – what was Gordon like, did I still see Tony, what was Bush like, will Obama win, will Sarkozy, were there any Tories I admired, low points, high points, what was I up to those days … ???
When we got onto me asking him questions, I learned he was a Tory voter, worked all over the world, had kids in very expensive schools (but his wife, a teacher, agreed with a lot of what my partner Fiona said about education), thought the economic situation was even worse than people were saying, there was going to be a Second GFC (global financial crisis) and GFC2 would be worse than GFC1.
He thought the euro would collapse, Europe would turn in on each other and before too long there would be a referendum on leaving the European Union. Big stuff. He thought the UK spending cuts were playing at the margins, and that far deeper austerity may be down the track. But he thought that David Cameron and George Osborne were out of their depth and didn’t understand the scale of the eurozone problem, or the impact it was going to have on the UK. He was not a fan of Ed Miliband or Ed Balls but said the claim that Osborne lacked a strategy for growth was spot on. Yesterday’s jobless figures, he believed, confirmed that.
So what should we be doing, I asked? ‘Fasten your seat belt,’ he said.
After a couple of hours of economic woe, returning to Robert Enke was something of a relief.