Over the last two months those of us following the news on the array of international television channels, must have viewed literally hundreds of proclaimed health experts, mainly American. Nearly every one of them has been interviewed against the background of bookshelves.
Books are my main preoccupation. On average I’ve spent about 8 hours every day over the last half century reading.
I read everything and own over 20,000 books in my homes in three countries. I haunt second-hand bookshops, particularly in Britain where I regularly am.
How do I have the time? Easy. First, I don’t own a time-wasting cell-phone. When driving I listen to talking books, mostly fiction. I watch little television other than the news and some sport.
I’ve been in a picture theatre twice in the last 50 years, and so it goes.
In short I know books and I can tell you this with some expertise. That is that at least half of the health experts pitching their lines re the virus on the news channels have pretend background libraries, which I can ascertain at a glance.
There are all sorts of give-aways such as uniformity in size and colour, books lying flat in piles on shelves (which no self-respecting book lover would do) and many other clues.
On that note here’s an amusing tale, although it wasn’t at the time.
In the late 1980s when running a public company I was back and forward regularly between Sydney and Wellington. Additionally, my wife and I were constantly travelling to America and Britain.
We had two young boys and because of our constant absences, two live-in nannies respectively in our Sydney and Wellington homes.
Once, my wife decided to make a solid base in Sydney for a year as the boys needed stability, both going to Possums Pre-school there, an amusing name which has stuck in my memory.
One day I zipped home to New Zealand for a meeting and arrived about 8pm. On arrival I shot into the library to do some work. Sitting there I was overcome with an eerie feeling. It’s a big library in 3 sections and my desk is at one end. The other two sections I left in darkness. As said, I was imbued with a strange sense of something amiss, as if the room was haunted.
So I rose and turned all the lights on. Bloody hell! The bored half-witted Wellington nannie, with nothing to do, had decided to “help me out” by rearranging the library, specifically in book size and colour. It took over a year to put it all back together again.
Even worse, she’d scrubbed a cricket bat clean of writing she perceived as despoiling it. This had been given to me by Jeremy Coney after our victorious 1986 unbeaten test series in England and which Jeremy had all the players sign.
But back to the health “experts”. I have not the slightest doubt that history will record they were all grossly over-stating the concern and were loving their place in the limelight, something hitherto they’d never experienced. The biggest give-away were the American ones “thank you for having me” absurdity at the end of the interviews.
But the economic and social calamity inflicted on the world is more a consequence of lightweight politicians who have failed to show proper judgement in their copy-cat approaches.
Warren Buffett, noted for his buy quality and hold it through thick and thin highly successful investment approach (something I’d worked out years ago), has been selling down wholesale. It’s tough for him as he’s dealing in hundreds of billions of dollars of investment assets, not easily disposed of quickly.
So why this change from a life-time’s investment philosophy which has served him so well? To quote him; “We do not know what happens when you shut down a substantial portion of your society. In 2008 our economic train went off the tracks. But this time we pulled the train off and put it in a siding – and I don’t know of a parallel”.
To that I’d say, Buffett doesn’t know of a parallel in history for the very good reason there isn’t one. What has occurred is abysmal political “leadership” which will have devastating political, social and health consequences.