I first met our Editor, Hom Paribag, in 2015 when he was looking to raise monies for 2 projects for his home country – Nepal. One was to build a cooperative to help tea farmers who were being exploited over the wholesale cost of their tea crops. He also wanted to deliver 2 air ambulance helicopters for the Nepal Government. This is typical of our Editor. Everyone who meets him immediately gets the impression of a genuine ‘good human being’ who cares about the world we live in and has spent many meetings with UK politicians asking them to help his native country.
Society Today is an excellent reflection on Hom’s outlook at the world around us and I was delighted to be asked to contribute.
My column will include two regular features ‘Things about London you may not know’ and the ‘Adventures of Old Moore’.
My friends and I acknowledge that we are the lucky generation. Born after 2 world wars and where technology and medical advancement have made life so much better, especially for those of us who live in Europe.
The UK is the 5th richest country on earth yet we still have high levels of poverty with families who need one, or sometimes two jobs, yet still need the support of food banks.
Most worrying is what cost covid 19 will have on the British economy? Our Chancellor has made £billions available to support selected industries but no-one knows the longer-term financial outcome which will be paid for by our children and grandchildren.
We were reminded last year that the Second World War finally ended 75 years ago. I wonder how people in the future will look back on another period in history where millions of people perished around the world?
With various levels of post-covid recovery programmes now set in place the City of London is getting back to some sort of normality.
Interestingly, the Bank of England has just forecast that the UK economy will enjoy its strongest growth in more than 70 years in 2021 as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
My own office in London has remained closed ‘until further notice’ and many large companies are balancing their employees’ work practices between ‘home working’ and ‘commuting’ to their offices. My own office which employs 140 staff will not open until later this year.
Things About London you may not Know.
Between September 1940 and May 1941 the German air force unleashed its wave of heavy bombing raids on London killing hundreds of civilians and injuring many more. These raids became known as the Blitz (from the German “Blitzkrieg” meaning “lightning war”) destroying millions of homes, firstly in London, and then throughout the UK. 2020 marked 80 years since brave young men took to the skies and stopped Hitler’s plans to invade Britain. By the end of the war just under 30,000 Londoners had been killed by the bombing and over 50,000 seriously injured.
40,000 Londoners died of a plague in 1625 but it was followed in 1665 by the Great Plague of London which led to the deaths of between 75,000 and 100,000 people, more than a fifth of the entire population of London at the time. It was known as ‘The Black Death’ – an infection of bubonic plague caused by the spread of a bacillus called ‘yersinia pestis’ transmitted through the bites of fleas.
It was reported that more people had died by jumping off the ‘Monument’ tower (built on the presumed starting place of the Great Fire of London in 1666) than had died in the fire. However, it is now recognised that more than 100,000 people may have perished during its 4 days of devastation. The heat was so intense with temperatures in excess of 1000 degrees that no remains of any bodies could be found.
However, these numbers are dwarfed by the 4 billion Russian soldiers who died on the Eastern Front halting Hitler’s attempted invasion of Russia in 1941.
Moore is a fictional character, now retired, and based upon some of the people I have worked with in previous years when City business lunches lasted into the evening.
As he was unable to meet me for lunch at his favourite venue, Bow Wine Vaults, I wondered how Moore was coping during these difficult times. At his insistence we had been holding regular Zoom drinking meetings on his mobile phone However, he excitedly rang me to say that he was going into the City and would I like to join him for lunch. He had booked a table at the ‘Bleeding Heart’ Bistro near Chancery Lane.
As I arrived in Bleeding Heart Yard he introduced me to 3 old colleagues. After polite conversation about the economy, and things fiscal, Moore got stuck into the French menu. He insisted on starters for everyone followed by a fish course and steak frites. As he continuously ordered more and more wine ‘to wash down this feast’ as he put it – I recognised an old trend and the expectation that at the end of the meal I would be presented with the bill.
To my astonishment he insisted on paying up the lot with his new platinum credit card. “I get cash back with this card“ he boasted and took pleasure in presenting the waiter with a £10 tip.
As we said goodbye to his pals, Moore turned to me and said, “ Now it’s your turn to finish off the afternoon” and we progressed across the square to the Bleeding-Heart Tavern whose history dates back to 1746 when its slogan was ‘drunk for a penny – dead drunk for two pence’. An appropriate place to finish the afternoon I thought!
He owned up that he had recently received some money after the death of an elderly aunt and felt a duty to return some hospitality to some worthy recipients. Perhaps Moore was turning over a new leaf, I thought, but that was soon put to bed when Moore announced, “I told my friends that you would host the next meal and probably at somewhere more expensive”.
Ah well – c’est la vie!
John Lutterloch is a City financier who raises debt and equity for UK companies. He has worked in the City of London all his life.He is also a published historian mainly reflecting on life in the ‘Square Mile’ over the centuries.
As well as various business interests he has written the ‘City Chatter’ column in Leasing World Magazine for the past 12 years.