• If I was a rich man……

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    I was born in Leeds and my family home was right on the boundary between two wards, Moortown and Roundhay. The boundary ran north/south right down the middle of Kingswood Gardens so we in the even numbered houses on the eastern side were in Roundhay ward and those on the western side were in Moortown ward.

    I had an early friend in the boy who lived opposite me. Our parents were on friendly terms and so were we. I and my parents were Methodists. My friend and his parents were Jewish. He was born in August and I was born three weeks later in September. As a result, I was one year behind him in school.

    Leeds, and the northern part of the city has a large Jewish population. In Moortown and Leeds North wards, this is particularly so. This concentration was reflected in the pupil intake in the schools I attended.

    I will always be grateful to my friend who lived opposite me for doing something. Something he was completely unaware of. And still, having just turned 65, still is. He stopped me from being anti-Semitic.

    How?

    Well you see, there were two older boys who lived nearby. Both were older than me and they were both bullies. However, I discovered one of the great truths in life: Bullies are often cowards. Their bullying comprised inducing psychological fear. When I stood up to this, the bullying stopped.

    The reason why I am grateful to my Jewish friend who lived opposite me was that were it not for his friendship, the fact that these bullies were Jewish could have inculcated a deep anti-Semitism in the young Rogers. This did not happen. I did and still do despise these two but it is now so long ago (six decades) it is all in the past. Can I do the Christian thing and forgive these two? Only if they themselves had been abused by one or both parents. As for their parents, in the hypothetical case that one or both had abused their sons, if this was in whole or in large part due to the effects of the Holocaust, then the person to blame for it all is the late and unlamented Adolf Hitler.

    As it is, the episode in my past is so long behind me, I rarely think about it.

    One of the advantages of not being anti-Semitic is that one can really enjoy such movies as the 1971 musical, Fiddler on the Roof. The lead role was of course played by Chaim Topol (Hebrew: חיים טופול‎) and consequently he is best known for his portrayal of Tevye the Dairyman. One of the most memorable parts of the movie is of course him singing, “If I was a rich man.”

    The YouTube video above demonstrates a particular aspect of some Jewish humour that has it’s own special form of self-deprecating pathos.

    In this, “The Year of COVID”, I do not know how my childhood friend has fared as we lost contact years ago. I hope he has managed as the BBC’s Emily Maitlis likes to remind us, to “stay safe”.

    He like me was born after October 1954 and thus has to wait another year for his state pension. He probably has a decent pension scheme so he should be OK financially.

    For myself Dear Reader, you have been told (in previous posts) how COVID-19 has adversely affected my finances and the fact that IF I (and my childhood friend) end up receiving our full state pensions, the additional income will have put me back to where I was income wise before the COVID-19 lockdown!

    As it is my reason for thinking of Chaim Topol singing the song that made him famous in the YouTube video above was an email from a firm of share tipsters called “The Motley Fool”, one of whose annalists is very bullish indeed about the price of gold. He expects it to top US $3,000 in a matter of some months. This entirely due to the world’s largest central banks all printing money as if there was no tomorrow!

    The one thing I am NOT going to do is to sell my Lloyds shares at a HUGE loss and buy gold sovereigns (on which there is no CGT). If I had – AND I DO NOT – had some spare cash, I would indeed buy some gold sovereigns. Most annoyingly, I had purchased 10,000 Lloyds Bank shares at 52 pence before the COVID Crash. Had I the > £5,000 still in the bank I would most certainly have bought some sovereigns!

    As it is, I do know that the Lloyds shares will eventually recover and Lloyds will resume paying a decent dividend. Insofar as Lloyds is concerned, the danger is NOT that Lloyds will go into liquidation. The danger is that IF things get really bad, the Bank of England might insist on either a nationalisation OR another forced rights issue of such a size as to dilute the existing shareholdings into irrelevance.

    In contemplating this, I remember another drama from the 1970s, the costume drama “Upstairs Downstairs”. When James Bellamy (played by Simon Williams) encourages the maidservant Rose Buck (played by Jean Marsh) to invest her nest egg in one of the multi-layered investment trusts trading on the New York stock exchange at the time, only to lose it all in the October 1929 Crash. James Bellamy himself was wiped out and bankrupted and took the traditional exit from this world and it’s problems of a gentleman in such reduced circumstances by taking a room in Maidenhead and resolving the matter mortally with the aid of a service revolver!

    I am not going to be wiped out and even if I had access to a service revolver (which I have not!), I would not use it. Besides, The Waterside Inn (Ferry Rd, Bray near Maidenhead SL6 2AT) [https://www.waterside-inn.co.uk/] is at just under 300 miles, over a 5 hour drive away!
    Incidentally, it this village in the Royal County of Berkshire that is the one referred to in the comedic song “The Vicar of Bray” and not the coastal town in County Wicklow.

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