Inaugural Long Finance Conference, Singing, Talking, Dinner And BASIC Event, 1 February 2010

I don’t Ogblog much work related stuff – Ogblog is supposed to be about life beyond work. But of course work and life overlap at times – into “work life”.

This was such a day.

Following much thought and planning, Michael Mainelli had arranged an inaugural Long Finance conference – click here for the resource on the event.

We wanted the event to have a slightly different feel, so Michael suggested that I pen a couple of silly songs to use as interludes, getting the audience to exercise their lungs occasionally rather than just get geeky and morbid about the long-term future of finance, post the debacle of 2008.

Partly through Michael connecting up with The Long Now Foundation and partly through my personal connection with Brian Eno through my health cub, the event included a panel with Brian, Stewart Brand and Zander Rose, which was a very generous gift of time and reputation for a fledgling idea such as Long Finance.

Bernard Lietaer also kindly gave of his time and energy for our inaugural event, proving to be both fascinating and charming in equal measure.

Our honoured guests seemed happy with the idea of light audience participation interludes for this event; Brian was positively encouraging of the idea, on the grounds that singing helps open up minds to fresh ideas.

Anyway, here are the two little ditties I concocted and conducted for the conference:

(Song to the Tune of “My Old Man Said Follow The Van”)
My fund man,
Said “borrow and plan,
So don’t fret,
When you run up some debt”.
Off went me house to a mortgage tracker,
In went the cash to an equity knacker;
Which dillied, then rallied,
Rallied, then dillied,
Lost its way and sank just like a stone.
Oh you can’t trust the bankers,
They’re a load of…….thankless-
-Folk who repossessed my home.

Not the best I have ever written…nor the worst.

Home In On The Range
(Song to the Tune of “Home On The Range”)
Oh give me a home.
For the finance I own,
Where the bulls and the bears can all play;
With seldom a jump,
Or discouraging slump,
So that value’s preserved for decades.
Home in on the range,
Where the bulls and the bears can all play;
We’re girding our loins,
For some eternal coins,
Cos “Long Finance” is now here to stay!

After one of them, I think the first, Brian said “don’t give up the day job”, which sounded like highly sensible advice, yet said in a friendly, tongue in cheek manner.

We all enjoyed a decompression session at Z/Yen after the conference, after which Brian left us, as he had a diary clash with dinner; a BASIC event to organise at his studio. Stewart, Zander and Bernard joined we Z/Yen folk and others for an early evening “Musing Dinner” at the Farmers Club to continue the Long Finance discussions.

Before departing, Brian suggested that Stewart and I might like to join his BASIC event at the end of the evening, as I live round the corner from Brian’s studio and Stewart was staying very nearby.

So after the dinner, Stewart and I went to the studio. By that time, the formal elements of the BASIC evening were over and there was a party in full swing. Brian’s studio parties are always good fun and this one was no exception.

I discovered that I had acquired a sort-of groupie at the Long Finance conference; a young Swiss woman who lived nearby and had come along, I think at Brian’s suggestion, then gone on to the BASIC event. She spoke in glowing terms about the sing-song, which was rather flattering. I would run into her in the neighbourhood quite frequently for several months after this day. I don’t think she was stalking me. Nor I her, I hasten to add.

I wrote to Brian the next morning:

Just a quick note to thank you for your hospitality last night.  I met some very interesting, BASIC (and non-BASIC) people.  It is a real shame that our two events ended up clashing, as I would have enjoyed hearing the formal part of the evening.

I can report smugly that I soldiered my way to the gym at 8:00 this morning, but I shall no doubt need a power nap for a while this afternoon if I am to make it through the whole day.

Once again, many thanks.

That weekend, I received a short missive from Brian:

I saw a bloody piece in some paper or other which picked up my ‘Don’t give up the day job’ quip..of course. Why didn’t I see that one coming?

I’m sorry – it was meant as a joke, as I think you realised. In fact both Stewart and I were full of admiration that you had the balls to do that, and I think it was a great contribution to the event – it made people laugh, and also got them involved. I use singing myself often in serious situations, but usually at the end. The beginning is a good place too.

I hadn’t seen it. I needed to do some Googling to get to the bottom of the matter…The Evening Standard of course…then replied:

Many thanks for your kind words.

When The Evening Standard approves of everything we’re doing, then I might really consider giving up the day job.  Please don’t give that matter another thought.  Despite “The Standard”, Michael is suggesting that we make group singing a tradition of Long Finance gatherings.

More than seven years later, I tried to find the offending Standard piece, to link to this Ogblog piece.

Gone from The Standard site. Airbrushed out of history. Understandably so.

But, undaunted, I thought this would be an excellent test for the Wayback Machine, which I have oft thought about possibly using for Ogblog purposes but have not previously needed.

Well, it took some rummaging through the 305 billion or more Wayback Machine pages, but I surprisingly quickly found what I was looking for and scraped it to Ogblog: City Spy_ Singalong gives Willis and Brian Eno the blues… _ London Evening Standard.

I can cope with the indignity of the piece, but being so cruelly juxtaposed with a picture of Prince Andrew really gets my goat. In the interests of decency, The Standard could have used this august image instead:

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