THE markets have gone up, the markets have gone down; they have yo-yoed their way through winter and spring. At the end of this hysterical few months, surely we can spare a little sympathy for those who are doing it toughest - the merchant bankers and the money-market wizards.
This week, they have emerged from their city towers, blinking into the sunlight, into a world they hardly recognise. Vainly they wait for their chauffeur to pick them up from the footpath. There is no chauffeur. There is no chauffeur? But how does one possibly get around?
A bus. Someone needs to tell them about the bus. Large rectangular object. On wheels. Has driver. Doesn't come for ages, then three come at once.
A bus, you say? Oh yes. Buy a 10-ticket thingy at newsagency, three colours available, buy the cheap one. If caught with blue ticket on red route, feign a grand mal seizure. Or just make a run for it. Now the main method of exercise for man on street.
I imagine him, the one-time master of the universe, standing lonely on a city corner, cardboard box under the arm. In the box a framed photo of his yacht (sold), Porsche (returned) and three daughters (in grief counselling - the cancellation of their David Jones accounts was quite a blow).
It's the first morning of the rest of his life and he's eager to ask his welfare officer for more details of this new world and how it works.
Yes, the bus, thank you for explaining the bus. But what of other cities? What if I need to travel by air?
Air travel? Right you are. No problem. There are seats down the back. You'll have noticed that little curtain. Bit of a surprise. There's a whole other cabin back there. Trick is to turn right rather than left when entering plane. Soon get the hang of it.
And, yet, sooner or later, the body blow has to come. He's going to need to know about the existence of taxation.
Taxation, you say? Oh, yes, most people pay it every year. It's like a tithe to the government, which they use to provide roads, schools and bank bail-outs.
The colour drains from his face. Every single year? You pay your own money to the government every single year? You are joking, right?
Actually, weekly. Deducted from pay. Hard to get out of, if one is on normal wicket. Best be cheerful about it.
Sculpture by the Sea - Nov 2004 - If the bus becomes too expensive there is always the bicycle!
44 minutes ago