During a shopping trip I stopped at the mall's central cafe, a favourite vantage point to observe humans going about their affairs.
Sitting in the oasis, plopping sugar cubes into my coffee, watching the ripples moving out across the surface of the life-restoring liquid, I was astonished to look up and see a human carried across the shopping centre concourse in the ripples of the global economic money shortage, like a drowning rat swept downstream in a November flood.
I’ll try to explain.
The mall is an eco-system, with 'eco' standing for either ecological or economy – the terms are interchangeable in this context. In addition to the permanent shops, this eco-system also supports a thriving colony of predators whose job is to catch unsuspecting shoppers - their prey - and savage them until they agree to buy products such as insurance, windows, remote control toy helicopters, and so on.
Usually these predators are very relaxed and manage to catch prey with very little effort. The harshest tactics I had previously seen were the waving of a brochure at the victim, and a predator playfully flying a remote control helicopter around the prey's head.
What I beheld, while stirring my coffee and eating a biscuit, was one of these helicopter-sellers - a Socks-Scholar of yesteryear - actually chasing a mother and child through the mall, roaring ‘You’ll have hours of fun, and I’ll include the batteries for free!’, his helicopter repeatedly ramming the poor victims’ backs as they sought refuge in a shop.
This is the first evidence I have observed of desperation among the predators as the mall eco-system collapses in the world-wide economic storm.
I fear it will not be long until the flood waters reach the school gates.
Waves of economic-migrants from eastern Europe – with their attendant children - have seen our school prosper and expand in recent years. But will these guest-workers remain in the UK in the event of financial cock-up and employment melt-down?
With the loss of clients, what future will there be for those eking out a living from the dark art of teaching?
I do not believe we teachers are recession-proof. Kids = Cash, and my observations in the mall make it only too easy for me to imagine the desperate measures we may take to keep the education business afloat.
Maybe teachers will have to bribe children to stay in school?
Could we be required to compromise disciplinary standards so they won't want to leave?
If we run out of children to teach, will we have to keep them in school when they have reached an age when some of them would be more usefully employed selling toy helicopters? (Make them serve life, I say!)
Or will teachers simply ensnare escapees in barbed wire traps? Actually, we do that already, too.
If none of the above works and I do find myself hanging up my tweed jacket for ever, at least I know I can always get a job as a translator.