It's official - the horror and fear and paranoia has just become too much, and tipped over into complete hilarity. The day, 16th October 2008. The time, 8pm. The event, Jeremy Vine striding into view in Panorama: Holy Giddy Fuckholes, Where's My Christing Money Gone?! (or something like that).
Credit crunch global share bank cash meltdown. Never has a major news story made me feel quite so bloody dense. No matter how many BBC news website simplifications I read, how many terrifically intelligent people I question, I am still completely clueless as to what particular brand of apocalypse the world is spiralling into. The Governor of the Bank of England could come to my house and daub a comforting summary of the situation on my wall using crayons and plasticine and I would still be found ten minutes later gently sobbing under the sink, desperately stuffing five pound notes into the cracks in the floorboards. Auntie Beeb has sniffed the stench of human suffering on the winds, and sent out the good ship Vine to settle our nerves once and for all. Yes, the money nightmare has finally reached the point of self-parody.
It's often said that The Day Today foretold the development in television news broadcasting with unnerving accuracy. In fact, there's probably enough empirical evidence within those six half-hours of comedy gold to suggest the creators are actually robots from the future, charged with a bizarre mission of satirising us into submission. But tonight's Panorama was something different. It's as if they have made a Gus Van Sant-style shot for shot remake of the infamous and brilliant WAR! episode. From the cavernous studio filled with alarming backlit logos, Jeremy Vine emotes wildly at the camera, which glides past him to alight upon Robert Peston, stood in a glassy-eyed news trance. A sharply professional blonde in the corner eyes us cooly from within a maelstrom of viewer emails, promising to take us "inside the financial tsunami." There's a Panorama Debt Clock (sadly not made of cardboard and suspended around the neck of David Schneider.) Standing by, Douglas Hurd. (actually, Suralan Sugar) It's almost a jolt to the system when you don't see Steve Coogan monitoring the Panorama News Pipe. But five minutes later, as if to hammer the point firmly into our skulls, a credit crunch victim is interviewed wearing an Alan Partridge t-shirt. It's all absolutely absurd, and completely wonderful.
To give the programme makers some miniature dues, it all settles down into a fairly standard BBC "That's all very well, but what about me, Mr Average Joe?" pointlessly interactive Q&A session, which could have slotted into three minutes on the Breakfast sofa. Jezza Vizza does his "Man of the people!" schtick, harrying a startled spokesman from the Council of Mortgage Lenders on the issue of 125% loans, as if that well-and-truly bolted horse had trampled his mum on the way out. Suralan seemed genuinely confused by the whole situation, and waxed lyrical on the good old days, where there were no overpriced consultants and your "acaaaaantant" would advise you on the best ways to swindle the taxman and dissolve the corpses of your enemies. And boneheaded bozos emailed in whiny diatribes about their dwindling endowments, mostly ending with the irritating entreaty "Who's going to bail ME out?" No-one, you morons. This is what happens when you GAMBLE on the STOCK MARKET. Christ, I have barely a penny to rub against nothing at all, and even I know that "the value of your policy may go down as well as up." The evil bankers are only legally obliged to say that every single time they advertise their products.
But what do I know. My entire fortune has been digested into mouse poo. Never mind - the rate we're going, that'll be legal tender within the year. Bring on the trumpets!