We can’t catch Roland

Roland Rat was a television puppet, who lived beneath King’s Cross railway station, in The Ratcave. He was introduced to the struggling television network TV-am and is credited with being ‘the only rat to save a sinking ship’ Between 1983 – 1985 Roland had three UK chart hit singles. In 1985 he transferred to the BBC. His last known appearance was in February 2010 on the BBC’s ‘The One Show’. His girlfriend, Roxanne Rat (she replaced Glennis), has reported him missing.

I know where he is! He is in our garage/utility room have a laugh at our expense. He comes out at night around 11.00am. He runs over the ceiling before descending the hot water pipe into the garage whereupon he eats all our vegetables.

He has defeated all the efforts of the rodent catcher, Paul from Luton. Rats are fond of peanut butter. Roland has mastered the technique of removing the food and leaving the trap intact. Tonight we have set seven traps containing chocolate and cheese. Very strong Gorgonzola.

The connection between Roland and Enterprise Britain is loose. However, my frustration at failing to capture the rat and that of trying to write something encouraging, as a New Year Message, is about the same.

What did the Coalition Government achieve for our struggling enterprise businesses in 2010. NOTHING.

  • Bank lending was almost totally curtailed for anything that had a ‘risk’ sign outside it. That was unless you depended on the Irish banks in which case George (The Chancellor of the Exchequer, if case you had forgotten) lent you some billions from the hard pressed Treasury via the Government bailout.
  • Equity markets supporting the small-cap sector were subdued. Forget the PR. Much of the money raised on AIM was for foreign natural resources companies.
  • Consumer spending fell and will fall much further in 2011 as fiscal contraction takes place.
  • The business angel market remains uncontrolled. There could be problems in this sector in the coming year.
  • The economy will struggle to cope with CPI inflation exceeding 3% (the actual rate is far higher). Unemployment could exceed 2.5 million. The banks are restricting mortgage lending even further and a fall, perhaps a significant percentage, in house prices could further batter consumers. Exports may be affected by a slowdown in Asian markets.

It is hard to see where a consumer spending upturn might come from unless, of course, you are a contrarian. When the herd is hurtling is one direction, the contrarian boldly goes in the totally opposite route.

That is my only hope. 2011 will be a great year.

I’m off to capture the rat. Roland you are yesterday’s news…..

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