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EditorialsUp Front 11/09

Up Front 11/09

I had a nightmare last week. Dark faces hounded me, barking instructions and orders while I twisted and turned in ever more confusing circles. With each turn their voices barked louder while their faces distorted, growing redder and redder. They appeared like demented Sergeant Majors pummelling their troops into line. At times it was like the worst of Winnie the Pooh’s ‘Heffalumps and Woozles’. I woke up and realised what illustrators and film directors must have used as inspiration for the many brilliant nightmare scenes I have seen in the past. It reminded me of one film in particular, and in my hunt to find it I watched a copy of It’s a Wonderful Life, where James Stewart plays the part of George Bailey of Bailey’s Savings & Loan. It was one of the first businesses that accepted cash deposits from customers and made loans to borrowers in the community. A classic story that gets a showing every Christmas, it is a brilliant fantasy about a man on the brink of suicide. His nightmare is a glimpse into the future of a community in which his good deeds are obliterated, because he had taken his life and therefore not been around to help those that he could have. The town that he might have helped to build if he had lived is instead a slum, full of rough bars, pawn shops and run down housing. It is called Pottersville and is mostly owned by a greedy banker named Potter, whose hunger for profit saw him crush the local Savings & Loan business that Bailey would have used to help build affordable homes and a better life for the community. Although it has a happy ending, it is of course all a complete fantasy and thankfully that sort of greed couldn’t exist in a modern civilised society. Neither could Heffalumps and Woozels.

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