12_daysWhile 2016 may have been a challenging year on the global front, our personal lives have not been much affected yet, it seems: full employment, rising/stable markets and the only unrest so far has been transport – hardly a change. But only a hermit could fail to take note of the marked change in the world order at the start of 2017 which could lead to some of the dramatic effects of which we’ve been warned.

We develop coping strategies to deal with threats and one of the most successful for me has been singing, with Some Voices, - “The closest thing to being a rock star”. Whatever my mood , its sound never fails to warm my heart and tingle my spine. And it is now a thriving community, like the best village where everyone is accepted, no-one is talked about negatively and whose harmony is the perfect metaphor for guiding a rapidly splintering world.

We successfully sang songs from Christmas movies this week and brought joy to another 2,000 friends and relatives. And last Sunday we sang carols in the Church where some of us rehearse, which prompted me to consider the 12 days of Christmas. I wondered why my true love sent such a copious variety of gifts and I came to the (less than obvious) conclusion that they are a metaphor for our times. Let me expand?

12 Drummers drumming: drumming means drumming, as we have now been told, several times. I wonder why we didn’t reach that conclusion ourselves and needed a new leader to clarify it?

11 Pipers piping: he who pays the piper calls the tune. As I pointed out recently, the political class is no longer chosen from a pool of experienced people with different views, that can be challenged, but FROM THOSE WHOSE VOICES ARE HEARD MOST CLEARLY. Shouting and media spend to amplify the message (even patently untrue ones), has won power. And now those with extreme views have worked out how to use social media to get their messsages out without challenge and at lower cost;

10 Lords a leaping: “only 10?” you might exclaim. It seems that anyone who has been to Downing St for coffee (I had water) is now a peer, and a valuable check on our constitution is losing credibility, at the hands of those who have already lost credibility;

9 ladies dancing: they’re allowed to, even on their own. And it’s not OK to grab parts of them just because they’re dancing; nor insist that they stay at home or cover themselves to avoid the appreciative gaze of others;

8 maids a milking: come 2019 Britain will be on her own, so we’d better make sure we know how to do things that others used to do, like milking;

7 swans a swimming: don’t be fooled (again) by these apparently gentle creatures which appear to make no effort, yet still reach their destination. Rather like Boris.

6 geese a laying: and creating little geese. As our little ones stare wide-eyed at the feast around them, spare a thought for their future in which they’ll still be paying for the mistakes of the last decade;

5 gold rings: the ultimate safe haven (except from an Italian referendum apparently), and now the ultimate two-way bet. You can be sure that even if we go to hell in a handcart the price of gold will keep going up, if only to re-furbish the recently nuked Trump Tower.

4 calling birds, who sing in harmony. Our finale was The Beatles’ All you need is love. There are 7.2bn people on the planet at the moment and it will be 9.6bn by 2050. If we don’t use the knowledge that we have gained (a.k.a. civilisation) to live with each other then at the very least we’ll be worse off spiritually, emotionally and materially.

3 French Hens: better enjoy them before they become unaffordable? Well that’s what some would have us think. But French growers need to sell their products too and they won’t take kindly to having their market reduced in order, apparently, to maintain 4 freedoms. Do they include freedom to watch the grapes wither on the vine?

2 Turtle Doves, who live all over the world, migrating from one place to another rather like people, only peacefully.

And a partridge in a pear tree, which I’ve never seen. And nor have I seen a protectionist, fascist inclined, post-truth democracy rear its ugly head, yet.

I’m not looking forward to 12 such gifts from my true love (I haven’t got the space). I thank her for her most precious gift – true love - which I enjoy 365 days a year, and hope that you are similarly endowed.

Happy Christmas.

Malcolm Durham is co-founder of WealthBeing and Chairman of FD Solutions the flexible FD service.