In these dark days of sunny late spring, everything is about our National Nightmare.
At least, it seems that way. At night, after finishing my newspapers and getting bored with cop shows on Brit TV, I go to my books for surcease and escape. Anyway, that’s the idea.
Yet in every book I read, I find some reference to It. Here is Eric Ambler, fictionally dropping a couple of paragraphs right into my lap. In fairness — or in grim humor — I’m dropping them into yours.
In The Dark Frontier (1936), Ambler invented a small Eastern European country, Ixania, on the brink of acquiring nuclear weapon capacity.
Ixania needs money. It has none. So, in the absence of Deutsche Bank (and in advance of the Koch Bros), it must go elsewhere for financing. Thus, this conversation between our two intrepid heroes — one an American journalist, one a British physicist (who, after a blow on the head, thinks he’s a precursor of James Bond).
“The Ixanian Government is trying to negotiate a big loan back home [U.S.]. If there’s a likelihood of big trouble coming here [to Ixania], the time to know about it is now.”
“But no one, surely, would lend Ixania money?”
“You wouldn’t think so, would you? But apart from the fact that bankers love to lend money they haven’t got to their creditors so that the creditors can pay back what they don’t really owe, Ixania has hinted that there’s oil here.”
“They could sell the concession.”
“They could, but they won’t, for the simple reason, Professor, that there isn’t any oil; at least that’s my guess. They won’t allow any drilling and they won’t reveal just where the oil is. I suppose that their proximity to Roumania is supposed to lend colour to the idea. If there isn’t any oil they must need money pretty badly to try to get away with a bluff like that. Nobody but an international banker would fall for it. Those birds don’t need reasons for lending, they want excuses to do so.”
P.S. I’ve just started to re-read David Copperfield. If I run into any relevance in it, I will be crawling under my bed and remaining there for the duration.