I was reading, quite by chance, this week Jane Sanderson's Netherwood, a gentle period novel designed to appeal to fans of Downton Abbey (a sticker on the front spells that much out), but timely it turned out not just due to the reappearance on our screens of ITV's hit drama. In the opening chapters, the beautiful but plucky protagonist, Eve Williams, loses her husband in a mining accident.
Mining accidents, such a regular part of life in industrial communities in decades gone past as to provide perfect plot twists in modern-day novels, became headline worthy again this week due to the tragic events in Wales. I'm sure I wasn't the only one somehow naively expecting a repeat run of the jubilant scenes played out in Chile almost exactly a year ago. If only real life ran with such Hollywood-perfect endings.
Calls for an enquiry have already been made, while Neath MP Peter Hain is appealing for donations to help the bereaved families of those brave men who lost their lives. "We thought in South Wales that the days of mining accidents were behind us, but we were wrong," Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones said in a statement.
Another British family was also in mourning this week after the murder of David Tebbutt on the first night of a luxury holiday in Kenya with his wife Judith. At the time of writing, speculation is still all we have as to her whereabouts, with the PM promising: "We are doing everything we possibly can on this desperately tragic case."
From the tragic to the contentious. The long-awaited Vickers Report was finally made public at the beginning of the week, received with cross-party support and a healthy dose of speculation by both the banks and the general public. The latter incredulous that most 'far-reaching' overhaul of the banking industry in decades will still take eight years to implement. The former convinced the idea of 'ring-fencing' their investment arms from the retail side of their business will see Britain become less competitive in the global markets. But what about the investment in fledgling businesses? And the entrepreneurs across Britain who could be key to reinvigorating the economy? "Ultimately, no one is asking the crucial question - what should a good banking system look like?" Green MP Caroline Lucas asked. "We need to do far more to ensure universal access to low cost banking services, and to force banks to provide affordable finance to small and medium businesses."
One arm of British industry that isn't showing any sign of lagging behind its world rivals is the fashion industry. London Fashion Week kicked off on Friday with shows from Basso & Brooke, PPQ and Bora Aksu.
As you read this over your Sunday breakfast or lunch, I'll be joining the fash pack at Mulberry, Matthew Williamson and the Topshop Unique shows today, hoping to get a head-start on next season's trends and a much needed reminder that when it comes to talent, Britain is still open for business.
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