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The elephant, the bird and the tiger (king)

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This is the tenth in a series of blogs about the elephant, which represents the economy, and the bird, which represents the future.


Spring is in the air. The clocks are jumping forward, and vaccines are being given everywhere. We feel we are coming through the end of this dark tunnel of lockdown and I can finally get rid of the elephant and the bird.

The elephant was binge-watching Tiger King on Netflix and laughing heartily. I wasn’t sure whether to interrupt him, but felt I had to.

ME: Elephant?

ELEPHANT: Joe Exotic. What a guy! And that Carole Baskin. Can you believe?

ME: What?

ELEPHANT: Tiger King. Haven’t you watched it?

ME: Errr, I saw a bit last year but no, I’ve been too busy.

ELEPHANT: Busy? Busy with what? I’ve not seen you doing anything.

ME: Busy with Zoom meetings and writing blogs.

ELEPHANT: But you’ve just been on your computer all day.

ME: That’s what my wife says. I am actually doing stuff on my computer.

ELEPHANT: You should watch Tiger King.

ME: I’d rather see Elephant King.

He gave me a frown and paused the TV show.

ELEPHANT: What do you want?

ME: Well, I think it’s time you moved out.


ME: Things are starting to unlock and move on. It’s time you moved on.

The elephant did not look happy.

ELEPHANT: We’ve been through this. In fact, you explicitly tried to get me out of here at one point, and then asked for me to come back. Why are you such a hypocrite?

ME: I’m not a hypocrite. There’s just two sides to every argument and I can see both sides.

ELEPHANT: Well, here are two sides to an argument: when should we unlock the lockdown and when will the economy bounce back?

ME: That’s not two sides. That’s the same side of the same thing.

ELEPHANT: Well, I can see two sides.

ME: Explain.

I sat on the floor, cross-legged, realising the elephant was about to preach.

ELEPHANT: First, when will the lockdown end is the key question.

ME: Of course …

ELEPHANT: No, not of course. You make it sound too simple.

ME: Well, I spoke to the bir …

ELEPHANT: You spoke to the bird?

The elephant looked cross.

ME: I did and she said …

ELEPHANT: She said it would be this year. Soon. Didn’t she?

ME: Urmmm, well, yes.

ELEPHANT: Well, she’s wrong.

ME: She can’t be wrong. She’s a she.

ELEPHANT: She can be wrong. I know because I’m the economy, and I know that the lockdown ending will not be this year. It will be the summer of next year in most places.

ME: That’s too late.

ELEPHANT: Too late for what?

ME: Too late to save you.

ELEPHANT: Too late to save me?

ME: Yes. You’re losing weight. Your skin is sagging and your wrinkles are getting bigger. Another year and you’ll be dead.

ELEPHANT: Well, that’s nice isn’t it. And you’re fat, but I wasn’t going to mention it.

The elephant turned his back to me.

ME: You must understand, the lockdown has to end so that you can get healthy again.

ELEPHANT: Stop telling me I’m unhealthy. I eat lettuce, you know.

The elephant eats lettuce?

ME: But you must realise the lockdown has to end now. Soon. Not next year. This summer.

ELEPHANT: Well, I think that’s unlikely. Let’s ask the bird.

The bird had flown through the window and was sitting on its perch. It tapped away merrily some morse code. The elephant still doesn’t understand what she says, but I do. She said the lockdown would last till next year.

ME: She says the lockdown will end this summer, which I told you already.

ELEPHANT: How does she know this?

The bird tapped more.

ME: Because there's a vaccine, so everything can get back to normal.

ELEPHANT: Harumph. What's normal?

ME: And when the lockdown ends, you can bounce back.

ELEPHANT: I don’t bounce. I’m not Tigger. I’m an elephant.

ME: You could be the Tigger King?

ELEPHANT: That's not funny.

ME: Well, the economy will recover rapidly when lockdown ends and, if lockdown ends this summer, then all will be good.

ELEPHANT: All will be good. Now, let me get back to Joe and Carole.

ME: You know everyone watched Tiger King last year, by the way? No wonder you’re so slow to catch up with everything.

I left the elephant watching TV, eating crisps, drinking beer and binging on Tiger King. The bird followed me and started tapping frantically.

ME: I know.

The bird tapped again.

ME: I know you said that the lockdown would end next year, but I want to encourage the elephant to get fit again. The elephant needs to move on.

The bird tapped.

ME: I know the elephant needs to move on, but I don’t know how to persuade him to move. Look, he’s become a couch potato.

The bird tapped.

ME: You know the future, you tell me.

The bird tapped.

ME: No, it can’t be that bad?

The bird tapped.

ME: Seriously? You think the elephant will stay here till 2024?

The bird tapped.

ME: No, we need to get him out of here. What can I do?

The bird tapped.

ME: Good idea.

I went back to the lounge and quietly took all the crisps and beer away, without the elephant seeing. Then I emptied the fridge and cupboards of anything tasty that he liked. Hopefully that’ll work.

Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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