you’ve got to get out of the valley

This is sad: ITV kills the Yorkshire Television studios in Leeds. The wikipedia article should tell you why – the first studios in Europe designed for colour TV, the biggest working TV studio in Europe, and a lot of very impressive programmes. The history is interesting, too – the station set up in 1967 was a Wilsonian shotgun marriage between a rich TV-rentals enterpreneur (who had the money), and a ramshackle coalition of interests including Leeds University, various trades unions, and the Yorkshire Post, who had the ideas. Oh yes, and a lot of Leeds vs. Sheffield Yorkshire tribalism.

So, to Michael Lewis‘s article in Vanity Fair about Iceland and crazy financing. I didn’t find it belittling to fishermen, which a number of stockbrokers I consulted did (I couldn’t find any deep sea fishermen to ask); if anything I thought it was quite snarky with regard to Anglo-American finance.

It did, however, remind me quite a bit of growing up in the Dales; everyone knows each other, there’s a liberating sense of not giving a shit, but everyone is always right, and the thing about men and women socialising on opposite sides of a pub is painfully familiar. And the cocktail of small pond syndrome and raging ambition. At school we had a saying: you’ve got to get out of the valley.


  1. dsquared

    Yeah, as I said in the pub (great to see you by the way), it’s a classic piece of Michael Lewis journalism, where the underlying message is always that nobody knows anything about anything except Michael Lewis, except for sometimes the one strange savant he’s writing about, and even he isn’t really capable of seeing the bigger picture. The facts are that Lewis absolutely *was not* saying anything of the sort before the crisis – he was writing arse-kissing profiles of hedge fund managers, and now he’s all “oh you Icelanders, how could you have been so blind?”. The man combines the worst features of Malcolm Gladwell and Thomas Friedman.

    (What really got my back up though was the “LOL ELVES!!!” bit. It’s effing obvious that what this refers to is the not at all uncommon practice of requiring building sites to get certified that you’re not building on a site of historical interest. New Zealand and even the USA have places where native religions have to be respected, and the whole thing doesn’t seem that much stranger to me than the London Borough of Camden’s worship of sash windows).

  2. dsquared

    actually looking at it, I also considered the following passages to be slapworthy offences:

    Laxness won the 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature, the greatest global honor for an Icelander until the 1980s, when two Icelandic women captured Miss World titles in rapid succession.


    The Central Bank governor is a poet. Haarde, though, is a trained economist—just not a very good one. The economics department at the University of Iceland has him pegged as a B-minus student.

    (Lewis himself, has an indifferent degree in art history, something which he discusses at length in his first book “Liar’s Poker”)

  3. Minerals analyst, right?

  4. yorksranter

    I quite like the idea that my local council is convinced that the ancestor spirits reside in sash windows, like trolls under bridges. It would explain a lot.

  5. dsquared

    a Wilsonian shotgun marriage between a rich TV-rentals enterpreneur (who had the money), and a ramshackle coalition of interests including Leeds University, various trades unions, and the Yorkshire Post, who had the ideas

    I’ve just realised you were referring to Harold, not Tony.

  6. I’ve also just realised that, by reading Dan’s comment the day after reading the original post…

  7. I are smarter than Dsquared? Yowsers.

    Sorry, thought it was obvious given the era, etc. I don’t get why in this era we’re centralising TV services to such an extent, why does ITV the big national company have to compete globally at everything? Most of us want local and regional content, you get it in most other countries I’ve been to.

    Ah well, it’s not like I ever actually watch ITV these days. Oh, wait, that’s why.

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