When I was a young don at Jesus College, Cambridge, more than thirty years ago, the college council used quite solemnly to discuss which clergyman should be invited to give which visiting sermon. His fee came from an old trust fund: it was something like four guineas. The well-intentioned souls who set this up must have thought that gold-standard England would go on forever, never foreseeing that a civilised state would have a debauched currency. But so it proved, and in the 1970s the four guineas did not even cover the train fare.
Adam Fergusson’s gem of a book also goes back to that time. It was first published in 1975, and there hangs a tale. A disease known as ‘stagflation’ – a combination of stagnation and inflation – afflicted the Western world. The great growth rates of the Fifties and