Here's a little tale to illustrate just how completely we have gone through the looking glass in this year when so many assumptions about the way the economy works have been stood firmly on their head.

A colleague needed a new car. Manna from heaven to dealers desperate for business, you would think. He chose his model, arranged finance, was judged good for a loan under whatever tightened criteria are applied now - and over a week later is still waiting to get on the road.

The reason? The finance company, part of one of our major banks which has benefited from government billions (yes, our money), has been so slow to pay the dealer for past business done that the dealer is refusing to hand over any more cars until debts have been cleared. Last I heard, my colleague, who has been assured he's top of the queue when things start moving again, was waiting for someone to see a vital piece of paper with a vital signature authorising further releases.

If we cannot even get wanted and needed commercial transactions going because financiers let themselves get in arrears, what hope for the economy? Moral: next time you want to take out a loan, run a credit check over the finance company. You might save yourself a lot of hassle.

Best wishes for a happy Christmas and at least a few days' relief from the economic situation. Here's hoping next year turns the corner - though something tells me it will be a long haul.