One sort of knows the world has gone entirely mad when a bank warns against the consequences of recovery, but that’s what Bank of America did yesterday. Any ‘unexpected growth’ that hadn’t been factored in, said BoA, could very easily cause the bonds market to crash. This would mean most Western sovereigns being left unable to sell debt, and thus being rendered literally bankrupt, as opposed to technically insolvent. It’s the sort of result that makes a debt ceiling academic, because the bailiffs are in da house removing all the furniture, the walls, and the ceiling.

There is no end to the bonkers cart-before-horse illogicality of all this: ‘we mustn’t have any growth because that’ll call in the US debt, remove any chance of future bailouts, make bankers even less willing to lend money, crash the Eurozone, wipe out half of Wall Street, leave no money for business capital, and make a recovery impossible’. Whatever you do, don’t start a recovery, or else recovery will be impossible. This is expansive neocon genius in full bloom. I am awestruck.

Such is the nature of our species now. Everything used to be a matter life or death, but is now become death or death. That’s the thing with laissez-faire economics: it’s all about choice. But for me, most of today was going to be about death anyway. Today was about the ritual of a final goodbye to Dad.

My brother and sister-in-law flew in from San Francisco to meet a blizzard at Birmingham airport, then woke up the next day to find eight inches of snow. I drove up from Devon to find the same thing, only it was turning into ice. All along the M5 and M42, ominous signs forecast ‘Severe weather warning tomorrow’. I wondered what this severe weather warning might be, and why we weren’t allowed to know it today. Perhaps it was another can being kicked down the road, and driving up the M6 the following day we’d read ‘Boils and brimstone, follow diversion signs’.

In the event, the heroes at the Met Office were wrong, yet again. As we got to the funeral home, sure enough flakes of snow were blowing about unenthusiastically and it was close to freezing: but there’s something about such places that engenders a sense of cold anyway. Everything is still, the faces are grave, the voices whisper as if the dead might indeed wake up, and the syntax is unfailingly odd.

“I’m Neil,” said the man in black, “and I’ll be looking after your Dad today”. You’re a bit late chum, he’s been dead three weeks. No, don’t say that Ward, you pillock. I smiled as if reassured, nodded, and then went back to the car to await the hearse.

As we got to the crematorium and the coffin emerged atop four large blokes, I had a pin-sharp painful moment of realising that the cadaver inside used to be my father. The bloke who took me to St Annes beach as a kid, to Old Trafford of a Saturday, to Liverpool for my first term as a student, and to the local car showroom to hammer the car salesman into the ground on the price of my first car – a green 1965 Mark II Mini, BKU 351C. He wanted £275, but Pop did battle royal, and I got it for 240.

Then the small moment and flash of memories were gone, replaced instead by a briefing from Neil, who brought more information about the mechanics of death: the white button at the podium was to close the curtains, the black one to restart the music. We all filed in to the stark secularity of the departure hall, and awkwardly took our seats. Mike my brother and I said a few words, some nervous giggles were raised by tales of my occasionally truculent Dad, and the curtains closed just as the Pastoral Symphony faded up on cue.

There were no clergy present. Our family is so irreligious now, not even humanist ministers (surely an obvious oxymoron) are allowed a look-in. Pop had engaged in so many arguments with the Catholic church over the four decades before he finally gave up on it in frustration, it seemed churlish to incur his posthumous wrath by allowing a priest any say in things at this late stage. Indeed, it is a tribute to my father’s rationalism and mule-like stubbornness that, despite being taught up to the age of eleven by monks to believe in an afterlife even more terrifying than pushing the Sons of Nippon out of Burma, he was willing to cock a snook at Rome (and suffer multiple excommunication) rather than admit his protestant wife would burn a heathen in Hell. “Don’t be such a daft bugger” was his riposte to a Monsignor’s last-ditch attempt to persuade him of this in 1961. Martin Luther had nothing on my Dad.

I was proud of him. We all were. We argued with him, got ticked off for being amoral, drunk, and several other symptoms of growth into maturity, groaned at his corny jokes, fought his fascist tendencies, and hugged him quite a bit as he became more frail. He was – and remained – a man with a waspish tongue and an Irish temper, but the heart of a razor-sharp comic. The saddest feature of his Alzheimers for me was watching him become frightened: there can be little more terrifying for a first class mind than knowing you’re losing it.

I cannot help but retain a sense of resentment that such a fine brain was denied a full education on the grounds of poverty and social class. There is a destructive shower in our Establishment today well on the way to restoring those obstacles – thanks to an injudicious oil-and-water dressing of cod Labour equality and bigoted Tory elitism. Equality of opportunity and equality before the law are being lost, and I’m relieved that my father’s cognition dimmed before that became clear.

After the final curtain had closed, we went back to Dad’s last home, a private care establishment in Blackpool, for chilli, rice and other goodies put out by his carer Beth. Beth works her backside off ensuring her charges live and die with dignity. Her husband runs the financial and marketing side of the business, but still manages to be a fireman as well. He is, literally, covered in burns from dicing with death over the years. When bankers burn their fingers, there are no scars – but they still get that bonus. With firemen, it’s the other way round. For those who don’t accept that our current model of capitalism is obscenely barking, that’s the most mordant critique I can offer you.

So we drove away from the North West, and into the driving rain of a steady thaw that the previous evening had been billed as an arctic white-out. This may well be the last time I pass this way, because all the Walls and Wards that began life in 1910 are now no more. I’m loathe to admit it, but the dominant emotion was relief: not at their passing, but at never again having to look upon what the Lancashire of my childhood has become.

Blackpool people are as warm, friendly and funny as they ever were. So are Liverpudlians and the vast majority of Mancunians. But their cities, towns and neighbourhoods look like war zones these days. Four decades of social bollocks, educational drivel and economic selfishness have replaced individual depth with mass trivia, justified reward with cynical beads, and real communities with Facebook facility. I know how easily Southerners slip into It’s grim oop North parodies, but they wear thin as things go from daft to tragic. It is an obvious truism I know, but were Parliament based in Preston rather than Westminster, t’would not be thus.

It’s time we had more than a choice between different forms of extinction. And the time is coming when the decent but distracted Brits will at last begin to grasp this.

Earlier at The Slog: A War of Words