`Rome fell, Venice fell, Hindhead's time shall come.' Bernard Shaw's forecast in Heartbreak House (1919) casts back to John Ruskin's `less-pitied destruction' of the Empire and to Kipling's`Recessional'. They imagined not just the decline, but the partition of Britain, going the way of Venice the Serene, or the empires of Sweden and Lithuania. Was 2008-9 not, objectively, both inevitable and a relief? Like that moment in the life of the very old where the brave attempt at coping, `understanding the world', ends, and the care home doors fold behind?