It’s been a roller coaster ride, an accident waiting to happen, in some cases it’s been every mother’s nightmare and lots of other clichés which journalists resort to when they can think of nothing original to write.
It seems as if the worm has turned (there’s another one) and this morning feels like the dawning of a new era (ahem). You know something of biblical proportions (ding!) has happened when The Sunday Times calls for a United States of Europe and a single currency as the only way of getting out of the mess we’re in, thanks to Greekenomics (ping!). Honestly, yes they are. Don’t believe me ? I would say look it up online, but, of course, News International websites require a subscription. Of course they do. Do you really think you could get quality journalism like that for free? No, pop up to your local Tesco express (there’ll be one at the top of the road, I assure you) and pick yourself up a copy (for our younger readers, it looks like several dozen sheets of paper with words and photos printed on them, stacked together and folded in half, vaguely resembling one of those old book thingies. It’ll have the words The Sunday Times written on the front. And they’ll be a lot of unsold ones laying in a pile next to a similar but much smaller pile of something called The Mail on Sunday. Such is the country we live in).
When a Rupert Murdoch title starts eschewing the virtues of a single, fiscal, federal country called :”Europe” as the only way out of the mire you know two things: 1) Some big shit is about to go down and; 2) That is the view of the Sunday Times Editor and his alone and it in no way relates to any view the proprietor may or may not hold.
These ideas would, before now, be a red reg to a bull (beep!) to any right-wing eurosceptic worth his salt. The fact that The Sunday Times is the standard-bearer for your local right-wing eurosceptic makes this all the more worrying. Somehow, somewhere (probably in downtown Athens), something has hit the air-conditioning system and the resulting spray of faeces is landing in the eyes of anyone within a time zone or three.
This call for one, enormous, unified country suggests, of course that it will include every man woman, child and state in Europe, except, of course The UK and our old friends, the former owners of the Elgin Marbles. We surely will be outside the tent, pissing in (bong!), but the rest of continental Europe will be inside pissing out. And all over us. As befits our standing as the awkward bastards of the continent, we will be left with only the USA and Greece to trade with. I hope you like Retsina with your hamburger, cos that’s all there is.
( I was going to write that the Greeks do a nice line in eternal flames, but as the Olympic flame went out as soon as the British delegation arrived recently – no symbolism there – I shan’t)
But I didn’t pick up this change of tack (woop!) by reading the Sunday Times (the restraining order put in place by my doctor – banning me coming within a quarter-mile of a News International title – is still in force), no, no, no. This point of view was first put to me by Mr A Heckler (you will have read some of his nasty little comments on these very pages) while we were en route (ahooowhar) to a rugby match in Twickenham yesterday. While the rest of the passengers in our train carriage were discussing the probable outcome of the match between Ulster and Leinster (no, nor did I until recently), the big man and I were chatting about the state of the markets, economic policy and the collapse of the Euro. God! we’re a fascinating couple to be around, I can tell you.
And such was the vigour and enthusiasm with which we put across our views that we both found ourselves rather thirsty and, as soon as the train stopped at Twickers, we rushed to a nearby hostelry.
(Excuse me for diverting form the subject, but I have just had to pause to switch off the TV. Nicky Campbell‘s Sunday morning program has just started. I mis-heard his opening lines of the show when he said “Is there a difference between a cult and a religion?”. I immediately shouted to myself “Yes there is. One is worshiped in a church and the other is a failed DJ who has a sunday morning program.” It’s ok. TV’s off now. I am back).
Now, what I should have said to the barman was, clearly “Two pints of expensive watery Guinness please, and could you pour them into really flimsy plastic beakers for me, mate?” But not having been in this situation too often as of late, I merely said “Two pints of Guinness, mate,please”. At the drop of a hat (bingbong!), or at least far too quickly to have poured fresh, stout, our man returned with the legend “Ten Pounds, please, mate”. Almost immediately I calculated that him charging me £10 for two pints meant that they were charging £5-a-pint for one. My life passed before me, (whohoo!) I couldn’t believe my ears,(cha-ching) and the ground opened up before me (peep!).
I used what will doubtless becoming a cliché of my own: “£5 for a pint ? You robbing f*cker!”. A pal in the bar checked: A pint of Guinness (before half of Ireland arrived in town for the match) cost £3.80 in this pub. Now you might think that was a big enough markup for any pub. Clearly not. (For the record the pun was The Tup, Twickenham (pictured). Be my guest and boycott these robbing bastards. I’m sure the other boozers in town did/do the same, but this was the one I was in. W*nkers.)
All day I never worked out which fans were supporting Leinster, and who were cheering for Ulster (though the replica strips the all wore could have given me a visual clue, I guess). In the stadium, one half shouted “Leinster, Leinster, Leinster,” while the rest simultaneously wailed “Ulster, Ulster,Ulster”. The result was a constant “Leulster, Leulster, Leulster” bellowed by 85,000 passionate Irishmen. Leulster may or may not be another in a long line of Irish counties I’ve never heard of, but boy, the mob we watched yesterday can sure play rugby. And they sure can drink.
I don’t know what they would have shouted when a barman charged them £5 for a pint of Guinness, and I don’t know how many Euros that converts to, but I suspect the language was blue, either in English or Gaelic. In a final act of stupidity/arrogance/sebcoeism (and you’ll read that word again here until I make it my own cliché), these 80-odd-thousand thirsty Irishmen couldn’t get a pint of Guinness in the stadium because the competition was sponsored by and named after a rival beer. Pathetic, ain’t it ?
Business is business, but if that isn’t a missed opportunity in-the-name-of competition, I don’t know what is. In the end, the bar I was queuing at even run out of the eponymous lager. In the world’s most expensive capital, we hike up our beer to glean 100s of percents in markup, then we deprive 85,000 thirsty Irish rugby fans, not only the opportunity to spend a week’s wages on one of our pints, but we also run out of the alternative too. Well done. Very well, done. Brought to you my the country that organised the ticketing for the Olympics.
It’s no wonder no-one in Europe cares if we’re inside or outside their tent.
These are my pearls of wisdom for today. The writing is on the wall. (Babumtischhh!)