Friday, November 19, 2004

Well, a much wider range of comments on the race issue in today’s Spanish press. Most impressively, several senior politicians – possibly aware now of the damage to Madrid’s Olympic ambitions – have expressed the sentiments to be expected of them. And it is even reported this afternoon that the Spanish football authority has finally expressed regret. At the other end of the spectrum, there are commentators who take the view that it didn’t happen; or, if it did, it was provoked by the British media off the field and Rooney on it; and that it was only a joke; and from a small part of the crowd; and the British are racists too, for calling the French ‘cheese-eating surrender monkeys’; and the orchestrated reaction of British politicians, especially Mr Blair, is a conspiracy to destroy Madrid’s competing bid for the 2012 Olympics. In between these two extremes, there have been some thoughtful columns and letters from people who have clearly grasped the full significance of the affair. One writer touchingly admitted that it had acquainted him with the ugly truth that he was a latent racist. So, perhaps some good will come out of it in the end.

Meanwhile, The Economist has pronounced that Ireland has the best quality of life in the world. Spain comes in at no. 10 but the UK at only 29, behind France at 26 and Germany at 28. I naturally have no difficulty with Spain’s ranking, though I confess to finding it hard to credit that Norway is in the top 3. Difficult to believe that people are queuing to get in, even from Estonia. But I could be very wrong on this.

The UK also fared badly in the EU fraud stakes. According to the Audit Office only a piffling 6% of Britain’s agricultural claims were found to be false in 2003, whereas Italy managed something like 23% and Spain 21%. Some pathetic Scandinavian countries could barely achieve 1%. Unimaginative Calvinists, obviously.

I hope you have all seen the reports of the artificial, computerised cockroach which can imitate the sounds and even the smells of an alpha 1 roach. Armed with this awesome capability, it should be able to lead millions of them over a cliff. Or at least out of your kitchen. The next challenge, they say, is a phoney chicken which prevents the panics to which they are prone when locked up with no space to move. What a piece of work is man!

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