Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Czech President is, to say the least, a tad annoyed by his French counterpart. For M. Sarkozy’s latest protectionist initiative is to throw cash at the French car industry, on condition it doesn’t lay off workers at home but in, say, the Czech Republic. As someone has written, if Sarko doesn’t grasp why this is wrong, then he doesn’t understand what the EU is all about. More likely, of course, is that he doesn’t care. And why should he? For more than 40 years, the French have made brilliant use of their EU creation to their national advantage. They’re hardly likely to stop now that the going is tough. It’s not going to worry them one iota that Brussels says it will investigate whether the aid for the car industry is legal. Cue Gallic shrug.

The Spanish media has given a lot of attention to the 13 year-old British kid who’s sired a child with his 15 year old girlfriend. The author of this article asks why anyone should be surprised. Well, some of us aren’t. I recall being told at least 20 years ago that the startlingly high number of young mothers on a nearby council estate was linked to free housing and a wide range of child benefits, including the gift of the best pram on the market.

Going further back, in 1974 the Conservative politician Keith Joseph caused outrage when he said that, if something wasn’t done, the country’s hardworking intelligent folk would be out-bred by its feckless thickies. Of course, he didn’t put it quite like that but, nonetheless, he was engulfed by a tide of protest and nothing was ever done to reduce teenage pregnancies. Quite the contrary. Click here if you want to see a bit – 3rd paragraph down - of what he actually said. Or here if you want to see it all. The bit I paraphrased above is on page 11.

My thanks to readers who commented on yesterday’s blog about anti-Semitism in Spain. Time is tight tonight so I will respond tomorrow. Meanwhile, my partner has told me the word Judas is used in France as well as Spain for the spy-hole in a front door. And a quick Google search suggests it’s used in English as well. As in “judas hole - a peephole, as in an entrance door or the door of a prison cell.” I can't immediately see why. Was Judas notorious for spying? Perhaps from behind a curtain in some version of The Last Supper.

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