Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Is there anything more wonderful on a sunny spring morning than a blackbird singing its heart out at the top of a nearby tree? Maybe a song thrush, but I think these tend to specialise in twilight warbles.

And is there anything more crazy that a group of twenty-two white-clad men playing cricket at 8.45pm of a cold spring evening, when the light has long since more than dimmed? From the sublime to the bloody ridiculous, then.

As I've said, no one really knows what's going to happen either in Greece or in the wider eurozone. There are increasing signs that a Plan B is being put together, probably not to 'save' Greece but to ensure that Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain don't follow in whatever its wake turns out to be. As of now, we can only wonder if there are unknown as well as known unknowables; and, if Greece really is to go its merry way, will this be in an orderly or disorderly fashion; and is the former at all possible once folk believe that Greece really is a goner and headed for the door.

Meanwhile, the inestimable Simon Jenkins gives his take on the eurozone and its travails here. To whet your appetite, here's the opening paragraphs:- A looming black cloud is hurtling forwards over the European horizon. It is called economic nemesis, driven to a fury by a quarter century of the naivety and greed of most of the continent's rulers. In Berlin and Brussels this week the high priests and wizards of euro-finance gazed at the cloud in horror, muttering imprecations: it was "unacceptable . . . unthinkable . . . unmentionable". The cloud took no notice and raced on. 
Newspaper financial pages nowadays read like satirical spoofs. No one has a clue what is happening, so analysts play with words. Would a Greek exit from the euro be a catastrophe or a calamity, or is that what happens without an exit? Is unimaginable worse than abhorrent, is contagion worse than wildfire, is apocalypse worse than Armageddon? 
Markets indulge in no such fantasies. Money talks straight. Computers are already being fed "Grexit" algorithms, and modelling a disintegrated euro. Default swaps are in place. Spanish and Italian debts are being devalued de facto through soaring yields. Politicians panic, but money merely adjusts.

And here, to warm the cockles of Alfie Mittington's heart, is his final paragraph:- The peoples of Europe are made of crooked timber. They have always fought back against hubristic rulers seeking undue authority over their affairs. While the old Common Market knew its limitations, the euro was a step too far. It required a degree of union that Europe has never tolerated, from the Holy Roman Empire through Napoleon to the Third Reich. It always ends in tears. Kipling remarked after one such conflict: "We have had no end of a lesson; it will do us no end of good." Today's lesson has yet to be learned.

On a lighter note . . . There's been a lot of scoffing in British newspapers at the sort of text messages sent by Prime Minister Cameron to the (ex)Chief Executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks. The Times today carried a spoof message reading:-


For G's sake,

F O + D



I do hope that F O + D doesn't mean the only thing I can come up with.

Interesting Historical Fact: At the 1948 Olympics - also in London - the organisers were prevailed upon to let the French and the Spanish competitors bring in wine. Something that was (like everything else) in short supply in the UK in the post War years. As the writer of one official memo put it - "Wine is part of their normal diet and in their view it rates as a foodstuff." Quite.

Finally . . . . The Wisdom of Dr Osler

The philosophies of one age have become the absurdities of the next, and the foolishness of yesterday has become the wisdom of tomorrow.

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