The Euros: Watching the Russia-Poland match tonight, my impression was that all Poland's eleven players had a surname ending in -SKI and at least ten of the Russians had one ending in -OV. On the same theme, I was intrigued to note that one of the Czech players was called Gebreselassie. I wondered if the famous long-distance runner had turned to football in his retirement but it turned out the player had an Ethiopian father. As for England, against France last night they played their usual game of "Here's the ball. We don't know what to do with it, so you have it". But they still managed to draw 1-1 with France, who were not happy with England's negative approach. Reminding me of the book I've just finished - "A Thousand Years of Annoying the French."
The euro: Anyone disagree with this view? Another day, another sticking plaster solution. . . . No doubt mindful of the fact that every political leader who has agreed on a bailout to date has been defenestrated soon afterwards, Mr Rajoy has attempted to snatch victory from the jaws of humiliation by proclaiming the €100bn of aid an unparalleled triumph. Don Quixote himself would have struggled to see such majesty in all too self evident defeat. . . . This is not a direct line of credit to the Spanish banking system, but a sovereign loan which expands the national debt by getting on for 20%. The fact that all of it is going to be used to prop up the banking sector is no more than cosmetic for an underlying truth - that it is Spanish taxpayers who are left with the liability. Spain is being forced to borrow from Europe to bailout its banks because markets won't provide the money directly to Spain.
I see the MD of the Fitch rating agency has said Spain will miss its 2012 budget deficit target "by a substantial margin". He also forecast that the Pope will remain a Catholic and that bears will continue to defecate in the woods.
Talking of Spain . . . I was reminded today of comments I made here years ago about the Spanish love of spontaneity. This was when I heard of a comment made by the press baron of the 40s and 50s, Lord Beaverbrook - Organisation is the enemy of improvisation.
I have only a few days left here in Britain and I'm musing on what I will miss. One thing for sure - Here in Britain - at least in the north of England - humour remains a very important element of life. One sees and hears it just about everywhere. And I like that. Which naturally takes me back to the Eurovision 'song' contest. This article endorses my view that the annual circus has lost the capacity to amuse. Quote: Instead of thinking "This is so bad it's good", I thought, "This is so bad it's execrable": a futile exercise that people are trying desperately to make "fun". Exactly. I recommend the article if only because it comments on Damian Hirst.
Finally . . . You know those transparent plastic lecterns you see in front of politicians when they make a speech? - Did you know they aren't really transparent? On the side of the speaker they're opaque and they act as a screen upon which is projected the speech being given. Plus impromptu comments. This is why you never see any papers on the lectern.