Tuesday, June 05, 2012


Well, Britain has not been a good place for republicans and Scots nationalists over the last 4 or 5 days. Simply put, there's been a tsunami of affection for the Queen, on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee, or 60 years on the throne. There've been some truly spectacular events, allowing - indeed, encouraging - the Brits to revel in their Britishness. Helped by weather which veered from mid-summer to mid-winter and back again. The only negative note was struck, would you believe, by the illustrious (and normally sure-footed) BBC, whose coverage of Sunday's Thames Flotilla of around a thousand vessels was universally slammed for its inane, dumbed-down, celeb-oriented nature. No complaints, though, about its coverage of last night's star-studded concert in front (and on top) of Buckingham Palace. Nor today's event which saw the Queen et al travelling from the lunch venue to Buck House in open-topped carriages. Which reminds me - Having been a loyal admirer of the lovely Letizia for several years, I'm now thinking hard about raising the delightful Kate to the no. 1 position. Which will probably dismay both of them.

I've not really been following the eurozone crisis over the past few days but it does seem that, at one pole, some folk believe that progress has been made in the direction of direct financing of the Spanish banks. Whereas, at the other end, some folk believe no progress at all has been made, nor is likely to be made. Here's our friend Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writing from the latter perspective:- No, Germany has not agreed to a "banking union". It has not agreed to mutualise the costs of bank bail-outs, knowing perfectly well that this means 'Eurobonds lite' and the start of a slippery slope towards debt pooling. It has not cleared the way for use of the EU rescue machinery (EFSF and ESM) for direct recapitalisation of banks – which is what Spain wants to avoid having to bear the contingent liabilities of its crumbling lenders on sovereign shoulders. Germany has not moved one inch towards fiscal union of any kind. It may do so (I make no prediction). It has not done so yet. Europe faces exactly the same problem it has had since the start of the crisis. There is no breakthrough on the Spanish banking crisis. Quite why the Madrid and Milan bourses have been rallying is beyond me. Germany has agreed to explore extra supervisory powers for a European banking authority, in the "medium-term" once umpteen other conditions have been fulfilled. This has no relevance to today's crisis. Rather too much has been made of calls by Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble for a "real fiscal union", long-standing rhetoric. What he means is Fiskalunion, chiefly a punishment and discipline union. The language was in any case intended to play down the likelihood: Bevor wir uns über ein gemeinsames Schuldenmanagement unterhalten, brauchen wir eine richtige Fiskalunion. Before we can talk about joint debt management, we must have a real fiscal union. Be careful. Almost everything Angela Merkel is talking about already exists. She has dressed up an old arrangement as if it were new. The European Commission knows this perfectly well. Everybody is pretending there was a ground-breaking deal this week to maintain appearances. This is the usual EU smoke and mirrors.

As it happens, I listened to a BBC podcast this afternoon in which several Germans spoke of the German attitude to work and debt. Significantly, it turns out debt and guilt are the same word in German. I was also taken by the account of a BBC reporter seeking a credit card in Berlin, on the basis of an excellent record with his account, Yes, of course, he could have a credit card. And, Yes, of course the bank would arrange for the entire account to be settled at the end of each month. Indeed, that was the only option he had as credit wasn't allowed on his credit card.

Wine: Guess which wine is most commonly chosen from the list. Yes, the second-cheapest. Knowing this, restaurant owners have been known to make sure this wine has a really good margin for them. So maybe the third-cheapest is the one to go for. Unless, of course, you can afford something better.

Still on wine . . . While I was pondering last night whether a glass of Semillon-Chardonnay really complemented my mother's bacon, eggs and (cold) beans, it struck me that I've yet to read of someone called Semillon. Which, on balance, has to be a good thing, I believe.

And finally on wine . . . Here's another white grape that's cultivated in several parts of Spain, including Galicia. I shall have to chase down some examples:- Verdejo is harvested at evening in Rueda, central Spain, to maintain the aromas and make a light, zesty wine with flavours of peach and melon. Verdejo is usually blended with Sauvignon Blanc or Viura, another Spanish grape. Verdejo is also grown in Galicia where it is called Verdello and in Portugal and Australia, where it is identified as Verdelho. All variations are appealing and are worth explori

Finally . . . Can any reader tell me what the following says. Following up a link to my blog, I saw that my picture and my name had been used to make a comment to a Japanese site. And I'd really like to know what I said. I'd also like to know how they got my picture but I guess that was pretty easy.


コメントを追加...

コメントしています…

3 comments:

Ferrolano said...

Well Colin, I followed your link to Japan and found myself amongst a host of NFL Cheerleaders - I couldn't read a thing, but who cares...!!!

Alfred B. Mittington said...

The Google translator gives me:

"Texans, in winning new forces to release on Jun 05, 2012 17:08 (Tues.) the RB Ward Add a comment ... You have to comment ... Facebook social plug-in ...Undo edits"

Which, I suppose, explains it all...

Colin said...

Thanks, Alfie. The scales have plummeted from my eyes . . .

Search This Blog