With friends and allies like these…
We have received a message from Monty Skew, currently in Monaco. Due to what we regard as its insulting nature we shall not post it here and only add that we will not tolerate being addressed as ‘you girlies’, but as professionals we shall nonetheless issue the piece which it accompanied:
With the eyes of the world looking at France through a lens shaped like a football, it seems to have escaped general notice that the country has turned her politics into a branch of circus entertainment. In earlier times of chaos there was a detectible hankering for a return to some kind of ancien régime, a good example being the return to power of de Gaulle in 1959. But now what she needs is a return to any sort of régime at all. To begin with, the problem was the election of Hollande as president. (An earlier cousin of this site pointed out before his election that this was a major blunder on the part of the electorate given that he was not Martine Aubry, who was clearly the best candidate available for the job, but who lost the chance to compete, being a woman. So much for égalité.) It is a sort of poetic justice that the next president will be a woman, all the many other contenders having wrestled one another to political exhaustion (so much for fraternité), leaving Marine Le Pen out on her own, benefitting with another dollop of poetic justice – or in this case some would say ‘poetic injustice’ – from the decision by all the self-alleging democratic contenders to exclude her from the political battlefield as too right-wing for decent politicians to tangle with. Hollande thinks that he is still the President (as in fact he still is in the strictest constitutional terms) which has led him to try the usual ploys of useless and failed national leaders, military interventions abroad (provided that the abroad concerned is not too strong militarily), announcements to the nation that the situation is improving (‘ça va mieux’ despite unemployment now being hundreds of thousands higher than when he was elected), and ‘toughness’ at home, notably by manipulating into law without parliamentary approval a measure to help employers wanting to dismiss employees, a measure which has naturally caused massive strikes and continuing protests, which despite the associated chaos still have 60% support from the public of this reputedly democratic country. He has now compounded the error by letting the government consider the possibility of banning public protest (so much for liberté). Earlier, he had naturally tried the tactic of shifting ministers around, but this backfired on Hollande when he brought in Manuel Valls (a Spaniard until his twenties) to be his prime minister since the latter soon usurped the position of prospective next President with ratings far superior to those of Hollande, until as the chaos grew worse the move backfired on Valls in his turn whose prospects of winning power are now wilting like the chances of Hollande getting back the favours of the lady he used to visit disguised in a motorcycle helmet until his liaison was discovered whereupon he ungallantly assured the nation that he was putting her aside and would be staying in his office. Meanwhile strange characters roam the land. One Mélenchon, with good ideas and intentions but less political nous (transliterated from the Greek, not untranslated from the French) than Charles I of England tells the French things most of them do not wish to hear. One Macron walks the highways and the byways and the fish markets smiling on all he meets and holding himself out to be the reincarnation of Tony Blair telling those who listen that he has answers to the nation’s travails which he heard from the mouths of Goldman Sachs. And now plagues of barbarians have arrived to stage nightly street battles, giving the French police all the chances they could wish to show that they can stage street battles better than any of them. Ce n’est pas magnifique, mais du moins ce n’est pas la guerre.
Book review : The fashionable economist Nemone Credat (a contemporary of Karela at the London School of Geographic and Political Studies) has published a new book (pretty much an old book actually but incorporating some eye-catching shots of her in impressive locations and extremely stylish gear, pages 3, 17, 31, 39 and 82, with pp.108-116 as a pull-out colour supplement) promoting her idea of corruption as a necessary requirement for maximising economic growth; as she puts it, corruption is ‘the oil which maximizes the efficiency of the world economic engine’. Corruption in all its forms, cartels, nepotism, cronyism, insider trading, free trade pacts and other political stitch-ups, allows investors to take risks which would not be justified according to officially approved criteria, thus opening the way to the rich rewards that go to those who know how to get in early and to the parts other punters cannot reach, so as to invest in ventures that conventional moneymen pass by, rewards which can subsequently serve as the springboard for further economic prosperity in the territories concerned. The task for governments is therefore not to ‘crack down’ on corruption, but to arrange for discreet management of regulation, with, in the foreground, a few flamboyant or protracted investigations to distract public attention from less skilfully organised activities and to provide evidence to the international community that the appointed regulators are still at work. Several South American countries and two major financial centres in Europe are cited with particular approval, although at a lower level a number of British municipal authorities win high praise
Plaudit of the week : As he grew older he suffered increasingly from that fear of encountering unfamiliar opinions which used to drive so many to subscribe to the Daily Telegraph (from a biography of Horatio Bottomley).
European news : There continues to be much criticism of the recently introduced EU regulations dealing with domestic pets, on a number of scores such as the exclusion of budgerigars from the list of acceptable household pets, to mark EU disapproval of Australian policy with regard to immigrants. Nevertheless the Commissioner has announced that it is the intention to follow up those measures with fresh regulations establishing compulsory fitness tests for domestic pets. These will be designed for the benefit of both pets and owners (here designated the ‘responsible hosts’), and also for others who may be affected by the presence of such animals in the neighbourhood. For instance, cats must be able to enter and leave through standard-sized cat-flaps, thus making it illegal for a responsible host to tolerate obesity in these animals, while dogs must be unable to leap a three foot high fence, for the protection of the environment and those living in the vicinity.
As an experiment I am, with Dr Karela’s approval, offering a competition. Most of us are familiar with anagrams, where the letters of one word can be rearranged so as to make another word or phrase. In the early nineteenth century James Whortleberry and Nephew of Shepton Mallet tried to develop a form of lighting, based on magnesium filings, superior to what was available before the widespread adoption of gas lighting, and advertised their product as the ‘clean powder that’s better than candlepower’. An anatax, however, is when two phrases can change places and still leave two sentences that make sense, like these:
It’s time to stretch my legs and take the dog for a walk
It’s time to stretch the dog and take my legs for a walk
he married his childhood sweetheart and ten years later discovered it had been a mistake
he married a mistake and ten years later discovered it had been his childhood sweetheart
A special prize for the best anatax sent in before the end of June. (A copy of the satirical trilogy The tale of Esmond Maguire, normal price 18 euros.)